The Official History of: Chiropractic in Texas

By Walter R. Rhodes D.C., 1978

Excerpted and Edited by Chris G. Dalrymple D.C., 2010

This book, published by the Texas Chiropractic Association in 1978, is“ as authorized by the various Boards of Directors of the Texas Chiropractic Association from 1958 to 1977, the idea first being presented to the board by E. L. Bauknight in 1958.”

The Texas Chiropractic Association reserves all rights pertaining to this copyrighted material.


Just before the turn of the century Mid-America gave birth to chiropractic, a new and desirable form of treatment for sick and suffering humanity. It would seem to any reasonable person that a new scientific endeavor, especially one that worked demonstrably well on a consistent basis, would be more than welcomed. By and large that has been true. Chiropractic has ascended like a rocket.If, however, one takes a narrow minded view of chiropractic as so many have done, the result is hard struggles and narrow victories; thoroughly mixed with frustration, occasional defeats and doses of pessimism. More struggles are expected in the future for the minority voice is seldom appreciated by the majority perspective.It is fascinating to observe that in 82 years (1895 to 1977) the profession of chiropractic has succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of even the most ambitious chiropractor. When one considers that the first ten years were privately contained mostly in the minds of two men, that leaves only 72 years of struggle, in which:

Chiropractic licensing laws are on the statute books in each of the 50 states in spite of the heaviest possible opposition in each state. Chiropractic is included in federal and state laws in medicare, medicaid and other social programs despite persistent resistance.

Acceptance in governmental circles is growing almost daily although opposition by organized medicine has never slacked for a moment. Chiropractic is accepted as a viable treatment by most insurance companies, and states have regularly worked to forbid insurance companies to discriminate against chiropractic doctors.

Insurance companies now hire chiropractic doctors as part of their staff. Chiropractic professionals are being used to guide the profession through the increasing maze of governmental organizations, guidelines, and regulations that affect the profession.

Chiropractic colleges have steadily advanced their entrance requirements and enrollments have steadily climbed. Personal income is up for chiropractors and their total number is on the rise with each graduation.

Chiropractic colleges are being accepted by state and national accrediting agencies, which enables them to qualify for state and national funding. Public acceptance of chiropractic is improving. The continuing resistance of medical doctors to chiropractic is increasingly regarded by legislators, patients, and the formulators of public opinion as a selfish, self-serving cynicism having no necessary relationship with facts.

Finally, chiropractic has moved to attack in in the courts by filing complaints under Federal anti-trust laws charging the American Medical Association, among others, of actions in unfair restraint of trade. The United States Supreme Court, by refusing to act upon the appeals of organized medicine, upheld that they indeed have acted in illegal manners.
The chiropractic profession is constantly attracting ambitious and bright young people to its banner. They will certainly continue the professional advancement in research, prestige and acceptance with an energy and sophistication not known before.Such is the brief report covering 82 years. It is enough to drive the profession’s detractors to distraction because it reflects persistent and rapid gains on every front. Now we will begin to tell the story of how it came about, especially in Texas.

The Founding and Before

Chiropractic Officially dates its birth from September 18, 1895, when D.D. Palmer successfully adjusted the spine of Harvey Lillard, a janitor in the building where he had his offices, and Lillard’s hearing abruptly returned. Palmer was 50 years old at the time.At the great gatherings of chiropractors even today the parts played and the lasting influence of the three greatest men are discussed until the sheer weight of passionately held opinions becomes oppressive. the trio we must consider at D.D. Palmer, Willard Carver, and B. J. Palmer.The story really begins when we realize that the families of D.D. Palmer and Willard Carver were neighbors since before 1882. The Carvers were basically farmers, the Palmers were grocers and the families were more or less friends for many years.

During this period D.D. Palmer studied magnetic healing under the supervision of Dr. Paul Caster of Ottumwa, Iowa. Dr. Caster attracted patients from all over the world and maintained a large practice for several years. In 1886 D.D. Palmer studied the book Vital Magnetism, the Life Fountain by ED Babbit DM.

Palmer began his own practice in magnetic healing in Burlington, Iowa, moving to Davenport in 1888. Let’s look at some excerpts from Babbit’s book to determine the path that Palmer was pursuing.

Vital Magnetism

The second paragraph of Babbit’s book states “Some may deem me rash in stating that I consider … the great body of medical men generally, as being fundamentally and widely in error in their whole theory of the nervous and life forces.” Babbit quotes another doctor stating “I have no doubt,” he says, that persons who have not at all engaged in the medical profession could do more, perhaps, than physicians in regard to discovering certain peculiarities of nervous force. Physicians, unfortunately–I speak of myself as well as of others–are biased. Their bias prevents progress.”

“Vast learning has been devoted to the subjects of anatomy, surgery, and the coarser agencies of chemistry in connection with human ailments, but those exquisite and mighty forces which form the connecting link between the soul and body, and are the very sources of power through which all functions and all lower forces are controlled, have thus far been almost ignored.”

“There is no question, however, that nervous force can manifest itself outside the boundaries of the nervous system; but it manifests itself often after having been transformed into another force. It is well known that nervous force is transformed into motor force. This is as much as to say that the nervous system, in the movement of its outward going forces, changes them into motor forces after they get beyond the nerves themselves.”

Science and Truth

In a letter dated February 15, 1905, Willard Carver, a younger neighbor of D.D. Palmer, wrote “a perfect system for the reduction of disease will not discard any agent or means which never does harm, but always good, and has been known to entirely remove disease. … You say chiropractic is purely a mechanical science and consist wholly in the adjustment of luxations. … I wrote to you at first only to call your attention to the fact that the sciences … are exactly alike in their object and application, and differ only in that the object is attained … in the physical, and … through the life or subjective mind….”

Carver also stated in this letter: “I do not ask you to incorporate into or graft on to chiropractic any form of treatment of disease. … I do beg of you, though, not to maim a universal law of cure by means of adjustment by separating it into parts and taking only the smaller part, thus reducing the law to a rule with many exceptions…” Thus it was that Carver and Palmer had discussions between themselves and undoubtedly influenced each others thinking in ways that can never be measured.

Chiropractic and Relatolity

“While D.D. Palmer was practicing magnetic healing Willard Carver was practicing law. … During 1894-1895 Carver … had decided to announce a system of healing to fit the newideas in his head and made plans to announce it to the world as the system of ‘Relatolity’ on New Year’s Day, 1896. … He had decided to pursue a system involving some form of manipulation, massage and psychology but therein lay his problem: There was no predictable, definable, scientific method of applying this therapy he had in mind. It might be very accurately said that in 1895 he knew what he wanted to accomplish but the means were still beyond him.”