“The twenty-sixth Annual Meeting of the National Eclectic Medical Assocation will be held in Portland, Oregon, beginning at 10 o’clock A.M. Tuesday, June 16th, 1896.”

“The meeting in Portland is held in response to the pressing invitation extended to the Society at Waukeesha last June, through that eloquent emissary of Western Eclecticism, H.E. Currey, M.D. of Baker City, Oregon.  His invitation, which was then and there accepted by the Electoral Committee, has since been graciously seconded and emphasized, and re-extended to the National at the regular and special meetings of the State Eclectic Societies of Oregon, California, and Washington.  The eloquence, earnestness and cordiality of their special and repeated invitations cannot be misconstrued; they will not only welcome us with that open-handed, whole-souled hospitality and hearty good will, so characteristic of the true noblemen of the Occident, but they guarantee to the Society a full attendance of the Eclectics of these Western States, an addition to the membership list of fifty or more new names, and a railroad rate of one-half the regular fare (or less) from the East.”

Following a break in the original version of the letter [edited by the journal’s editor] the following closure of it was printed:

“From Portland your summer vacation (and what doctor pray you tell, does not both need and deserve a vacation) may be continued north to Victoria, Vancouver, or even to Alaska, at small expense.  Or, turning south, you quickly and quietly drop down through the State of fruits and flowers, or orchards and oranges, of climate unsurpassed, California, to San Francisco, “the Golden State,” (sic) to Oakland, to Los Angeles, San Bernardino, through the garden spot of the world–a home fit for the gods.  The National this year goes to the staunch and sturdy Eclectics, who for years and years have defended its principles in the great West.”

It was agreed to that this meeting would be set for June 16th through 18th.  According to the minutes, Section Officers were then elected at this meeting, in which ten sections were planned for the Annual Meeting: Materia Medica; Clinical Medicine and Pathology; Obstetrics and Diseases of Women; Pediatrics; Surgery; Operative Gynecology; Preventative Medicine and Sanitary Science; Ophthalmology, Otology and Laryngology; Medical Education; and, Medical Legislation and State Examining Boards.  Of the Oregon physicians participating in these sections, Dr. H. Michener of Halsey served as Secretary of Clinical Medicine and Pathology, Dr. G.W. McConnell of Newberg served as Vice Chairman for Obstetrics and Diseases of Women, and H.E. Curry was Vice Chairman for Medical Legislation and State Examining Board.  The other two Western states participating were California and Washington.  The remaining 27 positions for the Sections Committees were filled mostly by Californian physicians, who in total filled nine board positions: two in the Materia Medica section, and one each in the remaining Sections, save “Clinical Medicine and Pathology,” “Pediatrics” and “Medical Legislation and State Examining Boards.”  The duties of Dr. Michener of Halsey also included as “Chairman of a Committee of Registration,” and Dr. Curry of Baker City, J.K. Scudder of Cincinatti, Ohio, and Pitt E. Howes of Boston, served as members of the “Committee on Transporation.”      

The following summer, members of the Cincinnati party of NEMA left June 10th by way of train.  They passed through Chicago, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and St. Paul, picking up delegates from these states along the way.  As the delegates arrived in Tacoma they were met by a party of Portland Eclectic physicians who then travelled with them to Seattle and then from Seattle to Portland.  Following their arrival in Portland on June 18th, a special dispatch was sent at 11:11 P.M. by telegram detailing the particulars of this trip.  These were then published by Eclectic Medical Journal.   

Following the June meeting, an article briefly detailing the events in Portland was published in Eclectic Medical Journal:


From Correspondance we have had since the Cincinatti party left, everything shows that the annual meeting of the “National” at Portland was a great success.  To the indefatigable energy of the officers is to be attributed the success of the meeting.  Of the President, Dr. Bloyer, who has given months of earnest work, of the Secretary, Dr. Kinnett, of the efficient Treasurer, Dr. Gemmill, and of the Chairman of the Transportation, Dr. Howes, none but words of praise can be said.  The success of the Portland meeting is very auspicious, as it proves conclusively that the National Eclectic Medical Association is on a high plane, and that it is a power for good in advancing the interests of Eclecticism.  Had the amount of work put forward by the officers during the past year, and the labor of many members, been made towards a meeting in the central or eastern States, there would no doubt have been an attendance of at least four hundred.  As it was, the attendance at Portland exceeded the msot sanguine expectations.  We predict that the twenty-seventh meeting in 1897 will surpass anything ever yet held.”

