Andrew Taylor Still

Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917)

In 1874 Still announced his founding of a new medical science called Osteopathy, seen as a reformation of the conventional medicine of the day, particularly its misuse of drugs. [Photo: Meridian Institute]

Because of his later advocacy of Osteopathic Medicine, Andrew Taylor Still is one of the best known and best documented of the free-state activists. In 1897 he wrote his autobiography, now available on line through the Meridian Institute. Still was born in Lee County, Virginia and moved with his family to Tennessee at age 6. In 1835 he entered "Holston College in Newmarket, Tennessee at age 7 and attended for three years. The family moved to Macon County, Missouri in 1837 where his father was sent as a Methodist missionary. Still's schooling in frontier Missouri was intermittent. His father, Abram Still farmed, rode the Methodist circuit and treated the sick. Abram's free-soil beliefs, however, were unpopular and he asked the Methodist conference for another assignment. In 1852, Abram was sent to the Methodist mission to the Shawnees in Douglas County, Kansas near the mouth of the Wakarusa River. Andrew, now married, stayed on in Macon County before joining his father at the Wakarusa mission in 1853. [Booth, Osteopathy, Ch.1]

At Wakarusa, Andrew Still farmed the Shawnee land, breaking 90 acres of prairie sod with six yoke of oxen and a 20" plow. He helped his father treating the Shawnees when cholera broke out. His medical work expanded among the new settlers coming in after 1854. He chose the free-state cause and often found himself in danger as he traveled to see patients. He was elected to the Big Springs convention and later to the 1857 Legislature. He confronted pro-slavery men in Lecompton as they met in the Lecompton Constitutional Convention before the opening of the new legislature.[Still, Autobiography, Ch.4] During the Civil War, he first enlisted in Lane's forces sent to Springfield, Missouri and then up along the border. In 1862, he recruited a militia company and was made captain, patrolling along the Santa Fe road in eastern Kansas. In 1864, as a major in the forces, he fought in the Battle of Westport before being demobilized. [Still, Autobiography, Ch.5]

Still lived in Palmyra and "took an active part in rushing the scheme to select and locate a spot for the university building" for Baker University. His family gave the Methodist Church 640 acres of land. Still, his brothers and Henry Barriklow purchased and erected a forty horsepower steam sawmill, and sawed all the lumber for the university and other buildings at Baldwin, as Palmyra was later called. [Still, Autobiography, Ch.8] Still attended the Kansas City School of Physicians and Surgeons briefly after the war before becoming dissatisfied with the teaching and leaving without a diploma. He established a medical practice in Douglas County using a system of manipulation of the spine that he had devised. He was viewed as a medical heretic because of his "holistic" views and when conventional medicine failed his family in 1873, he decided to move to Kirksville, Missouri, Although living in Kirksville, he was an "itinerant doctor, going about from place to place seeking opportunities to heal the sick by his own original method." [Booth, Osteopathy, Ch.1]

After 1889, Still lived permanently in Kirksville seeing patients from far and wide in his infirmary. In 1892 he founded a school to teach classes in anatomy which became the American School of Osteopathy, awarding its first 18 diplomas in 1894. The school is now called the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine at A.T. Still University, one of 20 accredited colleges of Osteopathy, emphasizing the training of primary care physicians, holistic medicine and preventive care [American Osteopathic Association]

Charles Clark