Dr. Hardy's Family Medicines, Cornish Flat, New Hampshire
Dr. Samuel Hardy (b. 1 Oct 1804 Grantham, NH, d. 7 Aug 1879) was the founder of what turned out to be a long-lived family patent medicine company. One of ten children, a frail and sickly chairmaker, Samuel moved from New Hampshire to Cayuga County, New York about 1825 at age 21. Two years later, he returned briefly to New Hampshire to marry Sally Follansbee Carroll, a woman in "feeble health"; together they moved back to New York. She died a few years later. He himself remained unhealthy and broken down. He was said to have learned to make medicines from a Cayuga Indian. After ten years in New York, he returned to New Hampshire, to the small rural town of Cornish Flat, to farm. With $2.40 to his name, he also started producing Hardy's Salve, a "drawing salve." An invalid and cripple for the last 7 years of his life, married three times, a Baptist and a staunch Republican, Samuel died in 1879 at ae 75.
Samuel had started selling medicinal products in
1836. One source states that he sent out “many gorgeous carts drawn by fine handsome horses.” One of his sons was Follansbee Carrol Hardy ( b. 20 Dec 1829), born during Samuel's first marriage to Sally Carroll. Follansbe worked as a traveling salesman for the Hardy medicines out of Worcester, Massachusetts. He is reported to have operated a spectacular all-glass (except for the wheels) traveling medicine cart, said to be "one of the most famous medicine carts ever put on the road." (I am seeking additional information on that report.)
In 1869, ten years before Samuel died, the business was taken
over by two of his sons, Philemon C.
(b. 5 Mar 1840 Cornish) and Charles Torrey Hardy (b. 1 Jun 1846, d. 12 May 1885). Both were from Samuel’s second marriage, to Prudentia Coburn.
Over the years, the small company put out quite a few different medicines, including: Dr. Hardy’s Magnetic Pain Destroyer, Dr. Hardy’s Magical Pain Destroyer (perhaps the same product under a modified name), Dr. Hardy’s External Anodyne, Dr. Hardy’s Salve, Dr. Hardy’s Indian Vegetable Worm Powder, Dr. Hardy’s Porous Plasters,
Dr. Hardy’s Capsicum Plasters, Dr. Hardy’s Cathartic Electuary, Dr. Hardy’s Root and Herb Tonic Bitters, Dr. Hardy's Bitters (perhaps the same product under a modified name) and Dr. Hardy’s Woman’s Friend ("Nature's Grand Assistant for Weakly Females"!). Some of these are all but impossible to find today, and may have been produced in very small quantities.
Their best known and longest-lasting product was Hardy's Salve. It was sold from 1836 until at least the 1990s. During the Civil War, Union soldiers found it in the Confederacy. A sea captain once told Samuel Hardy that his salve could be found in every port in South America.
When I lived in Cornish Flat in the early 1970s, it was still a small town of about 800. I bought Hardy's Salve directly from the farmhouse of a man who still made the product on an occasional basis. I used the product: it worked. A "drawing salve" is so-called because it has the property of softening the skin around a splinter, and drawing the splinter out. Hardy's Salve was a stick somewhat like an enlarged Tootsie roll; it was used by melting onto the afflicted area or onto a bandage. Amazingly, if one Googles Hardy's Salve today, numerous inquiries about the availability of Hardy's Salve are found, as well as comments about its effectiveness.
Philemon ("PC") Hardy eventually sold the business to George Hunt of Cornish; by that time, about the only product being marketed was the salve. Hunt’s wife Kate Thrasher Hunt operated the business until it was later taken over by their two sons Harry and Kenneth.
In 1933, new molds for the salve were made in the pattern shop of the Sullivan Machine Company of Claremont, NH.
In the 1950s, the Hunt family sold the business to Milton Sklar of Claremont, who contracted with Kenneth Hunt to continue manufacturing of the salve.
In 1965, the business was sold to retired Cornish road agent Robert LaClair.
In 1989, the business was purchased by Claremont florist Robert E. Weaver and his wife, who ran it for a couple years as the Hardy Salve Company, Inc. In correspondence with Weaver in 1991, he told me that they had at first had a difficult time finding suppliers for the ingredients needed to manufacture the salve. He reported that "I wish it was doing better than it is, but I just don't have the time", and that he had decided to sell the Hardy's business, if he could find a buyer.
I do not believe the product is still being made today.
A store display holding twelve bottles of the nostrum, each in its own green box.
The man pictured here and on most Hardy's prducts is Samuel Hardy, the founding father.
This full-label, full contents bottle and its box were found in the store display box shown above.
The bottle also has paper labels on each side panel: one headed "Applied Externally, Cures"
the other headed "Taken Internally, Cures". The back of the bottle is embossed P.C. Hardy.
A full bottle of Hardy's External Anodyne (very rare) and two advertising pocket mirrors for Hardy's Salve,
"The kind your father used.”
A small, full box of Hardy's Cathartic Electuary, which came in a Shaker-like bentwood box with a paper label.
This nostrum is in the form of dried, finely chopped herbs. "Dose for an adult, a tea-spoonful in molasses or spirit."
This medicine is exceedingly rare: fragile as this one is, I wonder if a single other example has survived?
Or Tonic Bitters.
A purely vegetable preparation —the
remedy for all complaints depending on
derangement of that important organ the
Liver. Among which may be enumerated,
Jaundice, Bilious Colic, Wind Colic, Ne-
phritic Colic, Dyspepsy, Headache, Costive-
ness, Worms, Dizziness with Loss of Appetite,
accompanied with Faintness at Stomach and
Weakness of Knees. It is a safe and efficient
physic, and may be given in any common case
where an excavation of the bowels is called
for. Dose for an adult, a tea-spoonful in
molasses or spirit, or any convenient ar-
ticle—children in proportion to age.
A portion, say 3 or 4 doses, may
be used for proof—the rest
returned in not satis-
Price 25 Cents.
Two-sided advertising broadside,@ 5 3/4" x 9 1/2", with a woodcut of Dr. Samuel Hardy at a younger age.
Circular, @ 4 3/4" x 9", for Hardy's Root and Herb Tonic Bitters
4-page circular with testimonials, @ 7" x 10", for Dr. Hardy's Woman's Friend
1851 receipt for one dozen Hardy's Salves
An early stick of Hardy's Salve
Two boxes, each containing a stick of Hardy's Salve. The orange box I bought from the maker in the 1970s.
The lower box was the version as sold by The Hardy Salve Company, Inc., the Robert LaClair version of the firm.
A sticker on the side of the box celebrates "150 years in the marketplace, 1836-1986"
1862 advertising cover, mailed from Newburyport, Massachusetts to Pownal, Maine
1869 advertising cover, front and back
Advertising cover, which contains a P.C. Hardy personal letter with signature
Phil. C. Hardy & Company trade card (a stock card imprinted for Hardy)
Philemon has now changed the company name from S.Hardy's Sons to P.C. Hardy (often as Phil. C. Hardy & Co.).
Order form for Hardy's Salve, used by Robert Weaver in 1989-1991. Testimonials on the back.