In the first half of the twentieth century, John R. Brinkley was a celebrated and successful "doctor" renowned for his ability to use goat organs to help humans with infertility. In addition to his "medical" success, Brinkley was also an early adopter of radio technology, which he used to advertise his hospital and his other medicines.
In this first episode of season 3, which focuses loosely on the KC area, Fact or Fiction welcomes podcasters Cam and Jen of Our True Crime Podcast. They will attempt to distinguish between fact and fiction. Listen carefully because it's tricky to know if what you hear is Fact or Fiction. Ready to play?
Images and resources used in this episode can be found at factorfictionpodcast.com. If you enjoyed this show, please support the pod by giving it a five star rating, writing a complimentary review, or joining the Fact or Fiction Fan Club. Thanks for listening!
The Goat Gland “Doctor”
Laura: on Friday morning, February 20th, 1920, readers of the Arizona Republican and other papers across the nation were shown a picture of a kindly bespactled doctor holding a smiling baby boy. The caption said, "picture shows Dr. John r Brinkley holding Billy one of the famous goat gland babies. Dr. Brinkley, a surgeon, has startled the scientific world by transplanting goat glands to men and women as a means of restoring a lost heritage. The parents of Billy had wanted a baby for 18 years. Dr. Brinkley persuaded the father to submit to an operation involving the transplanting of glands from a goat, this perfectly healthy and laughing baby came along to bless a home that has been childless for those many years.
Laura: What exactly was this miracle surgery that cured infertility? And who was the supposed genius behind it? Today's topic is John r Brinkley, frequently called the goat gland Doctor. Brinkley led a storied life as he gained wealth and fame for his revitalizing surgeries, his early adoption of radio technology, his political campaigns, and more.
Laura: I'm your host, Laura, and this is fact fiction. Listen carefully because it is tricky to know if what you hear is fact or fiction ready to play.
Laura: Hi everyone. Welcome to Factor Fiction, a mostly true crime history podcast. I do a lot of research for these episodes and you can check out the list of sources on the Factor Fiction podcast.com page, but I do add one fiction into the story. At the end of the episode, my guests and those of you listening at home will have the opportunity to separate the fiction from the facts.
Laura: And speaking of guests, now it's time to introduce today's the True Crime Podcast. Legends whose show focuses on bizarre, lesser known crime cases from around the globe, delivered with respect, a bit of humor, and a smidge of song. Welcome Cam and Jen from our True Crime podcast.
Jen: Hey, Laura.
Laura: Thank you so
Laura: Oh, I'm so happy to have you here.
Laura: And nervous. This is like you're my first real podcaster guest,
Laura: I know.
Jen: what an honor.
Cam: be nervous.
Cam: bar very low there, Laura.
Jen: can only go up from here.
Laura: so, even casual listeners of your show will recognize that you two are really, really good friends. So how long have you known one another?
Jen: 42 years,
Laura: like a, that's as old as you are. So you were like
Cam: Thank you. Thank you, Laura. It's true. It's true. We knew each other before we were born.
Jen: In utero Yeah. Yeah. Uh, actually we met when we were 12, so,
Laura: Okay. So my, my next question was, did you bond over a true crime? But you were 12, so probably not.
Jen: tell her how we bonded?
Cam: more like ha, horror, scary movies. Like that's when we, you know, Jason and Michael Myers and all that good.
Jen: But the reason why we became friends is we both fell in love with the same boy at the skating
Cam: boy at the skating rink?
Laura: the skating rink?
Jen: yes. So that's how we became friends. I think we were in third grade together, but I was like the girl that had to sit by the bad kids to keep them in line. Um, you know what I mean?
Jen: I was two shoes then. Um, but then , camille and I were just at the skating rinks one night, and, . We knew each other in passing, but then, you know, when Andrew passed by, that's when
Cam: vie for his attention on roller skates.
Jen: and then everything else came into play.
Jen: The horror movies, the true crime, the, you know, all that kind of stuff. Yeah. But it was, yeah,
Laura: Yeah. So what happened? Do you know what happened to Andrew?
Cam: Uh, he, he's still around, but I, I, I'm happy to say I kept Jennifer and I think Jen would say the same thing about me and we got rid of him. Right.
