Sue Young Histories

Frederick K Humphreys 1816 – 1900

December 31, 2007

frederick humphreysFrederick K. Humphreys 18161900 homeopath graduated from Pennsylvania Homoeopathic Medical College in Philadelphia and trained by Constantine Hering. Founder of Humphreys Homoeopathic Medicine Co which still exists today as Humphreys’ Pharmacal.

Humphreys was a founder of The Central New York Homoeopathic Medical Society, subsequently The New York State Homoeopathic Medical Society. He was Chairman of the ”Bureau for the Augmentation and Improvement of the Materia Medica” of the American Institute of Homoeopathy, and later was called to the chair of Homeopathic Institutes and Practice of Medicine in his old college where he lectured for three years.

a distinguished member of an old and honored line traces direct descent from the time of William the Conqueror. The founder of the family, Sir Robert de Umfreville, landed in England with the Conqueror in

  1. When came the great Humphrey de Bohun, hereditary High Constable of England, and related to the Conqueror.

From this branch of the family sprang the Earls of Hereford, Essex and Northampton. The American branch of the family proves its direct descent from Michael Humphrey of Lyme Regis, Dorsetshire, England, who settled at ancient Windsor. Conn., about 1640, and is recorded as a prominent manufacturer of tar and turpentine near Windsor, in 1643.

This renders the Humphreys family among the earliest settlers in America, and from these sturdy pioneers have sprung a race of men who have been at the head of every movement, whether of peace or war, which could benefit and consolidate the great country of their adoption.

Dr. Humphreys was born March 11, 1816, in Marcellus, Onondaga county, N.Y. When his family removed to Auburn, N.Y., in 1823, he finished his studies at the Auburn Academy under the tuition of Josiah Underhill, a Quaker teacher. From fourteen to sixteen he was a clerk in a store, and then went South with his uncle and brother and traveled in the clock business.

After three years’ experience, he returned to manage a farm which his father had purchased, and in 1837 he married Cornelia, daughter of William and Hester E. Palmer, who died in 1840, leaving one son, George, also now deceased. Soon after his marriage, Dr. Humphreys went to help his father-in-law at Chillicothe, O., and there he entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

On his wife’s death, he returned to Auburn and for five years was an itinerant preacher earning a precarious living, which he eked out by medical practice. Being criticised for this by his ministerial brethren, in 1844 he removed to Utica, gave up preaching and joined his father, Dr. Erastus Humphreys, in the practice of medicine.

He studied homoeopathy with enthusiasm and soon gained a profitable practice in Utica. In 1848, he entered the Pennsylvania Homoeopathic Medical College in Philadelphia. He studied diligently for three years with Dr. Constantine Hering, and in 1850 took his degree as Doctor of Homoeopathic Medicine.

In the meantime, Aug. 1, 1843, Dr. Humphreys married Frances Maria, daughter of Alvah Jefferson and Maria Polly Tuttle Sperry of Ludlowville, N. Y. With this lady, he has enjoyed the perfection of domestic happiness, has four children, and only lately celebrated his golden wedding, surrounded by his friends and full of devotion and love for his helpmate of fifty years.

In addition to his studies and practice, Dr. Humphreys found time for literary and medical writings. He collaborated with his father a series of “Tracts for the Times,” elucidating the new doctrine of homoeopathy. He also wrote ”_The Cholera, and Its Homoeopathic Treatment_,” and a monograph on dysentery _Dysentery and Its Homoeopathic Treatment_. Then a more important work, entitled “Proving of the Apis Mellifica, or Poison of the Honey Bee,” and “Proving of the Plantago Major;” Plantago Major: Its Pathogenesis Or Proving, and Therapeutic Indications, but the work of which Dr. Humphreys is justly proud is his heraldic and genealogical ”History of the Humphreys Family,” published in 1883.

In 1853, the doctor came to New York and at once took the lead in homoeopathic circles. He assisted in forming and was prominent in The Central New York Homoeopathic Medical Society, which was subsequently transformed into The New York State Homoeopathic Medical Society.

He was made Chairman of the ”Bureau for the Augmentation and Improvement of the Materia Medica” of the American Institute of Homoeopathy, and later was called to the chair of Homoeopathic Institutes and Practice of Medicine in his old college. He lectured for three years.

