By: Esther Jane Wood Hall

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: January 1, 1996

The early history of pharmacy in Texas was closely related to that of medicine and was recorded primarily by physicians or medicine men of the period. Probably one of the first Europeans to practice pharmacy and medicine in the New World was Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, who in 1528 reached the east coast of Texas, where Indians who greeted his party soon made him a slave. Indian medicine, herbs, and concoctions, as well as magic, were some of the remedies he used when ordered to treat the Indians who were suffering from epidemic disease. As early as 1682 Spanish missionaries in El Paso treated the sick and dispensed medicines; only as civil communities or military posts developed were physicians likely to appear and relieve the padres of their medical chores. Spanish physicians in Texas were only average in ability, lacked adequate drug supplies, and usually treated patients in deplorable sanitary conditions. Although their knowledge and experience in handling drugs were usually limited, Spanish doctors were the principal dispensers of drugs in colonial Texas. Pioneer physicians often substituted local vegetation for the usual drug remedies; in this search for available drugs they partly relied upon the knowledge of medicine men and practitioners in Indian and peasant communities. They often prepared the medication at the patient's bedside from herbs carried in their saddlebags. Many of these saddlebag remedies were family formulas and were particularly adaptable. Eventually some colonial doctors made up medicines in large quantities and placed them on the shelf in their offices or in their homes, which they called drugstores. Thus originated drug manufacture and sales in Texas.

Medical conditions and drug distribution did not alter much in the Republic of Texas. Nicholas D. Labadie, a French Canadian, served as a surgeon at the battle of San Jacinto (1836) and later that year opened a combination medical office and drugstore in Galveston. Other physicians also owned drugstores in combination with their medical practices. Among the first were John Logue, who opened a pharmacy in Columbus in 1844, and Joe M. Reuss, who owned a drugstore in Indianola in 1845. The first recorded drugstores not operated by physicians were in Austin, one owned by McKinstry and Hyde, another by Robertson and Benjamin P. Johnson. Cayton Erhard immigrated from Germany and opened a drugstore in San Marcos. The Behrmann Drug Store was probably the first in Galveston; in it Justus J. Schott received his pharmaceutical training as an apprentice. First Behrmann's and then Schott's pharmacies were the main source of medical supplies from Europe to other drugstores and physicians in Galveston and throughout Texas. Recognizing the strategic importance of San Antonio as the future business center of Southwest Texas, Frederick J. Kalteyer opened a retail drugstore there in 1854; soon he imported drugs into Texas from France and Mexico and developed a sizable wholesale drug business. It later became the San Antonio Drug Company, which operated for more than a century. The first pharmacy in Dallas was established in 1855 by Frank A. Sayre, who advertised as a pharmacist and chemist. The same year, William Hermes opened a drugstore in a log cabin in La Grange, Fayette County. The advent of the prescribing druggist was heralded by a notice in the San Antonio Daily Ledger and Texan of April 27, 1860. In 1863 advertisements appeared in Houston for a drugstore owned by J. J. Schott and F. B. Colby; E. Erlenmeyer and E. F. Schmidt, listed as chemist-pharmacists, were dealers in drugs, medicine, perfumes, toilet soaps, and mineral waters, as well as prescriptions. The Austin Texas State Gazette advertised in 1865: "for sale both wholesale and retail, French Quinine, Opium, Morphine, Calomel, Raw Ginger, Arrowroot, Jamaica Ginger, Jayne's Expectorant, Mustang Liniment, Bull's Sarsaparilla, Lobelia Seed, Sweet Spirits of Nitre, English Cod Liver Oil, Brown's Mixture, Radway's Ready Relief, Adcock's Porous Plasters, Brandreth's Pills, Wright's India Vegetable Pills, Extract of Colocynth and many other items." In 1866 Dr. F. C. Wilkes published A Manual of Practice for the Diseases of Texas, in which he reported that at least five of the remedies therein were sold in drugstores in every neighborhood in Texas. In 1873 the Morley Drug Company was established in Austin, primarily as a retail and wholesale drug house. Though most of its drugs came from American manufacturers and were shipped through Galveston and New Orleans, it ordered pure drugs from Germany. In the mid-nineteenth century many Texas druggists bought basic substances in bulk and acted as manufacturers, wholesalers, prescribers, and retailers of medicines.

