DR. ANDREW TAYLOR STILL.
The talent of success is nothing more than doing what you can
do well and doing well whatever you do, without a thought of fame.
The History of Osteopathy to the present time is inseparably connected
with the life of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still. Osteopathy had its conception
in the fertile brain of that one man, was developed by his careful
judgment, grew into favor through his determined purpose, and was
placed upon a solid footing by his sagacity. All the elements that
have contributed to the advancement of Osteopathy are to be found
in the very nature of its founder. And many of the elements that
make Dr. Still what he has been and still is, are the results of
the environments of his life.
No artifice can make of a man that for which nature did not endow
him. But the natural and artificial surroundings of a young man
often determine the particular direction of his life. This is preeminently
true of the subject of this chapter. Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes once
said that the time to begin to train a child is with its grandparents.
So the only way to become really familiar with a man is to make
the acquaintance of his ancestors.
DR. A. T. STILL'S PATERNAL ANCESTORS.
Dr. Still's great-grandfather on his father's side came to Buncombe
County, North Carolina. Whence, is not positively known, but it
seems from one account that he and five brothers came from England.
Dr. Still's grandfather, Boat Still, was born in North Carolina.
He was one of eight brothers, and was said to be the "runt"
of the family, weighing two hundred and eleven pounds. He married
Mary Lyda, a Dutch woman. She was a good frontier's woman, and is
known to have killed the fiercest of wild beasts with her rifle.
They raised a family of fifteen children, eight daughters and seven
sons, five of whom were doctors.
One of the sons, Dr. Abram Still, was Dr. A. T. Still's father.
He was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina, about 1797. The
family removed to Tennessee where Abram Still was ordained as a
preacher in Holston Conference, Methodist Episcopal Church, and
sent as a circuit rider to Tazewell County in the southwestern part
of Virginia. While there he married Martha P. Moore, daughter of
the third James Moore mentioned below. There Dr. E. C. Still, Andrew's
oldest brother, was born, January 15, 1824. They soon removed to
Lee County, Virginia, where James M., Andrew T., Thomas C., and
Jane were born. Thence they moved to New Market, Jefferson County,
Tennessee, where John W. was born. Thomas C. Still says his father
was at one time Parson Brownlow's family physician at Knoxville,
Tenn. No wonder he became an ardent abolitionist. All the sons were
doctors and strong antislavery men. The following is a continuation
of the story of the family, as related to the author by Dr. E. C.
Still at his home in Macon, Missouri, November 29, 1944:
"Then my father, wanting to get to a new country where he
could get land cheap, took a transfer from Holston Conference, M.
E. Church, to the Missouri Conference of the same. Moving from there
and landing in Macon County, Missouri, near Bloomington, May 2,
1837, he bought a claim at once, at which place Mary M. Still was
born. After remaining three years he bought another claim in Schuyler
County, moved there and took possession of it, at which place my
sister, Marovia M. Still, was born. We remained there five or six
years, moving back again to the same place in Macon County, about
1845, at which place my youngest sister, Cassander, was born. We
remained in that neighborhood in Macon County for some years, during
which time the division of the Methodist Church took place. My father
remaining with the old, or Methodist Episcopal Church rendered him
unpopular in a political sense. Being what they called a free soiler,
at that time, rendering it dangerous to his life, he asked the Methodist
Conference for an appointment where he would be in less danger.
He was sent to Kansas Territory to the Shawnee Mission about 1852,
to the same Indians that massacred the Moore family, they having
been transferred by the United States Government. He found there
the same names among the Indians as in the east, and some of them
remembered the tradition of my great-grandmother's tragic death.
"I remained in Macon County and practiced medicine from about
1845 to about 1882. About that time I became interested with my
brother, A. T. Still, in the treatment of disease without medicine,
afterwards named Osteopathy. Following that practice for some years,
assisting my brother in Osteopathy up to the time of McKinley's
second election, November, 1990, I was taken down sick at that time
and have not practiced since, though I have good health now. I was
in service during the Rebellion.
"At first the general impression was that we were switched
off or crazy. The doctors called Andrew a damned old jackass, and
suggested sending him a block of hay. I had obtained their confidence
by being a good surgeon. They rather pitied me for siding with the
crazy old jackass. The preachers said it was all the works of the
devil. Doctors said it was too damned a fraud to be noticed. We
were ostracized from any kind of fraternal feeling."
While in Missouri, Abram Still served the M. E. Church as circuit
rider and presiding elder, and at the same time administered to
the sick. Thos. C. Still says of his father "He would often
have to stop in the fall season to attend the sick. His universal
practice was to keep close by his Bible in his saddle-bags, a well
filled wallet of medicines in sections of canes as battles were
likely to break. Thus armed his main aim was for the comfort of
both soul and body."
HIS MATERNAL ANCESTORS.
The earliest authentic history of Dr. Still's ancestors on his
mother's side is found in a most interesting little volume entitled
"The Captives of Abb's Valley," written "by a son
of Mary Moore," who was a cousin of Dr. Still's mother, and
published about 1854. It is found in many Presbyterian Sunday-school
libraries, records facts that are indeed stranger than fiction,
and contains material that appeals to man's love of adventure as
well as his devotion to religion.
James Moore, Dr. Still's great-great-grandfather, came from Ireland
about the year 1726, and settled in Chester County, Pennsylvania.
He was of Scotch descent, his ancestors having emigrated to northern
Ireland from Scotland. He married Jane Walker, a descendant of the
Rutherfords, of Scotland. They had five sons and five daughters,
from whom are descended many of the first families of Virginia and
Kentucky. He died about 1792, and his wife, some two years ago.
Their sixth child and second son bore the name James Moore also.
He married Martha Poage. After several years they moved into Abb's
Valley, Tazewell County, Virginia. The fight for possession of that
country had long been contested by the Shawnee and the Cherokee
Indians, and many a bloody battle had been fought between them,
and many depredations upon the early settlers had been committed
by both of them.
This second James Moore, Dr. Still's great-grandfather, was a man
of no ordinary ability. He became a captain in the militia and led
a company in General Green's army in the hard fought battle of Guilford
Court House, N. C., March 15, 1781. "It has been said of him
that he was never known to lose his presence of mind in any emergency
in which he was placed."
On the morning of July 14, 1786, after the members of the Moore
family had begun their respective employments, Black Wolf, at the
head of thirty or forty Shawnee warriors, attacked the family. Captain
Moore ran to the house, but found the door barred by those who had
taken refuge in it. Running past the house, he halted only a moment
in climbing the yard fence, when he was pierced with seven balls.
He ran about forty paces, fell, and was immediately tomahawked and
scalped. Three of the children were also killed, and the others,
with their mother, were captured. The Indians started with their
captives to near where Detroit now stands. One boy being unable
to stand the fatigue of the journey, was killed the second day,
and the babe being fretful, had its brains dashed out against a
tree. Before they reached their destination, Mrs. Moore and a daughter
were also put to death. Dr. E. C. Still relates the following tradition
concerning his great-grandmother's death:
"Tradition obtained by my grandfather from the Shawnee squaws,
says that owing to her complainings of the loss of her child, they
took her to the stake, cutting off, slicing, broiling, and eating
her breasts before her; sticking her full of fine splinters and
burning her at the stake, at a French trading post called Detroit.
The above tradition was handed down to me through my mother, who
obtained it from her father, James Moore, who had been captured
by the Shawnee Indians and kept with them seven years. We don't
know the tradition to be history, but my grandfather and my mother
believed it to be true; he obtained it from the Shawnee squaws,
who thought a great deal of my grandfather and protected him when
the braves were drinking and carousing. The squaws obtained it from
A daughter, Mary Moore, and an adopted daughter, Martha Evans,
were taken to Canada, where they were sold to Englishmen and were
finally given their freedom.
The third James Moore, the second son of Captain Moore, and the
grandfather of Dr. Still, was captured by Black Wolf, a chief of
the Shawnees, in September, 1784, about two years before the massacre
mentioned above. The winter was spent as a captive among the Shawnees.
In April, 1785, he was sold to a French trader named Ariome and
taken to Canada, near Detroit. His sister, Mary Moore, was taken
later to the same neighborhood, where they often saw each other.
Together, after enduring great hardship during the journey, they
returned to Virginia in 1789. Mary married a Presbyterian preacher,
Rev. Samuel, Brown. She had seven sons, five of whom were ministers,
and one an elder in the Presbyterian Church; the youngest was a
doctor. The historian of the "Captives of Abb's Valley"
"James Moore expressed a desire and design to return to Canada
for some time after he had been amongst his friends in Virginia,
but at last abandoned the plan. Early in life he married a Miss
Taylor, of Rockbridge County, settled on the farm which his father
had occupied in Abb's Valley, and became the father of a numerous
family who, with few exceptions, reside in the same section of country.
At an early period, after he had gone to reside in the valley, he
became a member of the Methodist Church, and continued in the communion
of that church until his death, which occurred in the autumn of
1851. He was spared to see his descendants of the third generation."
The Taylor family mentioned above gives origin to the -middle name
of the subject of this chapter, Andrew Taylor Still, and eon fleets
him with Bishop Wm. Taylor, the pioneer in missionary work in India
and Africa, and with ex-Governor Bob Taylor, of Tennessee.
Bishop Taylor would have made a good osteopath had he turned his
attention in that direction instead of the conversion of the heathen.
Doubtless he spent many a night in the wilds of India and Africa
with a stone for a pillow. A friend of his in Cincinnati, Mr. J.
B. Martin, says that the bishop was subject to headache and insomnia,
and learned from experience that nothing gave him relief like a
piece of marble for a pillow. He carried with him year after year
a flat, smooth slab of marble about an inch thick, three or four
wide, and seven or eight long, which he used for a pillow. Having
broken his marble once in Cincinnati, Mr. Martin secured another
for him. How like the experience of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, when,
at the age often, he used a plow-line for a pillow? (Chapter II,
Some authorities say that the third James Moore was married three
times. Certain it is that he married, besides Miss Taylor, a Miss
Patsy Pogue, who became the mother of Martha P. Moore, who was the
wife of Abram Still and the mother of Andrew Taylor Still. That
Dr. Still's mother was a woman of unusual ability is in evidence,
and her early residence and labors upon the frontier make her an
historic character. The following relating to her appeared in the
Ottawa (Kansas) Journal, in August, 1873:
"Mrs. Martha Still, of Centropolis, is in her seventy-fourth
year, and thinks she is the first white woman that ever found a
home on the soil of Kansas. She claims to be the mother of two territories,
Nebraska and Kansas. Herself and husband were connected with the
old Shawnee mission. She has four sons in the medical profession,
one daughter the wife of a doctor, and one daughter the wife of
a preacher, and a good preacher herself. Dr. Still, her deceased
husband, was well known through this country as a physician and
preacher. Rev. Mr. Adams, her son-in-law, claimed in the conference
held in Ottawa last spring, to have preached the first discourse
ever delivered on the townsite of that goodly city. Mother Still
is in good health, has a quarter section of land under cultivation,
good apple orchard, is a conference claimant, and lives to help
pay the preachers."
