JOHN R.DICKEY'S OLD RELIABLE EYE WATER...
Probably the most common and better known of all Bristol bottles with examples reported all
over the U.S. ,as far away as California , and with several types listed on eBay.
|John R. Dickey Drug Co. buggy on Lee St. @ 1890's.
JOHN R. DICKEY... Born November 19,1856 in Independence, Grayson County,Virginia.
His father, Stephen Dickey, was a Baptist Minister and had served as a Major in the Confederate Army. His Mother
was Jane Phipps. J.R. Dickey grew up on the family farm, and arrived in Bristol in 1875 at about the age
of 19. For a while he worked with his brother , James, at the City Drug Store. In February of 1880, John is a partner
with Dr. Jere Bunting ( Bunting's Drug Store), as a druggist, located at #2 Ferguson Block, Bristol,VA. Between
February and May of 1880, they move to #6 James Block on Main Street in Bristol,VA. Advertising at this time consisted
of promoting their "Southern Liver Regulator" patent medicine...
By October of 1882 , John R. Dickey & Jere Bunting had parted ways and
J.R. Dickey had formed his own company, J.R.Dickey & Co., as a Wholesale & Retail Druggist. His
partner at this time may have been a Dr.J.F.Hicks. It is reportedly from Dr. Hicks that John obtained the eye water formula
that would later become his best-selling and longest lasting product.
Later advertisments in 1885 read : John R. Dickey---Manufacturing Druggist. During
this time his most prominent ads were for two products: Dickey's Indian Blood & Liver Pills
and the Southern Liver Regulator (evidently he had obtained all rights from Bunting
to the latter product).
In 1896, J.R. Dickey is located in his Dickey Block building,
addressed at #10 Front Street (still in Bristol,VA.), where he remained for many years, to eventually construct the famous
Hotel Tip Top on this site. In 1898, there's mention of a Front Street Drug Store....possibly J.R.Dickey's. At
this time his company was known as the John R. Dickey Drug Co.
The Pure Food & Drugs Act of June 3oth, 1906 required he make some changes
to his now leading medicinal product: Old Reliable Eye Water. He renamed
it: Old Reliable Eye Wash in order to follow the terms of the Act. Exactly when
he began manufacturing the new version - "eye wash" is as yet unknown.
He remained in the business of selling his eye water/wash until his death
|Click to enlarge
|@1890... DICKEY BLOCK Dickey Drug Co.was in this building on then named Front St. in Bristol,Va.
J.R. Dickey was prominently identified with the City's growth and progress. Although he was
active and successful in business, much of his energy was given to educational, religious ,and philanthropic activities. He
was one of the most prominent Baptist Laymen in Virginia. He had for 29 years been President of the Board of Trustees of
Virginia Intermont College and contributed much to the splendid success of the well known Baptist women's college. He had
been honored in many ways by his church ,and held numerous responsible offices. He was always actively interested in public
affairs and was an unusual type of high class citizen
|Click to enlarge
| Dickey Family -J.R. at extreme left with ( possibly) J.A. on his left.
I was told , a few years ago, by a now-deceased member of the Dickey family,( Ernest
H. Dickey, Jr.), about a Dickey relative who had stolen the eye water formula and fled...to manufacture it elsewhere.
There is a known embossed blown in mold "E.C. Dickeys - Red Eye Water...Knoxville,Tenn."
bottle...(E. being Everett)...Whether this is the "stolen formula is not known by me)....as no name was passed onto me by
the family member.
The lesser known Dr.Dickey's Eye
Water - Eufaula, Ala. is a product of J.R. Dickey's brother , James and was probably distributed in
the south by Cam Anderson, one of James' salesmen at the time...and is not connected with the "stolen formula". John's
formula most likely wasn't bottled until he was in his own business in 1885...James had been bottling an eye water for about
a decade prior.
|Click to enlarge
Other known products of J.R. Dickey's were:
Dickey's Female Tonic & Regulator
Dixie Tasteless Chill Cure
Dickey's Old Reliable Salve
Arabian Horse & Cattle Powders
Dickey's Vegetable Worm Confection
Dickey's Eureka Vermifuge
Dickey's Blood Cure/ D.B.C.
Dickey's Magic Nervine
Dickey's Magic Relief
Dickey's Cough Drops
Dickey's German Cologne
Dickey's Old Reliable Healing Ointment
Dickey's Manhood Restorer
Dickey's Indian Pile Ointment
Dickey's White Oil
Dickey's Japanese Toothache Drops
Dickey's Magic Nerve & Bone Liniment
Dickey's Syrup of Tolu, Tar, & Wild Cherry
Dickey's Worm Confections
Dickey's Bronchial Lozenges
Dickey's Hair Vigor
Dickey's Painless Corn Cure
Dickey's Hair Renewer & Invigorator
Dickey's Furniture polish
Dickey's Liver Regulator
Dickey's Strengthening Porous Plasters
Dickey's Tasteless Chill Cure
( above additions per an 1891 J.R. Dickey publication,
titled :The Bristol Broadax ).
Cr. Eleanor Heacock - J.R.Dickey's Grandaughter.
|Julia Hoffman Dickey
|2nd w/o John R Dickey -she was a concert pianist, taught at Virginia Intermont