Addendum 15b - 2nd Edition
Quack Medicines

Addendum 15b
Mr. Noyes -- Super Quack of the 19th Century

Quack Doc
Bernie Madoff Duck

Mr. W.A. Noyes --- Quack of the Century:
O.K., I’m going to just come out with it.   This museum curator has become fascinated with this charlatan.   What started out as a simple search to a simple question: “Did Noyes actually make use of Cannabis (yes or no)?”   Quickly turned into quite an adventure, all on its own.   But this should not be seen as a simple academic matter.   In order to insure a proper count, some time ago this museum set up a series of criteria, that each and every pre-1942 Medical Cannabis products must meet --- It is as follows:
  • The medicine in question must have been sold on a ‘Brand’ or ‘Trade’ name basis.
  • It had to have been manufactured at a specific location, specifically dedicated for such a purpose.
  • The manufacturer would have had to have had all the required licenses or permits required by law during that given time period.
These requirements for inclusion were originally established to eliminate all the various ‘Home-made remedies’ that were so prevalent during the early and middle part of the 19th century.   But as can be seen Mr. Noyes seems to slip right through the cracks, and not just once but multiple times.   This in turn can really do a whammy on our quack medicine statistics.

I myself (after many hours of research) am of the opinion that despite the claims, despite his handouts and leaflets, (claiming use thereof) that NO PHYSICAL USE OF CANNABIS was actually made.   To try to prove my case, let’s first look at the following newspaper article:

A Charlatan Is Caught

The St. Louis Globe - July 1, 1877

The St. Louis Globe - July 1, 1877
A Case that Has Its Parallel in Every Large City---The Original compounder of Winslow's Soothing Syrup in the Role of Swindler.
[From the Louisville Commercial.]

Detectives Gilchrist and Bligh made au important arrest yesterday afternoon in the person of , who was registered at Central Station as a suspected felon. He came here some three months ago and rented a room at the corner of Fifth and Jefferson streets, but no attention was paid to his movements, nor was anything though of him until about the middle of April, when the Chief of Police received a letter from the proprietors of the Courier, published at Lafayette, Ind., stating that they had received from this city a letter, upon a printed letterhead of "Burnett, Bailey & Crosswell, proprietors, office and depot 167 Jefferson street, corner of Fifth, "for the insertion of a card headed "To Consumptive," in which the Doctor proposed that if persons afflicted would address him, giving their symptoms, he would send them a prescription, free of charge, which would cure them, which card was signed, "Dr. John S. Burnett, 167 Jefferson street, Louisville, Ky." He directed the card to be published, a marked copy of the paper sent to him and he would at once remit a check for the first quarter, his rule being to invariable pay in advance. The advertisement was inserted and the bill sent to the Doctor, but no remittance was received, and finally an agent was sent here to collect the bill, but no such firm could be found. The letter was making inquiry and asking that the fraud be exposed. This letter was placed in the hands of Detective Gilchrist, who at once set about to ferret out the swindler, and his labors have been crowned with success in the arrest of Dr. Burnett. After his arrest the detective found in his room about 200 marked papers, from all parts of the country, containing the advertisement referred to, which had been inserted in the same manner as in the Lafayette paper, the great medical firm not being heard of afterwards, and the papers were out the advertisements as also the marked copy sent.

After inserting the advertisement he would mail to individuals at the same place circulars the same as the advertisement, asking the parties to send him by mail their symptoms, and he could he could at once send them a prescription without charge which would effect a cure, and accompanying this was a supplement stating that the case would be greatly facilitated by a box of his herb medicine, which he could furnish at $3 per box, or $5 for two. In his circular which he sends out he states that some years ago, while suffering from pulmonary consumption he was induced to visit the Hot Springs of Arkansas, where he met the Rev. O.T. Marvin, who effectually cured him. The circular goes on to state that the Rev. Mr. Marvin was an aged missionary, who had spent many years in the missionary life in India, and who was given there the great remedy, “Cannabis Sativa,” which effected a permanent cure with him. His desire was not to make money, but to distribute his great remedy, that he might help suffering humanity, and root the disease of consumption from the human family.

To patients who would answer his advertisement, but who did not receive the circulars, he would reply that their symptoms were such that though the prescription he would send them free would greatly relieve their suffering, it would not effect a permanent cure without the use of one box of his prepared herb medicine, which he would send for $3, or $5 for two.

He had two rooms, for which he keeps two clerks busily engaged answering the letters he received and sending out circulars, one at Fifth and Jefferson where a man was employed, and the other on Jefferson Street, between Eighth and Night, over Dey’s clothing store, where he had a female correspondent. At these two rooms after his arrest, the detectives found about 299 different papers containing the marked advertisement, which had been beat out of the first insertion at least, they being mostly country papers scattered throughout every State in the Union. They also found a number of letters containing remittances from $5 to $15 each, ordering the boxes of herb medicines referred to in the circulars. Two or three bills from wholesale druggists were found showing the purchase by Dr. Burnett of gum arabic, red bark, and one from a grocer for rice flour, showing that those who patronized him should receive no serious injury, even if they should take his medicines.

