Millsboro – Ed Carey has recovered hundreds of old bottles from what was once Dr. Ernest Blackstone’s Millsboro Drug Store.
The drug store once occupied Carey’s Frame Shop on State Street and they have collected dust for decades in the third floor of the frame shop owned by Mr. Carey’s family.
His mother still works in the frame shop bought by his parents some 50 years ago. His efforts to learn more about the bottles and Dr. Blackstone have turned into a search to uncover more of his family history.
Mr. Carey’s research showed that Dr. Blackstone was elected state treasurer and that he appointed Mr. Carey’s grandfather Elijah E. Carey, Sr., as the deputy state treasurer. “The latter fact was known to me, but I did not know of the connection to Dr. Blackstone,” he said. “Now, the artifacts before me took on greater personal significance.”
Mr. Carey hopes that his story will jog memories and that someone can tell him more about the property or about the Blackstone family. The family is mentioned briefly in late author Aubrey Murray’s book “Rambling Around Millsboro.”
“Moore Alley separated this home [ ? ] from the almost block-sized yard and home of Dr. Ernest Blackstone. A concrete fence about thirty inches high fronted the Blackstone Mansion on Main Street, extended down Moore Alley to Washington Street and all the way to State Street,” he wrote.
“My parents purchased the store property from the White family about 50 years ago and my mother still attends to the framing business, albeit at a much less rigorous schedule these days,” Mr. Carey wrote.
“From my boyhood, I remember playing outside the store and wandering into the adjacent yard of the vacant “mansion” next door. The large old Victorian house, which fronted on Main Street, has been home to the Blackstone family. It would later become the Cedar Croft Nursing Home and then was torn down in the 1960s to make way for the then new post office.”
The bottles and memorabilia recovered by Mr. Carey are a treasure trove for pharmacy historians. A quick look at hundreds of bottles, many of them vivid indigo, aquamarine, or brown, reveal listings of patent medicines and even opium. Some of the patent medicines contain as much as 80 to 85 percent alcohol, no doubt a factor in their popularity.
Other labels are for purified chloroform, camphorated oil, Bateman’s Drops, Turlington’s Balsam, or Blackstone’s Liniment, which is said to “be excellent for man or beast.”
Newspapers lining a box in the attic were dated 1924 and old receipts for an opium purchase were dated 1917. Dozens of small, blue bottles of quinine were found as were bottles labeled “for chickens” that pledge to cure cholera, croup, and white diarrhea. Many of the bottles have round bottoms so they can be stored on their sides to keep the cork wet and prevent the bottle from spilling.
There are also old soda fountain signs for flavors like burnt almond or cherry custard.
“The connection to my grandfather makes it all the more personal to me,” Mr. Carey said, remembering that he found the treasure trove because of plans to put a new roof on the frame shop. “I never knew my grandfather. He died the day I was born. I never got to know him, so I try to spend a lot of time with my grandchildren.”
If anyone has any information about the property or the Blackstone family, you may contact Mr. Carey here.