Musing on Moxie’s Lowell Roots (Aug 5, 2007)

History as It Happens: Citizen Bloggers in Lowell, Mass. (2017) captures the best writing from the first ten years of this blog, an unsettled time for the economy, politics, technology, and culture. The book, featuring many writers, documents the local story and offers commentary on national and global matters that touched our lives. This week, we will post highlights from the book, which is available for purchase from Loom Press or on This holiday season, if you are looking for a special gift for a family member or friend with a deep interest in Lowell, present and/or past, then please consider this collection of fine writing and photographs.


Musing on Moxie’s Lowell Roots

By Marie on August 5, 2007

Today’s Boston Globe story on Moxie reminded me not only of its “roots” in Lowell but also of that whole world of “medicine” in the mid-to late-19th century. Lowell’s history as the home of patent medicines, tonics, and cures certainly laid the ground work for accepting the entrepreneurship of today in bio, nano and many other technologies. Many tout these technologies as the future for Lowell in the 21st century. Lowell has historically been receptive and welcoming to those like Dr. J.C. Ayer, C.I. Hood, E.W. Hoyt, Dr. A. Thompson, and others who used their creativity and ingenuity to make Lowell a hub for more than textiles and related machinery. I think it might be time for my colleagues in the Lowell Historical Society to mount an exhibit for yet another look at the glory days of patent medicine companies in Lowell. Most are familiar with Moxie, but wouldn’t you like to know about Fr. John’s Medicine, Hood’s sarsaparilla and cough cure, Ayer’s cherry pectoral, Johnson’s Brown Bottle, Rubiofoam, toothpowders, pills, and of course the renown German Cologne? This industry, by the way, gave rise to a broad spectrum of advertising and later to a world of collectibles. There were giveaways of all kinds: post cards, trade cards, calendars, puzzles, cook books and posters. Patent medicine bottles are collected, traded and sold—some are quite valuable. (Look on eBay under Lowell Collectibles). Along with cartoons and the political rhetoric of the day, they help to tell one of the many stories of Lowell and its history.