antiquebottles THEMEDICINE CHEST --- BY DR. RICHARD CANNON old bottles


I own a machine made, corker,medicine bottle 8 1/4 inches tall, clear rectangular with roundedcorners, and embossed Hobo Medicine / Registered / monogram /Trade Mark / Co. / Beaumont, Texas, that I really like. Beaumontis situated in southeast Texas about as close to Louisiana as itcan get without being there.

News of the Pure Food and Drugs Act of June 30,1906, may not have reached Singer, Louisiana, when G.D. Hortonand “a few others” organized the Hobo MedicineManufacturing Company on February 22, 1913. At least, it didn'tseem to worry them as they went forth with the trademark andformula to share a combination of magic herbs with the world.They name their product Hobo Kidney and Bladder Remedy. Singer,40 miles north of Lake Charles and with a present population of175, in 1917 had six buildings in the business section destroyedby fire. The “plant” of the Hobo Medicine ManufacturingCo. was among them.

Hobo Medicine Co.Beaumont, Texas.

The Hobo Medicine Manufacturing Co. becamelocated in Shreveport, La., as early as November 14, 1914,according to a testimonial, and in Beaumont, Texas, by Jan. 1,1923. I have no information about the particulars of these moves.

The story of how Hobo Kidney and Bladder Remedycame about is one of the best ones that I have encountered: Fornearly three years, Mr. G.D. Horton, a respected citizen ofSinger, Calcasieu Parish, La., was a sufferer from Bright'sdisease in its most Malignant form. He had received everyattention that medical science could provide, having been treatedby some of the best physicians of the South, after the mostpainstaking and skilled diagnosis. During the period of thistreatment he was an inmate of some of the most celebratedhospitals in the country, under the care of specialists who weresupplied with every known facility for the treatment of hisdisease. But finally, physicians pronounced he case a hopelessone, and turned him back to Nature, to resorts whose waters weresupposed to have curative properties for kidney and bladdertroubles. These resorts were in turn visited, but in eachinstance as head been the case with each of his physicians, hefound no benefit and continually grew worse instead of better.

One day, in a fit of despondency, Mr. Hortonwalked up to the railroad track near his home and struck out ashort distance on an aimless ramble onto the piney woodsadjacent. He had walked, however, but a little when he wasstricken with intense pains and dropped down to rest until theyshould pass away and permit him to return. However, his sufferingbecame greater, and as night was approaching and the air waschilly, he gathered some fagots and started a fire. Still theparoxysms of pain continued and he fell back, unable to restrainhis groans of pain.

An unkept, tattered tramp, walking down therailroad track, heard the cries of pain, and suspecting someserious accident, sought the sufferer. Aided by the burningfagots, he soon located Mr. Horton, and inquired the cause of histrouble. Mr. Horton explained the attack, and noting the man wasa stranger in the locality asked his name.

Beaumont, TX. ad. Horton and Hobo

“I'm just a hobo. That's all.”

With this answer he evaded any effort todiscover his identity.

The hobo became the questioner, and askedminutely concerning Mr. Horton's case – how long he hadsuffered, what treatment he had received, and the progress of thedisease.

“I'm only a hobo, but I can cure you oranybody else, of kidney or bladder trouble,” be finallystated.

Without further comment, the hobo walkedfurther into the woods, was gone a few minutes, and when hereturned, bore in his hands certain herbs, which, he declared, ifused according to directions which he prescribed, would effect aspeedy and permanent cure. Afterwards he assisted in thepreparation of the compound, and then departed out of Mr.Horton's life as quietly as he had come into it.

Whether this wanderer upon the face of theearth had at one time been a student of the science of medicineor whether in his career as a vagabond, roaming the world over,the prescription had been given to him by some one learned in thetherapeutic value of herbs Mr. Horton never knew.

“Only a hobo” was the terse and onlyhistory of himself he gave to Mr. Horton. Within three days afterbeginning to take this medicine Mr. Horton was greatly improved,and within two months restored to health without any recurrenceto the malady in the intervening years.

The merits of this marvelous medicine becameknown by degrees in the immediate locality among those who, likeMr. Horton, were afflicted with kidney and bladder trouble.

Singer, LA. ad. Probably Horton and Herb Field.

Mr. Horton, believing that such a preparationshould be perfected and perpetuated to humanity, gave the matterseveral years of careful thought and experiment and finallysucceeded in producing this wonderful medicine. As it is nowbeing manufactured; and in honor to that hobo, whose antecedentsand subsequent fate are wrapped in mystery. Mr. Horton has namedthe preparation HOBO KIDNEY AND BLADDER REMEDY.The ingredients are products of the fields and woods ofLouisiana.

The Louisiana State Board of Health reported in1915 that it had made an analysis of Hobo Kidney and BladderRemedy: “This remedy consists of an infusion of vegetablesubstances. There is no alcohol present, and analysis shows theabsence of all alkali metals. There is no indication that thereis anything in this material except vegetable extractives”.

G.D. Horton (not definately identified) on cover of pamphlet.

Shreveport, LA ad.

A 1938 letter to a Texas physician from the American MedicalAssociation Bureau of Investigation gives this information:“Government chemists who analyzed the stuff (Hobo Kidney andBladder Remedy) reported that it consisted of small quantities ofan extract of a plant drug similar to gallium aparine, benzoicacid, salicylic acid (aspirin) and water. The water was said toconstitute 98% of the mixture.”

Hobo Kidney and Bladder Remedy was represented as a treatmentor cure for Bright's disease, backache, rheumatism, inflammationof the bladder, diabetes, etc., and the claims were declaredfalse and fraudulent on several occasions by federal authoritiesbetween 1920 and 1940.

I don't know what happened to G.D. Horton. If the hobo wasn'this guardian angel, I would have to conclude that Mr. Horton hada vivid imagination...


Hobo Medicine Company, a patent medicine firm, 1913-1941,folder 359, American Medical Association Historical Health Fraudand Alternative Medicine Collection, Jane A. Kenamore, CA,Archivist.

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