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Wyoming Frank: Medicine Man, Showman, and Legend of the South

Wyoming Frank

Early Days and Traveling Troupe:

Wyoming Frank, a charismatic figure of the late 19th century, first came onto the scene in 1888 alongside his brother, "Wyoming Ed." The duo traveled through Kentucky and Ohio, selling "patent medicines" and performing with a minstrel troupe. Their act likely combined music, comedy, and theatrics, attracting crowds with entertainment while promoting their wares.

Wyoming Frank the White Wizard Kansas Indian Medicine Co.The Kansas Indian Medicine Company:

By 1889, Wyoming Frank had formed the "Kansas Indian Medicine Company." While "Indian" was often used in the marketing of patent medicines at the time, regardless of actual Indigenous involvement, the company only had one identified Indigenous member - a young man named Eagle Eye. This suggests the company primarily relied on Frank's showmanship and branding to sell their remedies.

The "White Wizard" and His Cures:

Newspapers in 1890 depict Frank as the "White Wizard," a gifted healer promising miraculous cures for various ailments, including rheumatism, cancer, and even deafness. These claims, often sensationalized and exaggerated, were commonplace in the era of traveling medicine shows. However, the articles hint at Frank's talent for entertainment and persuasion, attracting customers through free concerts and public displays of his supposed "cures."

Beyond the Medicine:

Beyond the medicine sales, Frank's shows offered a unique form of entertainment. They featured brass bands, vocalists, and comedic acts, often competing with other traveling shows for the attention of audiences. This blend of entertainment and marketing proved successful, as evidenced by reports of packed houses and positive audience reception.

Wyoming Frank In Florence:

Wyoming Frank's stays in Florence, Sheffield, and other surrounding towns in the early 1890s, was marked by both showmanship and a touch of local integration. He arrived with a large tent, a brass band, and promises of miraculous cures, drawing crowds with free evening exhibitions. In Florence, he always set up his pavilion on a vacant lot West of the Exchange Hotel. You could pay ten cents for a seat, or choose to stand. Local papers praised him as the "White Wizard" and "Nation's Healer," highlighting his supposed cures for various ailments. He even went beyond mere sales, throwing a benefit concert for the Florence Fire Department, demonstrating a sense of community engagement. 

Later Years and Legacy:

Despite the sensationalized claims and ethical questions surrounding his methods, Wyoming Frank's time in Florence showcased his ability to entertain and engage the public, leaving a lasting impression on the local community. Frank continued his travels throughout the Southern US, performing and selling his medicines throughout the 1890s. Though his methods were likely more theatrical than medically sound, his legacy lies in his ability to captivate audiences and provide a dose of entertainment alongside his "cures."

Wyoming Frank's story offers a glimpse into the world of traveling medicine shows, a fascinating and complex aspect of American history, where entertainment and commerce are often intertwined.