John Uri Lloyd

John Uri Lloyd was born in West Bloomfield, New York, April, 1849. The eldest son of Nelson M. and Sophia Webster Lloyd. His ancestors served in the French and Indian wars, the Colonial wars, and Revolution. Lloyd was a great-grandson of John Lloyd who came to America from Wales and settled in New York about 1770. His mother was a descendant of John Webster, second governor of Massachusetts.

At the age of five, Lloyd with his parents, came to Kentucky. Nelson Lloyd came to Kentucky to assist in making a preliminary survey for a contemplated railway connecting Covington with Louisville. The family located [illeg] of Burlington. From [illeg] some reason not [illeg] the railroad failed to [illeg] and the family moved to Petersburg, but later settled down in Florence, where Mr. Lloyd spent most of his boyhood days.  The moving about was [illeg] by the fact that the parents taught school in these ? changing as better opportunities offered. The father taught the older pupils, the mother the younger. Both the parents of Mr. Lloyd were [illeg] and had been teachers of note in New York state before coming to Kentucky. John Uri Lloyd’s first teacher was his mother. Fortunately she was most capable, for his health was not the best, being a sufferer with asthma which would no doubt have prevented his regular attendance at the short term public schools then available. For a short time though, he did attend school at Petersburg, taught by a man named Holton, who was studying for the ministry in the Christian Church. This student of the Bible required each pupil to recite a verse from Proverbs every morning which was, according to Mr. Lloyd, the beginning of his (Mr. Lloyd’s) interest in the Bible and the habit of quoting from it which has continued during his entire life time. His third and last teacher was his father, though throughout his boyhood he received much private instruction from both parents.  Mr. Lloyd’s aptitude for chemistry was manifested early in life and encouraged by his parents. He could not recall even from his earliest years but one time that he determined to be anything except a chemist. That instance was when a small boy he had cherished a secret ambition to become a trapper in the far west, doubtless inspired by tales of Daniel Boone, Simon Kenton and other hardy pioneers who had moved on when Kentucky became “overcrowded.” Mr. Lloyd says ‘that from earliest school days chemistry excited my keenest interest, but when a child I sat absorbed during experiments made by the teacher while he instructed the advanced class.’ By chance Lloyd obtained a copy of ‘Comstocks Chemistry’ and day by day kept abreast with the students who recited in that subtle science. Either luck or fate made a chemist of Lloyd, luck, because the subject chanced to be taught in his class room, or fate, because “What is to be will be.”  The boyhood and youth of John Uri Lloyd was passed in a quiet and to most people an unimpressive village in Kentucky. “Stringtown” (Florence). As a boy Lloyd loved the woodlands of Boone County, taking great pleasure in roaming through them accompanied only by his dog Turk, a stray pup that he begged permission to keep and which became his close companion. Turk apparently was anything but beautiful to look upon but he was devoted to the little master by whom he was greatly beloved. Wherever Lloyd wandered Turk was always his companion. Never a dog so big but that Turk stood between him and possible danger. The creek that ran back of Petersburg in a beautiful valley between heavily wooded hills was a favorite place with Turk and his companion. They fished its length the pleasant summer through. Both were happy, neither wanted other company. One of the saddest blows for a boy is the loss of his dog and his came about when John Uri became an apprentice in a pharmacy in Cincinnati. No doubt time hung heavy for Turk after his master left him, or perhaps he started going in bad company that led him astray, for circumstantial evidence indicated that he was implicated in sheep killing. To the older folks there was but one punishment for such mischief, so his doom was sealed, but the boy himself put the bullet through his head, preferring to do it rather than risk another not killing him instantly. In his younger days near Florence, Mr. Lloyd spent many happy hours in hunting and fishing. He was quite an expert with a gun, using a rifle for hunting squirrels and a shotgun for partridges.  The pool at the foot of the bluff back of old Gunpowder Creek Baptist Church was a favorite place for fishing during the time that he lived in Florence. Many happy days the barefoot boy spent there with his fishing pole.  While living in Petersburg, he became a close companion to Billy Bradley, a boy older than himself, whose father was the ferryman and naturally almost of all their time was pleasantly occupied on the river and along the banks of the Ohio. This youth later became Lloyd’s boyhood hero when he went to the army of the Confederacy, serving under Morgan and was killed in action near Mt. Sterling in 1864. Bradley along with his guardian angel, the lovable Felix Moses, were shot down by two Federal troopers who were on the lookout for bushwhackers.  With the consent of his parents on reaching the age of fourteen, John Uri was apprenticed to W.J.M. Gordon, a Cincinnati apothecary at a salary of two dollars per week. He made his first start in this profession literally at the bottom. His day began at seven o’clock in the morning with the most menial tasks, and he was rarely through before nine or ten o’clock at night. Through his keen interest and continuous application he became, at the end of two years, qualified for the work of prescription clerk. In order to further ground himself in the work he had chosen and to cope with the German prescription business which was no small part of the service in Cincinnati of those days, he took a second apprenticeship with Mr. George Eger, a man who had received his pharmaceutical training in a German University and who gave careful attention to his young apprentice, at the same time being, very exacting in his requirements. His certificate of proficiency received at the close of his second two-year period was highly prized. During his first year at work his residence was in an attic room in a cheap boarding house on East Third Street in Cincinnati. Later he went to live with Mr. Gordon’s head prescription clerk Mr. Riefsnider. Every third Sunday he was allowed a day off for the purpose of visiting his home in Kentucky. He was permitted to leave the store on Saturday afternoon at 3 o’clock and usually walked the ten miles to his home at Florence. Very often he walked back again Monday morning in time for business, sometimes carrying a carpet bag full of clothes which were washed and mended at home.  