In 1879 the Texas Pharmaceutical Association, the first permanent organization of Texas pharmacists, was formed in Dallas. At least eighteen pharmacists participated in this attempt to organize pharmacists on a professional basis, to seek passage of legal standards for pharmacy, and to improve educational standards for pharmacists. Most early association pharmacists had been college educated, usually in Europe, before moving to Texas. The Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Texas State Pharmaceutical Association (1879–89) indicate that the association devoted its early meetings almost entirely to the study of scientific topics and round-table discussions of current problems inside and outside of the profession. The organization tried to secure passage of a pharmacy bill in the legislature and to assure a chair of pharmacy at the University of Texas Medical Branch, which was being developed in Galveston. In 1889, the tenth anniversary of the association, the Texas Pharmacy Law was passed. In 1893 Governor James Stephen Hogg urged the foundation of the chair of pharmacy at the University of Texas. In that year the Twenty-third Texas Legislature added $2,500 to the budget of the university's medical branch for the purpose of establishing a school of pharmacy. The school, established at Galveston in 1893, registered eleven students the first year. James Kennedy, a physician from San Antonio, was elected the first professor of pharmacy. The course of instruction, initially consisting of two sessions of seven months each, was gradually increased to meet the demands of a progressing profession until it attained the status of a five-year program that culminates in a bachelor of science degree. The early faculty was composed of physicians. The school was moved from Galveston and became the College of Pharmacy on the main university campus in Austin in 1927. Graduate work was offered for the first time in 1948, and instruction leading to the Ph.D. degree was made available. Of the other early pharmacy schools established in Texas, none has survived. The pharmacy school at Baylor University in Dallas opened in 1903 and operated for twenty-eight years before closing in 1931. Fort Worth Medical College, a part of Texas Christian University, offered a program of instruction in pharmacy from 1905 to 1918. After World War II two new schools of pharmacy opened in Texas. In 1947 the board of regents of the University of Houston, then a municipal institution, authorized the opening of a pharmacy school. The school of pharmacy at Texas Southern University was organized as an integral department in 1949.

The first law regulating the practice of pharmacy appeared in 1889. It was followed in 1907 by a bill authorizing the governor to appoint members to the first State Board of Pharmacy. The Texas Health Law, which helped control drugs, was passed in 1907. The present Texas Pharmacy Law was passed in 1929; it required that an applicant for pharmacy registration in Texas be a graduate of a recognized college of pharmacy.

Early publications of interest to Texas pharmacists were Druggists' Circular and Chemical Gazette, Daniel's Medical Journal of Texas, and Dr. Eugene Eberle's popular Southern Pharmaceutical Journal, established in 1908 and bought by Walter Henry Cousins in 1915. In 1896 a house journal called the Texas Druggist, published by Felix Parsons for the Texas Drug Company, became the official publication of the Texas State Pharmaceutical Association. There were changes in official publications until 1929, when the name the Texas Druggist was given to the association by the Texas Drug Company; in 1962 the name was changed to Texas Pharmacy.

Pharmacy in Texas has moved from the practice of uncontrolled distribution of drugs of all types at the turn of the century to legal control over narcotics, barbiturates, and other drugs that are subject to abuse. The pharmacist is continually sought as an expert in the area of drug evaluation and as a consultant in all divisions of the health sciences. Pharmacists act as consultants to physicians and work in hospitals, nursing homes, health maintenance organizations, and extended-care facilities. Mail-order prescription services, in connection with insurance companies, offer their products at low, standardized rates. In December 1995 there were 17,984 pharmacists licensed by the state Board of Pharmacy, of which, 14,099 resided within the state. A total of 5,145 pharmacies were licensed in Texas. See also HEALTH AND MEDICINE, and LONE STAR STATE MEDICAL, DENTAL, AND PHARMACEUTICAL ASSOCIATION.

Joanna Blumel, History of the San Antonio Drug Company and Pharmacy in Texas, 1854–1954 (San Antonio Drug Company, 1954). Marie Louise Giles, The Early History of Medicine in Dallas, 1841–1900 (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1951). Esther Jane Wood Hall, Chapters in the History of Pharmacy in Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1953). Pat Ireland Nixon, A Century of Medicine in San Antonio (San Antonio, 1936). Pat Ireland Nixon, The Medical Story of Early Texas, 1528–1853 (Lancaster, Pennsylvania: Lupe Memorial Fund, 1946). George Plunkett [Mrs. S. C.] Red, The Medicine Man in Texas (Houston, 1930).
  • Health and Medicine
  • Medical Expertise

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Esther Jane Wood Hall, “Pharmacy,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1996

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