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For many years stretching between 1869 and
1906, Beaver residents were able to visit the Beaver Drugstore,
owned by Mr. Hugo Andriessen, to get their prescriptions filled
at what had been described as the best equipped and largest pharmacy
in the county. The casual visitor would have been surprised to
learn about the variety of Mr. Andriessen's interests and marvel
at the sight that greeted them when entering his store. They would
learn very quickly that this was neither your average druggist
nor your average drugstore.
Hugo Andriessen was born on June 14, 1843 in a little town called Steele located along the Ruhr river in what was then Rhenish Prussia. His father was a civil engineer who constructed railroads in not only Germany, but also in Austria, Portugal and Russia. Hugo received the bulk of his education in schools in both Germany and Austria, but due to his father's constantly changing assignments to other European countries, he took the opportunity to expand his knowledge of languages beyond his native German. As Hugo grew to manhood absorbing knowledge like the proverbial "sponge", no one would have been surprised to learn that the science of natural history was to become another of his many intellectual passions.
In 1861, the Andriessen family immigrated
to the United States and settled in Pittsburgh where Hugo began
clerking in a number of prominent drugstores. Finally in October
of 1869, Hugo moved to Beaver where his apprenticeships in the
Pittsburgh drugstores paid off as he opened his own store on Third
Street and named it "Beaver Drugstore". Throughout this
busy period of his life, Hugo began romancing Miss Louisa McKinley,
formerly of Darlington, and they were eventually married on May
12, 1870. The couple was to have three children: Belle (1871),
Fritz (1873) and Edith (1875).
In time, his store was to become locally famous, not only for its pharmaceutical inventory, but also because it contained a large natural history collection. The following description can be found in History of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, 1888:
"The Beaver Natural History Museum
One of the finest and rarest private collections is now
on exhibition in the mammoth Centennial show case, at Mr. Hugo
Andriessen's Beaver drug store. The beauty of many of the specimens
excites the wonder and curiosity of the public, and almost daily
new attractive additions take the lover of nature by surprise.
The departments of geology and mineralogy contain one thousand
rare minerals, all arranged according to Professor Dana's classification,
showing every crystallized form, all principal ores, and every
known chemical element. This collection is very interesting on
account of the number of typical gold, silver, copper, lead and
iron ores from all parts of our own country, and the attention
of visitors is especially called to the exquisitely beautiful
crystallizations and splendid forms of minerals from New Mexico
- a donation from Major Thomas Henry, who has recently returned
from this new Eldorado of gold and silver. There are also to be
found in this unique collection valuable and curious fossils which
must delight every true Paleontologist; petrified ferns from the
carboniferous age, presented by Hon. Mansfield, from his famous
cannel coal mines near Darlington; a large number of Beaver County
birds, which, by the art of the taxidermist, look as natural as
ever; while preserved in spirits are some horrid and frightful
looking reptiles, lizards, devil fish, etc. But even this is not
all; for new wonders meet one at another section of the case,
which contains stuffed alligators, lobsters, crabs, corals, shells,
sponges and many other ocean curiosities, which are followed by
insects, butterflies, moths, etc., and skulls, skeletons of many
animals. Mr. Andriessen has also a very extensive herbarium, containing
nearly all the flora of Beaver County, and specimens of the material
medica, which show the crude drugs used in medicine from all parts
of the world. This part of the museum is of great interest to
members of the medical faculty. This museum also contains an immense
marine specimen donated by Hon. M. S. Quay, a tarpon (Megalops
thrissoides), the largest of its kind ever captured on the coast
of Florida, measuring six feet three inches."
A familiar visitor to this apothecary shop
during the summer of 1889 was Rudyard Kipling, a young British
writer who was here to visit with the Rev. R.T. Taylor family.
Kipling would later garner worldwide fame for his short stories
and poetry, but at the time was a little known author traveling
from India. Legend says that Kipling acquired his gin and tonic
habit in India as a preventative against malaria, and since alcohol
was not available in Beaver, Mr. Kipling would have to get his
morning tonic by "prescription" at a local pharmacy.
