Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Mary Ann Reaves

I pulled the trigger a little too soon on the background of Mary Ann Reaves, so I will set the record straight. Her maiden name was Mary Angeline Skinner, born about 1829 in Illinois. She married Tennessee born George Reaves on May 27, 1847, in Madison County, Illinois. The couple made their way to Oregon Territory by the early 1850's where two sons were born, Samuel Irving Reaves in 1853 and Milton Franklin Reaves in 1854.
The family then moved to Cottonwood, Yolo County, California, by the late 1850's where their youngest son was born in 1859. The 1880 census finds the family in Snelling, Merced County, however George is missing as Mary Ann is noted as divorced.

As noted in my previous comment, Mary Ann received a U.S. Patent in 1880for what she calls a "compound for catarrh." It consisted of an infusion of tobacco and wild mallard leaves (not sure what this is). But, the interesting twist to this concoction is, as the patent states, "When it is to be used for the ordinary treatment or dressing of the scalp the proportion of mallard-leaves is two ounces to twelve of the tobacco." So the invention serves a dual purpose depending upon the formulaic percentages.
his would explain her note in her first advertisement where she claims her hair preparation is patented.

The first advertisement for M.A. Reaves' Great Electric Hair Tonic. It appeared in the 1882 San Francisco Directory for 1882.
Also of importance in assuring that the Mary Ann Reaves is the same one that produced this product, as well as the one documented with the family listed above is that for the first few years of her operation, her agent and salesman is listed in the directory as well, being Samuel I. Reaves. As noted earlier, Mary Ann continued to be listed as purveyor of her hair tonic until 1886, after which she is absent from San Francisco. Her son, Samuel I. Reaves, died in Los Angeles on May 9, 1921.

Mary Ann Reaves' two sons, Milton and Samuel, apparently attempted to capitalize on their horse riding skills in the mid-1870's as this newspaper advertisement attests. (Oakland Evening Tribune, April 27, 1876)

 Eric McGuire

1 comment:

  1. "No pay in advance"...Funny stuff right there as I guess if your hair did not grow back, you did not pay for the medicine? Great business model for a product that did not work. maybe you walked back in the store and paid after you looked like a hippie. Now it makes sense why these bottles are so scarce.