Jen: I think, and honestly, I think that passing crush was maybe 30 to 60 days. I mean, it wasn't, I mean, we're 12, for God's
Jen: I mean, somebody else skates by and we're off, you know? So,
Laura: All right. Well, thank you so much for being on my show, ladies. And now I introduced today's episode by talking about a 1920s advertisement about the goat gland doctor.
Laura: , so do you have any questions about that?
Cam: Have a lot of questions, but I'm just gonna sit back and listen because
Jen: yeah. We're gonna, um, we're gonna go through this. Yeah.
Laura: so , how do you imagine he, like, what was his surgery ? What do you think the, the surgery
Cam: I, I could be, I'm, I'm sitting there thinking, where are goat glands located? And then where would they go in a b I don't even know. I never made it to anatomy, so I
Jen: I would
Cam: to anatomy is a whole
Jen: something about pituitary glands, the, try to put it there, but,
Cam: like by the thyroid,
Jen: Well, thyroids in your neck, right?
Laura: Yeah, I'm, I'm not
Jen: be more, but if it would be for
Laura: no, it's exactly what you're fearing that it is. So, um,
Cam: then the head,
Laura: uh, uh, not in the head. Well,
Jen: the big head. the big head. A little lower. Not a little lower.
Cam: the little
Jen: a little below the waist. Right.
Laura: So a little bit below the waist. So basically he transplanted goat testicles into men in need of a little, uh, let's just say, pick me up. Um, so, and yeah. So this revolutionary procedure supposedly came about shortly after, this is crazy, after the doctor arrived in the tiny town of Milford, Kansas. He and his wife rented out the town's only drug store for $7 a month, and Minnie Brinkley tended the store with its, you know, soda fountain and dry goods.
Laura: And, and then Dr. Brinkley tended the patients, , they lived in a small room in the same building , and when they arrived in Milford, they were penniless, which Minnie was not happy about because she was not accustomed to small towns or poverty. She had grown up as the daughter of a respected doctor in Memphis, Tennessee.
Laura: Not long after their arrival, , money wasn't a problem because that's when Dr. Brinkley performed that miracle surgery when he helped a happily married but childless, 46 year old farmer. The story from his autobiography, the one that Brinkley commissioned to be written about his life, , was that his patient was complaining that he could not father a child, but that his patient would not have a problem if he had testicles like those in the buck goat that was apparently, uh, proving his prowess just outside the window of Brinkley's office. So you can picture this tiny farm town.
Laura: There's, I guess, a goat going at it, right, right out the window. Um, so.
Jen: I'm sorry, I'm like trying to think of a man with the goat testicles. Like, is he wearing like chaps? I'm sorry. I can't, mean, I'm sorry.
Laura: so the patient, so, so they, this happened and it's a patient supposedly begged the doctor to give him his own set of goat
Laura: Uh, so according to Doc, I thought you two would think this was
Cam: Do they get a discount if they only need one? Just wondering.
Laura: According to Dr. Brinkley, the result of this surgery was that smiling baby. And of course, did you catch they named the baby Billy?
Jen: ah, Billy Goat. Yeah. Mm mm That's fantastic.
Laura: kidding you. Oh, no, wait. , a book entitled The Goat Glam Transplantation, , went on to explain that Toggenburg goats work best because they are healthy and don't carry the persistent odor, which is peculiar to male goats the world over.
Laura: And which if shed abroad by a human being, would make his neighborhood unpleasant. So that's
Jen: on, everybody. Come. Go. Get your odorless goat Nads,
Laura: So as his clinic grew, Dr. Brinkley built a pen. I love this too. Built a pen to house goats for his operations. And patients could even choose their own goat
Cam: Huh? Like a lobster at Red
Jen: That's what I was thinking too.
Cam: I want that lobster.
Laura: So his goat transplantations were so successful at rejuvenating men, that he decided he should help women with their sex lives too.
Cam: Oh, what did we get?
Laura: Uh, what's good for the goose and all that I know. Um, when he was working with women, his wife, Minnie, the, the doctor's daughter, , helped make the women patients feel more comfortable. Uh, she often
Cam: pet 'em. She pet them or
Jen: She fed 'em grain from the,
Laura: from the trough.
Jen: from the trough.
Laura: So Minnie often administered the anesthetic, both local and general. , but don't worry about her qualifications because she had a medical license from the same. Kansas City School where Brinkley did,
Jen: Obviously they both were well learned.
