Vanishing Texana Museum

Recently, a photo of a medicine botte from the Devereux – Bolin Pharmacy was posted on the city page with a request for information about it. The museum rats here at the Vanishing Texana Museum have dug into it and here is what we have.

The pharmacy was initially more of a general mercantile business owned by W.P. Devereux. Mercantile businesses sold almost anything their customers might need and, as was popular in the day, cures for most any medical condition. He heavily advertised his stock of “Foley’s Honey and Tar Cure” for the “croup,” a type of coughing attack. Included in his ads were “verified” statements on behalf of the product. Most often a person making a testimonial was only identified by their last name and the state they lived in. The statements were about as reliable as our “5 Star” ratings of today.

Purported “cures” were falling into disfavor and Mr. Devereux seems to have been motivated to hire a real pharmacist. He did so in October of 1894, when he hired Mr. J.H. Bolin. Mr. Bolin had been living in Marshall, TX and had previously graduated from the Illinois School of Pharmacy. He was licensed to dispense pharmaceuticals in both Illinois and Texas. As part of his compensation, Mr. Bolin received a room upstairs at the back of Mr. Devereux’s business on Commerce Street. Not wanting to miss any business, Mr. Devereux advertised that Mr. Bolin “will answer calls day or night.”

It appears that Mr. Bolin added demonstrably to the business and we believe it was in 1904 the name of the business was changed from W.P. Devereux Company to Devereux and Bolin Company.

The bottle in the photo was most likely made by the Crown Bottling Works of Jacksonville, TX. The company had been started by another druggist, Ambrose Johnson, but was sold to Harry Tilly when Ambrose moved to West Texas.

Mr. Devereux was related to two East Texas pioneers, his grandfather John William Devereux (1769 – 1847) and father Julien Sidney Devereux (1805-1856). The former was born in Virginia, the latter in Georgia. The family moved on to Alabama where they lived for many years. In the 1840’s they came to Texas, first to Montgomery County and then to Rusk County. The grandfather soon died, but Julien, before his untimely death, was able to accumulate enough land for a plantation of over 10,000 acres. Julien was survived by his wife, Sarah Landrum Devereux, whom he had married in Texas, and four sons one of which was W. P. (William Penn). She was able to keep the plantation going throughout the Civil War, but thereafter found it to be very difficult. Sara lived until 1900, died in W.P.’s home in Jacksonville, and is buried in our city cemetery.

William was born in Rusk County on April 11, 1853. He married Mary J. Bolton, of the Canada Bolton family. She passed away in early 1890. Shortly thereafter, on November 1, 1891 he married Jennie A. Miller. Jennie was the daughter of Captain and Mrs. William R. Miller, early residents of Jacksonville. If you recall the many beautiful Magnolia trees that used to bloom magnificently every spring in the park surrounding the museum building, well, they were planted by Captain Miller. The last one was cut down in 2018.

Eventually, we believe, J.H. Bolin takes over the business from Devereux. He changes the focus of the business and advertises, “J.H. Bolin – Drugs & Jewelry – Phone 444”. The number means Bolin’s business was the 444th phone installed in Jacksonville. He went on to become the franchised Rexall Druggist in Jacksonville.

As a final note, we find that Mr. Devereux was having a problem with parents returning schoolbooks. He published an announcement in the paper as follows: “Parents will please take notice that hereafter school books will not be take back after names have been written in them. See that your children have exactly the book they need before allowing them to scribble in them!”

The bottle on the city page was posted by Debbie Griffin. If you visit our museum during Tomato Fest you will have seen displayed the magnificent tomato label collection she has. She has also gifted other unique items to the museum. Thanks, Debbie, for your support.

We hope, as spring cleaning time approaches, you will remember your local museum if you come across any items that are tied to our community or are part of a collection. Remember, you can both gift and loan items.

Your Vanishing Texana Museum is open every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 11 -4. Admission is free at our 300 South Bolton location.

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