Yesterday, at the One Way Music & Arts Festival, I had the opportunity to speak at the Carroll Arts Storytelling event. I really wasn't sure what I should talk about until Dr. Krista suggested I tell THE story of Chiropractic. It's a story not many people know and I was shocked at the end of the speech when over 80% of the audience had been to a chiropractor, but had never heard the story. This lack of knowledge is part of the reason why we want to start a blog to help educate our community on what we do and what all we can help. So here it is... happy reading!
What Harvey Heard on the 4th Floor
Today I am going to tell the story of a one William Harvey Lilliard. Harvey, as he was known, had one of the most significant days of his life on September 18th, 1895. We will come back to that fateful day momentarily. But first a little background on Harvey….
Harvey was born in September of 1856. His grandfather was an English nobleman and his grandmother was one of his grandfathers’ slaves. Harvey spent his younger years in Davenport, Iowa where he married Amanda Bradshaw. Together they had 2 children and eventually 6 grandchildren.
Harvey ran an operated “Lillard Janitorial Services” during the 1890’s where his company specialized in repair and maintenance of numerous buildings in the Davenport community. At this period of time it was still rare for an African-American to own his own business much less one the size that Mr. Lillard operated. Harvey had gotten to the point in business where he mostly directed his employees to which building needed maintenance. Harvey, though clinically DEAF, had made quite a name for himself in the community due to his work ethics and dependability.
September 18th, 1895 was a cool morning in Davenport! Harvey received a message from the Ryan Building which was located at the corner of Brady and Second Street. A leak had occurred and needed immediate attention. Lillard sent word to several of his workers but non responded to his request. Harvey decided to head over and correct the issue himself…….Little did he know as he gathered his tools…… the history of healthcare and his own life was about to change forever.
DD Palmer, a Canadian born immigrant, moved to the US in the 1880’s. At that time healthcare consisted of a diverse group of unregulated and unlicensed professionals including osteopaths, magnetic healers and medical doctors. In those days most medical education consisted of working as an “apprentice” for another medical doctor, and learning the craft by observations. DD along with his fellow companion, Andrew Still (who at this same time creating the profession known today as osteopathic medicine) were magnetic healers during this period.
Magnetic healing was a technique quite popular at that time in history, It involved the use of magnetics to help the flow of blood and circulation within a person. DD had quite the following at his Ryan Block building. DD had over 40 treatment rooms that stayed booked all day every day. DD believed that the nervous system was the major component that contributed to health while Andrew was a believer that it was the blood. DD’s personal research was showing the nervous system and spinal bones somehow had connection to health and well being. Dr. Palmer desperately wanted to prove that his hypothesis correct and show up his friend Dr. Still. He just could not piece it all together…… until September 18th, 1895!
At 9:45 on September 18th Harvey arrives at the Ryan Block building and began to correct the issues on the second floor. One of DD’s patients happen to be strolling by when he noticed Mr. Lillard.
Excuse me sir… you have the time? The patient asked.
There was no response.
Excuse me, sir. He asked again. Do you have the time?
Again… no response.
The third time the patient walks up and tapped Mr Harvey on the shoulder. Startled Harvey proceeds to tell the patient he is deaf and could not hear a racket of horse and carriage coming down the road way or even a watch ticking much less him asking the time.
The patient immediately grabbed Mr Lillard and said you have to meet Dr. Palmer, he will fix this. Follow me to the 4th floor.
The following is the word for word encounter that followed as presented in the historical documents of that day
“Mr. Lillard presented to my office around 10:45 that morning at the suggestion of one of my patients. In questioning, I learned that he had been deaf for over 17 years and that no medical treatment had helped. He told me he was so deaf he could not hear horse and carriage coming down a road. I proceeded to communicate with him to find out the cause of his deafness. He went on to tell me that he was exerting himself in a cramped, stooped position fixing something when he felt something give in his back and immediately his hearing went away
An examination demonstrated a vertebra racked from its normal position. I reasoned that if the gentleman’s bone was restored to normal position, his hearing would be restored. After about a half-an hour of speaking with Mr. Lillard and expressing my hypothesis and treatment…. He reluctantly agreed to treatment. Even stating “nothing else has worked. What will this hurt?” I proceeded to rack his back into position by using the spinous process as the lever. Shortly after this treatment, Mr Harvey exclaimed “I CAN HEAR. I CAN HEAR CLEAR” There was nothing “accidental” about this, as it was accomplished with an object in view, and the result expected was obtained”
Afterward Harvey told all he could of this amazing miracle he had experienced. “I was deaf for 17 years. Nothing helped. No medication treatment ever gave me the release. But after talking with Dr. Palmer he explained that my back injury had contributed to my deafness. This idea was new to me, but I did go deaf immediately after feeling that pop while stooping so I could understand his logic. After one treatment I could hear! I went back about a week later and it improved even more. To this day, my hearing is restored and I am forever faithful to Dr. Palmer’s teachings.”
That fateful day in 1895 changed the course of healthcare forever. It was the 1st time DD could validate his claim that spinal nerve irritation COULD be associated with organ and body systems dysfunction. “Since the nervous system controls all aspects of the body, one issue there could cause immeasurable conditions” he stated. That single adjustment lead to the creation of what is known today as chiropractic!
Today we currently have over 77,000 chiropractic physicians practicing every where from solo practices to the VA and even to hospital settings all over the country. Nearly 27 million chiropractic visits occur annually. And it is now the number one conservative medical option according to the medical literature for the treatment of low back and neck pain. If Harvey would have only known that day……… all the things he was about to HEAR all because of the trip to the 4th floor!