Laura: Yes, they were, um, , wrinkly, claimed.
Laura: Both procedures were simple, safe, and foolproof. I think, you know, this is coming. , Brinkley claimed a lot of things. For example, let's start with his claim that he was an accredited, a licensed medical doctor. Brinkley did study medicine at the Unaccredited Bennett Eclectic Medical College in Chicago, but he did not graduate.
Laura: He did have a diploma, however, but it was obtained from a well-known diploma mill. So that's also where his, , wife got her degree too. Dr. Brinkley had some questionable medical training and qualifications, but what about that miraculous conception of baby Billy and that goat gonad transplant? What inspired him to even attempt such a thing? , so we're gonna have to go back a little bit on this one. Brinkley made claims from time to time that he was a son. He, he made a lot of claims. , one of them was that he was the son of a doctor and had attempted to study at Johns Hopkins, but he was turned down by the snooty Dean.
Laura: The truth was that he was the illegitimate son of a poor mountain man named John Richard Brinkley, the elder Brinkley whose medical training, he was not a doctor. Um, and he didn't even have a
Jen: It doesn't sound like anybody's a doctor in this story
Laura: well, um, but, but the elder, yeah, the elder Brinkley whose medical training, , was mostly just from techniques that he learned as a medic in the Confederate army during the Civil War.
Laura: He treated other poor mountain folk in the area in exchange for barter goods. So I think it was like he was all that they had. Right. , And, and I don't think he was claiming that he was a doctor. John Brinkley's father must have been something. , because he was married four times.
Laura: And Brinkley's own mother was the young niece of his father's third wife.
Cam: Wait, say that again? Brinkley's Own.
Cam: Say that again.
Laura: So Brinkley's, Brinkley's own mother, Dr. Brinkley, or Dr. Brinkley's own mother was the
Cam: in quotes, if you didn't see that in
Laura: Uhhuh of the father's third wife.
Laura: So the third wife was living with the older Brinkley and her niece came to visit and suddenly she had a baby too. So,
Jen: hmm. Goats are very potent.
Laura: So his real mom died and his dad died. When he was 10. , John Brinkley must have been pretty smart because he found a job as a male carrier and learned telegraphy.
Laura: Tele telegraphy. He was a telegrapher. Tele, how would you say that?
Jen: I don't know. I'd have to say you're asking the wrong people though, to say words.
Cam: Was he a map maker?
Laura: No, he
Jen: a topographer.
Laura: A tele Telegraph. Telegraph, okay. Working as a telegraph because you know the dots and dashes. Morse codes.
Laura: Um, that's so funny cuz I've read this a million times and never once did I
Jen: Oh, that's, that happens to us all the time. We always say that our, uh, podcast is, uh, sponsored by pronounced.com
Jen: because we'll go, what, what is that? Right. And so I'll play it and it'll
Cam: Sorry, Nico. Hold on. Nico. Let me, let me go look that up. Hold on.
Jen: Oh yeah. We're bad. So.
Laura: oh, well, me too, obviously. . It's not a job that people currently have, so maybe that, that's an excuse I have. But,
Cam: you go.
Laura: working as the, uh, telegraph was a good gig. Um, there was a great demand for men who could interpret dots and dashes and morse code into words.
Laura: And according to one blog article I found written by Paul Harden, this is a quote, it was a good occupation, paying good wages, Western Union and the railroads offered incentives such as paid vacations, annual bonuses, and healthcare. Unheard of perks at the.
Laura: So, you know, I think if Brinkley had been happy with that job, we would not be here and he probably would've had a successful life.
Cam: He was destined for greater things, greater gonads, if you will,
Jen: If you will exactly
Laura: he wanted to climb that mountain, um, to be successful.
Jen: the goats,
Laura: Mountain goes,
Laura: Brinkley returned home. Um, so he was out working as a whatever, a telegraph. , and he returned home for the death of his aunt and reunited with a former school mate named Sally Wilk, or Wilkie, the two married and then traveled a bit working as a pair of Quaker doctors offering cures to people in rural towns.
Laura: Now, keep in mind that they were neither Quakers nor doctors. They're traveling and they made their way to Knoxville, Tennessee, where John R took up a new occupation.