Every osteopath is interested in the story of Dr. Still's life,
as found in his autobiography. Many who read that remarkable book
may be disappointed; but it is so characteristic of the author that
a more thorough acquaintance with it will give a clearer insight
into the character and traits of the founder of Osteopathy and beget
a keener appreciation of his worth. Concerning the autobiography,
and her long acquaintance with Dr. Still, Mrs. M. A. Patterson,
Queen City, Missouri, writes:
"The autobiography of Dr. Still gives the plain facts of Dr.
Still's early life and also of his later life. I have known the
family of the old doctor for sixty-four years. I had been afflicted
for thirty years with paralysis and have been cured and am enjoying
good health. Am now sixty-eight years old. One little incident which
occurred in the early life of Dr. Still, I will relate : I think
he was about sixteen years old. His father had been to town, and
when he came home he saw Andrew sitting by the roadside reading
a doctor book. His father said: ‘Andrew, I don't allow any
doctor books in my field.’ Andrew just turned around with
his feet in the road and went on reading. I told this to the old
doctor and he remembered it well. He said it was an anatomy he was
HIS EARLY LIFE.
Andrew Taylor Still, the subject of this sketch, was born August
6, 1828, about three miles west of Jonesboro, Lee County, in the
extreme western part of Virginia. As shown above, his father was
of English and German descent, and his mother Scotch. When he was
six years of age, his father removed with his family to Newmarket,
in eastern Tennessee. In 1835, he and two older brothers entered
what was known as "Holston College," located at Newmarket.
A seven weeks' journey in 1837, landed the family of eight, with
two wagons and seven horses, in Macon County, Missouri, whither
his father had been sent as a missionary, the first of the Methodist
Episcopal Church in northern Missouri, Here Andrew attended school
during 1839-40. In the spring of 1840 they removed to Schuyler County,
Missouri. He thus describes in his autobiography the building in
which his schooling was continued "'that autumn we felled trees
in the woods and built a log cabin eighteen by twenty feet in size,
seven feet high, dirt floor, with one whole log or pole left out
to admit light through sheeting tacked over the space, so we could
see to read and write." In the spring of 1845 they returned
to Macon County. Dr. Still's individuality had begun to assert itself
by that time. There probably never was a time in his life when he
quietly submitted to unreasonable dictation or accepted questionable
theories. He says of one of his early schools:
"A school was taught by G. B. Burkhart, but I did not attend
it, as he and I did not agree, so I left home and entered school
at La Plata, Missouri, conducted by Rev. Samuel Davidson, of the
Cumberland Presbyterian Church."
Andrew did not differ much from other members of the family. Early
in life his disposition to carricature or make sport of things became
manifest. These sketches he put in a book which he called his commentary.
One of these related to a quack doctor whose remedy for measles
was soup from a ram's head. The patient was pictured with the head
up to the horns down his throat. Those who have seen his sketches
made later in life, and who know his love for the ram, the goat,
and the peacock, can readily see the significance of his early sketches.
Andrew was not greatly in love with farming, and much of the work
incident to the life of a pioneer farmer. "He loved hunting
as much as he disliked farming," says his brother Thomas, and
"father prevailed upon him to give it up and commence the study
of medicine, in which he was as untiring as in hunting. He was an
uncommon successful hunter. Many a fine venison did he bring home,
and wild turkeys, prairie chickens, and other game in abundance.
But when he dropped hunting it was complete." In other words,
Dr. Still did when a boy as he does at seventy-seven; he worked
with his whole soul at what he undertook to do.
Dr. Still's early development was not of the hot-house sort, nor
was his education obtained wholly in school. The following is his
own account of some of his early experiences:
"My father, who was a man educated to do all kinds of work,
was a minister, doctor, farmer, and a practical millwright. My mother
was a natural mechanic, and made cloth, clothing, and pies to perfection.
She believed 'to spare the rod would spoil the child,' and did use
it in a homeopathic way. My father said if you wish to get meal
in a bag, hold the mouth open. If you wish to get sense in your
head, hold it open. If you wish to ride a horse, get on his back;
and if you wished to be a skillful rider, hold on to him. My mother
said if you wish to drink milk, put it in your mouth, and not on
your clothes; for there was but one way to drink milk. My father
being a farmer, concluded that a little corn-field education would
be good with my mill-wright knowledge, and at an early age I was
taught to hold the teams, and do the duties of farm life, until
I could manage teams, harrows, plows, scrapers. When I came from
the corn-field for dinner, father told me I could rest myself by
carrying slop to the hogs. I did not mind the work; it was the exercise
that bothered my mind."
An idea of the diversions and at the same time the strenuousness
of pioneer life with its educative influences, is shown by the following
quotation from his autobiography:
"My father owned a farm and raised a large amount of corn,
and had a great many horses, mules, cattle, sheep, and hogs to feed
on it, so our crops were consumed at home. We had so much corn to
husk and crib that we were compelled to commence very early, in
order to get it stored away before cold weather. When we were all
in our teens, my eldest brother nineteen, the next seventeen, and
myself about fifteen, we gathered corn from early morn till late
in the evening, fed the stock, ate our suppers, and prepared for
a good hunt for coons, foxes, opossums, and skunks. We always took
a gun, an ax, big butcher-knife, and flint and steel to make fire.
We had a polished cow's horn which we could blow as loud as the
horn that overthrew the walls of Jericho. As brother Jim was a great
talker, we made him chief horn-blower. He went into the yard, and
bracing himself, tooted and tooted and split the air for miles,
while the dogs collected around him and roared and howled. You never
heard such sweet music as brother Jim and the dogs made. Shortly
after his melodies began, we were in line of march, front, middle,
and rear rank, and soon journeyed to the woods to hunt opossums,
polecats, coons, wildcats, foxes, and turkeys."
Dr. Still himself thus sums up the effects of this pioneer life:
"My frontier experience was valuable to me in more ways than
I can ever tell. It was invaluable in my scientific researches.
Before I had ever studied anatomy from books, I had almost perfected
the knowledge from the great book of nature. The skinning of squirrels
brought me into contact with muscles, nerves, and veins. The bones,
this great foundation of the wonderful house we live in, were always
a study to me long before I learned the hard names given to them
by the scientific world. As the skull of the horse was used at my
first school as a seat for the indolent scholar, I have thought
it might be typical of the good horse-sense that led me to go to
the fountain-head of knowledge and there learn the lesson that drugs
are dangerous to the body, and the science of medicine just what
some great physicians have declared it to be - a humbug."
HIS OWN FAMILY.
January 29, 1849, A. T. Still married Miss Mary M. Vaughn. They
remained on a farm of eighty acres in Macon County, Missouri, till
May, 1853, when they moved to the Wakarusa
Mission of the M. E. Church, about six miles east o r Lawrence,
Kansas, occupied by a Shawnee tribe. Here he farmed, and with his
father doctored the Indians. Here his wife died in 1859 and left
him with three children, two of whom have since died. The oldest,
Mrs. John W. Cogwill, is living near Ottawa, Kansas.
November 20, 1860, Miss Mary E. Turner and Dr. Still were married.
He speaks thus of her in his Autobiography:
"Over a quarter of a century my wife, Mary E. Still, has given
her counsel, advice, consent, and encouraged me to go on and unfold
the truths, laws and principles of life; to open and proclaim them
to the world by demonstration, which is the only method by which
truth can be established.
"All who know Mrs. Still can certify as to the faithfulness
with which she has stood by her illustrious husband in all his endeavors.
Three of their children, Drs. Chas. E., Harry M., and Herman F.,
are practicing Osteopathy, and Helen Blanche is the wife of Dr.
Geo. M. Laughlin. Fred, the youngest son, died in 1896. Of his sons
he speaks as follows in the Autobiography:
"At this stage of the war my sons are no more prattling children,
but men of mature years. They have been the champions of many bloody
conflicts. They are at this time commanders of divisions, having
worn the epaulets of all ranks. And I feel that future battles fought
by them and their subordinates will be as wisely conducted as though
I were there in person.
"For fear of tiring the reader and leaving him with the belief
that there is no wisdom outside of my family, I will say that the
river of intelligence is just as close to you and yours as it is
to me and mine. Although by good fortune I dipped my cup first in
the broad river of Osteopathy, drank and gave to them, which fluid
they relished as all intelligent persons do who drink from this
river, the same stream flows for you."
INTERESTED IN HIGHER EDUCATION.
Abram Still (father of Dr. Still) was one of the three commissioners
to purchase the site for what is now known as Baker University,
Baldwin, Kansas. Dr. A. T. Still was then living in Palmyra. About
that time the name of the town was changed to Baldwin. He, his brother
Thomas, and two others, were appointed commissioners by the general
conference to select a spot for the university building. They devoted
their energies to the cause of education and contributed most liberally
to its material welfare. Dr. Still seems to have been very successful
in a financial way before he cast aside the practice of drug therapeusis
for Osteopathy. He had accumulated property in Kansas, and he and
two brothers donated 480 acres of land for the site of the university.
He, his brother, and two other men erected a steam sawmill, which
furnished the lumber for twenty miles around. During this time he
superintended the erection of the university buildings, sawed lumber,
doctored the sick, and represented the people of Douglas County
in the legislature. But his old friends in Kansas forsook him when
he said: "God has no use for drugs in disease, and I can prove
it by His works," and "when I asked the privilege of explaining
Osteopathy in the Baldwin University, the doors of the structure
I had helped build were closed against me." This statement
is literally true and is verified by those now connected with the
SERVING HIS COUNTRY.
During the years 1852-3, Dr. Still was a scout surgeon under General
John C. Fremont, and during the Civil War was a surgeon in the Union
army in the volunteer corps. That was when he began to lose faith
in the efficacy of drugs and in existing medical methods. He was
an ardent abolitionist and was active in the border warfare in Kansas.
