Famous Iowans

In the October 12, 2003 issue of the Des Moines Register comes an interesting feature on the founder of chiropractic D.D. Palmer. The article starts off by noting, “D.D. Palmer held many jobs before finding his calling. He then made a discovery that put his name in history books and added a new dimension to health care.” The discovery the publication speaks of is the birth of the chiropractic profession.

The story explained that DD Palmer started humbly. Daniel David Palmer was born in Pickering Ontario, which is located close to Port Perry, Ontario, Canada, on March 7, 1845. He was schooled at Port Perry and then as a young man came to Iowa to work. With a talent for selling, he sold honey from his own hives, and at What Cheer he sold fish to farmers. For a while he ran a grocery store. From there Palmer became a teacher and began studying phrenology, the conformations of the skull. Then, in the late 1880s, he learned the art of magnetic healing in Burlington. Magnetic healing practitioners believed they could use their bodies’ magnetism to heal others.

Palmer’s place in history was set when in 1895 he helped a janitor, Harvey Lillard, who had lost his hearing 17 years earlier when he bent over and then heard a popping sound in his spine. Palmer adjusted the man’s spine over a three-day period to get rid of a bump, and on the third day, Harvey’s hearing improved.

Palmer’s success was not fast or overly apparent in his lifetime. In 1906, he was convicted of practicing medicine without a license. He served 23 days of a 105-day sentence and paid a fine of $350. In 1913, Kansas became the first state to license chiropractic practitioners, and the reputation of the profession improved through the decades. The last of the 50 US states to grant chiropractors licenses was Louisiana in 1974.

Although his son BJ Palmer was credited with much of the development of the chiropractic profession, DD Palmer will always be known as the discoverer of Chiropractic. He was born in 1845. He died in1913 in Los Angeles, and his ashes were returned to Davenport for burial in a monument on the Palmer Chiropractic College campus.