Dr. Truman Stillman’s Temperance Bitters – NOLA
21 November 2014 (R•112314) (R•121014) (R•061415)
Dr. Truman Stillman’s Temperance Bitters (see advertisement below) is an unlisted bitters that was uncovered while I was trying to find out the original source of the Sarsaparilla and Tomato Bitters. Initially I thought that the Sarsaparilla and Tomato Bitters was made in Boston in the mid 1840s by F. Brown (Frederick) as his name is embossed on the bottle. Research shows that initially, he was only the New England agent for the bitters.
The new listing by Bill Ham for the forthcoming Bitters Bottles Supplement 2:
S 196.4 DR. T. STILLMAN’S SARSAPARILLA AND TOMATO BITTERS
Truman Stillman M.D., 96 Customhouse Street, N.O. La.
The Times Picayune (New Orleans) Wednesday, July 21, 1841
Frederick Brown was the New England agent.
S 196.5 DR. TRUMAN STILLMAN’S TEMPERANCE BITTERS
Prepared only by Dr. Stillman, 96 Customhouse Street, N.O. La., proprietor and discoverer.
The Times Picayune (New Orleans), Tuesday August 16, 1842
The Times Picayune (New Orleans) Sunday, August 30, 1840
When you say “New England agent” that means the bitters is coming from some place outside of the region. Further research takes us to New Orleans and Dr. Truman Stillman who first started advertising Sarsaparilla and Tomato Bitters in 1842 (see advertisement below).
Prior to advertising his Sarsaparilla and Tomato Bitters and his Temperance Bitters, Dr. Stillman was heavily advertising his Stillman’s Sarsaparilla Syrup and Blood Pills (see advertisements below).
There is scant information on Dr. Stillman, but what I do find is that Truman Stillman was born in Oneida County, New York about 1815. He next shows up in 1840 as a doctor in New Orleans at his Southern Chemical Laboratory at 96 Customhouse street. He is totally engrossed with the value of Spanish sarsaparilla and tomatoes and says that his bitters are natural without the need for alcohol. He is aiming for the female market and by using the word “Temperance”. The American Temperance Society was formed in 1826 and within 12 years they claimed more than 8,000 local groups and over 1,500,000 members. One advertisement says his product is “extremely pleasant as well as effective, and may be resorted to without the imputation of dram-drinking”.
He sells his products in a variety of places using agents like Frederick Brown in Boston. Other agents were in Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis, Natchez, Vicksburg, New York, Charleston, Augusta, England and the Island of Cuba (Don Pedro & Co.). He also places many advertisements warning of counterfeit imitations.
There are signs of trouble in 1845 when Dr. Stillman is arraigned for violently assaulting is wife.
In 1846 Dr. Stillman is listed as a doctor, surgeon and proprietor of the Louisiana Lock Hospital Institution at 37 Bourbon st. He must have moved on from his Southern Chemical Laboratory business. You went to the Lock Hospital for the “most speedy and permanent cure for Gonorrhoea, Gleets, Strictures, Affections of the Kidneys, Diseases of the Bladder, Gravel, Seminal Weakness, Involuntary Seminal Emissions and Impotency”. They offered “a perfect and permanent cure for certain secret habits and secret diseases” too. They also sold “Lucina Cordial” or “Elixir of Love” to restore vigor. Love this stuff.
I am wondering if he did not have good ventilation in his chemical laboratory of if he was putting mercury in his bitters because in early 1847 he is committed for a spell to the Lunatic Asylum in New Orleans for Delirium Traumaticum (see 1830 definition below). He dies in New York City later that year.
Below is a new picture that I came across showing an extremely rare Dr. Stillman’s Sarsaparilla.