How that mother loved helped the young John Uri over the rough spots of the next few years! Many a time, he confesses, after being apprenticed to W.J.M. Gordon he would come home on one of his monthly holidays, almost ready to quit because of the severe grilling to which he was submitted by his fellow clerks and apprentices owing to his queer dress and to being an alien “Reb” in Union territory. And each time his mother would cheer him and strengthen him to bear up under his burdens until of his own free will he chose to return.  Strangely enough to one observer, three things symbolize John Uri Lloyd’s early years. One is a woolen shawl. The others are an early soda water machine and bananas.  As a youth, Lloyd performed many of his chemical experiments in his backyard laboratory. Due to his being such a frail lad there was always about his shoulders a woolen shawl of home weave.  True the shawl was not an unusual garment for a lad who lived south of the Ohio River, but Lloyd writing or telling of it somehow makes one feel that it was the mark of keep love between him and his mother.  The bananas assumed symbolic proportions on his first journey to Cincinnati. Lloyd and his father had just left the pharmacy where Lloyd had obtained employment. They were progressing along the street when they passed a green grocer’s where hung a bunch of bananas. Stopping in front of the stand the elder Lloyd pointed to them and said, “John, these are the luxuries of life, you, my son are her to learn the drug business, and luxuries are not consonant with your position in life. You must learn to deny yourself, nor to stop, nor to be tempted.” Following this the father read him a lecture on the evils of the big city. Whether John Uri Lloyd ever thought of bananas thereafter without thinking of palaces, princesses and wines and music, has never been told, but one thing is certain, denial became a part of his early life and while he was studying and working he lived for weeks at a time on bread, coffee, New Orleans molasses and sausage, eaten behind his prescription case.  The third symbol was the soda water apparatus. It was born into the drug world along with Johnny Lloyd, and one of his early duties was the mixing of the marble dust and sulphuric acid in the old copper generator, a more or less dangerous operation in a weak machine as anyone who has ever performed it well knows. Of the simultaneous growth of Lloyd and the soda fountain is that the latter marked the beginning of the commercial age of pharmacy while Lloyd stood for that part of pharmacy which has and is ever growing more professional. At the end of his first six months Lloyd was highly elated when his salary was raised to three dollars per week instead of the two and one-half agreed upon at the beginning of his employment. I wonder what would have been the thoughts of this youth had he been able to look into the future and see the success and worldly acclaim that was to be his portion in years to come. Mr. Lloyd decided early to save all that he earned over six dollars a week, ‘Joy in work,’ he was told by Thomas A. Edison, then a Cincinnati telegrapher, ‘doesn’t come from the fruits or an enterprise.’  Counting his four years apprenticeship, he clerked for nearly fifteen years. In 1871 Lloyd accepted the position of chemist with H.M. Merrell & Company, in order to make a systematic study of the Eclectic Materia Medica.  In 1876 John Uri Lloyd married Adaline Meader of Cincinnati, who died ten days later on January 7, 1877.  Three and a half years later he was married to Emma V. Rouse (a Boone County girl). There were three children by this marriage: John Thomas, Anna and Dorthy.  Professor Lloyd passed an examination before the Cincinnati Pharmacy Board the first established in Ohio, and attended the first meeting of the Ohio Pharmaceutical Association called for the purpose of forming a State Society. The thoroughness of his training and the exacting methods of his preceptors were the foundation for the unique success of his lucrative business.  Sketches from Lloyd’s life would be incomplete without mentioning his many contributions to the literature of his profession and also his books of fiction. His scientific writing include: “The Chemistry of Medicine,” “A Study in Pharmacy,” and Elixirs: Their History and Preparation.” He is co-author with his brother, C.G. Lloyd, of “Drugs and Medicines of North America,” “A Study of Digitalis” and other pamphlets and books dealing with the study of science. His books of fiction include: “Etidorpha, the End of the Earth” in which he predicted the presence of unknown elements which have been discovered, “The Right Side of the Car,” “Stringtown on the Pike,” a folklore study of Kentucky; “Warwick of the Knobs,” “Redhead,” based on feudal conditions in Kentucky; his last book, “Felix Moses, the Beloved Jew,” was published in 1930. An unpublished book, entitled “Our Willie” has now been completed as another study of Kentucky folklore.  Stringtown on the Pike came in the same way that “Etidorpha” did, as a surprise to even Mr. Lloyd’s closest friends, and it has made such an impression on the country as to bring its author in a flash conspicuously before the literary world. Indeed, not only can this be said of America, but of Europe as well, for an edition of “Stringtown” has been issued in London, England, and very high praise has been accorded the book by no less an authority than the Academy of London.  