Monday, April 11, 2011

11 April 1876: "Fine Wines, Whiskies and Brandies, for Medicinal Purposes."

On this day in 1876, this ad ran at the top of the Southern Banner's back page:

The  business was owned and operated by Dr. Henry "Hal" Carlton Billups, Dr. H. R. J. Long, and Dr. Crawford W. Long, the discoverer of anesthesia.

The Longs were brothers who had established their first practice in Athens in 1851. After serving as surgeons for the Confederacy during the war, the three doctors returned to Athens and, once re-establishing their lines of credit with northern pharmaceutical companies, returned to practicing both medicine and pharmacy for the local population in 1866. In 1870, Dr. Crawford's son, Dr. Edward C. Crawford, joined the practice.

Dr. Crawford Long kept a medical office at the pharmacy, as well as being active managing the retail side of the business. He would typically stop at the store prior to his morning rounds, visiting his patients in their homes. As a retail manager, he expected the staff to exhibit "promptness, neatness, and systematic observances." In the 1870s, the partners added a soda fountain to the business to attract the patronage of college students.

Much like the modern drugstore, non-medical items were available at Longs & Billups: hygienic items such as brushes and soaps, some sweets, and household goods such as paint and varnishes that would now be found in home improvement stores. 

The alcohol sold as medicine was common at the time; often the processes for creating an alcoholic beverage would destroy any bacteria, and it became somewhat associated with health. Most patent medicines had approximately 20% alcohol content, but frequently would also contain opiates such as cocaine or heroin. Plain whiskey or brandy was, in such instances, a more gentle medicine.

In 1877, Dr. Billups left the practice, and the business changed its name to C. W. & E. C. Long. Dr. Crawford Long died in June, 1878.  The firm name then changed to E. C. Long & Co., and by 1880, was doing most of its business in retail and wholesale building supplies for a booming economy.

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