Tag Archives: Helm family

“Perfectly Harmless, and Sure to Do Good”

Advertisement for Lyon's French Periodical Drops

Advertisement for Lyon’s French Periodical Drops

Women’s History Month got you down?  Maybe it’s just those women’s “monthlies.”  From the Helm Family Papers in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Library Special Collections, we give you Lyon’s French Periodical Drops and Female Regulator.  “Powerful in their action, but harmless in their operation,” these miracle drops were the concoction of Connecticut-based, Paris-trained physician John L. Lyon.

Advertised from the Civil War until the early 20th century, this contribution to the vast pharmacopoeia of American patent medicines was for relief of “Irregularities, Painful and Imperfect Menstruation” or “Monthly Sickness of Females.”  A mere $1.50 paid for one bottle of Drops, to be taken daily by teaspoonful with an equivalent dose of molasses or honey.

Embedded in the lengthy advertisement was some fascinating text that instructed in the regulation of more than the monthly cycle.  The drops, warned the doctor, should not be taken if “Pregnancy be the cause of the stoppage” as “they will be sure to cause a miscarriage.”  On the other hand, three-times daily doses ahead of an “expected period” would operate “TO PREVENT CONCEPTION.”  Along with the honey-or-molasses chaser, Dr. Lyon also recommended “Strong Tanzy” or “Pennyroyal Tea”—both traditional abortifacients—as “beneficial in some cases in connection with this medicine.”

Lyon’s French Periodical Drops eventually fell victim to Progressive-Era regulation of food and drugs.  After a look and a sniff in 1908, the Kansas Board of Health found [surprise!!] alcohol in a compound marketed as “entirely vegetable.”  The Board dismissed the rest of the ingredients as a probable (and toxic) “aromatic solution of ergot and oil of savin.”

For more of our collections that feature medicines and prescriptions, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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At Home With the Lucases

Nathaniel Lucas Home, Warren County, Ky.

Nathaniel Lucas Home, Warren County, Ky.

Tucked in with a large collection of genealogy research on the Helm family (think WKU’s Margie Helm Library) recently donated to the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections was this little sketch, made in 1883 by an English visitor to Warren County.

Located a few miles north of Bowling Green, the home belonged to Nathaniel Henry Lucas (1818-1908) and his wife Mary Barton (Maury) Lucas (1832-1907). The land was originally part of a grant to Nathaniel’s grandfather and namesake, Captain Nathaniel Lucas.  During the Revolutionary War, Captain Lucas wrote a letter to his wife-to-be on the eve of the Battle of Yorktown that is one of the oldest items in our collection.

The first house on the property burned during the Civil War, but soon afterward Nathaniel and Mary built this home in which to raise their family of six children. Their daughter, Virginia “Jennie” Lucas, married Margie Helm’s uncle, James W. “Jimmie” Helm in 1879; one of two couples participating in a double wedding ceremony in Mammoth Cave, they had ten children, ensuring that many members of the Helm, Lucas and related families could look on this substantial home as part of their heritage.  The house remained in the Lucas family until 1956.

Click on the links to access finding aids for collections relating to the Lucas family, including the sketch of their family homestead.  For more on the Helm, Lucas and other Warren County families, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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