He was on intimate terms with John Brown and Jim Lane, the anti-slavery
leaders in that strife. In 1857 he was elected on the free-state
ticket to represent Douglas County, Kansas, in the legislature;
and until March, 1858, was a participant in some of the most thrilling
events that have ever occurred within legislative halls.
Dr. Still is not so constituted as to shrink from any call to duty.
In September, 1861, he enlisted in the Ninth Kansas Cavalry. His
battalion of that regiment was disbanded in April, 1862, and May
15, he became captain of Company D, which he organized, of the Eighteenth
Kansas Militia, and was soon promoted to the rank of major. Later
he was transferred to the Twenty-first Kansas Militia, of which
he was major. His regiment was engaged in the encounters in western
Missouri till October 24, 1864, when Major Still received orders
to disband it, which he did.
It was during the campaign of Major Still's regiment against the
famous Confederate raider, General Sterling Price, in 1864, that
he received injuries on account of which he later made application
to the United States Government for a pension. The following is
taken from the report of Mr. Hatch, chairman of the committee to
which his claim was referred. The report was made June 12, 1880.
The surgeon of the regiment gave more detailed testimony as to the
facts given below.
"Sandy Lowe testifies that he was colonel of said regiment,
and that while on the Price raid, from pressure of arms and ammunition
on his bowels, claimant contracted rupture, and from his participation
for three days in battle he contracted heart disease, all of which
occurred in October, 1864.
"Dr. J. S. Snelly testifies that he treated the claimant for
heart disease from 1866 to 1878; that he was afflicted with valvular
lesion of the heart, with syncope when asleep while lying on the
left side; and he further testifies that claimant is ruptured on
each side, with tendency to paralysis of left side and arm, and
that during the whole time he treated claimant there was no improvement
in his condition.
"The claim was rejected because the War Department contains
no record showing the Twenty-first Regiment, Kansas State Militia,
was in the United States military service.
"In the papers is the commission of claimant as major of said
regiment, signed by the governor of the State of Kansas.
"In view of these facts, the committee report the bill back
to the house with a recommendation that it do pass."
He has never lost his interest in the trying times preceding and
during the Civil War, and it is a treat to hear him talk in his
unostentatious way about them. He is proud of his record as a soldier,
and often says he fought to free his country from the thraldom of
human slavery; and is now engaged in waging war to free his country
from the slavery of drug medication. He is a member of Corporal
Dix Post, No. 22, G. A. R., Kirksville, Missouri. John Speer, in
his "Life of General James H. Lane, the Liberator of Kansas,"
in speaking of Dr. Still and his father, says ;
"The Rev. Dr. Abram Still, the father of Dr. Andrew T. Still,
was a missionary among the Shawnee Indians before white settlement,
a divine, a patriot, and a philanthropist; and his entire family
were physicians of intelligence and ability. Dr. Andrew T. Still
was called in immediately after the wounding of James Lane, as counsel
with Dr. Fuller, as well as an immediate friend and coworker in
the free state cause. He assisted in the surgical operation and
probed the wound, discovering that the ball passed up the thigh
several inches. He was first lieutenant in the military company
of which Abbott was captain. Was on the most intimate terms with
Lane in his command, and afterwards a surgeon in the volunteers
under him in the war of the rebellion. He was also identified with
all the movements of the time in connection with Lane, John Brown,
and the early pioneers in the anti-slavery cause. At the very first
opportunity to elect any free state candidates, Dr. Still was elected
to the house of representatives (in 1857), in which he served with
distinction, the writer sitting by his side in that distinguished
body, which gave the finishing stroke to slavery in Kansas; and
he is now at the head of one of the most prominent scientific institutions
of the west, entitled ‘The American School of Osteopathy.’”
AN INVENTIVE MIND.
Dr. Still has an inventive mind. His farming experience made him
familiar with the difficulties attending the harvesting of large
crops of wheat, and impelled him to try to improve upon the existing
methods of labor. He invented a device for collecting the grain
as it is cut by a reaping machine so as to drop it in bunches suitable
for binding. The Wood Mowing Machine Company appropriated the idea
and reaped the benefit in dollars and cents, while Dr. Still had
an experience which must have been useful to him in the study of
the human machine. While living on a farm one of the duties which
often fell to his lot was churning. He rigged up a very clever device
which lessened the time and labor hitherto necessary to extract
butter from cream. He spent some time introducing his churn till
1874; but its chief value to him was in his experience.
DR. STILL'S UNSELFISHNESS.
Many have indulged in speculation concerning certain phases of
Dr. Still's character. No one ever accused him of selfishness in
the proper acceptation of that term, but he would be the last man
on earth to exploit his unselfish deeds. Ofttimes his own words
were misleading to those who were not thoroughly acquainted with
him. The following by himself, taken from the Journal of Osteopathy
for December, 1896, so clearly shows a certain element in his character,
that it is given in full. Those who know him best can appreciate
every word and read much more "between the lines" than
appears in print:
"It is said of me, 'Dr. Still is the biggest hearted man on
earth.' Now let me tell you something, I am as selfish as a wolf.
I work and study hard from morning till night, year in and out,
not for your happiness, but A. T. Still's. I am human and dislike
a drone of two legs. I work for bread and meat for myself and those
dependent upon me. I love and hate, bitterly and sweetly. I love
an honest toiler of body or mind - I hate a liar, a thief, a hypocrite,
or a lazy person, all are alike to me. A lazy man has to live and
will if he has to lie and steal. I will help those who have an honest
claim on my sympathy, and in a loving manner, as a man should do
to his fellow man. I hate a man who is all gab and gets sick when
his lame and worn-out wife, once a rose, asks him to bring in some
wood and water to cook his dinner with. I love the works of nature;
to me it is life and joy; it makes a man glad he is a man. I am
sorry we know so little of ourselves. Let us put in the twelve months
of ninety-seven in study, study for knowledge that will do us good.
Never work for the love and admiration of the dear people, which
is too often like a soap bubble, and bursts to curse you for what
you have done. Remember they, too, have some wolf or dog in their
chamber that should be filled with gratitude. I hope and only ask
that I may be wisely just to all."
Others have noted this spirit of unselfishness in Dr. Still, and
given, utterance to their opinions. E. H. Pratt, M. D., LL. D.,
of Chicago, made use of the following words in an address at Kirksville,
as reported by the Kirksville Journal of November 5, 1896:
"There is only one safe ground for any one to occupy, and
it is the only true ground - that man never originates truth; truth
is God's and not man's. And only in so far as we get our individuality
and our personality out of the way and become receptacles of truth,
get in line with it - God's own truth - do we advance. The reason
that Dr. Still is the man he is, is because he has not been conceited,
is because he has not been selfish, he has not been hunting after
money; that man has not sought reputation as an object of life;
he has simply had his eyes fixed upon the star of truth, and he
has pursued a uniform course in that direction. So his face, being
toward the light, has always shone, not by his own light, but by
the reflection of the light he was looking at - God's light. You
could not make Dr. Still conceited. You might bow down to him, and
tell him he was a god, but he would say, 'You are mistaken.' He
will not take it to himself, he will take it back to the God who
gave it to him. He will say, 'You can see the same God; don't look
at me; look at the truth."'
HIS RELIGIOUS CONVICTIONS.
Most persons are interested in the religious convictions of a great
man. Much speculation has been indulged in concerning this element
of Dr. Still's character. The uncertainty in the minds of many is
not due to any doubt as to his belief, but rather to his reticence
in expressing himself on the subject to strangers, and to those
who do not seem to understand him. To others he is the embodiment
of freedom and candor in talking upon this subject.
Dr. Still is pre-eminently a student of man. His field of study
involves all the elements that enter into the construction of that
incomparable machine, the human body. But the machine with which
he is so familiar is not merely composed of bones and muscles and
other material forms. It is a living mechanism, animated by the
spirit of life, the embodiment of something above those forms of
matter that appeal to the physical senses.
Dr. Still believes in the direct guidance of an All-wise Providence.
With him, God is not simply a spiritual power, but He is the Master
Mechanic of the material universe, the crowning effort of His creative
power, being man. He used the following words in one of his lectures,
and those who have been with him much have often heard him give
expression to the same thought.
"Good people ought to think pretty well, they ought to think
kindly of the Mechanic who made all the mechanics and everything
connected with them. I want to make this assertion: That for the
last twenty-five years my object has been to find one single defect
in all nature, to find one single mistake of Cod. But I have made
a total failure in this respect."
His religion, judged from the philosophical standpoint, might be
considered pantheistic. That idea was expressed during an interview
with Dr. Still on November 28, 1904, when he said
"I decided about 1845 that that unknown intelligence, call
it what you please, that precedes all structure and functions, is
trustworthy. His work is perfect. Mind principle permeates the whole
universe. When I contended that God had no use for calomel, ipecac,
etc., I believe the great intellect knew what it was doing; it kept
in the background."
Practically, Dr. Still is a spiritualist. Knowing as he does the
frauds that have been practiced in the name of religion, and the
misapprehension of most people concerning those who believe as he
does, he has never forced his beliefs upon any one. But he has always
had the courage of his convictions. Those who know him best know
that he is always an earnest seeker after truth. Not only that,
but when he gets a glimpse of a great truth, whether it be material
or spiritual, he holds to it with a patient tenacity that never
Once in conversation with the writer, he attributed his success
to his unswerving fidelity to his religious convictions. He cited
the cases of a number of former friends who had been his companions
in religious thought, but who had renounced their beliefs for the
sake of gain in purse or popularity, who had made a pitiable failure
of life. He always insisted in unmistakable words that he who would
be guided to the highest and best in the present life, as well as
in the life to come, must follow his most noble thoughts and aspirations.
The following by Emerson aptly expresses his convictions in this
"O my brothers, God exists. There is a soul at the center
of nature and over the will of every man so that none of us can
wrong the universe. It has so infused its strong enchantment into
nature, that we prosper when we accept its advice, and when we struggle
to wound its creatures, our hands are glued to our sides, or they
beat our own breasts. The whole course of things goes to teach us
faith. We need only obey. There is guidance for each of us, and
by lowly listening we shall hear the right word."
The familiar lines of Coleridge represent the practical direction
of Dr. Still's religion:
"He prayeth best who loveth best
All things both great and small,
For the dear God who loveth us
He made and loveth all."
