This well-preserved, Civil War-era ‘medicine’ bottle, with original tag and cork still in place, was found and donated by a local Amherst resident while working on their home basement foundation.
A “nostrum,” developed by Dr. Jacob Hostetter, of Lancaster, PA., his son, David, put the formula into large-scale production in 1853. Soon it became a best-seller. It was used heavily during the Civil War and was marketed as “a positive protective against the fatal maladies of Southern swamps and poisonous tendency of impure rivers and bayous.” The original formula contained about 47% alcohol and was 94 proof. Often it was served in Alaskan saloons by the glass. The alcohol was sweetened with additives of sugar, aromatic oils, and vegetable bitters to provide medicinal ‘flavor.’
The bottle, dating to the early to mid-1860s, was found and donated by Kevin and son Nathan Henceforth, while excavating in their basement on Park Ave., Amherst. January 10, 2017.