New Year, New Teeth — 1877

by Paula Bosse

ad-dentist_1878-directoryThe exclamation mark is a nice touch — 1878

by Paula Bosse

It’s a new year. Time again to check if the women-folk in your household need a new set of false teeth!

ad-dentist_new-year-gift_dal-herald-123077Dallas Herald, Dec. 30, 1877

“A Present. While you are thinking about what to select as a New Year’s present for your wife or daughter, don’t forget to examine their mouths and see if they are in need of a set of artificial teeth, or fillings to preserve their natural ones. Don’t forget this, and if you find they need the work, send them to Dr. Thomas, dentist, at 701 Elm street, over Rick’s furniture store, whom we recommend as a first class operator.”

(While you’re waiting for your wife’s new choppers to be installed in the doctor’s office upstairs, you can browse for a nice new stool for the spinet downstairs at Rick’s.)

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But wait, there’s more. Dig a little deeper and you find this:

thomas-dentist_galveston-daily-news_072889Galveston Daily News, July 28, 1889

Whoa!

thomas-dentist_dmn_072889Dallas Morning News, July 28, 1889

ADJUDGED INSANE: The Wreck of a Mind High in Professional Standing.

Dr. William Thomas, the dentist, was adjudged insane yesterday by a jury de lunatico inquirendo and he will be forwarded within days to the lunatic asylum at Terrell. The doctor’s mind had been failing for some time, but reason only left him entirely a few days ago. Last Friday evening he entered the Sanger Brothers’ store and offered to buy the contents for a present to the Buckner orphans’ home. In court his mind and tongue rambled incessantly and he at one time wanted an adjournment of the proceedings so that he could have a chance to eat dinner. The doctor seems to be affected with a derangement of the intellect.

I’m not quite sure what all that was about, how much time he spent in the Terrell “lunatic asylum,” or how “insane” the good doctor really was (I suspect he was using a lot of cocaine — see below). The only other mention of Dr. Thomas I found was a mention in the Buckner orphanage’s annual report of 1898 in which his name appeared in a group of doctors who were thanked for their services rendered to the children free of cost.

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Top ad from the 1878 Dallas city directory.

Dr. Thomas probably wasn’t actually “insane.” I wonder if perhaps he hadn’t been dipping into his own medicine chest and availing himself of the cocaine that most dentists of the time used as a painkiller during dental procedures? An interesting article on just that topic is here.

Happy New Year! And don’t forget to floss!

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Copyright © 2015 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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