The Response

Pharmacist Ledgers

Finding records pertaining to Winnebago County was difficult for this time period. Most were destroyed such as school, hospital, and police records. In our search for pharmacist documentation, we were unable to locate any Winnebago county pharmacist records, therefore, we extended this part of our investigation to the outside communities in Wisconsin. We were able to locate the daybook and financial records of Dr. Perry W. Doughty, a physician who ran a fairly small practice in Stout, Wisconsin (9). Recorded entries were available for the months of August through December, 1918 and May through September of 1919. Table 1 lists the number of prescriptions per month and the profit accumulated each month. During the peak months of the Spanish influenza, his profit increased by over 400%.

Table 1

Month and Year Numbers of Prescriptions Filled  
August 1918 35 $33.70
September 1918 55 $78.25
October 1918 293 $746.25
November 1918 176 $401.90
December 1918 120 $295.20
May 1919 61 $112.40
June 1919 62 $113.15
July 1919 48 $77.20
August 1919 69 $113.80
September 1919 61 $150.40

Records from Graham Drug Company, Portage, Wisconsin portrayed a very detailed ledger documenting physicians and their prescription dispenser remarks (10). During the months of October through December, 1918, ten physicians, predominately prescribed heroine hydrochloride, codeine sulphate, cocaine hydrochloridum, opium, morphine sulphate, elixer terpin hydrate (a concoction of terpentine, alcohol, and nitric acid), paregoric elixer (made with powdered opium, benzoic acid, camphor, oil of anise, glycerin diluted alcohol, and morphine). The Freeman Drug Company, River Falls, Wisconsin, financial records and formula books confirmed this with similar entries and information (11).

The Dispensatory of the United States of America manual used by pharmacists lists the uses of all of these drugs as a relief for cough and abdominal pain or as a sedative for the respiratory center (12). Adolf O. Erickson, a hardware store owner and Sunday School teacher in Winchester, chronicled the Spanish Influenza in his diary (13). He wrote that a physician injected eight shots of camphor-oil directly into his brother's legs and arms to treat the raging temperatures caused by the influenza (13).

Health Knowledge Handbook

The Domestic Health Society published Health Knowledge, A Thorough and Concise Knowledge of the Prevention, Causes, and Treatments of Disease, Simplified for Home Use in 1921 (14). It defines Spanish Influenza as the "Three Day Fever" caused by Pfeiffer's bacillus (14). Treatment recommendations were 2-4 doses of quinine of 5 grains each, one hour apart. He or she should also be given a hot mustard foot bath and should have a hot-water bottle or hot iron at his/her feet, They should drink plenty of hot lemonade or milk and the bowels should be kept open by Epsom salts (14). In addition, several recipes were recommended and listed in Table 2.

Table 2. Spanish Influenza Remedy Recipes published in Health Knowledge (13)

Recipe Ingredients
Remedy 1

48 grains Aspirin
24 grains Phenacetine
48 grains Salol
Mix, and make into 12 capsules.
Dose: One capsule every 3 hours.

Remedy 2 15 grains Acetanilid
75 grains Aspirin
Mix, and make into 15 powders.
Dose: One powder every 4 hours, with a little water.
Dried Raspberries Boil 1 tablespoon of dried raspberries in 2 teaspoonfuls of water. Boil 10-15 minutes, starin, and drink as hot as can be tolerated. It can be sweetened if prefered. Repeat every 3-4 hours
Camphor Add 15-20 drops of spirits of camphor in a teacup of hot water. Drink as hot as possible, especially on going to bed. Repeat every hour or two.
Cayenne Pepper Add one teaspoonful of cayenne pepper to boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes covered, then strain through a fine cloth. Add one teaspoonful of this fluid to a teacupful of hot water, repeat every hour or two.