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Dynamic Chiropractic – May 8, 2006, Vol. 24, Issue 10

100 Years Ago in Chiropractic

By Joseph Keating Jr., PhD

The year 1906 was a pivotal one for chiropractors. A decade after the profession's inception, chiropractic schools were proliferating,14 a literature was taking shape (e.g., The Chiropractor, published by the Palmer School), and chiropractors were facing arrest for unlicensed practice.4,15,18 Events that took place this year would shape the profession for decades to come.

The roster of chiropractors was growing, and they were already dispersed around the nation as 1906 dawned. In Portland, Oregon, John E. Marsh, DC, and William Powell, DC, were operating the Marsh School of Chiropractic, soon to be renamed Pacific Chiropractic College, a precursor of today's Western States Chiropractic College.13,19 In New York City, Alma C. Arnold, DC, had been practicing several years,16 since her September 1903 graduation from the first class at the American School of Chiropractic & Nature Cure (ASC&NC) in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.2 Among her patients was Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross.10

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

Nearby in the Big Apple, Benedict Lust, MD, ND, considered the father of naturopathy in America, was operating his American School of Chiropractic alongside the American School of Naturopathy. In Dallas, Texas, Palmer graduate Andrew P. Davis, MD, DO, DC, was teaching, practicing9,21 and marketing his new book, Neurology,6 which sought to integrate theories and methods from the several health care disciplines he had studied. In far-off Melbourne, Australia, a short-course diplomate of the Palmer School of Chiropractic (PSC), Barbara Brake, was developing her pioneering practice down under.11

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark In 1906, Willard Carver, LLB, DC, and L.L. Denny, DC, recent graduates of the Parker School of Chiropractic in Ottumwa, Iowa, established the Carver-Denny Kiropractic College at Oklahoma City.5 Among the students at the Palmer School in Davenport, Iowa as 1906 dawned were several who would leave a profound mark upon the profession, including John F.A. Howard and Shegataro Morikubo. Later in the year, Dr. Howard, the ink barely dry on his PSC diploma (dated 17 August 1906), consented to a request from several Palmer students who, dissatisfied with the new president of the school, B.J. Palmer, DC, asked Howard to establish another chiropractic college in the profession's home city. Late in the year, with the explicit approval of "Old Dad Chiro,"1 Howard founded the National School of Chiropractic.3 The new institution's first home was the same building in which D.D. Palmer had adjusted Harvey Lillard a decade earlier.

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

The founder's fourth wife, Villa, died in early November 1905, and on Jan. 11, 1906, D.D. married Mary ("Molly") Hudler. The next day, a grandson and future president of the PSC was born: David Daniel Palmer. There would be a brief period of joy in the extended Palmer family.

On Monday, March 26, 1906, jury selection began for D.D. Palmer's trial on charges he had violated Iowa's medical practice act. The basis for the charges was the founder's published claims to heal and cure which had appeared in the PSC's magazine, The Chiropractor (Gielow, 1981, p. 106). The founder mounted a meager defense, calling no witnesses and testifying on his own behalf; the father of chiropractic insisted that his methods and medicine were distinctly different and that he had not practiced medicine when practicing chiropractic. The jury promptly convicted him, and the judge offered a choice of penalties: a fine of $350 or 105 days in Scott County Jail. As a matter of principle, D.D. chose incarceration and tried to make the best of it [see shaded text below]. However, after 23 days behind bars, he capitulated, paid his fine and was released.

"How to Be Happy in County Jail"
by D.D. Palmer (from the Davenport
Democrat & Leader
for 6 April 1906)

  • image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Be sure you are in the right.
  • Keep busy; always have something to do.
  • Keep your person and room clean and neat.
  • Don't worry. Let the fellow who committed the Injustice do that.
  • If you are in the right you can afford to hold your temper; if in the wrong you can't afford to lose it.
  • Be thankful for small favors, hoping to receive larger ones.
  • Have no regrets. Take your medicine with a smile.
  • Jails have contained some of the best, as well as the worst men.
  • Treat the sheriff, turn key and guards with due respect; they have their duties to perform.
  • Have a clear conscience and a good appetite.
  • Feel that your cause is just, that you are imprisoned for righteousness. Thus does time pass quickly and pleasantly.
  • Others have suffered for conscience sake, and the uplifting of their fellow men.

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark The relationship between Old Dad Chiro and his son, B.J., had never been good, and the stress of the legal ordeal soured it further. On the basis of binding arbitration mediated by Joseph Schillig, DC, and R.H. St. Onge,7 the founder relinquished all interest in the PSC, except for several books and part of the school's osteological collection, for the sum of $2,196.79. He and his new bride promptly boarded a train for Medford, Okla., where his brother, Thomas J. Palmer, a newspaper publisher, would assist him in establishing a grocery store. It was indeed a bitter outcome for the father of chiropractic, and his resentment against his son would smolder for years.

