Warner’s Safe Cure: A Chronology

I thought I would take a shot at creating a time line that summaries the significant events in the existence of the Warner’s Safe Cure Company and its founder, H. H. Warner. I’m sure that I will miss something and welcome any suggestions. This will likely be a work in progress, but here goes:H. H. Warner (1842 - 1923)

  • 1842    Hulbert Harrington Warner born near Syracuse, New York in a small town called Warners, which was named after his grandfather, Seth, who had moved there in 1807 from Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

  • 1864     Warner marries Martha L. Keeney, a prominent young woman from Skaneateles, New York. Like Warner, she was born in 1842, but died suddenly in 1871. The marriage produced no children. 

 

  • 1865    Warner avoided service in the Union Army in the Civil War. He moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan where he and a partner were engaged in the stove and hardware business.

  • 1870     Returned to New York and settled in Rochester as a dealer in fire and burglar proof safes. He was a dealer for the predecessor of the Mosler Safe Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. (See New York Daily Graphic, May 10, 1888; Rochester Union & Advertiser, April 27, 1883).

  • 1872     Warner marries Emily Olive Stoddard (born 1847 in Michigan). It appears that this second marriage produced one child, a daughter, Maud. It also appears that Emily predeceased Warner.

  • 1879     Following his recovery from Bright’s Disease, Warner purchases the rights to Dr. Charles Craig’s Kidney Cure and promptly begins to market it as Warner’s Safe Kidney & Liver Cure. In addition, he offers four other products: Safe Pills, Safe Nervine,  Safe Bitters and Safe Diabetes Cure. The company operates initially out of a building on Exhange Street in downtown Rochester.

Warner's Safe Kidney & Liver Cure

  • 1879     Warner is introduced to “Doctor” Lewis Swift, who was by vocation a partner in a hardware store and by avocation an astronomer who has discovered several comets. It was rumored that Swift was leaving Rochester, because he believed his talents were not sufficiently appreciated.

  • 1882     Warner opens his Toronto Office and offers his cures in the 3-Cities bottles.

  • 1883     Warner opens his London Office and begins offering his cures in a spectacular array of colored bottles.

Warner's Safe Cures London

  • 1883     The Warner Observatory is completed and fitted out by January at a cost to Warner of $100,000. It boasts a 16″ telescope that was 22 feet long donated by the citizens of Rochester. It becomes a focal point of much of Warner’s advertising.

Warner's Observatory

  • 1884     The Warner’s Safe Remedies Building is opened on Warner’s 42nd birthday in January on St. Paul’s Avenue in Rochester. The iron front building was also marketed as the Warner’s Safe Yeast Building and in its eight stories housed Warner’s manufacturing, shipping and marketing operations. The fascade is graced with the monograms “W” and fitted out with first class details. The building remains today as the last vestige of Warner’s patent medicine empire.

 Warner's Safe Remedies Building

  • 1885     Warner adds his Safe Rheumatic Cure, Animal Cure and Safe Throatine to his product line. In addition, he introduces his Tippecanoe Bitters in two grades, “The Best” and “XXX” and phases out his Safe Bitters.

  • 1887     Warner introduces his Log Cabin Remedies line of products, which included Log Cabin Sarsaparilla, Log Cabin Hops & Buchu Remedy, Log Cabin Cough and Consumption Remedy, Log Cabin Extract, Log Cabin Rose Cream, Log Cabin Hair Tonic, Log Cabin Plasters and Log Cabin Liver Pills.

 Warner's Log Cabin Remedies

Warner's Safe Cure FrankfurtWarner's Safe Cure Melbourne w/ Label and Box

  • 1888     Warner delivers his inaugeral address as president of the Rochester Chamber of Commerce in January.  Warner had been elected president in 1887 winning out over George Eastman, the owner of a little known camera company. Warner is perhaps at the peak of his prosperity with business failure and bankruptcy looming on the horizon.

  • 1888     Warner opens his Pressburg, Hungary Office, which remains open only two years. Bottles from the Pressburg Office are particularly prized by collectors because of their rarity.

 

  • 1891     Warner opens his Kreuzlingen, Switzerland and Dundein, New Zealand Offices. No Warner bottles embossed Kreuzlingen have ever surfaced. The bottles from the Dundein Office have become known as 4-Cities bottles because they bear the names of four of Warner’s offices at the time: Rochester, London, Toronto and Melbourne.