Some of us may have thought at times that he was a
poet, a seer, rather than a scientist or a philosopher; yet time
and again have we returned to the thought that he may be literally
right and we wrong. Dr. J. H. Sullivan says, " I think the
most beautiful thought Dr. Still ever gave voice to was that in
which he said he believed each red corpuscle in the blood had an
intelligence all its own, else how can one explain the fact of a
certain red corpuscle journeying on and on, say in a peacock's tail
feathers, and finally adding to the particular color, which we know
to be a physiological fact." Note Dr. Still's words:
"Every corpuscle goes like a man in the army, with full instructions
where to go, and with unerring precision it does its work - whether
it be in the formation of a hair or the throwing of a spot of delicate
tinting at certain distances on a peacock's back.
"God does not find it necessary to make one of these spots
of beauty at a time; He simply endows the corpuscles with mind,
and in obedience to His law each one of these soldiers of life goes
like a man in the army, with full instructions as to the duty he
is to perform. It travels its beaten line without interfering with
the work of others. Now you say I am going to get God into trouble
by making a statement, claiming that each one of the five million
corpuscles contained in a single drop of blood knows just what is
expected of it. Is this blasphemy? No. As the troops of General
Cook obey his commands unfalteringly, so God's infantry, imbued
by Him with mentality, go forth to fulfill their appointed mission
in unswerving obedience."
It reminds one of Tennyson's well-known lines:
"Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies;
Hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower - but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,
I should know what God and man is."
Dr. Still says: "To know all of a bone in its entirety would
close both ends of eternity." How like the thought of Professor
Virchow, "the father of modern medicine," the prince of
anatomists, when he expresses what is to him a scientific principle,
not a flight of imagination, the same idea in the words, "Every
animal presents itself as a sum of vital unities, every one of which
manifests all the characteristics of life''
We have not been left without an authoritative statement by Dr.
Still himself, as to his views concerning the spiritual as well
as the physical man. In solving the problems connected with health
and disease, he has considered every part of the human body as to
its structure and function. Now as he draws nearer that "bourne
whence no traveler returns," he searches more earnestly for
a solution of the mysteries of the spiritual life. Fortunately he
has not left us to guess his thought. The following statement appears
in The Bulletin for September, 1903:
"Having spent many years of my life in the study of the anatomy
of the physical man, of his bony framework and all thereunto attached,
I have also tried to acquaint myself with the real spiritual man
when he bids a final farewell to mortality.
"By the use of the knife and the microscope, I have traced
for lo, these many years, the wonderful and perfect work therein
found, carefully inspected every fiber, gland, and all parts of
the brain; I have observed in his construction the parts and their
uses; I have seen that which has passed beyond, in my mind, the
simple forms and functions of this whole existence, and have come
with increased desire to know Him who has been the constructor of
this most wonderful of all machines known to the human mind; to
know whether it be a spiritual personage or a principle that has
produced such great results as I have found man to be. Let me say
right here I feel as a hungry child seeking the milk of its mother's
breast. I am hungry mentally, absolutely hungry beyond description
to obtain a more thorough acquaintance with that substance or principle
known as human life. This hunger has been with me many years. I
have nothing so precious that I would not give to have it satisfied.
I want an undebatable knowledge, a better acquaintance with life
and whether it be a substance or a principle that contains the many
attributes of mind, such as wisdom, memory, the power of reason,
and an unlimited number of other attributes. This short statement
is to honestly acquaint you with my object in devoting all of my
time, far beyond a quarter of a century, to the study of man, his
life, his form, and all his wisely adjusted parts, both mental and
physical. I have explored for a better knowledge upon this important
subject. My daily prayer has been 'Give me that knowledge that will
light up the human body in whom we find a union of life with matter
and the combined attributes of this union.' I have listened to the
theologian. He theorizes and stops. I have listened to the materialist.
He philosophizes and fails. I have beheld the phenomena given through
the spiritualist medium. His exhibits have been solace and comfort
to my soul, believing that he gives much, if not conclusive proof,
that the constructor who did build man's body still exists in a
form of higher and finer substances, after leaving the old body,
HIS POWER OF DIVINATION.
There are scores of well attested instances in which Dr. Still
has shown his power of clairvoyance, - perhaps it would be better
to say telepathy. The possession of such a power by many persons
cannot be denied; but various theories are advanced by clearheaded,
honest investigators to account for the facts. Among these may be
mentioned subjective faculties, subconscious faculties, telepathy,
coincidence, fraud, and spirits. Such eminent scholars as Professor
Wm. James, Alfred Russel Wallace, Sir Wm. Crooks, Paul Carus, James
H. Hyslop, Arthur L. Foley, Wm. F. Stead, Minot J. Savage, and C.
H. Parkhurst think spirit influence the best explanation to account
for many occult phenomena. Those interested in the study of this
subject will find a book entitled' "The Widow's Mite and Other
Psychic Phenomena," by Isaac K. Funk, full of interest. Whether
such a power is a special gift from some higher influence, or an
inherent possession of some individuals, makes no difference as
to the fact. In the case of Dr. Still, he seems to have inherited
this power, if such a thing is possible, from both sides of his
family. His brother, Dr. Edward C. Still, relates an incident showing
that his father possessed the power of telepathy. One Sunday while
preaching he stopped suddenly, asked one of the brethren to continue
the services, saying that he must go immediately to see a man several
miles away who had become sick suddenly. He had not gone far till
he met a messenger coming post haste after him to go to see the
patient. Many other incidents of like nature in his father's life
are more or less distinctly remembered by Dr. E. C. Still.
Had James Moore, Dr. Still's maternal grandfather, obeyed the warning
from without, or the voice within, the morning of his capture by
the Indians in 1784, he and his father's family might have been
saved from the disasters that befell them. The historian, of "The
Captives of Abb's Valley" speaks as follows of that unaccountable
fear that came over him as he left home on that fatal errand:
"He had often gone there alone without fear; but on this occasion
he had scarce lost sight of his father's house, when an unaccountable
feeling of dread came over him; which became so distressing that
he had at one time determined to go back, but was prevented from
doing so by the fear of his father's displeasure. He never could
explain this fear on any other ground than that it was a strange
presentiment of the evil which was about to befall him. It was an
undefined apprehension of some great calamity that would befall
him; that perhaps some wild beast would devour him. In this agitated
state of mind he went forward until he had almost reached the field
where the horses were, when Black Wolf and two younger Indians sprang
from behind a large log, and yelling the terrific war whoop, rushed
on him, and laid hold of him before he had time to think what to
This power or gift (call it what we please) seems to have been
greatly intensified in Dr. A. T. Still. Most persons who have spent
even a short time in Kirksville have heard stories of his power
to divine what was taking place elsewhere. Several instances with
which well known persons are familiar in all the details could be
related. One will be related by way of illustration. About 5:30
A. M., July 4, 1898, the day after the victory of the United States
over Spain in the great naval battle of Santiago, the writer had
occasion to go to the railroad depot in Kirksville. He met Dr. Still
coming from the station. He said the report was that a certain number
of Spanish vessels had been destroyed, but he insisted that there
was one more, as he had seen, "in his mind's eye" the
day before, about the time of the battle. He had seen great vessels
dashed to pieces, and had been eager from that moment to get authentic
news. It will be remembered that the Colon was not reported among
the destroyed in the first account of the battle.
Dr. E. C. Still relates several incidents from early life of similar
import. Dr. A. T. Still, while living in Kansas often wrote letters
to his brother in Missouri describing what had taken place there
and asked if his account was correct. The report of his brother
is that he was almost invariably correct. These manifestations caused
some of the family to think he was going crazy; but his oldest brother
was in full sympathy with him.
Dr. Chas. E. Still says his father would often read the minds of
the country people when on lecturing tours, just for amusement and
to attract their attention and to interest them in "his method
of treating diseases. Later he discontinued that mode of arousing
the people, because they began to call his science hypnotism, suggestion,
etc., whereas, Dr. Still claimed all the time that there was no
connection whatever between his real work and his eccentric conduct.
A CRAZY CRANK.
Here and there Dr. Still would meet with a kindred spirit, one
who appreciated his work and sympathized with him in his distresses.
But most of those who knew him, looked upon him as a crank, not
only throwing away all his own chances for success in life, but
also endangering the welfare of others. His Christian friends were
especially concerned. The following statement by Dr. Still is a
verified fact. He is speaking of the occasion when a preacher assembled
his brother's wife and children for the purpose of prayer to God,
"Telling him my father was a good man and a saint in heaven
while he was of the opinion that I was a hopeless sinner, and had
better have the wind taken away before I got any worse. He stirred
up such a hurrah and hatred in Macon, and it ran in such a stage,
that those whom he could influence believed I was crazy. Children
gave me all the road, because I said I did not believe God was a
whiskey and opium-drug doctor; that I believed when He made man
that He had put as many legs, noses, tongues, and qualities as he
needed for any purpose in life for remedies and comfort. For such
arguments I was called an infidel, crank, crazy, and God was advised
by such theological hooting owls to kill me and save the lambs."
- Autobiography, pages 122-3.
Indeed, Dr. Still is a crank, according to the most approved definition
of that term, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes aptly describes Dr. Still
in his description of a crank and the estimate often put upon him.
It runs thus:
"A crank is a man who does his own thinking. I had a relation
who was called a crank. 1 believe I have been spoken of as one,
myself. That is what you have to expect if you invent anything that
puts an old machine out of fashion, or solve a problem that has
puzzled all the world up to your time. There never was a religion
founded but its messiah was called a crank. There never was an idea
started that woke men out of their stupid indifference but its originator
was spoken of as a crank." - Over the Teacups, page 151.
Dr. Still's early religious training evidently made a deep impression
upon his mind; but his philosophic spirit was not to be fettered
by what later seemed to him to be a perversion of true religion.
It is, therefore, not surprising that he should apparently go to
the other extreme. Indeed he has often been known to use language
more forcible than orthodox. Sometimes, also, he appears to be sacrilegious
in his methods. He hates sham and deceit. He always liked to hear
his teachers go directly to the heart of a subject and present it
in their own way rather than follow authorities. Knowing how prone
the human heart is to stick to its idols, he was often given to
calling a higher power to the assistance of the erring. While these
"prayers" often possessed a vein of the author's innate
humor, they were really more serious and devout than the reader
might suppose. The following prayer illustrates this thought:
“O Lord, we ask for help quick. Since life is so short and
man's days are few and full of sorrow, we ask that we get some more
brevity in our school books. Lead us not into temptation to make
our 'text books' big. Now Lord, we ask Thee to either add twenty
years more to our days on earth or teach brevity to the professors
in all institutions from which we are supposed to receive practical
knowledge and useful education. Thou knowest, O Lord, that long
prayers come from the insincere, therefore, I do want to see thine
arm bare and thy fist doubled and see Thee pound the stupidity out
of the heads that do not know that he who would show wisdom by quoting
from others, is born with a great degree of native stupidity. Therefore,
O Lord, break his pen, spill his ink, and pull his ears till he
can see and know that writings are a bore to the reader and only
a vindication of a lack of confidence in himself to tell the world
anything that is profitable and practicable. Amen.” - Journal
of Osteopathy. October, 1901.
