History of Hamamelis
Extract and Distillate
BY JOHN URI LLOYD AND JOHN THOMAS LLOYD
In 1865, the senior member of the writers of this treatise
was acting as
clerk in the establishment of W. J. M. Gordon and Brother, Ninth and
Avenues, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Mr. Gordon specialized in physicians' supplies, and made a
feature of the
"Concentrations" and other Eclectic preparations, then rapidly coming into
favor. This was natural, as the Gordon establishment was but two
blocks from the Eclectic Medical Institute, Court and Plum Streets. Drs.
and Scudder, and other professors of the Institute, were patrons of the
establishment, and contributed, constantly and helpfully, to Mr. Gordon's
pharmaceutical researches. They naturally fraternized with the physicians
other schools, who met in Gordon's large, comfortable and hospitable front
where all, alike, considered themselves at home. A "No Man's Land" it was,
one of cheer and helpfulness, not of war, personalities and
The physicians who there met, differed in views, but they personally
each other's ideals and processes. They had no desire to suppress the
others who were endeavoring to serve the needs of the American people.
left to medical politicians.
At that time, 1865, Mr. Gordon had in his employ a business
named Leon Hurtt, a brother of F. W. Hurtt, a banker in New York City.
Leon, F. W. Hurtt proposed to purchase the right to make the preparation
known as "Pond's Extract." The senior writer of this chronicle well
when, in his presence, Leon Hurtt informed Mr. Gordon (who, I was told,
declined to purchase the Pond Extract rights) that he wished to resign his
position with the Gordons, to devote his time to the introduction and sale
the proprietary medicine, "Pond's Extract;" it was then used almost
by the Homeopathic medical profession of America, being scarcely known
other physicians, or to the public generally.
In one of my visits (J. U. L.) to Los Angeles, California, I learned
T. Hurtt was yet living, a resident of that city. I located his home, and
1915 made him a personal visit, with the object of obtaining from him an
authoritative statement concerning the history of Pond's Extract, as well
connection therewith. In this and other later visits, he gave me in detail
history of the preparation, which was first a water-made extract, but is
an "extract," although established and sometimes sold under that title. I
not hesitated to utilize Mr. Hurtt's words verbatim, as a part of this
To the foregoing I will add that in my opinion the story
herein told could
not, at the date of my interview with Mr. Hurtt, have been handled
authoritatively by any other person, he being the only living "charter
of the organization originally known as the "Pond's Extract Company."
Pond's distilled hamamelis was quietly introduced into the
school of medicine. Coming gradually into the practice of Eclectic
creeping into that of Allopathic physicians, it finally came into the use
public generally. The chemist, finding little in the distillate other than
alcohol and traces of an essential oil, accepted that distilled hamamelis
if it had any virtues, depend onthe water and the alcohol it contained.
And yet, after many decades have passed, distilled hamamelis
entrenched as one of the most popular of physicians' favorites, being also
largely employed as a toilet application in America. And that, too, in the
of resistance by authority such as Dr. John Marshall, and H. C. Wood, of
Philadelphia who, in 1886, made a strenuous scientific laboratory
of hamamelis, deciding that there was nothing of therapeutic value in the
distillate. Their article ended as follows:
"This much used, and still more lauded witch-hazel, or the so-called
of witch hazel, must depend for its virtues upon the alcohol they contain,
the faith they inspire." This view is upheld by the United States and the
National Dispensatories, as follows:
"As whatever slight therapeutic virtues witch-hazel possesses seems to
its tannin, it is obvious that this distillate cannot represent the drug."
"The good that it exerts in the treatment of sprains, bruises, wounds,
chilblains, sore eyes, headache, and a host of other conditions, resides
the activity of a cleansing and evaporating lotion and in the mind of its
than in any decided curative properties that the preparation may possess."
National Dispensatory, 1916.
In this connection, I am of the opinion that no claim is made by any maker
the distillate that it represents the fixed astringent principles of the
Nor am I convinced that alcohol is the only serviceable content of the
As written by Leon T. Hurtt, of the Pond's Extract Company.
(Edited slightly in phrase directions L.)
