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.

On his father’s side

The paternal side of the family of his father Abram dates back to John Still (1543-1608), an educated, wealthy and influential English bishop who lived in the Elizabethan era and made a fortune investing in lead mines (Haxton 2017). Among the descendants of the bishop was Samuel Still II, great-grandfather of Andrew Taylor, who went to America to seek his fortune together with his five brothers. He scouted for the rebels during the War of Independence and in 1782, towards the end of the war, was accused of espionage and shot by British supporters.

His son Boaz Still, grandfather of Andrew Taylor, became the owner of a plantation that exploited slave labor. Boaz loved life, whiskey, horse racing and cockfighting. He married Mary Lyda, a woman of Dutch descent. Two of his fifteen sons, Abram and Elijah, became itinerant Methodist preachers (Trowbridge 1991:4).

Abram Still’s maternal grandfather, of Dutch descent, married an Indian woman from the Cheraw tribe (later known as the Lumbee Tribe). Therefore in the founder of osteopathy a part Indian because of his great-grandmother (Lewis 2012:7-8).

Abram Still abandoned his father’s plantation and stopped any relation with him after converting to Methodism, a Protestant movement characterized by evangelical dynamism, deep spirituality and extreme rigor towards ethical, social and political matters. This religious denomination was based on the active preaching of itinerant ministers who reached the most remote farms, in order to cure not only the soul but also the body of the faithful. Abram developed a deep aversion to alcohol and slavery. In addition to graduating in medicine, he acquired mechanical skills as a mill builder.

On his mother’s side

His mother descended from a Methodist family that had settled in the Abb’s Valley around 1772, a time when Shawnee Indian raids were frequent, attempting to prevent settler settlement. Martha’s father had been kidnapped and then sold to the French, but had returned to Virginia and regained possession of the farm. Martha was an energetic frontier woman capable of many tasks: she knew how to tan skins, sew clothes and slaughter pigs.

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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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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.

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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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