Philosophers are often found in the common walks of life. ''One
of the first to appreciate Dr. Still's work and comprehend its possibilities,
was Mr. Robert Harris, a gun-smith of Kirksville, whom the writer
had the pleasure of meeting many times. He was the first to say
to Dr. Still, "Plant that truth right here." Dr. Still
says of him: "He was Osteopathy's first advocate in Kirksville.
I said, after a long conversation with him, 'Mr. Harris, let me
ask you one question, Why is it, in your judgment, that people are
so loath to believe a truth?' He said: 'Dr. Still, in my opinion
a man dreads that which he does not comprehend.' A man dreads to
give up his old boots for fear the new ones will pinch his feet.
We have gone from generation to generation imitating the habits
of our ancestors."
Dr. Still is a born philosopher. He always works towards first
principles. The comprehensiveness of his philosophy is noticeable
in all his work. No sign seems to have been neglected that would
lead him in the paths of truth. His knowledge is broad. He is conversant
with a great number of subjects: history, science, and philosophy,
all have a charm for him. The universe, with God and man in the
center, is his field for thought. Hence man has been his constant
study, and such a mind as he possesses could not help asking the
questions, "What is man?" "What is God?" Note
"Over twenty years I have stood in the courts of God as an
attorney. I have questioned and cross-questioned, and directed my
questions positively on all parts of this subject that I desired
to investigate. The questions that I asked myself were about the
following: 'Have I a mind capable of comprehending or solving by
my force of philosophy the great question 'What is man?' You remember
that I spoke then as a man whose mouth would not be closed through
fear. That question, 'What is man?' covers all the questions embraced
in the universe - all questions, none left. 'What is God? 'What
is life?' 'What is death?' 'What is sound?' 'What is love?' 'What
is hatred:’ Any individual one of these wonders can be found
in that great combination, man. Is anything left? Nothing. Do you
find any principle in heaven, on earth, in mind, in matter or motion,
that, is not represented by kind and quality in man's make-up? You
find the representation of the planets of heaven in man. You find
the action of those heavenly bodies represented in yours. You find
in miniature mind controlling the power of motion. You find in reason
that it is the result of a conclusion backed by the ability known
as the power of knowledge. And when the machine was constructed
it was given the power of locomotion, self-preservation, all the
passions of all the beasts of the field, and all the aspirations
of God Himself in kind. All these qualities you find in man. The
same qualities you find in a more refined condition in woman, she
being the sensitive part of the whole make-up of the human race.
She is a finer principle than man. She is sensory, man motor. He
is motor, she is intellectual." - Autobiography, pages 393-4.
The crowding in upon his mind of such thoughts as expressed above
often give to his lectures, and even his conversation, an air of
mysticism - of the supernatural. His ideas generally outrun his
expression of them. His deepest thoughts often come to his mind
with such rapidity and are uttered in such quick succession that
the hearer may become dazed in attempting to follow him, and perhaps
wonder whether there was a coherent principle underlying his expressions.
A more thorough acquaintance with the Old Doctor and his methods
of thought and work always convinced us that he had delved beyond
our view, and that we had failed to comprehend his meaning.
We often come across passages in his writings that are incomprehensible
at first. A more thorough study of them or a few words of explanation
often make such passages perfectly clear and reveal a mine of thought
hitherto uncomprehended. To fully understand Dr. Still it is almost
absolutely necessary to have a personal acquaintance with him. It
is only by coming in close touch with him that his character becomes
fully revealed. Often thoughts with which he was not supposed to
be familiar would be expressed in an unexpected moment. A single
terse sentence apparently not connected with anything preceding
or following would often be uttered and proclaim a profound truth.
A SUCCESSFUL LIFE.
Dr. Still had, in early life, accumulated considerable property,
but much of it went for benevolent or educational purposes. A serious
diminution of his income resulted from giving up the practice of
drug medication. But there never was a time in his life when he
and his good wife were so poor that they did not hold the confidence,
good-will, and credit of their friends. They never Chadwicked the
confiding. Doubtless many a day was dark, but they held tenaciously
to the truth and finally came out triumphant. He was never a pauper;
but like many another man, he often had a hard time "to make
both ends meet," financially speaking, and was sometimes found
in the "slough of despond." These were simply the vicissitudes
of fluctuating fortune, common to the life of almost every man that
has risen to prominence, and not evidences of poverty. The contrast
between his financial condition then and later, when thousands upon
thousands of dollars were subject to his orders, made his former
condition seem deplorable by contrast. Mr. Robert Harris says: "One
day when Dr. Still and I were walking down in the woods, he said
he would have to give it up so as to make a living for himself and
family. I said, 'No, stick to it, and you will come out all right."'
Any turning from his purpose at that time would have been only temporary
to enable him to accomplish an immediate end; he seems to have never
once relaxed his determination to mature and establish his principles.
Mr. Hoag, a miller of Kirksville, who was familiar with Dr. Still's
struggles and the kindly support given him by Mr. Harris, said to
Mr. Harris a few years ago:
"I have prayed for you and Dr. Still; you hung to him and
came out all right. There were only two then, you and Dr. Still.
I am glad you have succeeded." Judging from the character of
the adjectives, Mr. Hoag is said to have used in relating his story,
we are led to believe that the "prayer" was not one of
supplication, but rather in harmony with the definition given by
the poet when he said:
"Prayer is the soul's sincere desire
Uttered or unexpressed."
OFFERS OF ASSISTANCE.
As soon as Dr. Still had demonstrated to the world the merits of
Osteopathy, and established a school for the teaching of the new
science, offers of substantial assistance were made, and even urged
upon him. In consonance with his whole life, he courteously refused
financial aid, preferring to maintain a position of absolute independence,
so that he might continue his work untrammeled. He had fought the
battle against ridicule, abuse, misrepresentation, prejudice, and
poverty, alone to a successful issue. Success did not turn his head.
When money and lands were offered him in Kansas City and Des Moines
to remove his school from Kirksville, the citizens of that little
city rallied as a man to his support. At the close of a large and
enthusiastic meeting held in Kirksville, the following resolution
was unanimously adopted:
"We, the citizens of Kirksville, assembled at the Mayor's
office this evening, May 28, 1894, to take into consideration the
advisability of assisting to erect an infirmary in conjunction with
Dr. A. T. Still for his use and the benefit of humanity, beg to
express our appreciation of his great ability as the founder and
exponent of the School of Osteopathy. That we as citizens feel proud
of him as a fellow townsmen; that we have the utmost confidence
in his skill as a healer, as is evidenced by hundreds of his patients
who come halt and lame and depart in a few weeks with light hearts
and straightened limbs; that we believe his integrity as a man,
and we feel proud that he has gained a national reputation and made
Kirksville known in every State in the Union. And we most earnestly
ask Dr. Still to remain with us and we promise him substantial aid,
and our most hearty support in holding up his hands, as the greatest
healer of modern times."
Dr. Still removed from Kansas to Kirksville, Missouri, in 1875,
but did not make that his fixed abiding place till 1887. Meantime
he was an itinerant doctor, going about from place to place seeking
opportunities to heal the sick by his own original method. Among
the places where he demonstrated the power of his system may be
mentioned Wadesburg, Clinton, Holden, Harrisonville, Hannibal, Palmyra,
Rich Hill, and Kansas City, all in the state of Missouri. Many other
places were visited, but at most of them he did not tarry long.
Dr. Still attracted a great deal of attention in Kirksville almost
from the time of his arrival there. Mrs. Robert Harris claims to
have been his first patient in that village, at least the first
case he treated there that attracted much attention. She had been
sick for years and all the M. D.’s of the village had given
up her case. She was not able to raise her head, was subject to
cramps and convulsions, was often unconscious, and vomited almost
constantly. Dr. Grove, a "regular," who had heard of Dr.
Still's work, said to Mr. Harris: "I don't understand Mrs.
Harris's case, but I understand it as much as any of the others.
Try Dr. Still, there is something wonderful about him." Mr.
Harris told a neighbor, Mr. Connor, that he wanted to see Dr. Still.
When Mr. Connor told Dr. Still to go to see Mrs. Harris, Dr. Still
said to Mr. Connor: "Every doctor in the county has treated
that woman and none of them know what is the matter with her."
Dr. Still treated her about three months, since which time, about
thirty years, she has had more than the average share of good health
allotted to her, and now looks as if she might last thirty years
longer. It is needless to say that the Harris family have been staunch
friends of Dr. Still and faithful advocates of Osteopathy ever since
Mrs. Harris was snatched from the jaws of death and restored to
vigorous health. Mr. and Mrs. Harris can relate many interesting
incidents in Dr. Still's life with which they were familiar. People
upon every side sneered at Dr. Still, but many were forced to recognize
his wonderful work. He was called "the lightning bone-setter,"
and many a time did these faithful friends see him with his store
of bones studying them in their minutest details. He would often
say "medicines will not do; we must have something better."
TESTIMONY OF EARLY FRIENDS.
The following incidents in Dr. Still's life, as given by those
who knew him best, all illustrate the even tenor of his work, his
simplicity of life, his loss of self in service to others, his adherence
to friends, his tenacity of purpose, his loyalty to principle, and
his devotion to eternal truth. They are only a few of the many gleaned
from those who knew him intimately for years, and had every opportunity
to see him as he was in his every-day life, in hours of darkness
that would have forever extinguished the light of a less heroic
soul, and in hours of victory that would have confused a less calm
judgment. Mr. John F. Hannah, of Kirksville, says:
"I knew Dr. Still forty-four years ago. His father was then
living in Macon County. My father and his father, Abram Still, were
well acquainted. Abram Still was a prominent and noted man at that
time. He preached, practiced medicine, and farmed. I have known
Dr. Still here since 1874. He was always very conscientious. In
giving drugs he would say, 'The books say so and so. I don't know
whether they will do any good or not.' He said he did not believe
drugs ought to be thrown into the body.