A great literary authority has written that “Stringtown on the Pike” is “a story that only an American could write;” and to this might be added that it is only a story that a pharmacist-chemist could write.  As a writer, professor Lloyd was equally at home in romance, philosophy and science. As a pharmacist, he was both practical and professional, an unusual research worker, a very practical manufacturer, and a substantial man of business. As a teacher, he could present facts that held the attention of specialists and arouse the interest of those totally unlearned in science. The one appellation that covers all his attributes is “Master of Arts.”  In 1924 the Merrell, Thorp & Lloyd Drug Company was incorporated as Lloyd Brothers, Pharmacists, Inc., with John Uri serving as president on the concern. Among the firm’s specialties were “Specific Medicines,” produced as the results of extended study and no doubt hundreds of experiments.  Lloyd was professor of chemistry at the Cincinnati College of Pharmacy during 1882-87, and served for many years as professor of chemistry at the Eclectic Medical Institute and its president from 1896 to 1904.  Plant pharmacy, phyto-chemistry, drug extraction, alkaloids, the proximate principles of plants and colloidal chemistry, were his special subjects of investigation.  Dr. Lloyd, with his brothers, founded the Lloyd Library, located at 309 West Court Street, Cincinnati, Ohio. The great library of the former Surgeon-General, Dr. James Pattison Walker of England, was donated to the Lloyd Library in 1893. The Lloyd Library and Museum now has the largest collection of eclectic books in the world, and it has a responsibility to maintain these volumes in usable and readily available form. The Eclectic Collections in Lloyd Library and Museum comprise only a part of the large holdings of more than 105,000 books and 65,000 pamphlets in the Library. Other noteworthy and extensive collections are in the fields of botany, pharmacy, chemistry, mycology, natural history and the allied sciences. The oldest publication house in the library dates back to 1493.  The Lloyd Library is incorporated – is free to the public (with the “rubber” class filtered out) and is pledged to be donated in tact to science, the final resting place has not yet been decided upon, but it will be placed in the University of Cincinnati where it will “do most good.”  He was one of a committee of three, appointed by Governor Harmon which supervised the construction of the Ohio Building for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. In 1906 he was delegate of the American Chemical Society to the International Congress of Applied Chemistry at Rome, Italy.  He held the honorary degrees of Ph.M. of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy (1890), Ph.D. of the University of Ohio (1897), LL.D. of Wilberforce University (1902), and M.D. of the Eclectic Medical College of Cincinnati (1921). The American Pharmaceutical Association awarded him gold medals in 18809, 1892, 1899 and 1920 in recognition of his discoveries in plant research connected with coloidal chemistry and physical phenomena, and he was also awarded the Remington Honor medal in 1920.  Professor A.M. Yealey, vice-president of the Boone County Historical Society and former Principal of the Florence Public School, from 1900 to 1930, and at the present time doing research work for the “Early History of Boone County,” says “While teaching school in Union County, Ohio, a Doctor who had received a medical degree from the Cincinnati Eclectic Medical College, sent me an invitation to attend the stereopticon slide lecture, on the subject of, “Etidorpha, The End of Earth,” written by Mr. Lloyd. I attended this lecture in 1896. At that time I did not realize that in later years I would become one of Mr. Lloyd’s friends and would assist him and his son, John Thomas, in taking pictures of the grave stones in bloody hollow and the old Tanner burial ground on the Perry Utz farm, Florence, Kentucky.  Mr. Yealey remarked that he often visits the Lloyd library in Cincinnati while seeking early history of Boone County.  On May 23, 1929, Professor Lloyd delivered the class address for Mr. Yealey at the old Presbyterian Church in Florence. At that date Mr. Lloyd, though nearing his eightieth year of life, spoke words of wisdom to an overflow audience in the village where he learned to read and write.  The building in Florence where Mr. Lloyd received his early training is today used as a kindergarten and also as a meeting place of the Boone County Historical Society. In Mr. Lloyd’s will sufficient funds were set aside to keep this building in repair.  Seldom indeed, is one privileged to meet, know and love a man like “Professor Lloyd” for truly “to know him was to love him.” In early youth he experienced the self-denial of scanty means, and later enjoyed the well earned luxuries of life. He wore his laurels of success with a becoming modesty and dignity. Truth, sincerity, and fairness characterized his relations with others.  In March, 1936, Mr. Lloyd went to Los Angeles, California to visit his daughter Anna. Six weeks later on April 9, 1936 death claimed this great scientist, author, and teacher. His whole life was marked by tremendous energy. He loved life and he lived it to the full. By virtue of his long, fruitful and many-sided career, John Uri Lloyd was a kind of landmark in Northern Kentucky’s culture.