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Dr. Leeson's Tiger Oil

Updated on January 16, 2014

Dr. Leeson graduated from the Ann Arbor and Detroit Medical College in 1869. Traveling north he reached the end of the rail in Leroy Michigan and traveled on foot to the Clam Lake lumber camp (now Cadillac, MI). He vowed never to return after spending one night, which was enough for him, but returned the next year and established a residence.

It was reported he described the process for creating his Tiger Oil as such:

"I began studying, compounding and experimenting first with three articles, then adding a fourth, and if they worked right, added a fifth and so on till in about seven years I had twenty-six different articles blended in one perfect compound which I call Tiger Oil, which challenges an equal for its merits for the relief or cure of diseases generally."

Dr. Leeson's advertisement for his concoction soon began to appear in local papers.One reader wrote in an editorial:

"...the Samson-like luxuriance of his (Dr. Leesons) flowing hair, as portrayed in his engraving, would have done justice to the powdered wig of Louis XIV."

Shortly after we moved to Cadillac in about 1971, the centennial celebration began. I some how learned about Dr. Leeson, Cadillac's first doctor and a snake oil salesman of some renown. I also learned that his house had been moved to Holbrook street, and was the house that our family was currently living in. Being a naïve kid I wondered if I could find evidence of Dr. Leeson by digging in the dirt of our Michigan basement. Quickly I struck something buried only a few inches deep, a box with some papers and a few bottles of Tiger Oil, Dr. Leeson;s cure-all concoction. My family was amazed by my not so coincidental discovery.

I donated the everything but this envelope to the historical society, if I recall.


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    • Adityapullagurla profile image

      Aditya Pullagurla 4 years ago from Sydney

      How focused was the man for his discovery. Really appreciate Dr. Leeson and Jimmar for really well written hub

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 4 years ago from San Francisco

      What an amazing discovery for a young child! I'm sure you felt like quite the sleuth. Very interesting story and thanks for sharing.