Laura: He wore a white lab coat and he worked as Dr. John Brinkley, assistant to Dr. Burke. Now remember, he's still not a doctor, um, but his boss, Dr. Burke, who I don't think was a doctor either, helped men who suffered from , specifically male problems. I got a lot of this information from this really great book, , written by Pope Brock, called Charlatan.
Laura: And I'm just gonna read, this is a long quote, but it's so worth it because. It's, it's so good.
Cam: the author's name alone, I
Jen: I know. I was thinking like that was a very adult star name,
Cam: That's what I thought.
Jen: adult movie
Cam: are both in the
Jen: Yeah, I know.
Laura: I, I did not think that. I love that you, you brought that to the story here. Okay, so this is the quote, the young physician chatted. He chuckled. He took a grave interest. He showed the man around Soon the two were passing along the main line of exhibits, a stage by stage depiction of the male member in syphilitic decline.
Laura: It spoke for itself with each new cabinet, the organ grew more deformed and the colors changed. Perhaps leprosy was mentioned by way of comparison.
Laura: In the last room, the customer met the boy. It was known by that name, throughout the trade and every free educational and anatomical institute worth it, salt had one.
Laura: The scene was replayed countless times while the salesman hung back or bent to tie his shoe. That was when the customer approached a rectangular pillar wall in glass. It was pitched dark inside the mark, moved toward it cautiously, perhaps glancing back at his guide for the go ahead. and peered in close trying to see what was in there, and then the lights blazed on full and the grinning wax face of an idiot sprang into view, horrifying as it was.
Laura: The warning above was even worse. . Lost manhood.
Laura: So I know right.
Jen: That's a bedtime
Laura: That, that's like one of your horror stories from that. What have United you two when you were 12? Um, so it's pretty obvious that this connection with Burke probably inspired Brinkley to, , continue his, his life's dream of assisting men in search of a certain type of,
Laura: um, I don't know, a certain type of help, , looking back at the people who fell for these scams. Today we might feel superior, but we need to remember that back then, this was a time when many people viewed the educated with skepticism and according to Pope Brock, , they may have even had grounds to suspect doctors of choosing to keep patients sick and dependent on their medicines.
Laura: Right. So is it any wonder that a little bit of showmanship and a kind attentive disposition promising and end to suffering was appealing? ,
Cam: oils and all that good stuff that.
Laura: Yeah. It was very common then. And there were a lot of quacks, but there were probably also some good people too.
Laura: , and not everybody was taken in by quacks like Burke and Brinkley, but enough of them were to provide Brinkley with funds to travel to Chicago to study at the eclectic university there. Um, , do you know what eclectic medicine is? Any idea?
Cam: I'm gonna guess it's, it's not, okay,
Jen: eclectic. Well, eclectic means like different and
Laura: Yeah. Like I've varied. Right,
Jen: Yes. Mm-hmm.
Laura: Um, so I had to
Cam: we call that today, wouldn't we call that new age medicine? Something like that?
Laura: Actually, I think yes. It was a little bit like that. Basically it was a branch of medicine that made use of botanical remedies, and other substances and physical therapy and, it was popular in the latter half of the 19th and first half of the 20th centuries.
Laura: So it would be like non-traditional medicine, I guess. Um, traditional west,
Jen: goat ads fit into that non-traditional medicine, right?
Laura: Goat nads. I like that. That's a shortened, shortened. So, um,
Jen: gonna be my new online name. Goat ned? Yeah.
Cam: Add goat nets. Reach out to Janet
Jen: Goat adss.com.
Laura: , so obviously, , traditional Western medicine did not have a favorable view of these schools. , they were not approved by the Flexner report, which was commissioned by a council, within the American Medical Association. And the report criticized eclectic medical schools on the grounds that they had poor laboratory facilities and inadequate opportunities for clinical education in hospitals.
Cam: I think that's the least of the worries with what they got going
Laura: Brinkley studied at the Bennett Medical College in Chicago by day, and he worked at Western Union by night, , using his telegraphy skills. Um, his, his wife at that time had given up her career as a Quaker doctor to stay home and have babies. , through the course of their marriage, they had three daughters. However, you may be shocked to learn this. Brinkley was not an ideal husband.
Jen: Oh, you don't say.
