An active infirmary would be expected to create illness related refuse that would in
turn find its way into the outhouse.  The most obvious illness related materials
recovered were medicine bottles.  Prescription bottles outnumbered all other types of
medical bottles.  These were followed in numbers by patent medicine bottles and
finally by general medicine bottles.

When separated into these three categories (prescription, medical, patent medicine)
and graphed based on where they were found within the privy deposit, several trends
were discovered.  Patent medicines were found predominantly in Unit C (#3 on the
graph, closest to the infirmary).  Prescription bottles were found predominantly in
Unit B (#2 on the graph).  General medicine bottles were found predominantly in Unit
A (#1 on the graph, closest to the kitchen).  
Assuming unobstructed access to the
privy, and using the “Least Cost” theory
(Earle 1980, Green 1980), items should be
disposed of closest to their place of use.

The location of bottles in the privy
suggests that most patent medicines were
consumed in the infirmary and most
general medicines were consumed in the
kitchen/dining area.

Many prescription bottles are embossed with the name and location of the
pharmacy that issued the prescription.  A pie chart of prescription bottles
based on their place of origin provided interesting information about where
the patients in the infirmary may have recently been living before moving to
San Luis Obispo.  As was expected, most prescription bottles were from local
San Luis Obispo pharmacies.  The out-of-area prescription bottles suggest that
some patients in the infirmary had recently arrived from Los Angeles, San
Francisco, San Bernardino, and Petaluma.  It is possible that some came from
as far away as Minneapolis and Philadelphia.  

Well-represented San Luis Obispo Pharmacies included Booth and Latimer’s
Drug Store (23 bottles), Norton & Norton Druggists & Chemists (16), T.A.
Greenleaf’s Palace Drug Store (5), Booth’s (3), Latimer’s (3), Dr. Krill (1), and
Dawson Drug Co. 794 Higuera St. (1).
Site maintained as a public service by Archaeological Research, PO Box 1353, Lucerne, CA 95458.
Medical Items Recovered
History and Prehistory of Lake County
and Beyond
Patent Medicines

An analysis was conducted of patent medicines in an attempt to determine the
types of illnesses treated.  Using the “Comprehensive Guide to Historic,
Embossed Medicine Bottles” (Fike 1987), a list of bottles and the ailments they
treated was developed.

The graph lists the number of bottles recovered relating to each of the
ailments listed.  Also listed are the numbers of different remedies tried for
each ailment.

Although it is possible that there is a correlation between the number of
bottles used and the prevalence of a particular ailment at the school, there is
no way of knowing how many bottles used at the school ended up at some
other (unexcavated) refuse location.  There is also no way of knowing if one
person required several bottles of a particular medicine, while several other
people may have shared only one bottle of another medication.  It is safe to
say that constipation was a common occurrence at the school.  All but two of
the constipation remedy bottles were for children (Fig Syrup), suggesting that
the food served in the dining hall may have been a problem.

Although a host of ailments are suggested by the medicine bottles recovered, it
is safe to say that tuberculosis, the common cold, and dandruff were problems
that plagued the residents.  In the table that follows, each patent medicine
recovered is listed in the category of ailment it treated along with how many
bottles were found and a brief description.
Patent medicines can be used as time markers to assist in
establishing the age of the outhouse.  The date of introduction
and time span of a medicine is useful.  Also important is the
passage of the “Pure Food and Drug Act” in 1906.  The Act
prohibited the use of the term “Cure” on any medicine.  
Following the passage of the Act, medicines that once listed
“Cure” in their name either dropped the word or replaced it
with “Remedy”.