This news is followed by a technical description of the gathering of the Eclectics.  The Cincinnati party, consisting of ten members (including four wives and a sister in law), left on June 10th, passing through Chicago where six more were picked up, and then through Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin to pick up sixteen more delegates.  The party then boarded a “special train” which took them westward along the Chicago and North-western R.R. into St. Paul.  The Northern Pacific was then boarded to continue these parties (now 51 in number) on their way to the Far West.  Another quick stop was made in Tacoma to meet with another group of Eclectics.  After a quick sidestep through Seattle, the train made its way into Portland on a Monday Evening.  The following day the annual meeting convened at the hotel in downtown Portland. 

“To the Eclectic Medical Journal:

“At the end of theis annual meeting, another notice was dispatched to the Journal’s main office in Cincinatti, dated “Portland, Oregon, June 18, 1896, 11:11 P.M.” in which the party announced “The National Eclectic Medical Association has just completed one of the most enthusiastic meetings in its history.  Over one hundred doctors, representing Eclecticism in all parts of our land, have met here and held a most harmonious and successful session…

                                                J.K. SCUDDER.”

The journal followed this with:

“This dispatch is certainly gratifying to the loyal followers of the National and Eclecticism.  That a meeting so far from the center of the Union should have succeeded in drawining a hudred representative men from all quarters of our land, is a matter of congratulation to all concerned.  It will be somewhat of a surprise to those who contended that the session would be a failure.  On the contrary, the “weeding out” that the National received a year since, has already been a fruitful source of good, and the officers and members were bound to have a successful meeting, and they had it.”  That all sections of out country should have received recognition in the list of offices distributed is another harbinger of the good geeling that prevails, and looks toward the further prosperity of our cause.”

The next section of this article notes plans for the subsequent meeting, to be held in Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota.  It ends “Surely Eclecticisim is advancing, and peace and prosperity attend wherever her banner is carried.”

A more detailed account appeared later in this same edition, submitted by Dr. R.L. Thomas of Cincinnati, Ohio.  In it, Thomas likened the transcontinental trip to the tale entitled Ben Hur:

“As in Ben Hur, there came from afar the three wise men, and centered in the desert for their onward march, so the Eclectics from the far East, New York and Massachusetts, from the distant South, Texas, from the central, middle, and western States, drew together at St. Paul for the journey across prairies, mountains, and valleys, to Portland.”

Thomas recollects the hotel where they resided at in St. Paul [West House], and the train they took:

“The first thing to attract our attention is the train itself–our home, as it were, during our transcontinental trip.  A huge ten-wheeled Baldwin stands waiting for the signal of the conductor; behind this is the mail car, express and baggage cars, day coaches, tourist and Pullman sleepers and dining car–in all twelve cars, with a total weight of more than five hundred tons, and a combined length of 829 feet.  To handle this train between the terminal stations of St. Paul and Portland, requires 17 different engines, exclusive of those mammoth ones that help us up the mountains, and 105 men.  The average travel of each engine before being put aside to rest is 121 miles.  Our sleepers were models of beauty and comfort, with all the conveniences of the age, and we at once began to make outselves as comfortable as possible in our new homes.”   

In subsequent pages he details the scenery of the trip as they made their way through Red River Valley, Fort Abraham Lincoln, the Bad Lands, “Watch-dog Rock” near Medora,” Pyramid Park, Little Missouri River, the great Rockies, the range between Livingston and Bozeman “reinforced with two mammoth engines at Livingston,” granite peaks, Bozeman Tunnel, “the pride of Montana,” Mullan tunnel, “Hell Gate River to Missouli,” Pend D’Oreille, Colville valley, the desert region, Cascade Mountains, Green River, and Stampede Tunnel   He mentions the additional side trips made to Seattle before going to Portland, via “The Flyer” to Tacoma. 

