A Dose of Kenyon’s Tonic

A Note To My Readers:  Over the years I have toiled over lengthy posts to share my stories of genealogical research…maybe a family musing or two…but detailed and like I said…lengthy. 

This year I set up a FaceBook page-www.facebook.com/thegenealogistsinkwell-to post random thoughts as I plow through research and develop stories.  I thought it a wiser move to begin to post on my blog instead as it posts automatically to my FaceBook page anyway and I can share these bits of flotsam with my blog readers.

Ithaca New York and Finding Deborah

In the March 8th 1897 Ithaca Daily News my 68 year old great great grandmother, Deborah Jane Tyler Curry recommended Kenyon’s Tonic for rheumatism.  I would have missed this little item if I had narrowed my research to  newspaper social sections for family events or by looking for obituary mentions or for legal notices.

Advertising items like these recommendations that are in old newspapers can give you a timeline for residence, too.

Ithaca Daily News

Deborah had been widowed in 1884 and lived in Montezuma, New York until her early sixties when she moved to Ithaca to live near her married daughters, Kate Curtis and Jennie Sinsabaugh.  In the New York State census of 1892, she was still in her home in Montezuma.  So when did she leave her longtime home?

Piece by piece I built the timeline by reading old newspapers from Auburn and Ithaca.  This was the earliest piece of evidence I found of her residing in Ithaca.  I did find a second item a bit later that showed her moving to Ithaca in November of 1893, but this odd bit of trivia still intrigues me…especially since my career was in marketing and newspapers….and I am her namesake, Deborah Jane.    And by the way…totally without knowing my great great grandmother’s children names, I named my daughters…Jennie and Cate.
Deborah lived to the ripe old age of 89 years old.  Could ‘the tonic’ have been her secret?  And what was in it?  Chances are alcohol was an ingredient…one that a lovely Methodist widow of a Civil War hero could put in her tea and sip delicately with a clear Christian conscience.

And you know,  my aches and pains might just need some of Mr. Todd and Mr. Brooks’ Kenyon’s Tonic now that I think of it…

Deborah Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

(c) Copyright 2012.  All Rights Reserved

2 thoughts on “A Dose of Kenyon’s Tonic

  1. In the advertising section of my Intro to Media Industries course, we discuss the role of patent medicines and department stores in the boom of newspaper advertising at the turn of the 20th century. The Food and Drug Act of 1906 was the first legislation aimed at preventing the type of harmful chicanery practiced by the patent medicine crowd. Patent medicines were usually some form of alcohol, and even more often they contained either cocaine or morphine. They may not have cured what ailed you, but they made you stop caring….all the time.

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