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Wednesday April 23, 2014
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Ague in Ann Arbor

 

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Ann Arbor druggist A. W. Chase's famous 1863 compendium Information for Everybody offers no fewer than a dozen do-it-yourself ague cures, one brewed from mandrake root and another supplied by a clairvoyant. Many commercial cures concocted by nostrum-mongers contained quinine in more or less random amounts, adulterated with substances ranging from wintergreen to molasses. Rhodes' Fever and Ague Cure vowed to protect "any resident or traveler . . . from any ague or Bilious disease whatever, or any injury from constantly inhaling Malaria or Miasma." Chemist O. L. Churchill reported that the Rhodes "cure" contained no quinine but only charcoal, glucose, alcohol, iron, and muriatic acid-a corrosive today used to "pickle" steel and make mustard gas. Even worse was the Anti-Chill Pill, whose recipe contained arsenic. No wonder some sufferers opted instead for a curative slug of whiskey, one man regarding it as "necessary as a means of keeping off the pond ague."

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