"Him and old Bill Linder and Jess Connor tried to develop
massage treatment here. It didn't go. Dr. Still stuck to his ideas.
I have had him practice in my family ever since. Our first experience
with Osteopathy was for my wife. She had pain in her head, eyes
bloodshot. She said I must get a doctor. Met Dr. Still, told him
to come in. He said he wanted to see her eyes. He looked and said
you came mighty near having your neck broke. He said 'I can cure
that in a minute, but pain won't leave before one o'clock tomorrow.'
She rested easier that night, and next day said 'I believe, in my
soul, it is gone' No pain since treatment. Dr. Still said it was
liable to recur. He said she had had a fall - she had, on a washtub.
She had been treated with opiates, etc., for previous attacks. This
was the worst. It must have been twenty years ago.
"I have often seen him at home monkeying with bones or setting
on a box whittling, so interested he would not stop to go home to
"Once when I wanted a boy to help in my store, Dr. Still came
to me and gave me my choice of his boys. I took Harry, who staid
with me four years. Dr. Still said, 'Do you know you are helping
me more than any one else. While I am away I know my family are
"Whatever Dr. Still said you could rely upon. He was generous
hearted. If he thought it hurt a man to pay he would not take it.
He cured me of headache. I sent him a check; he sent it back. Dr.
Still would come to my store and the store would fill up with a
crowd and stay as long as he staid. He would often come in in the
evening and talk Osteopathy till ten o'clock or after; all would
stay to listen to him."
Probably no one outside of Dr. Still's own family knows him better
than Dr. Arthur G. Hildreth. He lived about five miles from Kirksville.
He has known Dr. Still since boyhood. His father and mother were
among the first of Dr. Still's genuine friends in Adair County,
Missouri. He tells of a visit with his mother to Dr. Still's office,
then on the south side of the public square in Kirksville, reached
by a rickety flght of stairs on the outside of the building. This
is Dr. Hildreth's account of the incident:
"After sitting down and waiting a few minutes, Dr. Still came
in, and mother said to him, 'Doctor, I have a good friend who is
a near neighbor of mine who is sick and I want to see if you can
tell me what ails her.' Until my dying day I shall never forget
the scene nor the impression made upon me, boy though I was. The
morning was a bright, beautiful, sunshiny one, the weather was warm,
and the west door of his office was open. He was standing just a
few feet in front of where we were sitting. After mother's question,
he turned and gazed out the door, seeming to be lost in thought
for a few minutes. Then turning to us, he said: 'Why your friend
has goiter and if you will have her come up here I will remove it.'
Mother said: 'Yes, but doctor, they are very poor people; how can
they pay you?' He replied: 'Her husband can haul me a load of wood,
can't he?' Mother told him they would only be too glad to do so.
The lady came to him and the goiter was entirely removed."
Another incident illustrating Dr. Still's apparent power of prescience,
his devotion to friends, and his self-sacrificing and heroic labor,
with Dr. Hildreth's comments, is here given:
"It was in the early spring of 1886, during my father's last
illness, that Dr. Still performed a little act that to us was characteristic
of his greatness, his goodness of heart, and guidance at the critical
time to do the right thing.
"My father died with stricture of the stomach, and it was
just one year, to a day, from the time he was taken sick until his
death. Dr. Still was the only man we found who could or did give
him any relief. In the very first days of April or the last days
of March, before father's death in May, he had been suffering terribly
for two or three days and we did not know Dr. Still was in town,
for in those days he traveled a good deal. It was at the end of
about the third day of this suffering - a dark, gloomy, awful day
to us, when just at dusk we heard a footstep on our porch and a
knock at our door, and who should enter but Dr. Still. An angel
from heaven could not have been more welcome than he, and imagine
he had walked the entire distance. He said he had felt that he was
needed and so he came, even if he did have to walk. He gave my father
temporary relief which was all that could be done. It seems to me
if our profession could know him individually, as I have known him,
or even if the world could know him as he is, they would all understand
why those who do know him are so loyal to him and so desirous of
guarding his every desire or need."
The following, which is self-explanatory, is also from the pen
of Dr. Hildreth:
“One of the best illustrations of Dr. A. T. Still's heroic
will power, his indomitable courage, and his abiding faith in Divine
guidance, also his ability to look upon the bright side of every
condition and smile and see good in failure, or seeming failure,
was best demonstrated on the day that Governor Stone, of Missouri,
vetoed the first osteopathic bill ever passed by any state in this
union - and, of course, it was the first bill in Missouri.
"It was on a raw, cold, blustery day, the middle of March,
1895, when Dr. Still, the faculty and students of the American School
of Osteopathy, yes, and nearly all of Kirksville, was anxiously
waiting for word to come from Jefferson City of the signing of our
bill, which had been passed a few days previously in the Missouri
Legislature. It was late in the day when a message was received
from Senator A. N. Seaber, who had labored earnestly and untiringly
for our measure, stating that Governor Stone had vetoed our bill.
My first thought was of Dr. Still, and regret at his disappointment.
It was not long after we heard of the telegram until Dr. Still came
by our house on his way home from town. 1 saw him coming and ran
out to meet him, and I want to say my heart was pretty heavy. When
he saw me coming he began to laugh, and instead of my being able
to console him, I found him much more able to relieve my suffering.
He was consoled by a higher power than man's. His very first remark
was: 'Well, Arthur, that is all right and for the best. The next
time we will pass our law, and it will be signed, and when it is,
it will be a much better law than this one was.' I asked him to
come into the house, and he said, 'No, you come with me,' and he
led the way around back of my house where we were sheltered from
the raw northwest wind just a little, and there upon that bleak,
raw evening we had one of the very best talks we have ever had in
our lives (and we have had many); it was there on that day that
he unfolded to me why he never worried nor fretted in our darkest
hours. Even when it seemed that the whole world was against his
discovery, he would work and act with the utmost confidence in the
"He said to me: 'Listen, Arthur, years ago I was promised
no matter how dark conditions seemed to be, and no matter how hard
the storms of internal strife or outward opposition seemed to rage,
that all the rubbish should be wiped from our pathway as if but
chaff, and in the end Osteopathy would reign triumphant.' I leave
if, to those who know of our progress from that day to this to judge
whether the promise made to him has been kept or not."
Mrs. Theodoria E. Purdom, D. O., was one of the first to recognize
the qualities of Dr. Still's mind and heart and an early recipient
of the blessings of Osteopathy. She recently wrote the following:
"Along in the 70's, 1871 or 1872, I first met Dr. A. T. Still,
and ever since have been cognizant of his individuality, originality,
and intellectuality. Some thought him eccentric, but even then the
scintillations of a bright mind were a rare treat to those closest
"I was one of his first patients in 1876, whom he treated
osteopathically, effecting a cure of an illness of eleven years.
On this occasion he proceeded, in a limited way, to unfold his discovery
of Osteopathy. He presented the facts of his science so forcibly,
and his arguments were so logical and pertinent as to impress me
greatly, and that the true law of cause and effect in the human
anatomy had been brought to light. When he had finished, he asked
what I thought of it? So convinced was I of its truth, that I replied:
'Doctor, you have made a great discovery. None can horoscope the
possibilities of the future of Osteopathy, but I believe you have
succeeded in discovering the natural law of disease and health -
that you will succeed beyond your expectations, and there is more
ahead of you than you can now see'
"This prognostication was made nearly thirty years ago, and
the progress and advancement of the science has been so great that
today the magnificent Osteopathic School at Kirksville is a lasting
monument to his great intellect, and Osteopathy occupies a niche
in the therapeutics and 'pathies' of the world second to none.
"Dr. Still is a man of many prominent traits, endowed with
a diversity of attainments - unselfish and generous to a great degree,
always found on the side of suffering humanity as against the almighty
dollar. He never forgot an obligation, giving many-fold in return."
Those familiar with the old doctor will never forget the impression
made by just such scenes as described below by Dr. F. W. Hannah.
Besides the box for a seat, he was often seen sitting on the steps
of a porch, on a bench in his own or some one else's porch or door
yard, or lying on a cot or in a hammock. He was generally accompanied
by a stick upon which he was whittling, or a staff upon which he
had carved some hieroglyphic, which he often gladly explained. These
carvings always had a meaning, and generally illustrated some great
truth. Dr. Hannah says:
"Having been reared in Kirksville, I knew Osteopathy as far
back as the early eighties, and now vividly recall the old doctor
as I knew him then; it was a familiar scene to see him perched on
a goods-box, in his very characteristic way and dress, with a big
chew of tobacco and a stick on which he was whittling. Sometimes
he would be alone, again he would be surrounded by a few interested
listeners. He was generally the one who was doing the talking."
The following by Dr. Homer E. Bailey is so much to the point that
it is not abridged:
"From the beginning of the year 1888 to the fall of the year
1891, I was quite intimately associated with the old doctor in a
business way. Although I was a Democrat and running a Democrat paper,
and the old doctor an Abolitionist Republican, he patronized our
newspaper in the way of printing circulars and other newspaper work,
because of the fact that the Republican county paper had refused
to take his son Charley into their office as the 'devil or roustabout,'
the name which printers give to their errand boy. This little incident
shows the peculiarity of Dr. Still in remembering a wrong as well
as a good deed. He rarely forgot either. Our bills for newspaper
articles and circular letters amounted to no little sum of money;
and we always could depend upon him paying promptly when he had
"Sometimes he would leave Kirksville with barely enough money
to pay car fare, and go to some town with a bundle of probably a
thousand bills, get these scattered, after which he would give an
exhibition of setting hips; probably on the public square, in a
spring wagon or an old ox-cart. Of course, he would be looked upon
as some mysterious being, crazy or at least daffy; but with his
intuitive insight, he would pick out a cripple or some one with
a severe headache or some disease that he could cure quickly and
demonstrate before the anxious crowd 'The Principles of Osteopathy.'
He was always eccentric and did what you least expected him to do;
but the impression left was usually a good one. It created talk
and thought of the mysterious old doctor. Hence, it was that so
many mysterious stories were afloat in those days, that the old
doctor was a clairvoyant or one gifted with the power of a medium
or spiritualistic powers.
"In thinking over those days now, I see how he drew unto himself
such a great following and became so much advertised, not only among
the common people of Missouri, but all over the nation.
