Doctor in the HouseSep 27th, 2009 | By Leonard Legends & Legacies | Category: Featured Articles
One-hundred-fourteen years ago, on September 18th, 1895, Daniel David Palmer (to your left) performed the first chiropractic adjustment… to make a deaf man hear. *Ahem.*
What, you may ask, has this got to do with genealogy or Leonard family history? Seriously, do you think I would I leave you hanging like that?
Mr. Palmer (not yet elevated to “Dr.” status), was an on-again/off-again beekeeper, school teacher, and grocer with what might have been an unhealthy interest in mysticism. Despite some serious skepticism that lingers to this very day, he did manage to create a field of medicine that touched (no pun intended) several of our family members, including yours truly.
Perhaps you remember the story of “Dr. Shafer,” the Leonard descendant who visited the old two-story log cabin with tears in his eyes. When one of his letters turned up, identifying him as an Oklahoma City chiropractor, I thought I might finally have a lead on why/when/where his parents, Charles Shafer and Lydia Leonard, disappeared.
An old city directory showed Dr. Shafer in practice with his chiropractic spouse in 1920, not long after Daniel David Palmer founded the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. Maybe that was it. Maybe the whole family had packed up and moved from Cherokee County, Kansas to uh, Davenport, Iowa? I called the school. No record of William or Ida Leonard graduating from there.
I set it aside, as I am wont to do when a promising lead fizzles out. Then I came across “Dr.” Palmer’s story on the Web this week… and discovered that he ALSO started chiropractic schools in California, Oregon, AND Oklahoma! (Dear diary, I think I have another lead.) It seems logical, to me at least, to start looking for Dr. Shafer’s missing parents in and around the Oklahoma City area, which was Indian Territory until 1907. And oh, by-the-way, not far from where Indian Joe Leonard had settled in the 1860s.
So you see, “Dr. Palmer” not only provided a promising historical lead, but also careers for Dr. and Mrs. Shafer, my living great-niece (another) Dr. Leonard, and me (indirectly). One of Dr. Palmer’s sons (also a chiropractor) invested heavily in a new technology called “radio”, back in the day. That developed into Palmer Broadcasting, which today owns several radio and television stations around the country.
One of those stations, WHO-TV and radio in Des Moines, Iowa, gave me my first job in broadcasting… as it did for a very young and impressionable Ronald Reagan a couple of decades earlier.
And the deaf man who could hear again? His name was Harvey Lillard and he tells a very different story than the one “Dr.” Palmer told. But that, too, is a story for another time. You’ve got Google, go look it up!