Bard’s Drugstore had the cures

Rhonda Chalfant - Contributing Columnist

Rhonda Chalfant

Contributing Columnist

Bard’s Drugstore was established early in Sedalia’s history. The 1882 History of Pettis County identifies a drug store owned by W.E. Bard as one of the businesses that opened in Sedalia shortly after the arrival of the Pacific Railroad in 1860. Bard began working as a clerk at the drug store owned by Dr. Robert Miller in 1861, and became a full partner in 1862.

The business was located in a frame building on the north side of West Main Street between Osage Avenue and Ohio Avenue. In 1863, when the railroad reached Dresden, Bard and Miler opened a small store there, but did not move permanently from Sedalia.

In January 1868, a major fire destroyed several frame business buildings on Main Street, including that of W.E. Bard. He replaced the building with a brick store building costing $10,000.

Bard continued in the pharmacy business in Sedalia. Like most pharmacists of the time, he sold manufactured medicines and also compounded medicines, either to a doctor’s prescription or to his own specifications. One of his more interesting products is a cold remedy called “Koldi,” which is interesting because of its ingredients. It contained morphine, chloroform, cannabis, and alcohol. While it may not have cured a cold, it certainly would have left its users feeling no pain.

In 1903, interspersed in a series of articles praising Sedalia’s business firms, are two advertisements from Bard’s Drug Store. Both advertisements are given in text as though they were articles, and emphasize two products Bard’s sold for the cure of respiratory ailments.

One of the advertisements is for a product that offered a money-back guarantee if it did not cure catarrh, a respiratory tract symptom that most today would simply refer to as nasal congestion, cough, and runny nose. Bard’s sold Hyomei, a cure that consisted of a pocket sized inhaler and a bottle of the Hyomei solution. The kit cost $1 and a month’s refill of the Hyomei solution could be purchased for 50 cents.

Hyomei, like many over-the-counter medicines of its day, was widely advertised in newspapers and magazines. It was a balsam-eucalyptus based solution that purported to cure not only catarrh, but also “hay fever, rose colds, asthma, and bronchitis.” It was still being sold in 1917 during the influenza pandemic, when it was denounced by the Philadelphia Board of Health as a “useless potion” whose advertisements might mislead consumers.

Bard’s also advertised Chamberlain’s Cough Remedy, a potion made by the Chamberlain Co. of Des Moines, Iowa. Bard’s advertised the medicine as a treatment for colds which, if not treated promptly, could result in a weakened system and that would make the patient susceptible to disease.

The package, however, claimed the product, which cost 25 cents per bottle, could treat “whooping cough, hoarseness, bronchitis, sore throat, influenza, and diseases of the throat or lungs.”

While Chamberlain’s remedy might ease a scratchy throat or calm a cough, it could not cure the bacterial or viral diseases it claimed.

Eventually the Pure Food and Drug Act regulated the production of patent medicines and their advertising.

Bard’s Drug Store remained in business in Sedalia through the 20th century. While its stock contained many over-the-counter medications, it no longer advertised cure-alls like Hyomei or Chamberlain’s Cough Remedy.

Rhonda Chalfant is the president of the Pettis County chapter of NAACP and the Pettis County Historical Society.

Rhonda Chalfant is the president of the Pettis County chapter of NAACP and the Pettis County Historical Society.

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