"Of course, to the osteopathic profession today and the medical
profession then, such a course would be considered very unethical;
but one living as he did, with a great thought in mind and with
the problem before him of drawing the world's attention to that
great thought and accepting it, there could have been no better
procedure. Dr. Still was a man who personally disliked notoriety
and advertisement, and when the clamor of the multitudes was so
great in 1892 that he and his family could no longer heal the vast
crowds that appeared before him, he began to teach it to others.
He would hide himself away for days at a time, to obtain the quiet
and rest which he so much needed in developing the science and building
the school that he was then undertaking. He was a great student
of nature and nature's laws, and never was happier than when he
was astride an old log out in the woods with. Father Geo. A. Chappell,
one of his most intimate friends.
"The rich and poor alike came from far and near, and they
would not be satisfied without seeing and talking face to face with
the old doctor, and being treated by him. And it was this very fact
alone that caused him to hide away in order to force the people
to take treatment of his assistants.
"About this time the late lamented. Dr. Henry Patterson took
charge of the financial end of affairs, and as much as possible,
stopped the free hand of the old doctor in liberally giving away
his hard earned money. At one time, meeting, in company with myself
and Father Chappell, an old darky woman with a crooked neck and
a stitch in the muscles, at the old Wabash crossing, the old doctor
placed one foot on the second plank of the fence, and with the old
lady resting against his knee placed one hand on the neck and the
other on the head and gave it such a twist that he corrected the
lesion at once, and the old lady, looking foolish, but happy, asked
him his price. He answered by the question, 'What is your name and
what do you do?' Upon receiving a reply as to name and that she
was a poor washer woman, he said his fee was $10. Her purse being
quite empty, she replied, 'All right, Massa, but I has to get some
clothes to wash before I kin pay you.' At this juncture he put his
hand in his pocket and pulled out a ten dollar bill. Giving it to
her he remarked, 'The bill is paid, go home and be happy. It was
such generosity and the doing of good work on the streets and in
the by-ways, that attracted much attention to the old. doctor."
Dr. J. H. Sullivan speaks thus of his first meeting with Dr. Still:
"My first meeting with Dr. A. T. Still occurred in 1894, through
my wife's invalidism. We reached Kirksville and she went under treatment
April 1, 1894.
"While waiting for our turn we noticed a remarkable appearing
man dodging in and out of the rooms in his shirt sleeves, and we
instinctively thought, this is the doctor we have come to see. He
reminded me of the great emancipator, Lincoln, and many others have
expressed the same thought; to complete the analogy, I heard him
lecture after a few days and he said, among other things: 'I helped
to free the colored man from slavery and am now engaged freeing
the white man from slavery - the slavery of drugs.' His results
certainly have borne him out in this assertion.
"Dr. Still is not a university graduate in the higher sciences,
nevertheless, many times have I heard him debate with scientific
men, and never have I heard him at a loss for an answer, whether
it were astronomy, electricity, mineralogy, or allied sciences,
he invariably had his own peculiar solution of the question. In
anatomy, vast as the subject is and intricate as well, Dr., Still
has within him an almost supernatural acquaintance with the living
model. The question never settled as to the function of the thyroid
gland and the spleen, have been most satisfactorily explained by
Dr. Still, as all students under him can bear witness."
When Dr. Still is engaged in the solution of a new problem he knows
no cessation from study. He is an early riser, and many of us have
received early morning calls from him, often before the break of
day and before most of the residents of the quiet village of Kirksville
were out of bed. Dr. Sullivan tells of the case of a patient that
seemed to worry the old doctor more than usual. After a wakeful
night, he called at Dr. Sullivan's about 4.30 A. M. and said he
thought that he had solved the problem through the night. After
talking a few minutes he went direct to the case, put his ideas
into practice, and secured the desired result.
Dr. Asa M. Willard relates the following incident which is so characteristic
of Dr. Still that those who know him best often pass such occurrences
by as a matter of course and think but little of them. These are
the elements that contribute to Dr. Still's greatness and endear
him to all who come in close contact with him. Dr. Willard writes:
"An incident which I call to mind illustrates a trait in the
old doctor which all who have ever been intimately associated with
him have recognized; namely, his extreme and all-absorbed devotion
to his science and his desire to relieve suffering in contradistinction
to the courting of public favors. The wife of a man of national
reputation called at the old doctor's residence. She was announced
to the old doctor, with whom I was sitting on the kitchen porch.
At the same time a little crippled girl came around the corner.
The old doctor had arisen to enter the house, but stopped to tell
me that he wished me to take charge of the little, girl for a few
months. He gave a suggestion as to her treatment and kneeled to
illustrate. He was soon absorbed in the case, and for a half hour
talked to me upon it, until he was again called into the house after
he had started to the infirmary, having forgotten all about the
prominent lady who was waiting for him while he was explaining the
case of the little charity patient."
In a letter of March 29, 1904, Dr. George G. Chappell gives his
personal reminiscences as follows:
"I have known Dr. Still since the eighties. We did his printing
when he was making from two to ten days' stands all over the country
as an itinerant ‘lightning bone-setter.’ After he had
begun to be noticed he had several places in Kirksville where he
would hide from people who sought him. He and my father were the
best of friends, and many times he has come up the alley, into our
back door and staid for hours to avoid some one who was seeking
him. I have seen my father loan Dr. Still $50 to enable him to fill
his itinerant dates, when it would have been difficult for him to
have gotten credit for a much less amount elsewhere. Dr. Still never
forgot a favor, and we have never regretted what we considered at
that time throwing his money away on an old crank. I have seen Dr.
Still go out in town, treat a patient, hand him a five dollar bill
with the remark, 'Here is a plaster for you,' and not charge anything
for his services. Dr. Still would look upon years as most people
look upon weeks. More than a decade ago, 1 heard him map out his
future, and everything has worked out just as he planned. When he
was getting out a few hundred copies of the Journal o f Osteopathy
in a six-column folio form and about two to four months between
issues, be told my father and me just what he intended to make out
of the Journal, and exactly what it is today. Many times have I
seen the 'wise men' shake their heads at the suggestions he would
make as to his future and the future of Osteopathy; and even now,
not only among the outsiders, but among the members of the profession,
and among the graduates of his own school, are the 'wise men' who
criticise that grand old man when he advances something too deep
for them to fathom."
Every one who is acquainted with Dr. Still or who has been a student
at the American School of Osteopathy, or even spent a few days in
Kirksville, the home of Dr. Still, has heard many stories of his
eccentricities and learned much of his habits. From the large number
at hand a few only are given. The following is from Dr. C. L. Rider,
of Detroit, Michigan. It is a very clear statement of facts similar
to those with which hundreds of us are more or less familiar, but
does not consist of hearsay evidence:
"Dr. A. T. Still, or as he was familiarly called by those
who knew him best, the Old Doctor, was never a very particular man
about his dress, or perhaps it would be nearer the truth to say
that he was usually very careless about his personal appearance.
This seems to be a characteristic of nearly all geniuses. When a
large addition, now known as the North Hall, was being built to
the original osteopathic school building at Kirksville, the Old
Doctor drew the plans and specifications and superintended the erection
of the addition. Attired in a blue flannel shirt without a collar,
a black slouch hat that had seen better days, a pair of corduroy
pants the legs of which were stuffed in the tops of a pair of rawhide
boots, his appearance during the erection of this building was more
that of a common laborer than that of a physician whose skill and
fame had attracted patients to him from all, parts of the civilized
"About the time the Old Doctor was busiest with this work,
a wealthy and refined lady from Boston came to Kirksville for treatment,
and, like all other patients coming to the institution for the first
time, wanted the Old Doctor or no one; but after being informed
that he was very busy with other work and was not taking any regular
patients, she became reconciled and decided to stay and take the
treatment. She was told that she might catch him some time when
he was not busy and he no doubt would then examine and treat her.
She was assigned to Dr. Hildreth for treatment, but cherished the
hope that the day might not be far distant when she could find the
Old Doctor at leisure and get him to examine her, at least. She
had not been under treatment more than a week, when one morning
while waiting for the room to which she was assigned to be vacated,
she was accosted by the Old Doctor fresh from his work, who greeted
her pleasantly, as was his custom, and inquired if she was waiting
for her treatment? Upon her replying in the affirmative, he asked
her to step into a vacant room near by, where be would be pleased
to look after her, as he had nothing else to do just then. This
lady from Boston, not knowing the Old Doctor, replied that she was
perfectly satisfied with Dr. Hildreth's treatment, and would wait
until he could attend to her case. 'All right,' replied the Old
Doctor, a faint smile spreading o'er his bronzed face, 'if you prefer
Dr. Hildreth to me, I have nothing to say,' and with that he turned
and walked slowly away.
"The Boston lady, quickly calling a janitor to her side, asked
him who that old rag-a-muffin was then walking down the hall, and
why he had the audacity to offer to treat her? 'Why, don't you know
him?' replied the janitor, 'that's Dr. Still: 'Oh! such an ignoramus
as I am, I might have known him from his pictures had I only given
him the second look. Here I have come all the way from Boston to
have him examine me, and just had the chance and did not have sense
enough to take it, and don't suppose I will ever have another' It
might be in place to add that this lady remained at the institution
for several months but never had another chance to get the Old Doctor
to treat her. This, however, did not cause her any uneasiness, as
she went home completely cured.''
All who had heard of Dr. Still were anxious to see him, and the
circumstances attending their first visit were always interesting,
- sometimes amusing, sometimes almost dramatic. His penchant for
contrasts always brought out the humorous side of his nature or
was made an occasion for teaching a very important lesson. Many
are the stories told of the manner in which he treated strangers
who assumed an air of superiority either in dress or intellect.
In the spring of 1897, two well dressed ladies dismounted from
a fine carriage in front of his house and inquired of the workman
who happened at that time to be repairing the brick walk, if Dr.
Still was at home. "Yes," was the laconic reply, almost
without looking up from his work. One of them said: "We have
come from --, and would like to see him." Quick as a flash
the reply came, "If you want to see Dr. Still look at me, but
if you want to see a fifty dollar suit of clothes and a 'plug' hat,
mother [he always calls his wife mother] will show them to you,
if you will step in the house." The picture reproduced opposite
page 36, shows Dr. Still in that now famous suit of clothes and
hat. During the rejoicing over the passage of the Missouri Osteopathic
law in March, 1897, Dr. Still's admirers literally forced him into
a clothing store and had the suit put upon him. The same tactics
were employed to get him to a studio where the picture was taken.