It is said that he was the original compounder of the great Mrs. Winslow’s soothing syrup, having a one-half interest init,. Which he sold for $40,000 cash, and lost the same in two nights’ gambling. He left there and sought other fields, lecturing in some of the Southern States under the name of Dr. E.A. Marshall, and finally brought up here. Where he has, according to all statements, been practicing an extensive swindling game. His only statement, upon being arrested, was: “I have been indiscreet, and gambled when I should not.” He will be presented to the City Court Monday morning.
Note the following -- That despite the claim, no physical evidence of Cannabis was actually found, which leads me to believe that none was ever actually in use.   Next, there seems to be no question that Noyes was a fake a charlatan, but not a dumb one, he just didn’t think that the cops would move in as fast as they did.   AND if you know that it’s all a fake, than why buy EXPENSIVE Cannabis when you can just fake the whole thing and keep it cheap.

To the best of my knowledge [again, after much research into this subject], no physical evidence of Cannabis was ever actually found, by anyone anywhere.   In fact, this is what threw me off at first [see 1st Edition stuff] a chemical analyze of his powdered showed that there was NO Cannabis at all, and because the term Halish [which sounds a lot like Hashish] was used that some form of miscommunication had occurred.


First, NO Mrs. Winslow’s syrup DID NOT contain Heroin, Morphine yes, but Heroin no.   It was first compounded in 1849, while Heroin would not be developed until sometime around 1898.

Next, according to the above article: ---- “It is said that he was the original compounder of the great Mrs. Winslow’s soothing syrup.”   However, according to the DEA website:

It was a “Mrs. Charlotte N. Winslow, mother-in-law of Jeramiah Curtis, a devoted female physician and nurse studied teething among infants.   She compounded a formula for a soothing syrup for children, the ingredients of which consisted of sulphate of morphia, sodium carbonate, spirits of foeniculi, and aqua ammonia. . . . First marketed in 1849 as "Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup", the popularity of this medicine climbed to incredible heights under the management of Jeramiah Curtis and Benjamin Perkins . . “

OK, granted the Narc’s lie a lot, but still, just by the sheer law of numbers they can’t possibly lie all the time.   Additionally, just look at the story itself; that he somehow first made a small fortune, but then lost it in only two days.   Yet this is the same mind that then went on pulling off the biggest rip-off since before Bernie Madoff, made-off with all that money.

I don’t know about the reader, but I for one think that the given story was just another one of his scams, and here one may add, a pretty good one at that.

Quack Doc
Quack Doc
1891 Rochester [New York] Directory Pg 952
Drew, Allis & Co.,


In the first Edition of this book, mentions of contemporary quotations were made which indicated that his recipe DID NOT make any mention or use of Medical Cannabis.   However, since that time new evidence [See Addendums 15a,b] has been uncovered and as much as much as this museum curator hates to say this; we may have been wrong -- Hey at least we admit that we may have made a mistake.   The reader should be aware that this does not mean that Mr. Noyes actually made use of Cannabis -- only that he claimed that it did.

But be that as it may (in a morbid way) one can't help but be in all of this man, Mr. Noyes.   I mean boy, whoever this guy was, he sure was quite a character.   One day he's a minister of the Lord, the next a Medical Doctor, the next . . . I mean even Bernie Madoff (some modern-day guy who made-off with all the money) has got nothing on him.

Madoff   ponzi
Bernie Madoff (left), Charles Ponzi (right)
What did Mr. Noyes look like?

What did Mr. Noyes look like?
We may never know, we may not even know what his real (birth) name even was.   Numerous and very fruitless hours have been spent looking over old censes records, Internet searches, etc., have all come out blank.   And while numerous newspaper articles about his escapades have been written; while they make for interesting reading, when viewed via a critical eye are unlikely to be true.   All of which would indicate that whoever, whatever, he was; his real name was probably not W.A. Noyes.

List of Alias that he used   [Those that we know of]:
  • Dr. E.A. Marshall
  • Dr. John S. Burnett
  • Dr. W.W. Sherar
  • Rev. C.S. Burnett
  • Mr. W. A. Noyes

    About all we can come up with is the following:
    • In all likelihood he was someone of northern European descent.   Someone for whom last names like Noyes, Burnett, etc., would attract no undo attention.
    • He was probably of average height and build with no distinguishable scars or features.   Had it been otherwise, some kind of mention would have been made in at least one of the numerous articles about him.
    • He was somewhat educated and like all con artists extremely cleaver.   This we know because his handout leaflets were extremely well done, extremely well written.   The writer obviously knew how to market his product.
    • He lived from around 1820-to-1910.   We know that even if he had nothing to do with Mrs. Winslow’s syrup, still in order for his story to sound about right he would have had to have been of a certain age in 1849.   And as Samuel Hopkins Adams wrote about him in his 1905 book, The Great American Fraud, he would have had to have still been around during that time period.
    All in all, he would have done Bernie Madoff and Charles Ponzi proud.

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