5. 22 June 1874: osteopathy is born

A few months after moving into his brother Edward's house, A.T. Still had no certainty about his future while his brother was sick and in need of care. Suddenly, in the morning of June 22, 1864, he was struck by an overwhelming vision: all his reasoning of many years about health and disease came to a solution. At that moment he raised the flag of "osteopathy", the name that, years later, he would give to his new science.

Back to Missouri (1874) – Still is 46 years old

As it had become clear that it would not be possible to survive in Baldwin City in such a hostile atmosphere, A.T. Still decided to try to restart his life by returning to Macon City, Missouri, where his brother Edward, also a physician, lived. Still left Kansas, where he had resided for 22 years.

Mary Elvira stayed a few more months in Kansas with the children, took care of setting up the farm to sell it. She did not begin any cultivation, except for a small family garden, and tried to supplement the meager income by selling subscriptions for some magazines (Trowbridge1991:125).

Macon County (1874-75)

When A.T. Still arrived in Macon County discovered that his brother Eduard’s health had deteriorated during the winter and many patients had abandoned him. His morphine addiction had weakened him to the point that he was almost unable to walk. The hope of starting a profitable medical practice with Edward faded, for the time being, however, A.T. Still decided to take care of everything else before healing his brother (Still Jr 1991:80).

June 22, 1874: the osteopathic vision

According to A.T. Still himself in his Autobiography (Still 1897), June 22, 1874, at 10 am all the studies and reasoning of the previous years took shape in a vision that suddenly hit him. He stated that on that date and at that time he had hoisted the flag of osteopathy to the wind. He had a sort of overwhelming prophetic epiphany that struck him to his very core: his new theory appeared to him in a very clear instant in his mind (Booth 1905: 549). He saw suns and planetary systems rotating neatly where he had not seen a single star before (Tucker 1954).

This proclamation was not noticed by anyone, and it was only more than ten years later that Still coined the name of the new science, calling it osteopathy (Stark 2007:50).
After this episode, however, he devoted himself to structuring his new theory of medicine and began to practice it without compromise: he thought that the human being, as a work of God, was perfect and that disease was the physiological effect of the disease. To heal it was necessary to look for the structural cause and solve it, at that point nature would have made the necessary repairs.

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Life of Andrew Taylor Still

Bibliography of the chapter dedicated to the life of Andrew Taylor Still

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7. Andrew Taylor Still founds the first school of Osteopathy

By this time, A.T. Still had become well established and well known, therefore he could no longer manage by himself the patients who crowded his practice. The first school of osteopathy was founded in 1892 to train new practitioners and it was a crucial turning point: the town of Kirksville attracted teachers, students and patients who, at the turn of the century, developed the theoretical and practical aspects of osteopathy. As a consequece of such collective work, osteopathy gained the same recognition as the other forms of medicine in several US states.

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6. Kirksville (1875-1917): first steps towards the first school of Osteopathy

In 1875 A.T. Still settled in Kirksville, but he was not well received either in the religious community or within respectable society. However, he became friends with some people close to spiritualism who gave him moral and material help. For about ten years he lived in poverty, working as a doctor traveling in nearby cities, presenting himself as a magnetic healer and then as a "lightning-fast adjuster". In 1886 he could afford to buy a house where he opened a studio.

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4. The Civil War 1861: A. T. Still's enlistment and the post-war years

A.T. Still enlisted with the Northerners to defend the ideals of freedom and witnessed the most atrocious aspects of the war working in the infirmaries. In 1864 he lost three children to illness and this fueled his doubts about traditional medicine remedies. In the post-war period he was socially accepted as an entrepreneur, doctor and politician, but his studies led him to express ideas unacceptable for the social and religious community, which exhausted him until forcing him to move.

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3. A. T. Still from moving to Kansas to his second marriage

In 1853 A.T. Still moved to the Wakarusa mission, where he learned the Shawnee language and completed his apprenticeship with his father, becoming an Orthodox physician. After the closure of the mission, he practiced the profession, although with some initial doubts about the effectiveness of orthodox remedies. He founded a sawmill, bought land and was an abolitionist politician in the State of Kansas before its annexation. In 1859 he became a widower with three young children, and the following year he married his second wife, Mary Elvira Turner.

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2. A. T. Still: from birth to his first marrige

Andrew Taylor Still was born into a devoted family of pioneers who devoted many hours of their day to Bible study and to the education of their children while living in the wilderness. Two important home moves interfered with regularity of his school attendance. Even though, A. T. Still's great curiosity pushed him to study his father’s medical books, to analyze the anatomy of the animals he would hunt, to carry out mechanical repairs and to keep himself informed on the state of the art of new technologies and ideas.

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1. Origins and descent of Andrew Taylor Still

The roots of A.T. Still reflect the typical confluence of America’s diverse sociocultural contributions in that era. His mother, Martha Poage Moore, came from a wealthy and proud family of pioneers with Scottish origins. His father, Abram Still, had English, German and Dutch ancestry, but also - on his mother’s side - a Native American grandmother; growing up on a plantation, he converted to Methodism and became a physician and a staunch abolitionist.

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