During the meeting, the members were given the opportunities to take various trips along the Columbia River by ferry.  Following the first day of the Annual Meeting, ___ writes:

“The time passes all too quickly, and soon we are on our way to Portland.  We reached the mouth of the Columbia River and were transferred across of ferry, arriving in Portland, 6 A.M., Tuesday, June 16.  We repaired immediately to the hotel headquarters, The Portland, where the western Eclectics were waiting to extend cordial greetings.  The new Chamber of Commerce building was graciously offered for our use, and thither we repaired, where at 10 A.M. with President Bloyer in the chair, the association was called to order.”

The meeting began with an invocation by Doctor Mott, followed by a response by the orator, Dr. Hamilton of California.  Following the “masterly address” of the Society’s President, the meeting then closed for the morning session.  That afternoon, the Association went through the movements to appoint Committees and to plan the Sections’ work.  Following a membership dispute regarding a past Scotland member the next morning, the Committee then “enjoyed as excursion to Willamette Falls, tendered by the Park[e] Davis Co.”  The meeting went through the rest of that day as expected.  The members carried out the various necessary society’s political and financial matters, which was then followed by the readings of “an unusually large number of excellent papers,” judged “of high order” in anticipation of the needs for the 1897 meeting in Minnetonka the next year.  After an invocation for support on behalf of the readers.  Thomas concluded this part of the article by writing:

“We cannot close without a word about the banquet which occured Thursday evening.  The large dining hall, beautifully decorated with Oregon’s choicest flowers, the unexpected presence of Joachim Miller, the mountain poet, the presentation of a handsome gold watch to Dr. Howes, whose faithfulness in every detail of the trip contributed so largely to our comfort and enjoyment, made a fitting close to one of the most pleasuant and profitable meetings in our history.”

      The next month, a brief reprint of Portland’s Medical Sentinel recount of this meeting appeared in Eclectic Medical Journal.  It notes:

“THE ECLECTIC NATIONAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION.–The meeting here last week of this association was a great success.  The attendance was large considering the distance Portland is from the East, and the class of men present was good.  Advertising men have been strictly excluded.  [Med. Sentinel, July ’96]”

Provides excellent detail with times of passage, and several breaks of continuity with verse.  Also side steps the descriptions of the route to mention pioneer Missionaries Whitman and Spaulding, the British Columbia line, “the monotony of this long ride being broken by a delightful church service led by Rev. Marcott, a Presbyterian Minister en route for Astoria,” Mt. Rainier, and his views of the rails, the streams, the bridges.  

Individuals mentioned: Dr, Mott, Dr. Hamilton of California, Dr. Curry of Scotland, and various state Eclectic society members.   Provides a very brief meeting itinerary (ca. 371, bottom page, to 372, top page; more enamored with the trip, the trains and the scenery.) 

Most pertinent to local botanical drug industry history:

“Wednesday afternoon we enjoyed an excursion to Willamette Falls tendered by Park (sic) Davis Co.” 

Parke, Davis & Co., although an allopathic pharmacy recognized the value of northwest botanical medicines.  To compare this company behavior with allopathic meetings during the same time period, see the minutes of the various American Medical Association meetings published in early Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the Boston Medical and Surgical Journal (today New England Journal of Medicine),the American Journal of Pharmacy, and the state Medical Association minutes Proceedings…or Transactions… for the medical and pharmacal schools in Pennsylvania/Philadelphia and New York.

J.H. Bundy and colleagues of California (ca. 1875-1879) introduced several of the Northwest plants they discovered out of their California region-Amerind surveys to Merrell & Co., and eclectic medical company in Cincinnatti, and to Parke, Davis & Co. as evidenced by the Parke-Davis, Division of Warner-Lambert research papers.  These plants of interest to Parke, Davis & Co., included primarily Cascara Sagrada, Oregon Grape, and Grindelia, but possibly also Juniper, Artemisia, Picea, and Pinus.  The early years of Northwest foraging for national companies concentrated solely on these products (for more see other sections of this bibliography and the collection of personal research papers.)              