The story, as related by Mr. Bob Smith of Beaver, goes on to say
that Kipling got his prescription through a conversation with
Senator Matthew Quay who was also the owner of the building housing
the Beaver Drugstore. Apparently, Andriessen lived in a house
on Insurance Street directly behind the store, and according to
some accounts, when Kipling arrived at the store, Andriessen would
make a trip to the basement of his home to get some gin from his
private stock, and mix it with his tonic water. In any event,
Kipling would be found every morning sitting in front of the Beaver
Drugstore in Dr. Taylor's carriage dressed in his white India
suit and pith helmet while sipping some of the druggist's famous
Hugo Andriessen proclaimed himself a radical socialist in his politics. He certainly believed in and supported the political stance of Victoria Woodhull as evidenced by a letter he sent to Milo Townsend in June of 1873 applauding the latter's defense of Victoria Woodhull. Little known today, Woodhull was an extremely controversial figure who was a national advocate of women's suffrage, personal and social freedoms, union labor relations, birth control, spiritualism, legalized prostitution, dress reform for women and most scandalously, free love. She was also the first female stockbroker and ran for President on the Equal Rights ticket in 1872. In the letter, Andriessen tells Townsend that:
"I also was compelled several times to give my reasons for endorsing Victoria's cause; I generally succeed admirably by merely handing to my inquirers a copy of the "Principles of Social Freedom" or a number of the "Weekly," and I was certain that justice would be done".
The first of the items that Andriessen handed
out was the text of a speech given by Mrs. Woodhull in 1871 and
the second, "Woodhull & Clafin's Weekly" was a journal
published in New York espousing all of Mrs. Woodhull's causes,
and is best known for printing the first English version of Karl
Marx's "Communist Manifesto". Certainly radical thoughts
for his time, and certainly controversial in the small mostly
Methodist Beaver of his day. Yet in spite of his politics, the
pharmacy continued to grow.
As his pharmacy grew and thrived, there were still problems to be overcome as cheaper and impure substitutes for his products began to show up in local markets and have a negative effect on sales. Described as a political radical and socialist, he fought against these poorer substitutes and even sent a letter to Congress complaining about the government allowing their sale and use and urging them to pass a national pure-food law. In an 1894 "Report on the Character and Extent of Food and Drug Adulteration", he was quoted as saying:
"My next door corner grocery store neighbor sells his "pure powdered spices", put up in attractive packages, cheaper than I can purchase the whole spices at lowest wholesale rates. He can afford to sell "pure vanilla extract" in large handsome bottles, artistically labeled, at 10 cents a bottle, while I leaving the Tonca bean out, have to charge 25 cents, and let the trade go to the dishonest dealers. These few illustrations, I believe, suffice. It is the same with butter (oleomargarine), pure whiskey (blended, compound-flavored spirits), wines, and even tinctures, extracts, and other articles of the United States Pharmacopoeia."
Of course, we all know who won this battle
as these are things that we still find on our store shelves today.
A self-proclaimed agnostic, political radical,
pharmacist and poet, Mr.Hugo Andriessen was a contributor to several
scientific and philosophical journals as well as many German literary
publications. Also, Andriessen had a book of poetry, written in
German, called "Poetische Auslese", published shortly
after his death in 1908 by his eldest daughter, Belle. Included
in the book are his poetry, some translations from American and
English poets, poems on the Civil War, and a variety of poems
on philosophy and Hinduism. Although rare, copies can still be
purchased through antique booksellers today. In addition to his
other interests, he was also a member of the Beaver Chess Club,
The American Pharmaceutical Association and the Western Pennsylvania
Near the end of his life, Andriessen sold the pharmacy to Edwin Rowse in 1906. Around the same time, his natural history collection was sold to Richard Hartje of Pittsburgh, and over the course of several years following his father's death, Hartje's son donated the Andriessen natural history and botanical collection to the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh in his father's memory. A man of many talents and ideals, Hugo Andriessen passed away at the age of 65 on April 21, 1908 and was buried in the Beaver Cemetery in his adopted hometown of Beaver, Pennsylvania. Today, the location of his famous Beaver Drugstore is occupied by "Photography by James".
"A Speech on the Principles of Social Freedom", by Victoria C. Woodhull, New York: Woodhull, Clafin & Co., 1872
"History of Beaver County, Pennsylvania
1888", Philadelphia and Chicago: A. Warner & Co. 1888.
"Milo Adams Townsend and Social Movements of the Nineteenth Century", ed. by Peggy Townsend and Charles W. Townsend III, 1994.
"Poetische Auslese", by Hugo Andriessen, ed. Belle Andriessen, Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Printing Co. 1908.
"U.S. Department of Agriculture: Report on the Extent and Character of Food and Drug Adulteration", by Alex J. Wedderburn, Special Agent, Washington:Government Print office, 1894.
"1918-1919 The Carnegie Institute Annual Reports", Pittsburgh, PA, 1919, pg. 192.
*Photographs and related information courtesy of the Beaver Area Heritage Museum
*Special thanks to Robert Smith of the BAHM for the additional information on Rudyard Kipling's visits to Beaver Drugstore
*German translations courtesy of Dorothy Witke.