Dr. I. Newton’s Anti-Bilious Bitters – Norwich, Vermont
Israel Newton (1763 – 1856)
12 May 2012 (R•092818)
Michael George posted a really nice picture (see above) of a Dr. I. Newton’s Anti-Bilious Bitters package directions with an I. Newton’s Panacea Purifier of the Blood bottle, both from Norwich, Vermont which prompted a search for information.
Israel Newton was born in Colchester, Connecticut on 28 May 1763 to James Newton III and Hannah Downs. Israel married Lucy Child (1760–1831) and had nine children including Calvin Newton (1787–1789), James Newton (1789–1798), Persis Newton (1791–1841), Lucy Newton (1793–1828), George Newton (1795–1841), Lodema Newton (1797–1831), Hannah Newton (1799–1838), Maria Newton (1805–1823) and Calvin Porter Newton (1805–1850).
In 1765, pioneers spent their first long winter on the banks of the Connecticut River in the section of wilderness that would become the town of Norwich, Vermont. These settlers and their families fought hard to turn the rough terrain into a thriving farming and manufacturing community that would soon boast 20 school districts and a prominent military academy. Although winters were harsh and the demands of daily chores were never ending, the residents of Norwich still found time to lead full and varied lives. The manufacturing and military communities are gone now, but that fascinating past will come alive in these remarkable images of Norwich families at work and at play. (Images America – Norwich, October 26, 1998 by Margaret Cheney McNally and Francis L. Niles
Israel Newton lived and operated out of Norwich, Vermont for over 70 years and as his newspaper advertising in 1805 states, he was the inventor of well known medical preparations such as Newton’s Essence of Peppermint, Patent Effence of Tanfly, Tooth Ache Tincture and Eye Water which he sold in small glass vials. His early bitters, in the same 1805 advertising were Elixir of Health (stomach bitters pills) and Lady’s and Gentlemen’s Cordial Bitters. His Elixir of Health pills were put-up in boxes and meant to be dissolved in rum.
He said his medicines were from his Botanic garden and that he used various kinds of Medical Roots and Herbs in their preparation. For payment for his wholesale and retail business, he would offer generous terms of credit and take “neat flock in the month of May and beef in the month of October” and that “English Goods will be received for exchange”.
He apparently was a self-educated physician who was gifted with medicinal skills and was known far and wide for his patent medicines that sold extensively for many years throughout New England, New York and Pennsylvania. In the preface of a small personal notebook he wrote that he’d been engaged in medicinal research for 25 years but “I did not attend the practice of medicine”, and “for several yeas I kept an apothecary shope.”
In 1814 newspaper advertising he was selling Dr. Newton’s Genuine Essence of Wormwood and Essence of Hemlock where you would get vials of the medicine and put 20 to 40 drops in a mixture of molasses and spirits so you could “Bath your stomach in it”. By 1832, his son Calvin P. Newton had succeeded his father and was selling Dr. Newton’s Jaundice Wine Bitters. Eventually the bitters pills would be substituted with embossed bottles of the same, probably around 1846 which makes this one of America’s oldest embossed bitters bottles.
Newton held many town offices, and in 1814 represented the town in the general assembly. He was a prominent member of the Congregational church, of which he was one of the deacons for about twenty-five years, beginning in 1812. He was a soldier of the Revolution, and the last of those soldiers to die in Norwich.
Besides his medicines, which were valuable, Newton was an inventor and also built church organs. He was gifted with rare mechanical skill, which he exhibited in many ways to the benefit of mankind. Israel Newton passed away on 16 January 1856 in Norwich at seventy-three years of age.
Dr. I. Newton’s Anti-Bilious Bitters, much improved of late. A pleasant cordial stomach bitter, prepared under the particular direction of I. Newton, Norwich, VT. They are also for sale in Boston, New York and Philadelphia, and by the druggists generally… Israel Newton.
Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham in Bitters Bottles also note a N 25, I. NEWTON’S JAUNDICE BITTERS NORWICH, VT bottle that I do not possess. I am looking for a good example to go with some of my collateral pieces.
N 24 NEWTON’S ANTI-BILIOUS BITTERS
1 doz. / I. NEWTON’S / ANTI-BILIOUS / BITTERS. /
Prepared by Calvin P. Newton Successor to I. Newton, and Only Proprietor
4 x 3
Round, paper box with lid and label
Label: A Pleasant Cordial Stomach Bitter. The handbill states that “It is principally designed as a medicine of sovereign efficacy in the whole class of bilious affections, dyspepsia, hypochondriasis and histeria. Its use may also very judiciously be extended to most nervous disorders, worms, diarrhoea, disorders of the mesenteric glands, many disorders peculiar to females, asthma, catarrah, and intermittent fevers”.
Norwich, Vermont: January, 1846, 12″ x 17 3/4″. Intended to be packaged with boxes containing medication. Sheet contains four handbills with description and directions for use of bitters and 4 bottle labels. The “prophylactic power” of the concoction is extolled.