The Formula Years – Part One

The now City of Norwich may look back with pride at the history of a company which has become known through the development of an ointment that has been used worldwide for the treatment of burns. When the Village of Norwich was incorporated April 17, 1816, this company was not in existence; however this ointment would eventually make the name of Norwich a household name was first introduced to America by Dr. Samuel Jeffery, who had been given the formula for this ointment by Sir Astley Cooper in 1827. First known as “Cooper Alum Ointment” this top secret formula would eventually be refined to the product known today as “Unguentine.”

In January of 1885 the train from New York brought to Norwich a tall stranger dressed in black who would eventually forever change the name of Norwich as during his stay here he would be responsible for a business today which was recognized as one of American’s leading pharmaceutical companies. As just an ordinary passenger departing the train, there was no fanfare to greet him, no bands, no speakers, and upon his sudden departure, he left as he came, totally unnoticed. This gentleman, Lafayette F. Moore, was neither a pharmacist or physician, but a Baptist minister. As a pastor of a Baptist church on Long Island, Rev. Moore had been described as an eloquent and dedicated minister, but his feelings were that he was not doing enough for his family in the material way. A change of his future life work may have been the outcome of a meeting with his brother who had retired from a small pill-making company in Manhattan. Upon his retirement the brother had brought with him two pieces of equipment – a pill cutter and a gelatin coating machine which he proceeded to give to Rev. Moore. After a short time Rev. Moore made the hard decision to try a business career, related to his family that he would send for them later when established, boarded the train for Norwich, taking the two pieces of equipment and a few clothes.

Why the upstate Village of Norwich may have been as a result of the conversation that he had previously with the pastor of the Marcy Avenue Baptist Church in Brooklyn, whose son. Dr. Reuben Jeffrey had moved to Norwich following his marriage to the daughter of Isaac Newton, one of the community’s prominent families. Upon arrival, Rev. Moore secured a room over a cooper shop on Mitchell Street and immediately began to manufacture a small line of pills with his crude equipment under the name of “L. F. Moore, Pill Manufacturer.”

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