It is said that he wore the suit only that one time. Dr. F. D. Parker
speaks of that incident as follows in the Northern Osteopath for
"I never saw him with a new suit on but once, and this was
upon the news of the passage of the osteopathic bill through the
house and senate of the Missouri legislature. He apologized for
it, confidentially stating to a few of us that in the enthusiasm
up town on the receipt of the word, some of his friends pushed him
into that Jew clothier's and placed a new coat and a silk hat on
him, but what was worse they forced him to wear a necktie. However,
he would have them off by supper time, and he did. I venture the
assertion that the silk hat has never been seen on his head since."
Dr. Parker was a resident of Kirksville long before the first school
of Osteopathy was established, and knew Dr. Still intimately. In
the Northern Osteopath for February, 1902, he speaks as follows
of Dr. Still:
"Imagine one going about town, or strolling in the woods,
dropping down perhaps upon a curbstone, taking a bone from among
many hidden about his person, wholly oblivious of his surroundings,
and studying it as if his whole future depended upon the exact origin
or attachment of a muscle, perhaps mumbling to himself; and you
will see Dr. Still.
"If you heard one of his prayers repeated, such as, 'I pray
the Lord my soul to take; I pray the Lord to keep my head combed
with a fine comb, and get all the ignorance out of it, for Thou
knowest the dandruff of laziness is rank poison to knowledge, success,
and progress. Keep it off, O Lord ! Amen,' would, you not question
the sanity of such a man?" I assure you this is not overdrawn,
and I speak of it only to give you an idea of how completely his
mind was wrapped up in the one thought, which has since made him
"He once told me that the hardest trial, or rather the thing
which grieved him most, was to see little children (and the doctor
is fond of them) cross the street rather than meet him on the same
A FEW OF THE AUTHOR'S REMINISCENCES.
Well does the writer remember the first commencement exercises
of the American School of Osteopathy he ever attended. It was in
June, 1898. Sixty-six pupils graduated and received diplomas from
the hand of Dr. Still. His diversity of thought and variety of expression
were observed then as never before or since. Dr. Eliott, for many
years Chancellor of Washington University, St. Louis, was an adept
as a short speech maker on commencement occasions. He may have repeated
thoughts but generally they were so expressed as to make each appear
new. So Dr. Still, on this occasion made some remark to each of
the sixty-six graduates as he delivered his diploma, and scarcely
a repetition was noticeable. Moreover, each little speech seemed
to be especially adapted to the person to whom it was addressed
and contained a central thought, of which Osteopathy was the core.
A serious purpose is always at the bottom of every act of Dr. Still's
life; but he has a bubbling sense of humor and a keen appreciation
of the ludicrous. Often when appearing most serious, a look at his
eyes will detect a sparkle betokening a suppression of mirth. His
every act has a serious purpose, yet its lesson may be impressed
upon others in a most ludicrous way. He was at times a consummate
actor. On one occasion when delivering an address in Memorial Hall
on the struggle and victories of Osteopathy, he became eloquent
in portraying its possibilities in the future. He worked his audience
up to the highest pitch of interest and plead with those present
to raise high the banner of Osteopathy when he should have ceased
his labor and been called to his eternal reward. Suddenly his words
grew faint, he began to totter, and fell to the floor as one dead.
Those nearest rushed to the platform, and his son Harry used osteopathic
restorative measures. Very soon he rose to his feet and that well-known
twinkle of his eve told that he had been feigning. Almost every
one present breathed a sigh of relief, and the Old Doctor laughed
heartily at the excitement he had caused.
Before graduating from the American School of Osteopathy in June,
1900, I was honored with the offer of a position on the faculty
of the school. After mature deliberation, I declined the offer and
at once notified the management of my decision. A few evenings later
the Old Doctor and I were walking along the street. He was not very
communicative upon that occasion, but we had kept up a more or less
desultory conversation. As we were passing along the street in the
twilight, opposite the school building, he stopped suddenly, caught
the lapel of my coat, gave it a sudden jerk, and turned me so we
were facing each other. Without any preliminary remark he said:
"I was in hopes we would have you with us next year, but you
have done the wise thing. Heretofore you have been every man's dog,
now go out and be a God's man." As soon as he had finished
speaking he relaxed his hold upon my coat, turned, and went on as
if the walk had not been interrupted. It seemed to me then, and
has ever since, that that one statement, made as it was, contained
more sound sense than any I had ever heard before or have heard
since. Later we engaged in conversation about the work of a teacher.
His remarks showed that he was familiar with the vicissitudes of
those engaged in that work and that he was in hearty sympathy with
all who were trying to improve humanity.
Dr. Still is a master workman. He knows just where and how to take
hold of a patient, and just how much force to apply at every stage
of a treatment. He says: "An intelligent head will soon learn
that a soft hand and a gentle move is the hand and head that get
the desired results." Two personal incidents will make this
point clearer. One evening during a reception on Dr. C. E. Still's
lawn, the Old Doctor and I went away to avoid the crowd. We were
talking on the subject nearest to our hearts, Osteopathy. The examination
of a patient was the topic. He turned to me, and suiting his actions
to his words, placed his hands upon my neck and back and demonstrated
his meaning. No one else ever taught me so much in so short a time.
On another occasion, while I was engaged in clinic practice, he
met me in the infirmary hall and said in his direct way, "Come
in here." We entered the nearest treating room and he said
he wanted me to treat his neck, which was stiff from a cold. He
knew just where the trouble was and just what he wanted me to do.
With one hand against the neck and the other on his head as instructed,
I undertook to follow his directions. In a very gentle and kindly
voice he said, "Don't do so much with the hand on my head."
I lessened, as I thought, the amount of force applied; but he said,
with more earnestness than before, "Don't do so much with the
hand on the head." I relaxed my tension still more, as I thought,
but had not conformed to his ideal. Suddenly he blurted out: "Don't
do so much with the hand on the head. A man's neck is not a bull's
neck." Before we parted, thinking he might have hurt my feelings,
he said, "You must not get mad at what I say, I want to make
an osteopath of you."' No other lesson ever impressed so forcibly
upon my mind the difference between a trained osteopath and one
who is not thoroughly skilled in his business. Dr. Still's individuality,
his eccentricities, often his impetuosity, have forced many thoughtless
persons to give him respectful attention, and put them in a frame
of mind to learn a valuable lesson that, under other conditions,
would have been lost.
Dr. Still is a master diagnostician as well as a master workman.
He is so thoroughly familiar with the normal conditions of the human
body that he recognizes departures from the normal with marvelous
precision. Not only does he recognize the presence of an abnormality,
but he knows just the nature of the deviation and the primary condition
as distinguished from the effects produced by that condition. I
well remember once seeking information concerning the conditions
of a patient's neck. I said to Dr. Still, "I have gotten far
enough along to know sometimes that there is something wrong with
a neck, but often I can not tell what the trouble is." He replied,
"I have studied miles of necks and find that I have a great
deal to learn yet."
Those who have been with Dr. Still much have seen scores of cases
in which men, women, and children have expressed in words, and shown
by their actions their appreciation of what he had done for them
byway of relief from suffering, or absolute cure of disease. The
most recent incident of the kind witnessed by the writer, occurred
at the Inside Inn, World's Fair, St. Louis, while the American Osteopathic
Association was in session, in July, 1904. Mrs. J. L. Cornelius,
St. Louis, had been restored to health in a few weeks by Dr. Still
in 1893, after a prolonged disturbance in the hip and an equally
prolonged series of tortures under treatment by the best medical
doctors and surgeons. She had just met him for the first time since
her cure, and her womanly expression of her gratitude, and the equally
manly reception of her story by Dr. Still, brought tears to every
eye present. There were no hysterical demonstrations, nothing but
unmistakable evidences of appreciation on her part, and nothing
but a simple expression of thankfulness on Dr. Still's part that
he had been instrumental in serving others. Such scenes as that,
not uncommon, give a true insight into Dr. Still's character, such
as can not be obtained by reading his writings or hearing him talk.
A chapter might be devoted to the wise sayings of Dr. Still. They
are scattered all through his writings. They are found in varied
forms in his addresses, and they crop out in his conversation.
Note the following:
"Be kind in thought to the atoms of life."
"The supposed ignorance of God is the pill doctor's opportunity."
"Our theologian are usually much better to God than to themselves."
"Basic principles must at all times precede each philosophical
"To know all of a bone in its entirety would close both ends
of an eternity."
"Not a known victory for drugs stands upon record today, without
doubt or debate."
"God manifests Himself in matter, motion, and mind. Study
well His manifestations."
"Timidity takes possession of us only when we are at loss
to judge of the end from the beginning."
"Every advance step taken in Osteopathy leads one to greater
veneration of the Divine Ruler of the universe."
"Osteopathy does not look on a man as a criminal before God
to be puked, purged, and made sick and crazy."
"If because I denounce drugs you call me a Christian Scientist,
go home and take half a glass of castor oil and purge yourself of
"Some people have an idea that this science can be learned
in five minutes. If you can learn all of Osteopathy in four years,
I will buy you a farm and a wife to run it and boss you."
"My father was a progressive farmer and was always ready to
lay aside an old plow if he could replace it with one better constructed
for its work. All through life I have ever been ready to buy a better
"Our greatest men have only to look over their shoulders to
see their fathers and mothers toiling with grain and herds. None
but fools would fail to love the honest mother's grave who lived
and died on the farm."
"The man who lives an honest life has influence from merit
only. God himself has put merit only in all things. Policy is the
soft soap of liars and hypocrites, which a man never borrows nor
pays unless he doubts his own merits. A just and wise man needs
no such help."
Those who are best acquainted with Dr. Still know him only with
love and admiration. His many excellent personal qualities as well
as his great work in discovering and formulating the principles
of Osteopathy and in founding a new science and art of healing,
endear him to those who know him best. His native simplicity and
directness are qualities that are characteristic of a great man.
Many have remarked on the similarity in many respects between Dr.
Still and the immortal Lincoln. We know that any comparison between
them might be misleading, because of the difference in the trend
of the life work of the two great men. With confidence that the
future will justify our estimate of his life and work, the following
lines referring to Lincoln in Lowell's Commemoration Ode are quoted,
because they are equally applicable to the subject of this sketch,
Dr. Andrew Taylor Still.
"Standing like a tower,
Our children shall behold his fame,
The kindly, earnest, brave, far-seeing man,
Sagacious, patient, dreading praise, not blame,
New birth of our new soil, the first American."