Tag Archives: John E. Younglove

Younglove’s Drugstore

Younglove's Drugstore

Younglove’s Drugstore

It’s January 12 – National Pharmacists Day, when we show appreciation for these health care professionals by, among other things, producing a valid insurance card and not whining about why it takes so long to fill our prescription.

As we have previously blogged, the work of pharmacists over generations appears in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections.  But if one Bowling Green pharmacy came closest to becoming an institution, it was Younglove’s Drugstore.

Born in Johnstown, New York in 1826, John E. Younglove followed his brother Joseph to Bowling Green in 1844.  The two became business partners in what was then known as the Quigley Building at the corner of Main and State streets (it still stands).  After Joseph’s death, John continued the business.  Younglove’s was not only a drugstore but a post office, stage coach stop and social center, and became known to everyone in the county.  Its display cases, sales counter, furniture and shelving remained unchanged for decades, and locals arriving for a chat would seat themselves on a venerated old seed box by the stove.  In addition to discussions of the day’s news, it was said that many political campaigns were waged astride this box.  Behind the counter, Younglove kept a vast trove of chemical knowledge.  His prescription book collected not only remedies for piles, cholera, gonorrhea and hay fever but preparation instructions for ink, “denarcotized laudanum,” hair color, and “cement for burial cases.”  His poison register recorded the sale of dangerous compounds: morphine for cramping, arsenic to kill mice, and strychnine for “varmints.”

John E. Younglove; a page from his prescription book

John E. Younglove; a page from his prescription book

John Younglove was as much of an institution as his store.  A man of modest height who was fond of tall silk hats, he was a repository of local history and a dabbler in many pursuits.  A naturalist, town trustee and cemetery commissioner, he collected archaeological specimens and rare books, maintained weather observations, and preserved data on milestones such as the 1811 earthquake, the 1833 cholera epidemic, the 1869 eclipse, and various floods, freezes and droughts.  When he retired in 1905 and rented his building to new druggists, they demanded such “newfangled” amenities as utilities, a plate glass window, and a soda fountain.  Insurance cards, fortunately, were still far in the future.

Click here for a finding aid to the Younglove family papers.  For more on pharmacists, the Youngloves and their drugstore, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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“A Memorable Day for Oakland”

Prof. Langley and the Shakers report on the eclipse, 1869

Prof. Langley and the Shakers report on the eclipse, 1869

As we all know, a total eclipse of the sun will pass over southcentral Kentucky in the early afternoon of August 21, 2017.  The last time such an event occurred in this area was August 7, 1869, and the tiny Warren County community of Oakland was expected to provide a prime viewing spot.

Four days before the eclipse, Professor Samuel Pierpont Langley, an eminent astronomer and later Secretary of the Smithsonian, arrived by train with a colleague to set up his observation post at Oakland.  Finding only a few houses in the vicinity of the station, he moved two small sheds to a field near the tracks and procured a telegraph connection.  He set up his telescope and other instruments, conducted some practice sessions, and prepared for the big event.

But Langley’s splendid scholarly isolation was not to last.  “On the afternoon of the 7th,” he reported, his station was overwhelmed by “all the inhabitants of the adjoining country, white and black, who crowded around the sheds, interrupted the view, and proved a great annoyance.”  As if that wasn’t enough, just as the eclipse neared its total phase, a special train pulled in carrying onlookers from Bowling Green and–of course!–a brass band.

Langley soldiered on with his work.  He calculated the duration of totality, when the moon completely obscured the sun, as lasting only a second or two, far less than the 30 seconds he expected.  Nevertheless, he was able to see the sun’s corona “visible through the darkening glass as a halo close to the sun, whence radiated a number of brushes of pale light.”  He felt particularly fortunate to get a 15-second view of “Baily’s Beads,” the effect produced when the disappearing sun backlighted the moon’s uneven surface–“like sparks,” he reported, “upon the edge of a piece of rough paper.”

In Bowling Green, druggist John E. Younglove noted the eclipse in his meteorological journal.  Though brief, the totality was sufficient to “observe the Corona with its variegated Colors.”  The eclipse also merited an entry in the daily journal of the Shaker colony at South Union–“nearly total here.”  Writing a history of Oakland in 1941, Jennie Bryant Cole conceded that the astronomers’ better position “should have been about one mile farther up the railroad”; nevertheless, when the “country people came in” and the crowd and brass band arrived, and when the stars suddenly came out in the afternoon and the chickens went home to roost, it was a “memorable day for Oakland.”

Click on the links to access finding aids for collections in the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives of WKU’s Department of Library Special Collections relating to the eclipse of 1869.  For more firsthand accounts of eclipses, search TopSCHOLAR and KenCat.

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