Monday, July 31, 2023



The Hawley family was first noted in San Francisco in 1856 when the father of our subject, Hawley William Baxter, was listed in the San Francisco city directory as a “boarding house keeper” at 26 Battery Street. He was noted at the same address until his untimely death on November 17, 1858, which must have created an extreme hardship for his wife and children. Hawley’s widow, Louisa L. Baxter, continued to maintain the boarding house for a few years, and by 1860, her oldest child, Edward Hawes Baxter, began his career as a clerk with the drug firm of Crane & Brigham in San Francisco – just sixteen years of age. By 1865, Louisa’s second oldest son, Hawley Hall William Baxter, jr., also secured a position with Crane & Brigham. In time, Edward Hawes Baxter found his niche as a drug salesman and Hall W. Baxter chose financial work, becoming a bookkeeper for Crane & Brigham.


Each brother maintained their respective positions with Crane & Brigham until 1879 when some occupational changes occurred. In the case of this sketch the most significant change was Edward H. Baxter’s decision to enter the patent medicine business himself, but continuing his tenure with Crane & Brigham as a drug salesman. He received Federal Label Registration No. 2096, on October 29, 1879, for NICHOLS INFALLIBLE INJECTION, which was advertised as a “sure cure for Gonorrhea, Gleet and the Whites”. As a traveling salesman for Crane & Brigham, Baxter had an excellent opportunity to sell his own product to drug stores while he was doing the same for his employer. While this activity does not appear completely ethical, it apparently worked, at least for a while.


Baxter did not rely heavily on newspaper advertisements, however; a few were noted for a period of about 12 years in California, Arizona, and Washington, but mostly in Nevada. This early example is typical of most. (Humboldt Times, January 8, 1880) The last ads appeared in 1892.


A copy of the label was registered in 1879 by Baxter for his Infallible Injection. Why the name Nichols was used has not been verified. It may reflect the name of Jesse Christie Nichols, an Oakland, California, druggist who died on March 4, 1890. Aside from the potential desperation some users of this medicine may have had, the high cost of the item is partly reflected in the fact that a syringe was also included in the package.


Edward H. Baxter’s younger brother, Hall W. Baxter, jr., left the employ of Crane & Brigham in 1880 and became a payment receiver for the Spring Valley Water Works, one of several domestic water companies that serviced the city of San Francisco. He opened the No Percentage Pharmacy in 1891 and in January 1896 he also took over Henry Fox’s Red Front Drug Store in Healdsburg, California. He sold the Red Front Drug Store after about one year then opened the Ferry Drug Co. in San Francisco. At nearly the same time he purchased the No Percentage Pharmacy in San Francisco, as well as continuing with his cashier position for the Spring Valley Water Works. Hall W. Baxter, jr., died in San Rafael on May 26, 1901.


Meanwhile, Edward H. Baxter, the prime subject of this sketch, left Crane & Brigham about 1881 and went to work for its major competitor, Redington & Co., for about one year, and then worked for Langley & Michaels, yet another large San Francisco drug company, still acting as a salesman, until 1894. Baxter married the widow Fannie Lathrop Wright on August 9, 1893, in Tulare County, California. Then, in 1895 he went to work for his brother, Hall W. Baxter, at the No Percentage Pharmacy in San Francisco, until 1898.


One last entrepreneurial attempt occurred in 1899 when Edward H. Baxter opened a store described as “merchandise specialties, electric belts, rubber goods, etc.” This activity sounds like a drugstore without a prescription service. Baxter died on January 3, 1906, just missing the devastation caused by the great earthquake and fire of April 18, 1906.