  • 1893     In what would become known as the Panic of 1893, the American securities market crashed in February. Warner was overextended and when his creditors began to call his loans, he scrambled to raise cash. Warner’s longtime business partner, Arthur G. Yates, was unable to cover all of Warner’s debt. Warner was left to travel the country trying to offer his shares in H. H. Warner & Co. Ltd. as collateral for his debts. While some creditors accepted the shares, others did not, and Warner was forced into bankruptcy  on May 8. He lost his mansion on East Avenue, his Observatory, his yacht, his retreat on Warner Island in the St. Lawrence River and, most importantly, his reputation.

 

  • 1917     Christina de Martinez Warner (born 1878 in Mexico) was never officially married to  Warner, but apparently resided with him and served as an officer to the Nuera Remedy Company in Minneapolis in the 1930’s to early 1940’s. She resided at his address of 1311 Blaisdell Avenue in Minneapolis between 1917 and 1948.

  • 1923     Warner dies in Minneapolis having never regained the economic prominence he enjoyed when the the Warner’s Safe Remedies Company was at its peak. To his credit, he never quit trying to reestablish his former renown. Warner is buried next to his first wife, Martha, in her family’s plot at Lakeview Cemetary in Skaneateles, New York.

  • 1929     The Warner Mansion on East Avenue in Rochester is razed to make way for a parking lot.

Warner Mansion in 1879

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4 thoughts on “Warner’s Safe Cure: A Chronology

  1. After reading you chronology I have a few questions. Do you get your info from almanacs? You state one of his first products was the Diabetes Cure but you don’t mention his Safe Tonic. I have the Tonic in the slug plate version with the A&DHC mark on the bottom, but not the Diabetes. Also you list him opening his Toronto office in 1882 and the London office in 1883, but he lists London on the Canadian bottle as well as Rochester, which would make it seem like he was all ready selling in London.

  2. Great questions Elmer. My information comes from a variety of sources that are listed in my References section (https://warnerssafeblog.wordpress.com/warners-safe-cure-references/). I have drawn heavily upon the research of Edward Atwater, Mike Seeliger, Ed Ojea and Jack Stecher. The Safe Tonic came out at the same time as the Safe Bitters and Safe Tonic Bitters and probably had a label that read “Safe Tonic Bitters.” I have always treated the Safe Tonic, Safe Tonic Bitters and Safe Bitters as essentially the same product, although they came in differently embossed bottles. (See https://warnerssafeblog.wordpress.com/2008/04/18/warners-safe-cure-bitters/).

    With respect to the Toronto Office, while it is likely that the initial steps to open the office were undertaken in 1882, I don’t think any products were sold out of that office until 1883, making its effective opening 1883, which is the same year that the London Office opened. The first public listing of the Toronto Office was in 1883. (See https://warnerssafeblog.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/warners-foreign-offices-toronto-3-cities-revisted/). I hope this answers your questions.

  3. I have another question. You do a Warner chronology that covers his life, but can you do a chronology of the company (including after he was no longer involved)? When is the last the product was sold?

  4. Elmer,

    Good questions and my apologies for being tardy in responding to them. My attempt at a chronology was a combination of his personal and commercial life. Warner was pretty much out of the picture by 1893, having been kicked to the curb by his investors. The Warner’s Safe Remedies Company survived well into the 1930’s. Not one to give up, Warner tried his hand at other medical nostrums, but never achieved the success he realized from his Safe Cure. I have a couple of earlier posts that may interest you:

    https://warnerssafeblog.wordpress.com/2008/07/09/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-warner-empire-the-warners-safe-remedies-co-part-viii/

    and

    https://warnerssafeblog.wordpress.com/2008/07/25/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-warner-empire-life-after-safe-cure-part-ix/

    With respect to the dates for the opening of the Toronto and London offices, my information is from a variety of sources. As a practical matter, the Toronto office probably opened in 1882, but did not produce products until 1883, which explains why the 3-Cities bottles list both Toronto and London. The Safe Tonic bottles that I have seen with labels have a label for “Safe Tonic Bitters”. I doubt there was much difference in the product, but the Safe Tonic would have been one of the earlier Warner’s Safe products along with the Diabetes Cure.

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