Filed under: Chiro-Picker, chiropractic history | Tags: Chips from Sweet Home, Chiro-Picker, chiropractic history, DD Palmer, Gene Zdrazil DC, Myron Brown DC, Old Dad Chiro, Todd Waters
by Todd Waters, aka “The Chiro-Picker” – SpinalColumnRadio featured blogger
On September 18, 1997, one hundred and two years after D.D. Palmer delivered the profession’s first adjustment, adventuring chiropractic historians, Dr. Myron Brown and Dr. Gene Zdrazil, set a modest stone marker on a piece of land once owned by the founder — a piece of land that Palmer affectionately referred to as “Sweet Home.”
For Brown and Zdrazil, memorializing this historic location of chiropractic was easy. Finding it was hard.
The history of chiropractic tells us that on September 18, 1895, D.D. Palmer gave the first chiropractic adjustment to janitor Harvey Lillard who suffered years of hearing loss. Palmer’s adjustments were effective and Lillard’s hearing was restored due to the removal of the interference to nerves in his spinal column. September 18th is celebrated as “Founders Day,” commemorating the first miraculous healing from a chiropractic adjustment, and how this lead to millions of sick people getting well through Chiropractic.
Although the ten-acre land of Sweet Home is not known as the birthplace of chiropractic, without question, the land represents a milestone in Palmer’s industrious and innovative life. This humble plot was his home, nursery, and apiary for a decade and was the epicenter of many important events that ultimately lead to the path of chiropractic’s discovery. Finding Sweet Home would not only celebrate chiropractic’s history but acknowledge this stepping stone where Palmer struggled and searched for “’That Something’ within himself.” Perhaps it’s fitting then that Brown and Zdrazil had their share of success and hardship as they quested for Palmer’s homestead.
Sweet Home was said to have been located in Mercer County’s Eliza Township, just a few miles north of New Boston, Illinois. Although Palmer was a successful and well-known bee-keeper, there was hardly a trace of his time spent in this quiet community. Armed with an edition of Old Dad Chiro (Palmer’s biography written by Vern Gielow), some photocopied pages of his journal, and a few sparse records from New Boston City Hall, the two historians set out on a chiro-expedition that would prove that finding the acreage was like finding a needle in a haystack.
It would take repeated trips to the area over the course of a year — interviewing neighbors and curators — before Brown and Zdrazil were certain of Sweet Home’s location. Palmer’s address was finally pinpointed from records archived at the Mercer County Courthouse. There the two doctors secured an 1875 Illinois plat atlas and scoured the Eliza Township map. On the left side of the Eliza page was a tiny boxed area showing “D.P. 10” (shorthand for Daniel Palmer, 10 acres).
As the two pulled onto Palmer’s property, they were greeted by a growth of trees not indigenous to the area — trees that, no doubt, were planted by D.D himself. A depression of unleveled ground marked the location of the house described by the neighbor that once stood on the property. Then the doctors became winded as they anxiously climbed the hill to find the grave where D.D. had reportedly buried a child. Sure enough, the duo unearthed a large rock marking the resting place of the young Palmer we never knew and respectfully cleared the area of debris. From this vantage point a beautiful view of the Mississippi could be seen across the valley.
And then the doctors discovered another treasure — a treasure that had reached from time past to present: Farmer Palmer’s raspberry bushes. Excitedly the two dug up some of the plants to take home with them so that they too could continue to grow and propagate the seedlings Palmer had planted over one hundred years ago. This is much like how chiropractors today still sow the plentiful “seeds” of chiropractic provided by D.D. Palmer with that first adjustment in 1895, and patients to this day continue to reap the fruits of health through his discovery.
Chiropractic is a humble service: serving to serve.
This Sweet Home land is a humble land and reminds us of Chiropractic’s simple beginnings.
But if both this land and the science, art, and philosophy of chiropractic are not maintained, each can be just as susceptible to being leveled and replaced by something else. This is why chiropractic history is so important to the future of chiropractic. If history is forgotten there will be no foundations for chiropractic to stand upon.
B.J. Palmer once made his own pilgrimage to Sweet Home to rediscover his roots, asking old family friends, the Kellogs, to drive him to the location. Although he had never visited the property before, as they grew near, B.J. seized the reins of the expedition and claimed he knew right where to go. He claimed he was being lead by innate — an intelligence within that had given him a familiarity of the ten-acre landscape through visualized “thot flashes” … thot flashes that would allowed him to climb a hill to observe the gravesite of a sister he had never met.
Sometimes we can’t explain why retracing our roots is so important to us. Why is it so important to an individual to document a lineage, find and old piece of land, and discover lost writings and photos of ancestors and forefathers? We do these things because something within us tells us to. B.J. Palmer would say this is our Innate Intelligence guiding us. Perhaps our innate knows to protect the roots of heritage just as the innate of a thriving tree would protect its roots by driving them deep within the soil. With a solid foundation, both will stand strong. But when roots are cut and tossed aside, all will wither and be lost.
Our lives and our history are fragile. Guard them well
‘Til next time. — CP
— adapted from my book Chips From Sweet Home: Writings of D.D. Palmer 1869-1881 —
The DC Angle:
How cool it would be to have Palmer’s nationally renowned hybrid-heirloom raspberries growing in your backyard!
And while these raspberries are not chiropractic, to be sure, they are something that connects us deeper to our chiropractic founding forefather. Apparently Palmer’s raspberries were rather well-known and were shipped country-wide. I can only imagine what it would be like to find something so precious that ties us to the sweetness of our past.
Raspberries aren’t the only thing left to link us to Sweet Home though.
Our ChiroPicker must have felt something similar to the two adventuring chiro-expeditioners above when he stumbled across the stacks of “lost” articles written by Farmer Palmer during his Sweet Home apiary days — material that is virtually unknown to the chiropractic community and its historians. Thankfully he has compiled it in a handsome volume, so we too can taste Sweet Home.
Thank you Todd-ChiroPicker-Waters, and thank you Drs. Brown and Zdrazil. We appreciate your love for our profession and its history. It’s people like you that allow us protect the fragile nature of our history… so we will not forget and maintain the roots from whence we came. –– TL
Dr. Thomas Lamar loves chiropracTIC and its associated history. He podcasts, with the assistance of his audio-engineer son, Logan, on SpinalColumnRadio.com from his home studio in Kingston, WA. Lamar also practices chiropractic in Kingston with an emphasis on family wellness.
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