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark Although he had not been the first to be jailed for practicing chiropractic,15 the founder's legal ordeal must have left a profound impression on the son, alumni and students of the PSC. In August 1906, during the annual homecoming of the PSC, a protective legal society was established, the Universal Chiropractors' Association (UCA). Founded by Drs. B.J. Palmer, Ernest Erz, Shegataro Morikubo, Hod Norton, T.J. Owens and a dozen others,17,20 the new organization involved membership dues paid to a central treasury, from which the costs of legal services would be paid when a chiropractor faced charges for unlicensed practice.15 The UCA (forerunner of today's American Chiropractic Association) subsequently expanded its services to include legal defense in civil/malpractice suits, sponsorship of a professional journal,8 educational seminars and annual conventions held in conjunction with the PSC's homecomings.

The UCA was not the first attempt to establish a national membership society,8 credit for which apparently belongs to the chiropractors of Minnesota and Solon M. Langworthy, DC, president of the ASC&NC. However, the UCA was the more enduring alliance and in 1930 would spawn the National Chiropractic Association (immediate predecessor of today's ACA). The new association's first major legal victory came in 1907, when Shegataro Morikubo, DC, was successfully defended against charges of unlicensed practice in LaCrosse, Wisc.12

image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark
image - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark

A singular year in the history of chiropractic, 1906, saw the courtroom defeat of the founder, the spread of his healing art and of chiropractic education, and the creation of a lasting component of the profession's infrastructure. It is a time to remember and merits further scrutiny.


  1. Advertisement for National College of Chiropractic. The Chiropractic Journal (NCA) 1936 (Mar);5(3):37.
  2. Arnold, Alma C. Letter to L.M. Rogers, DC. The Chiropractic Journal (NCA) 1936 (Apr);5(4):32.
  3. Beideman, Ronald P. In the Making of a Profession: The National College of Chiropractic, 1906-1981. Lombard IL: National College of Chiropractic, 1995.
  4. Busby, Joe E. The history of T.S.C.A. Texas Chiropractor 1966 (Nov);24(1):6,32-5.
  5. Carver, Willard. History of Chiropractic; unpublished (circa 1936), Oklahoma City (Special Collections, Texas Chiropractic College).
  6. Davis, Andrew P. Neurology. Dallas TX: the author, 1905.
  7. Dye, A. Augustus. The Evolution of Chiropractic. Philadelphia: the author, 1939, pp. 17, 36.
  8. Facts are facts. The Chiropractor 1906 (Oct);2(11):32-4.
  9. Gibbons, Russell W. Joy Loban and Andrew P. Davis: itinerant healers and "schoolmen," 1910-1923. Chiropractic History 1991 (June);11(1):22-8.
  10. Goldschmidt, Sol. A brief history of chiropractic in New York state, 1902-1963. NYSCA Journal 1994-95a (Winter);22(5):20-3.
  11. Hunt, R. Graham. Adjusting the record: revealing more of the story! Chiropractic Journal of Australia 2005 (Dec);35(4):125-39.
  12. Keating, Joseph C., Jr. B.J. of Davenport: The Early Years of Chiropractic. Davenport IA: Association for the History of Chiropractic, 1997.
  13. Keating, Joseph C., Jr. Early chiropractic education in Oregon. Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association 2002 (Mar);46(1):39-60.
  14. Keating, Joseph C.; Alana K. Callender; Carl S. Cleveland. A History of Chiropractic Education in North America: Report to the Council on Chiropractic Education. Davenport IA: Association for the History of Chiropractic, 1998.
  15. Keating, Joseph C.; Louis Sportelli; Lawrence Siordia. We Take Care of Our Own: NCMIC and the Story of Malpractice Insurance in Chiropractic. Clive IA: NCMIC Group, Inc., 2004.
  16. Moore, J. Stuart. "The great backward state:" the 50-year struggle in New York, 1913-1963. Chiropractic History 1992 (June);12(1):14-21.
  17. Palmer. B.J. The ACA-UCA Union- what does it actually mean? Fountain Head News 1931 (Feb) [A.C. 35];18(3):5-11.
  18. Rhodes, Walter R. The Official History of Chiropractic in Texas. Austin TX: Texas Chiropractic Association, 1978.
  19. Ritter, Judith C. The roots of Western States Chiropractic College, 1904-1932. Chiropractic History 1991 (Dec);11(2):18-24.
  20. Turner, Chittenden. The Rise of Chiropractic. Los Angeles: Powell Publishing Company, 1931.
  21. Zarbuck, Merwyn V. Chiropractic parallax. Part 2. IPSCA Journal of Chiropractic 1988b (Apr);9(2):4,5,14-16.

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