This below lists those patent medicines that could be tied to
particular time periods and indicates the best guess time span
of privy use based on patent medicines.  You will notice that
those medicines with “Cure” in their name ceased production
or changed their names shortly after passage of the 1906 Act.  
It is important to note that no bottles were recovered with the
word “Remedy” as part of the name.  This suggests that use of
this privy stopped sometime before those manufacturers had
changed their names (i.e. not long after the passage of the 1906
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
(# of bottles)
Consumption (TB)
Psychine (3)
T.A. Slocum Co, New York. (alc.16% consumption and lung troubles) (1887-1923) (Fike
Dr. Wister’s Balsam of Wild
Cherry (1)
Isaac Butts, Philadelphia. (“The Great Remedy for Consumption of the Lungs”) (1843-
1883) (Fike 1987:29)
Piso’s Cure (2)
Hazeltine & Co (for consumption, contained cannabis) (1864-1906) (Fike 1987:104)
Ozomulsion (7)
T.A. Slocum Co, New York. Cod liver oil (lung troubles, increases appetite for thin
women) (1880-1902) (Fike 1987:175)
Shilo’s Cure (1)
S.C. Wells & Co. New York  (for consumption, contained heroin) (1873-1906) (Fike
Syrup of Figs (9)
(child constipation cure) (1884) (Fike 1987:230)
California Fig Syrup (19)
California Fig Syrup Co., San Francisco (alc 6%, senna, cassia, peppermint, clove
combined in fig syrup for relief of temporary constipation) (1880-1970) (Fike 1987:225)
Dr. S. Pitcher’s Castoria (1)
S. Pitcher & Co. (aid to constipation) (1860’s-1890’s) (Fike 1987:177)
Paine’s Celery Compound (1)
Wells, Richardson & C0, Vermont (reliable laxative and diuretic) (1882+) (Fike 1987:85)
The Great Dr. Kilmer’s Swamp
Root Kidney, Liver and Bladder
Cure Specific (1)
Kilmer & Co. New York (Diuretic to kidneys and mild laxative) (Fike 1987:170)
Blood Purifier
Hoods Sarsaparilla (1)
C.I. Hood & Co. Mass (alc 16%, sarsaparilla, mandrake, gentian, dock, and dandelion
tonic) (1876+) (Fike 1987:217)
Pepto-Mangan Gude (1)
Dr. A. Cudy & Co. (Alc 16%, Peptonates of iron and manganese) (Fike 1987:176)
Warner’s Safe Kidney and Liver
Cure (8)
H.H. Warner & Co., New York (1879-1906) (Fike 1987:107)
Renne’s Pain Killing Magic Oil/
Sample/ Try it (2)
Herrick Medicine Co., New York (1888) (Fike 1987:195)
Davis Vegetable Pain Killer (1)
(1862+) (Fike 1987:130)
St. Jakob’s Oel (1)
Charles A. Vogeler Co., Md. (1878-1919) (Fike 1987:195)
Sanford’s Jamaica Ginger (1)
For cramps, pains, colds, and ills (Fike 1987:113) (Boston Post 1908)
Cuts and scrapes
Mexican Mustang Liniment (1)
Lyon Mfg. Co., New York (for scalds, burns, colds, cuts, bruises, sprains, strains, sore
throat, inflammation, galls, scratches, sweeny, spavins, ringbone, lameness, shoe boils,
and harness sores) (1871+) (Fike 1987:135)
Pond’s Extract (1)
Pond’s Extract Co, New York (Witch hazel formulation for burns, bruises, lameness,
soreness, sore throat, sprains, toothache, and bleeding of the lungs) (1846-1985) (Fike
Stomach acid
Husband’s Calcined Magnesia (2)
Thomas J. Husband Chemists, Philadelphia (1844+) (Fike 1987:141)
Bromo Seltzer (3)
Emerson Drug Co., MD. (1889-1907) (Fike 1987:111)
Coughs, Colds
Ayer’s Cherry Pectoral (4)
Ayer Co., Lowell Mass (alc. 16%, cure for colds, cough, sore throat, asthma, bronchitis,
hoarseness and other breathing disorders) (1847+) (Fike 1987:199)
Hair Cure
Ayer’s Pills (1)
Ayer Co., Lowell Mass (Cathartic pills) (1841+) (Fike 1987:201)
Skin Rash
Farrar’s Sarsaparilla (1)
Wood Drug Co. Bristol Tenn. (most sarsaparillas were billed as cures for pimples, boils,
blotches, ring worm, cancers, tumors, eruptions, ulcers, and venereal disease) (Fike
Lidia Pinkhams Vegetable
Compound (1)
Lidia E. Pinkham’s Sons & Co. (1873+) (alc 18+%, compound for “lady’s complaints”)
(Fike 1987:85)
Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical
Discovery (1)
R.V. Pierce, MD (1895) (Cures profuse menstruation, menopause, vaginal infection,
sterility, ovary disease, etc.) (Fike 1987:110)
The Maltine Mfg Co. (1)
Maltine Mfg. Co, (alc 88%, extract of malted barley, wheat and oats) (1878+) (Fike
B & F Anti Dandruff Tonic (8)
No information
Dr. Thompson’s Eye Water (1)
(1850+) (Fike 1987:245)
Kidney, Bladder
Dr. S.B.H. & Co. (1)
Peruna Medicine Co., OH (alc 28%, water 70%, cubebs for flavor 1%, burnt sugar for
color 1%, cures catarrh of the head, lungs, stomach, liver and kidneys, pelvis, and
dyspepsia and constipation) (1879+) (Fike 1987:62)
Genital, Urinary
O.D. Chem (1)
(Sanmeto, made of sandalwood and palmetto berries, healing agent for genito/urinary
disorders) (1891+) (Fike 1987:47)  
Head Disease
Dr. Marshall’s Snuff (15)
(cure for all diseases of the head) (1830+) (Fike 1987:172)
Hamlin’s Wizard Oil (1)
Hamlin Wizard Oil Co., Chicago (alc 65%, cures rheumatism, lame back, headache,
toothache, earache, sore throat, diphtheria, catarrh, kidney inflammation and all painful
afflictions) (1859+) (Fike 1987:193)