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Andrew Taylor Still: The Father of Osteopathy

By Samuel Phineas Upham

Andrew Taylor Still grew up in pro-slavery Missouri, but he shared his father’s views on the matter and was decidedly against the practice. When Civil War broke out in America, the Stills sided with anti-slavery groups and Andrew practiced medicine along with his father. He learned the grisly field in the midst of battle. He also saw firsthand how grim the medical situation was, and how potential epidemics could wipe out entire populations. He lost his children to one such outbreak.

Still’s interest in medicine stemmed from a childhood grappling with disease. His parents suffered from smallpox and cholera, which motivated young Andrew to continue in the field of medicine.

Andrew practiced unconventional medicine. He studied alternatives to drugs, perfecting magnetic healing and bone setting. The church wasn’t keen on his ideas, and his own family eventually abandoned him after even his medical school refused to listen to him.

His efforts were for naught until the early 1880s, when he relocated to Kirksville. He’d spent some time in Macon, where he grew up, but his hopes of making it were dashed. Kirksville was a new start for Still. It paid off too. Still quickly gained a great reputation as “The Lightning Bonesetter” and his drug-less treatments quickly spread across Missouri and eventually the nation.

Initially, the interested parties numbered few and far between. He taught his children and a few others, but he saw a surge of interest in 1892 that pushed him to found “The American School of Osteopathy”. For many, Andrew Still is seen as the father of modern Osteopathy.


About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or Twitter.

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