Autobiography of A. T. Still
Andrew Taylor Still, D.O.
HAVING finally solved the great problem of Osteopathy,
and established the science in my own mind, I determined to try my luck
with what I then thought to be a new discovery. My first effort was
to draw the attention of the thinking people of my home in Baldwin, Kans.,
to it. Baldwin is the home of the Baldwin and Baker University, which
had been located there by three commissioners, appointed by the general
conference of the M. E. Church between 1854 and 1856. My father,
Abram Still, L. B. Dennis, and Elder Hood were the commissioners to purchase
site. They advertised for offers by towns, villages, and other places,
who wanted a great university, backed by and under the M. E. Church.
Palmyra, afterward Baldwin, made the offer, which was accepted by the locating
An Effort to Draw the Attention of the People to Osteopathy
Failure at Baldwin, Kansas
History of Baker University
Prayers for the Man Possessed
Brother Jim's Skepticism
Faith of My Good Wife
A Wandering Osteopath
My Story in Clinton County
I lived in Palmyra at that time, took an active part
in rushing the scheme on, and was appointed by the commissioners of the
general conference as agent with my brother Thomas, J. B. Abbott, James
Blood, and others, to select and locate a spot for the university building.
We gave the church six hundred and forty acres of land, all in one body.
Myself and two brothers donated four hundred and eighty acres of land for
the site of Baldwin and Baker University (as it is now called). We
-- myself, brother, and two men named Barricklow -- purchased and
erected a forty horsepower steam-sawmill, and sawed all the lumber for
the university and other buildings at Baldwin, as Palmyra was called after
the founding of the college, and all the country for twenty miles around.
I was ground agent of the work, and was five years engaged in sawing, building,
and doctoring the sick through smallpox, cholera, and all the fevers, and
representing the people of Douglass County in the Kansas legislature, during
which time we washed and ironed the last wrinkle of human slavery out of
the State, as I have told in former chapters. I was called a good
doctor, a faithful legislator, a sober, sound, and loyal man, abounding
with truth and justice, and a heart full of love to all. But, alas!
when I said, "God has no use for drugs in disease, and I can prove it by
his works"; when I said I could twist a man one way and cure flux, fever,
colds, and the diseases of the climate; shake a child and stop scarlet
fever, croup, diphtheria, and cure whooping-cough in three days by a wring
of its neck, and so on, all my good character was at once gone. You
would have been ashamed of man or any other animal with two legs, if you
had heard the prayers that were sent up by men and women to save my soul
from bell. 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.
I stayed in Kansas, and listened and laughed, until
ready to go to Missouri. I stopped with my brother, E. C. Still.
He had been poor in health for a number of years, and was so reduced he
could scarcely walk, and had been led to and turned loose in the pastures
of hell by "allopathy," using seventy-five bottles of morphine annually.
I realized that bad could be worse. I stayed three months with him,
got him free from opium, and started on to Kirksville, which I supposed
would be the next cussing-post. I stayed there three months, sent
for wife and four babies, who came in May, 1875. My wife was a Methodist,
and could stand cussing pretty well. She said: "I will stand by you;
we'll be cussed together; maybe we can get it done cheaper." She
studied economy, and was as gritty as an eagle, who loves to fight for
her young ones. I did not tell her that when I came to Missouri I
found a letter addressed to my brother Edward, from brother James M. Still,
of Eudora, Kans., stating that I was crazy, had lost my mind and supply
of truth-loving manhood. I read it and thought, as the eagle stirreth
up her nest, so stir away, Jim, till your head lets down some of the milk
of reason into some of the starved lobes of your brain. I believed
Jim's brain would ripen in time, so just let him pray, until at the end
of eighteen years he said:
"Hallelujah, Drew, you are right; there is money
in it, and I want to study 'Osteopathy.'" At this time Jim is a member
in good standing, and doing much good in the cause. When he happens
to think of it, he says:
"Osteopathy is the greatest scientific gift of God
to man," and regrets that his mind was so far below high-water mark, when
it was held up to the mental feast far back in the seventies. I have
told much that I would have held out of this history, but for the reason
I took my pen to write the whole truth of my journey with my son and child,
I spent much time in the study of anatomy, physiology,
chemistry, and mineralogy. During the winter of 1878 and 1879 I was
called by telegram to my old home in Kansas to treat a member of a family
whom I had doctored for ten years previous to my moving to Missouri.