Also that following year, an article appeared noting only seven Eclectic Medical Colleges to still be operating in the country, recognized by the National Eclectic Medical Association and the National Confederation of Eclectic Medical College, and fifteen Eclectic Medical Schools were extinguished.  The month before, the same journal noted there to be “about 175 medical colleges in the United State, the several schools of practice being represented as follows: regular 120; homoeopathic, 19; eclectic, 7; physio-medical, 2; unclassified, 12.  8 are for women exclusively, 5 of this number being regular, 2 homoeopathic, and 1 eclectic.  4 are for colored students.  8 are dedicated to co-education.”

1895 Meeting Events

Several political problems had erupted in the Eclectic field during the early 1890s.  The National Association had only five colleges already recognized: Eclectic Medical Institute of Cincinatti, American Medical College of St. Louis, Eclectic Medical College of New York, Bennett College of Chicago, and United States Medical College of New York. In separate resolutions, the following were added to this list: California Medical College at Oakland, Georgia Medical College at Atlanta, Eclectic College of Physicians and Surgeons of Indiana, and Eclectic Medical Department of Cotner University of Lincoln, Nebraska.  Money was collected from the members to help fund a committee which help would protect the Association’s members and prevent legal repercussions from taking place against Eclectics.  Then considerable time was spent arguing the position and status of one of the Association’s members Robert A. Gunn, M.D., who joined NEMA in 1870.   

On June 20th, 1894, Dr. H. Wohlgemuth of Illinois voiced his charge that Dr. Gunn was guilty of professional misconduct for supporting the most popular patent medicine product–Warner’s Safe Kidney Cure.  This charge was supported by R.L. Thomas of Ohio and E.H. Rogers of Wisconsin in letters dated May 14th, 1895.  These writings were then announced to the Association by the Secretary and forwarded to the Committee on Grievances. 

Dr. Wohlgemuth’s accusation was that Gunn had promoted Warner’s Cure by allowing his photograph to be published alongside the advertisement, which due to the questionable reliability of the cure, might serve to discredit his other colleagues in the profession.  Dr. Thomas’s accusations were made after an investigation into this complaint, after which Thomas noted the following statement made by Dr. Gunn was published in the daily and weekly newspapers in the form of a testimonial advertisement:

“After using all other remedies for Bright’s Disease of the Kidneys in vain, I directed the use of Warner’s Safe Cure, and was greatly surprised within a short time to hear the patient express himself as perfectly well.”

He notes seeing this advertisement in the Cincinatti Commercial Gazette, on March 22, and April 20, 1895, in the Cincinatti Post on April 20, 1895, and in the advertising pamphlet for this patent remedy–Warner’s Hand-book of Cooking Receipts, 1893.  Thomas demands that Gunn either request the withdrawal of his membership from NEMA or be expelled.  Dr. Rogers of Bloomer, Wisconsin, then submitted a written accusation as well, citing recognition of a similar advertisement which appeared in New York Herald in April 1895.

The rest of the first day was spent by the auditing committe dealing with association guidelines, and then for much of the remaining time dealing with sub-section plans for the activities to be carried out during the next few days of this year’s meeting. 

The next day, June 19, 1895, the meeting commenced at 8:00 AM.   Prayer was offered by Dr. Thomas, and then the “Case of Dr. Gunn” was convened.  Dr. Stratford of the Committee of Grievances presented the letter sents to him by the five members of the Committee of Grievances,

“Fountain Spring House, Waukesha, Wis., June 18, 1895.

To the Officers and Members of the National Eclectic Medical Associations: 

We, the members of your Committee on Grievances, beg leave to make the following report: Having carefully examined the evidence, and heard the arguments by the prosecution and defense in the case of R.A. Gunn, M.D….we find that the weight of evidence produced by the prosecution, as well a by his own sworn statement, is against him.  While we regret the necessity of reporting against one for whom we have the kindliest personal feeling, and who is unfortunate in having placed himself in a compromising position, and claims to be unable to extricate himself therefrom, we believe that the good of the Eclectic cause demands that he be expelled from membership of the Association.  All of which is most respectfully submitted.

