Pe-ru-na

According to the Egyptian Gazette on March 15, 1905 there was a man named Mr. Isaac Brock, and he was 115 years old and claiming to be the oldest man in America. Mr. Brock lived in McLennan County, Texas, and he accredited his old age of the use of a medicine called “Pe-ru-na.” The article lists facts about Mr. Brock’s life including “born before the United States was formed, saw 22 Presidents elected, shod a horse when 99 years old.” People were so mesmerized by the extent of Mr. Brock’s age that he even wrote a “lengthy biographical sketch,” and he was written about in the Dallas Morning News and the Chicago-Times. Mr. Brock claims that Peruna protects him from sudden changes, and it is the greatest remedy for adapting to changes and the age of “catarrhal disease.” Catarrhal diseases are what we call now Bronchitis or an excess of mucus.

Peruna was invented by Dr. Samuel Brubaker Hartman who actually preferred the name PE-RU-NA. After researching to find out what PE-RU-NA actually is, I found that it is a tonic that contains 18% alcohol. It became popular after prohibition, when states went “dry” and banned all alcohol. It was still able to be sold over the counter, and became very popular that is was referred to as the “Prohibition Tonic.” It was so popular that people even named their children after it, and Southern Methodist University named their mascot of a black mustang horse Peruna.

Will Hanley
Will Hanley
Associate Professor of History

I study the legal history of the Middle East and teach at Florida State University.