Patent medicine millionaire's generosity   founded  school

 

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"Grove's Tasteless Chill Tonic
destroys Malarial Germs in the-
Blood and removes the impurities. It
restores Energy and Vitality by
creating new, healthy blood. When
you feel its Strengthening. In-
vigoraling Effect; see how it brings
Color to the Cheeks and how it im-
proves the Appetite.'you will then
appreciate its true tonic value. Plea-
sant to Take."

The advertising copy for Paris
Medicine Co; speaks of the period in
which it was written. The mam
behind the product, Dr. Edwin W.
Grove, became Henry County's
most famous entrepreneur.

In its day, the nation-wide
popularity of Grove's Chill Tonic
was compared to Coca-Cola. The for-
tune which developed from that
quinine tonic and from Grove's other
products led to the endowment for
Grove High School.

Born In obscurity In 1850, E.W.
Grove first ventured, into business
when he opened a small drugstore in
Paris. He began to experiment with
drug manufacturing and found a for-
mula which put him on the way to
enormous success.

In the latter part of the 19th Cen-
tury malaria was a scourge of the
South. Quinine was known to be ef-
fective medication for malarial
chills, but its bitter taste was a pro-
blem.

Grove's formula was for a quinine
tonic which was tasteless only in a
relative way.

According to Mrs. George R. McS-
wain Jr., family legend says that the
formula came from a prescription of
the late Dr. I. A. McSwain, the
founder of a family of Henry County
physicians.

"Grove offered Dr. McSwain a
part of the company If he would
allow his name to be used on the
label, Mrs. McSwain wrote for the

Daytona Beach, Fla., Morning Jour-
nal in 1981. "Such advertising was
contrary to medical ethics, and the
offer was refused...

"Nevertheless, Grove's Tasteless
Chill Tonic swept the country.... It
was a clear liquid filled with tiny lit-
tie scratchy granules mat invariably
hung on your tonsils when you tried
to swallow a large tablespoonful.
The granules were said to be iron to
meet the needs of the growing
child."

Even after malaria was con-
quered, the tonic remained popular
to "strengthen the blood," and its
use was a springtime regimen in
thousands of homes.

Grove's Paris Medicine Co.
became so successful that it grew
too big for Paris, and Grove moved
it to St. Louis. The company's line of
products also included Bromo
Quinine, PAZO Ointment, and Dr.
Porter's Antiseptic Healing Oil, ac-
cording to columnist Larry
McGehee.

Early in this century Grove
"agreed at the suggestion of his
friend O.C. Barton and other promi-
nent Henry Countians to pay for
the operation of a public high school
in Paris if the local government
would build it. The county court
agreed, and the school was built in
1906.

Grove paid a then-princely sum of
$4,000 a year to operate the school.
The appropriation was continued
after his death through an endow-
ment established by his estate, and
the Grove Trust Fund continues to-
day to provide the same sum each
year for high school education in
Henry County.

Grove had a paternal interest in
the school, which was named for
him. In the early years, he used to
send money for a barrel of apples to
be placed in the hallway for
students. But one year, as the stort
goes, the school administration used|
the apple money for more pressing
needs; Grove was incensed, and
stopped the apple money.

If he was fond of the school, the
fondness was returned. The school's
first athletic teams were known as
the "Chill Tonics," and a bottle of
the famous medicine was placed in
the cornerstone of the original
building.

Soon after the high school was
built, Grove sought relief from, a
bronchial disorder by moving to
Asheville, N.C. The entrepreneur in
him saw business possibilities, and
in 1913 he built Grove Park Inn,
advertised as "The Finest Resort
'Hotel in the World."

The rambling structure, designed
by his son-in-law, is built of granite
boulders hand-cut from nearby
Sunset Mountain, carefully laid with
moss and lichens still in place; The
inn came to be frequented by
notables such as Franklin D.
Roosevelt, Henry Ford, Thomas
Edison and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The notables Included the novelist
Thomas Wolfe, whose biography by
Alexander Turnbull tells this story:
"One day," when Wolfe was home
for the summer from Harvard, "he
and a friend borrowed a car to take
two girls to the top of Sunset Moun-
tain, and driving through Grove
Estate a tire went flat.

"They had begun their unac-
customed struggle with the spare
'when an elderly ' man in
dungarees emerged from the front
and offered his services. With his
help the job was quickly done, and Tom
handed him a quarter which he
accepted with a bow....

"Some years later, Tom's brother
heard the story from the man
himself; he was Grove, owner of the
Grove Park Inn and the six thousand
acres of Sunset Mountain. Frank
asked if he had thought of returni
the quarter. No, I still have it, said
Grove. 'First I kept it because it was
the only tip I ever received, and then
its preciousness grew in proportion
to Tom's fame."

Grove Park Inn is still in opera-
tion. Two huge fireplaces flank the
walls of the great lobby, 120 feet long
and 80 feet wide, described
Grove's brochure as one of the
"most wonderful rooms in the
world."

Another Grove venture in
Asheville was the Battery Park
Hotel, which Grove purchased in
1924. He demolished an" earlie
frame structure and built .a 12-story
200-room brick building with a rock
garden and quarters for several
private clubs.

Ownership passed to his daughter
Mrs. Fred L. Seeley, who sold it in
1955. The hotel was closed in 1972.
Paris Medicine Co., which became
Grove Laboratories, was purchased
by Bristol-Myers in the 1950s.

E.W. Grove's benevolence in
Henry County was not limited to the
school that bears his name. He par-
ticipated in a number of philai-
thropies, and a trust established by
his estate continues to provide
assistance. One of the stained glass
picture windows in First
Presbyterian Church is dedicated to
his memory.

Today E.W. Grove is buried in the
old City Cemetery, in a grave near
that of Governor James D. Porter.

 

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