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Our Rich History: Lloyd Brothers were pharmacists, authors, and nature and baseball enthusiasts

By Paul A. Tenkotte
Special to NKyTribune

What do pharmaceuticals, novels, a love of nature, and a passion for baseball have in common? Answer: The Lloyd Brothers of Boone County, Kentucky and Cincinnati, Ohio.

John Uri (1849-1936), Nelson A. (Ashley) (1851-1925), and Curtis Gates (1859-1926) Lloyd were the three sons of schoolteachers Nelson Marvin and Sophia Webster Lloyd.

Nelson and Sophia Lloyd taught in schools throughout Northern Kentucky, living in Burlington, Petersburg, Florence, and Crittenden. They encouraged their sons to explore the great outdoors, its plants and animals. They also inspired them to conduct scientific experiments.

The Lloyd brothers: Curtis Gates, Nelson Ashley, and John Uri, circa 1880s. (Courtesy of Lloyd Library and Museum, Cincinnati and the Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky.)

With their parents’ encouragement, all three sons became pharmacists. In the nineteenth century, this involved apprenticing oneself, for a number of years, to a pharmacist. Modern medicine and pharmacy were still in their infancy, and a number of separate medical theories abounded. The Lloyds eventually embraced eclectic medicine, a term coined by the Kentucky botanist and professor, Constantine Rafinesque (1784-1841). Eclecticism was a branch of medicine that emerged from the use of indigenous plants and herbs, some of which were utilized in Native American traditions. Adherents of eclectic medicine criticized the older Aristotelian tradition of the “four humours” (earth, water, air, and fire), and their affiliated practices of purges, leeching, and bloodletting, regarding them as barbaric vestiges in the modern world.

In 1877, John Uri Lloyd became a partner of H. M. Merrell and T.C Thorp in the manufacture of eclectic medicines in Cincinnati. When Merrell left the company in 1881 to form his own firm, Nelson (Ashley) Lloyd bought Merrell’s company share, forming Thorp and Lloyd Brothers. In 1885, with the departure of the Thorps, Curtis Gates Lloyd joined his two brothers in Lloyd Brothers Pharmacists, Inc.

The brothers had their own specialized interests. John Uri taught both pharmacy and chemistry at the Cincinnati Eclectic Medical Institute, served as president of the American Pharmaceutical Association, and wrote novels, including the science fiction work Etidorhpa; or, The End of the Earth (1895), and the local-color novels, Stringtown on the Pike (1900), and Warwick of the Knobs (1901), as well as others. Nelson Ashley served as business manager of Lloyd Brothers Pharmaceuticals, and was an owner-partner in both the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Giants professional baseball teams. Nelson also collected art, including that by Covington resident, Henry F. Farny. Curtis focused on botany, especially on mycology (fungi, such as mushrooms).

Lloyd Brothers Pharmaceuticals remained in family hands until 1938. There are many legacies to the memory of the Lloyd Brothers in the region today, including the Lloyd Library and Museum in Cincinnati (https://www.lloydlibrary.org/), Lloyd Memorial High School in Erlanger, Lloyd’s Welfare House in Grant County, and the Curtis Gates Lloyd Wildlife Area in Grant County.

John Uri Lloyd returns to life in a reenactment at Boone County Public Library, 1786 Burlington Pike (KY 18) on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 7 pm. Free and open to the public, the performance is courtesy of the Lloyd Library and Museum, the Boone County Public Library, and the Boone County Historical Society. For additional information, contact Betsy Conrad at brconrad@fuse.net or 859-371-5882.

We want to learn more about the history of your business, church, school, or organization in our region (Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky). If you would like to share your rich history with others, please contact the editor of “Our Rich History,” Paul A. Tenkotte, at tenkottep@nku.edu. Dr. Paul A. Tenkotte is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Public History at NKU.

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One Comment

  1. Ginny Kramer says:

    Funny that after the Erlanger school board named the high school after them, none of the Lloyd brthers gave a donation.

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