He then began to introduce his discovery of combinations of medicine for popular use which he has termed Homoeopathic Specifics. This caused a rupture between himself and the college and all his professional friends and associates. But he saw his path of duty clear before him. He fought bravely against jealousy, intrigue, rascality and fraud, and triumphed after a weary struggle of twenty-five years.

The work of his life has been completed. The specifics manufactured by The Humphreys Homoeopathic Medicine Co., (NB: still exists today as Humphreys’ Pharmacal) which he founded, are now being produced upon an enormous scale and are known all over the world.

He has been energetic in the management of his business, and his “Manual,” which is printed in English, German, French, Spanish and Portuguese, is being distributed at the rate of 3,000,000 copies a year. The specifics have brought him both fame and fortune. He has also issued a Mentor in the languages named above and a Veterinary Manual.

Dr. Humphreys has always been active in church work. He organized the Methodist Episcopal Church in West Utica, buying the edifice and securing the pastor. He also helped build Trinity Church at Asbury Park, and rendered efficient service in consolidating the Church of the Heavenly Rest on Fifth avenue, of which he has been warden for fourteen years.

He has for a long time contributed to Henry Bergh’s paper, ”Our Animal Friends,” and has written many clever verses, both grave and gay.

Essentially a home loving and domestic man, Dr. Humphreys belongs to no clubs, but he enjoys himself surrounded by his family in his home on West 39th street. He is loved, honored and respected.

Wikipedia: On August 1, 1843, Frederick married his second wife, Frances Maria Sperry (1826-1902) of Ludlowville, Tompkins County, New York. They had the following children: Helen Frances Humphreys (1844-?); Frederick Hahnemann Humphreys (1847-?); Alvah Jay Sperry Humphreys (1851-1883) who was the father of Frederick Erastus Humphreys; and Frank Landon Humphreys (1858-?).

He was the personal physician of Theron T. Pond (?-1852), and Humphreys claimed that Pond gave him permission to manufacture Pond’s Creams before he died. Humphreys begane to manufacture the product under the name “Pond’s Extract”.

Palmer, who took over the Pond’s corporation received an injunction from Humphrey using the name ‘Pond’s Extract,’ or manufacturing the cream. Around 1871 the lawsuit of Palmer vs. Humphrey was still pending, when F. W. Hurtt, a banker of New York, bought the alleged rights from Humphrey Homeopathic Medicine Company, and took Palmer into the new partnership, giving him a one-eighth interest in the new corporation.

Frederick Humphreys, died in 1900 in Monmouth Beach, New Jersey and he was buried in Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, New York.

His grandson Frederick Erastus Humphreys (September 16, 1883January 20, 1941) was one of the original three military pilots trained by the Wright brothers and the first to fly solo.

Catalogues: Humphreys’ Homeopathic Medicine Co. Guide for Humphrey’s Homeopathic Veterinary Specifics. New York, NY, 1891. Humphreys’ Homeopathic Medicine Co. Humphreys’ Specific Manual. New York, NY, 1896. Humphreys’ Homeopathic Medicine Co. Humphreys’ Veterinary Manual. New York, NY, 1901. Humphreys’ Homeopathic Medicine Co. Humphreys’ Witch Hazel Oil. New York, NY, 1894. Humphreys’ Specific Homeopathic Medicine Co. Pond’s Extract. Curative Properties & Medical Uses. New York, NY, 1867. Manual of veterinary specific homeopathy, comprising diseases of horses, cattle, sheep, hogs, and dogs… 1860. New York: J.A. Gray. 240 pp.

Books: Humphreys’ homeopathic mentor, Manual of Veterinary Specific Homeopathy, Humphreys’ Manual of Specific Homeopathy for the Administration of Medicine, Homœopathic Treatment of Diseases of the Sexual System, , Humphreys Manual on the Care of Ailments which May be Alleviated at Home and many more.

Of interest:

Jayta Humpreys von Wolf, daughter of Frederick K Humphreys in trust fund take over.


Any views or advice in this site should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment, especially if you know you have a specific health complaint