(Signed)    H.K. Stratford, M.D. 

            S.M. Sherman, M.D. 

            J.H. Alexander, M.D. 

            O.S. Coffin, M.D. 

            E.H. Carter, M.D.”

Following this was the reply from Dr. Robert A. Gunn: 

“To the National Eclectic Medical Association:”

“MR. PRESIDENT AND FELLOW MEMBERS: In answer to the charges preferred against meby Doctors Wohlgemuth, Thomas and Rogers, I beg leave to submit the following statement and argument:

“Over thirteen years ago I wrote a letter recommending a certain proprietary medicine, with full knowledge of its composition, and with undisputable evidence of its value in the disease for which I recommended it.

“Charges based on this recommendation were preferred against me before the National Eclectic Medical Assocation in 1884…After a full hearing the Committee presented the following report:

“”Also in the case of R.A. Gunn, after carefully examining the case and hearing Professor Gunn’s statement, your Committee failed to find sufficinet ground for sustaining the charges, and, therefore, ask for his acquittal–H.B.Piper, Secretary.”

“During the winter of 1891-2 the advertisements were revived after a lapse of ten years by a company who bought out the original proprietor of the medicine, and portions of my old letter were used in such advertisements.

“I have not now, and never had anything to do with the publishing of these advertisements….These are the facts, and I rest my case upon them.”

“Robert A. Gunn.”

He continues to give reason why the charges should be dismissed, including arguments that his recommendation of its use to a friend matches one of the NEMA’s Constitutional Preambles: “The right of doing good transcends all statuory and other enactments, etc.”  He then accuses his accusers of conspiring to make their claims and to produce the letters needed to justify them.  His strongest argument came when he made note on similar practices of advertising carried out in the past by other members of the profession:

“Dr. Ellingwood advertises and puffs Paskola and Syrup of Figs in the Chicago Medical Times, for dollars and cents.”

“Dr. J.M. Scudder made “Specific Medicines” proprietary by copyrighting a label, and has for years, made the Eclectics of the country pay a tax of from 25 to 75 per cent. more than the Wm. S. Merrel’s Standard Preparations cost, which went into his pocket and now goes to his heirs.”

“The late Dr. R.S. Newton, and Dr. Geo. W. Boskowitz recommended Brandreth’s Pills, which are advertised to the public.”

“Lloyd Brothers issue two cheap pamphlets for general distribution…which are designed to sell their proprietary (Specific) medicines to the public.”

He also criticised the practice of Eclectic purchasing drugs at cost, prescribing them, and then selling them to clients for greatly increased prices.  He notes thorty other members advertising their own proprietary medicines to the general public.

Despite mention of his history of serving Bennett Medical College as Secretary, his five years as Secretary of NEMA during its first five years of existence, and his service under past NEMA presidents, Gunn’s testimony proved ineffective.  J.K. Scudder offered the resolution that Gunn be expelled, a motion was made for reconsideration which failed, and so Gunn was expelled.

The session for the remaining days continued as normal. 

The Annual Address for this meeting was given by Vincent Alexander Baker. 

This transactions were hastily put together for the printer, for in the forward the editor notes:

Eclectic Motto:

Contrarie contraries indicatur, Old Eclectic Motto, “make one disease to cure another.”  [heroic thinking]

Vires vitales sustinete  means “Sustain vital force”

Homeopathic: Similia similibus curantur, “like cures like”

“the culture theory of disease cure by propagating material resulting from diseased action to be injected into the blood as preventative, of foreign origin.”

“That certain forms of disease when once developed are contagious does not admit of doubt, nor is there a doubt regarding the presence of germs in morbid and decaying matter everywhere, in fact all forms of change may show microscopic life.” [p. 34]

Gives examples of several such diseases, mentions Typhoid fever, measles, spoiling food, etc..

Discusses Christian Scientists, and others who believe in “faith cures.”  “Where the science comes in I am unable to tell.” [p. 36-37]  Notes also a revival in “faith cure healers.”