Baxter’s widow, Fannie Lathrop Baxter, continued with her husband’s former business until 1913, eventually focusing on just electric belts, which were then a popular health item. (San Francisco Call, 8 August 8, 1909)


As part of a pioneering family, Fannie was born in San Mateo County, California, in 1855. (birth name, Fannie Rhodes Lathrop) She was the daughter of Benjamin Gordon Lathrop who arrived in California in 1849 via wagon train. She had no children with Edward H. Baxter, but several with her first husband, Sampson Boone Wright. In 1917 she moved from San Francisco to Calistoga and finally to Santa Rosa to be closer to her children. Fanny died in Santa Rosa on June 8, 1949.


Curiously, the youngest brother of Edward H. Baxter, who was Charles Ethan Allen Baxter, born about 1848 in New York, is listed in the California Great Register of Voters, as a druggist in Bodie, California, in 1879. He died an untimely death on September 27, 1880, in San Francisco.  His young daughter, Eva May Baxter, had died in Virginia City, Nevada, just 10 days earlier, on September 17. One has to wonder if there wasn’t some connection between these two deaths.




The bottle is 7.5 inches tall and embossed on one of the two ‘side’ panels, “NICHOL’S INJECTION". The opposite panel is inset to accommodate an accompanying syringe. A pressed glass dose cup was probably fit over the applied top of the bottle to complete the package. Several of these cups have been found in the West.



A second bottle is also known. It is in the same configuration as the previously shown example except for an alteration to the embossed lettering. It reads NICHOLS’ INFALLIBLE INJECTION. With the word “Infallible” added it also moves the possessive apostrophe to more correctly represent the word “Nichols”.


The bottles are very likely a product of the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works, and had there been the letter “R” in the lettering, it would no doubt have a signature curved leg typical of many bottles produced in molds engraved by an unknown San Francisco craftsman.

Sunday, July 23, 2023


Two related medicinal bottles are found in this ‘package’. STAR REMEDY NO. 1, and STAR REMEDY NO. 2. Although heavily advertised throughout the west for about one year, from August 1877 to August 1878, both bottles are relatively rare.


Advertisements such as this often peppered newspapers throughout the West during the one year period. Of great interest and causing some frustration, the advertisements never reveal the proprietors of the medicines, although some note that Redington & Co. were the wholesale agents. (Virginia Evening Chronicle, Virginia City, Nevada, August 8, 1877)


Perhaps considered the least desirable of the duo is Dr VAN DYKE’S / ANTIBILIOUS CURE / * REMEDY No 1. While it is embossed with the coveted word, CURE, the bottle lacks any pictorial embossing, aside from a five point star.


The reverse of a trade card for the Star Remedies.



Undoubtedly blown at the San Francisco & Pacific Glass Works in 1877 is Dr. Van Dykes Antibilious Cure. About 6 ¼ inches in height, it is made of typical western aqua glass with applied top.


The second bottle is the coveted Star Remedy No. 2. Embossed on a large panel is the depiction of a Lake Tahoe trout, with a five point star at about the location of the fish gill. Embossed on the side panels is, TROUT OIL LINIMENT / (STAR) REMEDY No 2.


While, in reality, the fish essence contained in these bottles could have been sourced anywhere, it was likely taken from Lake Tahoe.  At the time of production of the liniment, Tahoe fish were being harvested by the ton. Not only were commercial nets being used, long-line fishing was also practiced. Yet another devastating harvesting process was also underway. The indigenous Washoe tribe had fished Lake Tahoe for millennia and they knew how to do it well.


It was not until the new Americans came on the scene did the natives indulge in “over-fishing” induced by economic incentives from the white market hunters. With payment in the form of money and whiskey, the natives enjoyed their newly found wealth while the fishing lasted. However, the glory days were soon shortened by the lack of product.


I strongly recommend the reader look at a newspaper article on this subject of market fishing written by the recognized early ‘environmentalist’ Charles F. McGlashan, that appeared in the Sacramento Daily Union, on June 8, 1877.  It may just be a coincidence that this article was written at about the same time as the Trout Oil Liniment was being produced. And, it may also be a coincidence that sales of the liniment appears to have disappeared within a year, just as the heyday of commercial fishing in the lake came to an end. But, one has to wonder.