In the early 1840's, Theron T. Pond, a resident of Utica, New York, became
interested in, and associated more--or less, with a tribe of Indians known
Oneida tribe then located in Central New York. He found that they were
burns, boils and wounds of every description a 'tea' made by their
from a species of bush known as 'witch hazel,' a shrub supposed by them to
only in Central New York. The Medicine Man made his extract by steeping
shrub in an ordinary teakettle. The liquid which he obtained was colored
clear as water, and had a peculiar aroma obtained from no other shrub.
The 'Witch Hazel' is peculiar (Cuts B & C), in that it blossoms in the
producing small, yellow flowers. The medicinal properties of the extract
in the opinion of the Oneidas, remarkable. A sudden electrical and thunder
(it was stated) would turn the liquid milky, but within forty-eight to
hours it would return to its original clearness. (This needs
Mr. Pond, believing in the wonderful medicinal properties of the 'Witch
tea, decided to learn from the Indian doctor the peculiar species of shrub
With the Indian Medicine Man he spent several months, searching the
until he fully informed himself of the shrub they employed. He then formed
the Indians a sort of partnership to make the extract, putting it up in a
to be sold among their friends.
The Medicine Man was extremely particular about the species of shrub used,
its manipulation. He would gather it himself in the woods, bringing it in
armful, and steeping it at once.
At first they boiled the shrub in an ordinary iron kettle or cauldron,
direct fire. Thus they produced a fair article, but they could not
After studying different preservatives, they finally used about 3%
in warm weather that amount of alcohol failed to keep the product, and the
alcohol was increased.
They decided to give to their extract the trade name, 'Golden Treasure,' a
suggested by Mr. Pond. After his death, this name was changed to 'Pond's
Mr. Pond and the Medicine Man worked together for several years,
product mainly among their personal friends. They finally decided to put
'Extract' on the market, and did so, in a local way, in 1848. When
we sold the
Pond's Extract Company, in 1898, there was in the company's safe a
bottle, made in 1848, which was apparently still good. Whether that bottle
now be found, I do not know.
Theron T. Pond died some time between 1847 and 1850. It is said that he
life from exposure in the woods.
Between 1846 and 1850, Pond and the Indian Medicine Man sold their
Hart and Munson, iron foundry men of Utica, New York. They took in with
Isaiah A. Palmer, a friend and neighbor of Theron T. Pond. The business
sold to a firm in New York whose name I have forgotten, but as no business
any consequence resulted, the company was sold by the sheriff. It was
by Isaiah A. Palmer, who claimed never to have sold his interest therein.
should here be repeated that Palmer, Hart and Munson had given the product
name 'Pond's Extract,' dropping the name 'Golden Treasure.'
Dr. Frederick Humphrey, a Methodist minister, and also a Homeopathic
proprietor of the Homeopathic Medicine Company, 562 Broadway, New York,
that for years he had been Mr. Pond's family physician, and that Pond had
him the right to manufacture and sell the extract through his 'Humphrey
Homeopathic Medicine Company.' He did, indeed, commence to manufacture the
continuing the name, 'Pond's Extract.' His claim was denied by Palmer, who
commenced suit and applied for an injunction forbidding Humphrey from
using the name 'Pond's Extract,' or manufacturing the article.
A party from Connecticut who had worked for the original firm of Pond and
Indian, also claimed that he had the right to make 'Golden Treasure,' but
unable to establish his claim.
At that time, the 'extract' was still made by using the old cauldron, over
direct fire. Palmer employed a copper kettle, with a very crude
hood and worm. Cold water was used for condensing the vapor.
In 1871 or '72, while the lawsuit (Palmer vs. Humphrey) was still pending,
F. W. Hurtt, a banker of New York, bought the interest, or the alleged
ofthe Humphrey Homeopathic Medicine Company, and to quiet Palmer, took him
partnership, giving him an eighth interest in the new corporation, which
capitalized at $100,000. At that time, the sale of Pond's Extract was less
$5000 per annum.
Harry Cole, of Cincinnati, myself and F. W. Hurtt, of New York, bought the
concern, which we reorganized, electing F. W. Hurtt, President, L. H.