“They come exclusively from this class, a class of impressionables with a love of the mysterious, a “longing for the infinite,” the desire for someone who has a backbone, vim, and a brain full of magnetism to impart and to sell, that can arouse hope and cheer for them, without written prescriptins of the vulgar practice of swallowing drugs.”

“Hypnotism as resurrected, (nothing new) is a modified form of the same infleunce that may appsively control the patient, and when raisin de eter comes in–a sort of inspiration–they ca, because they think they can–an analgous reasoning, will tell us how the emotions may be erached and controlled, functional life modified, and mystery and superstition put away by intellectual culture.”

Kinds of topics discussed:

Wm. M. Smith, M.D. Montesanto, Washington.  “Diseases prevalent in Washington.”  97-99.

The lecturer removed to Chehalis County, Wash., on March 1, 1890, “just with the commencement of the boom, and the only eclectic in the country.”  Reports numerous deaths due to consumption, asphyxiation, mining.

Frank Brooks, M.D. Seattle, Washington.  “Electricity in Surgery.” pp. 118-120.

Mechanical definition of disease:  “At this age, let us use the full expression of “surgery,” which is the art of healing by manual, mechanical and instrumental appliances.”  Related to birth of Chiropractics?  Relates circulation of blood to electricity concept.  The action of electricity is the “nerve action.”    The electrical and chemical actions are compared to one another.  The greatest volatile or nerve force. USed to produce muscle action, and like a fluid be propelled.  With x-ray coming out, viewing the human body made luminous so that organs can be seen is discussed.

Pitts Edwin Howes.  “Preventative Medicine.” pp. 170-186. 

Now that the Germ theory is known, relations are drawn with Zymotic Theory; Parasitic Theory–the body of a parasite causes the zymosis; Vital germ hypothesis–the zymosis is due to “a diseased living germ generated in the body”; Nervous hypothesis–zymotic affections occur “by means of diseases secretions which are produced by nervous derangement.”

W.F. Curryer, M.D. Indianapolis, Ind. “Cigars and Cigarettes.” pp. 225-237.

George Covert, M.D. Clinton, Wisconsin.  “Tobacco for the Young” pp. 237-240.

The virtues of Gelseminum were discovered by a Georgia negro.

Kansas Eclectic Medical Association…membership included A.J. Currie, of 219 Onslow Drive, Dennistown, Glasgow, Scotland.  Joined 1895.


This letter, written by W.E. Bloyer, M.D., and President of the Society in Cincinatti, is fully quoted as it appeared partially reprinted in “The National,” Eclectic Medical Journal, vol. 56, no. 2 (Feb. 1896),  pp. 102-103. 

Ibid, p. 103-4.


Thomas, R.L., M.D. Cincinnati, O., “Our National Association,” Eclectic Medical Journal, vol. 56, no. 8 (August 1896),  pp. 367-373. 

Editor and Journalist of this journal, Dr. John K. Scudder, wrote very briefly about his experiences in Eclectic Medical Journal, vol. 56, no. 7 (July 1896), pp. 330-331.

”The Portland Meeting.” Eclectic Medical Journal, vol. 56, no. 8 (August 1896), pp. 330-331.

R.L. Thomas, M.D. Cincinnati, O., “Our National Association,” Eclectic Medical Journal, vol. 56, no. 8 (August 1896), pp. 367-373.  This article ends with “(to be continued)”.  [Part II, yet to be uncovered.]

”THE ECLECTIC NATIONAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION…” Eclectic Medical Journal, vol. 57, no. 8 (August 1897), “Eclectic News” section, p. [60].

”Extinct Eclectic Medical Colleges.” Eclectic Medical Journal, vol. 57, no. 8 (August 1897), pp. 408.

[Untitled.] Eclectic Medical Journal, vol. 57, no. 7 (July 1897), p. 419. 

Letter, in part as it appeared in the Annual report,  pp. 9-10.,

Referred to by the Committee as “Exhibit A” in the article, pp. 10-11.

pp. 12-13.

pp. 11-15.

p. 15.

Vincent Alexander Baker, President.  “Annual Address at the Twenty-Fifth Annual Meeting of the National Eclectic Medical Association at Waukesha, Wisconsin, June 18th, 1895.” pp. 29-56.