Dr. Jewett's Bitters

Photo courtesy of N.H. Glassmakers’ 1780-1886 exhibit

A bottle of Dr. Stephen Jewett’s Health Restoring Bitters, which claimed “all can be cured if within the power of medicine.”

The Jewett family of Rindge was an enterprising group with interests in a carding mill and pail factory in that town. The family was best known, however, for its involvement in the medical field.

Dr. Stephen Jewett was born in 1764, the son of Ezekiel and Martha Jewett, who were among the first settlers of Rindge. Although Dr. Jewett did not pursue professional medical training, through his abilities he built a lucrative medical practice in the Rindge area. Dr. Jewett became well known in his field and was frequently called to Boston and other cities for professional consultation.

Today, however, Dr. Jewett is probably best remembered for his medicines. He developed the medicines, but it was his son, Stephen Jr., who made Dr. Stephen Jewett medicines known far and wide. The younger Jewett continued the manufacture of the medicines after his father’s death and marketed them with great success.

Stephen Jr. located the main office of the Jewett Co. in Boston. He purchased bottles from glass factories in Keene and Stoddard to package the Health Restoring Bitters. The labels on the bottles stated the bitters would cure chronic diseases, cancer, all disorders of the blood, skin and digestive organs, liver and kidney complaints, and many other disabilities. In fact, the label indicated that “all can be cured if within the power of medicine.” These small bottles of bitters sold for 50 cents each and were a huge success.

Mr. Jewett passed away in 1862, and his medicine company closed within 10 years. Stephen Jewett Jr. would undoubtedly be quite amazed if he could see today’s bottle collectors paying thousands of dollars for empty medicine bottles embossed with the words “Dr. Stephen Jewett’s Health Restoring Bitters, Rindge, N.H.”

Alan F. Rumrill is executive director of the Historical Society of Cheshire County, which has been collecting, preserving and sharing the history of the region since 1927. It’s on Main Street. To learn more about its public programs and collections, visit hsccnh.org.