Vice-President, Harry Cole, Treasurer, and I. A. Palmer, Manufacturer. We
transferred the company from 562 Broadway, New York, to 76 Williams
York, the firm name now being, F. W. Hurtt and Brother, Wholesale
company then had three factories, small and crude, with four kettles at
factory. One of these factories (all in New York State), was located at
Tightsville, one at Little Falls, and one at Frankfort. These three
consolidated into one, at Rome, New York, and for four years ran that
from November, each year, until April or May.
In the meantime Isaiah A. Palmer had died, and E. D. Palmer, the sculptor,
became interested with us. However, besides holding the office of
and running the drug department nafter I. A. Palmer's death, I added to my
duties the manufacturing of the Extract.
We then moved from Rome, New York, to Chester, Connecticut, the only other
locality I knew where the Indian species of Witch Hazel was obtainable.
immediately decided to build steam stills, believing that I could obtain
extract from the shrub than I could with the old-time, direct fire, copper
kettles. This I proved by making an extract nineteen per cent stronger
had before obtained.
About a year after our purchase of their alleged interest from Dr.
the Homeopathic Company, Humphrey's Medicine Company sued us for
contract and agreement. We in turn injoined them from using the term
Extract,' or from manufacturing that product. This lawsuit was in the
The day after our charter was issued by the Secretary of State, our
F. W. Hurtt, started on a trip around the world. It then became my duty
to assume the entire responsibility of the company. We ran the Extract in
connection with our wholesale drug business (F. W. Hurtt & Brother), but
establishment was inadequate for both the drug and medicine, and the
Extract business. We therefore leased a whole building at 98 Maiden Lane,
there we conducted the business for five years, until 1878. On our
return, and on account of the rapid increase of business, we bought a
factory in Brooklyn, E. D., a four-story building one hundred feet square.
was used only for bottling and shipping, and for the Business and
Departments of the Pond's Extract Company. Our distilleries were still in
When the bridge crossing East River was built, the site of our building in
Brooklyn was needed, and F. W. Hurtt bought the old Belmont home, 76 Fifth
Avenue, New York, and No. 1, West 13th Street. This we remodeled, moving
in 1883. As stated, we were then manufacturing our Extract at Chester,
Connecticut. There we abandoned the old kettle previously employed,
400-gallon copper stills made under my own supervision. I understand that
same stills are in use by the Pond Extract Company, at the present time.
our new stills, I added about twenty-two and one-half percent to the
There seems to be only two or three sections of the United States where
species of Witch Hazel grows, of the quality employed by the Pond Company
the Indian 'Medicine Man' of the Oneidas, namely, Central New York and
Connecticut. I am told that each year the tribes of Indians on the plains
send their Medicine Man East, for their supply of what they term 'Witch
In 1884, our president, F. W. Hurtt, passed away, and I was elected
the Company, remaining in that position until I resigned, in 1898. At that
our business was about half a million dollars each year.
In 1882 I added several new preparations, consisting of toilet cream,
dentifrice, lip salve, ointment, porous plasters, catarrh remedy and
soap. Special machinery for their manufacture was erected in our
Number 1 West 13th Street, that building being connected with the one
our offices, at 76 Fifth Avenue. All the articles above mentioned were
the product of Pond's Extract, in different forms, and proved very
with a large trade.
In 1878 we had opened a branch on Great Russell Street, London, opposite
Museum, and there built up a reasonable trade, principally on Pond's
also established an agency with Roberts and Co., of Paris, France. We
our preparations at the Paris Exposition, and received a medal. The date
Exposition I have forgotten, and have no data by which I can recall it. I
the present Pond's Extract Company retains the London Branch, at the
While in London, I made a contract with the Hotel Syndicate that
the first class hotels in London. The contract was as follows: The
buy from the London Company ten gross of Pond's Extract, of the small
pay our regular wholesale price for it. They were to place a bottle in
guest's room, charging same to the room. When occupied by a guest, it was
duty of the chambermaid to report to the office whether or not the guest
used the bottle. If so, it was charged to the guest, and another bottle
immediately put in its place. We were to place in the 'lifts' of each
large mirror with the words 'Pond's Extract' lettered across its top.
mirrors were to be placed in the reception room and the public rooms on
first floor. This wouldhave required an expenditure of ten or eleven
dollars. For this privilege, for one year, we were to pay the Hotel
One Thousand Dollars. However, the Board of Directors of my company
sanction my agreement, and the contract was not consummated.