I treated partly by drugs, as in other days, but also gave Osteopathic
treatments. She got well. From there I went to Henry County,
Mo., and spent the spring and summer, where I built up a large practice
in a short time. I had my office at Captain Lowe's, fifteen miles
west of Clinton. Here I had excellent opportunity to notice the effects
of osteopathy in chronic diseases, for most of the cases were of the class
known as chronic. My first case was pneumonia of both lungs.
The patient was the wife of Captain Lowe, and was dangerously sick.
I cured her, and scored one more success for Osteopathy.
While there I cured all cases of pneumonia that came
under my care. Hiram Kepner came with a pair of purulent sore eyes,
having ulcerated iris of both. He was almost blind; but in two months'
treatment his eyes were well, and no drugs had been used. I simply
used the blood of the nutrient arteries only.
At this time a case of erysipelas was brought to
me. The patient was the wife of Captain E. V. Stall, whom drugs bad failed
to cure. I made a thorough examination of the great system of facial
arteries and veins, treated her strictly by the teachings of Osteopathy,
and she was well in thirty-six hours. I have since treated a great
number of cases of erysipelas by this law, and cured all.
From Henry County I went to Hannibal, and opened
an office for the fall and winter. Shortly after I was established
in my new quarters a man came to me with his arm in a sling. He had
fallen and dislocated his elbow, and four doctors had used four ounces
of chloroform on him, but failed to reduce the bones. I set it in
about ten minutes without chloroform, and no machinery save my hands.
My method of treatment began to attract attention, and I was asked if I
could cure asthma, and I began to treat for that disease. I have
never failed on a case of asthma to date, and after eighteen years' practice
can say that for asthma Osteopathy is king.
Amusement often accompanies annoyances. An
Irish lady came to me with great pain under her shoulder-blade, and asked
me if I could make her shoulder easy. She had asthma in a bad form,
though she had only come to be treated for the pain in her shoulder.
I found she had a section of the upper vertebrae out of line, and stopping
the pain I set the spine and a few ribs. In about a mouth she came
back to see me without any pain or trace of asthma. Her superstitious
nature was aroused, and she asked if I had "hoodledooed her.
"Me pain is all gone from around me shoulder and
divil the bit of asthma have I felt since you trated me first."
This was my first case of asthma treated in the new
way, and it started me into a new train of thought. Since I have
made a careful study of the disease, and do not hesitate to repeat that
Osteopathy is king of asthma.
I cannot say that the case of the Irishwoman who
had charged me with hoodledooing her made any great impression on me at
the time. A few months later I found a man in great distress with
asthma. I got off my horse and "hoodledooed" him. I discovered
that my head could open just as other clamshells, and take in some small
amounts of reason, until I had obtained enough knowledge to know the absolute
cause, and I was prepared to say yes when asked if I could cure asthma.
[graphic 116: "ISN'T THIS MOSTLY HYPNOTISM?"
"YES, MADAM, I SET SEVENTEEN HIPS YESTERDAY."]
While in Hannibal a very well-dressed lady with sparkling
eyes (and diamonds, too) came into my office and said she desired to investigate
my method of treatment, and was very anxious to know how I cured people.
She had heard that it was faith cure, Christian science, spiritualism,
and a great many kinds of names. After she had warmed up with her
inquiries, she said:
"I want you to tell me the honest truth; isn't this
mostly hypnotism?" I said: "Yes, madam, I set seventeen hips in one day."
She looked wise and skipped. I set three hips in the presence of
Dr. W. 0. Torrey, ex-president of the Missouri State Board of Health.
He had diagnosed all three cases, and decided complete dislocation of the
head of the femur from the socket. He timed me, and I reduced all
three of them in four minutes and a quarter, he being the authority before
and after the operations.
I will draw your attention to one more case while
in Hannibal, and that is a case of painless obstetrics. It began
and terminated with a painless birth of an eight-pound boy baby in something
less than one hour from the first sign of labor. This was possibly
the twentieth case delivered by this method, which I consider worth all
the midwifery written to date.
As I am a great admirer of short sermons, we will drop details
and be dismissed.