Laura: I, no, they fought frequently and had financial problems. Another shocker. . Um, so now we're in around 1911, the growing family. They left Chicago behind, along with a lot of unpaid bills, and they returned to North Carolina for a while.
Laura: After they were there just a little bit, Brinkley left his family behind and he was gonna go study medicine in St. Louis
Jen: Yay. That's where we are.
Cam: where we are. Yep.
Laura: Um, but he wasn't allowed to attend even their, their eclectic schools because he had not paid his tuition. to the college in Chicago. , so they refused to forward his records. He went all the way to St. Louis and then, whoops. He can't study cuz his records from this fake university are not,
Jen: Transferred to the other fake
Laura: Right, right, right. So,
Cam: Yeah. To the other one.
Jen: should have paid fake money to get the fake records
Laura: if only he had some money that was fake. Yeah. , his family joined him as he traveled across the country, , to make ends meet in a variety of places, , Florida, North Carolina and New York and back to Chicago. the final straw for his wife, came when a drunken Brinkley was arrested and needed her help to bail him out. After that she left for good, taking the girls with her back to North Carolina. And that's kind of the last he saw of her, I think. He was on his own again and determined to make some money in his chosen career. He really wanted to be a doctor. Um, he, he, , he had this one armed friend
Cam: As we all do Uhhuh,
Laura: are Yeah.
Laura: Named James Crawford. And the, he, he took his friend and they went back to hang out with Dr. Burke in Grainville, South Carolina. And while they were there, Burke trained Crawford how to be a doctor again in quotes, , at his clinic, just like he trained Brinkley.
Cam: Wait, so the one arm doctor is training him.
Laura: No, no, no.
Jen: training the one armed doc. The one armed doctor. Hopefully not a surgeon.
Cam: I was just gonna say, hopefully he is not a surgeon. Right? Jen, you and I are on the
Jen: I know.
Laura: That's what makes your show so great is you two are always on the same wavelength. After they were educated by this, Dr. Burke Crawford and Brinkley decided they didn't need him any longer, and they set out to establish their own business, which they called the Greenville
Laura: electro Medic Doctors. They borrowed heavily to set up their, I guess at the time, maybe Electro was a, you know, this would've been the early, like what, 1910? 1911. So electricity would've been kind of new and exciting and people would've thought it was,
Cam: So energy kind of, right? Yeah. Yeah.
Laura: , so Crawford and Brinkley borrowed heavily to start up this business, , by selling cures injections of colored water at $25 a pop to
Jen: that's a, that's a lot back then
Laura: Yeah, it is. Yeah. I mean, it's a lot now to pay for,
Jen: Colored water. Yeah. But.
Cam: I think they're onto something. I think that we should do that.
Laura: maybe. Yeah. I mean, we'll talk later. We'll talk later, later. Um, so they're gonna sell, he, they sold that to men concerned with their manly vigor. , they borrowed heavily to set up their business and what of course could go wrong. , after all, the , two had been trained by Dr. Burke, and Dr.
Laura: Burke had been successful for quite a while, the two used pseudonyms. So this gets so confusing. So the one armed guy Crawford, decided to call himself Burke also?
Jen: it's Burke and Burke.
Laura: Well, no, they're in competing with Dr. Burke.
Jen: Okay. Oh, Brinkley and Burke.
Laura: and Burke Uhhuh, well, actually no, Brinkley said he was Blakely. So it became Burke and Blakely.
Laura: But, but, and don't worry, I won't talk about that much more, but it made it really confusing to research that.
Jen: Oh, I bet.
Laura: Right. But the good people of Greenville wised up to the pair pretty soon.
Laura: So don't worry, I won't talk about Burke Burke or whatever again. , so they were run out of Greenville, South Carolina when their scam was exposed and they traveled to Memphis, Tennessee. While they were there, Brinkley met 21 year old Minerva Talitha Jones. She was the daughter of a well-known Memphis physician.
Laura: Brinkley fell hard for her so hard in fact that he forgot he was still married to Sally Wilke
Cam: Um, that I hate when
Jen: Forgot Uhhuh. He forgot
Cam: happens. That's just terrible.
Laura: It happens a lot in
Cam: It really does.
Laura: He forgot he was married and he forgot all about his
Jen: he is. Got daughters.
Laura: Yeah. But after he
Jen: what love will do to you?
Laura: I know.
Cam: Well, makes you blind.
Laura: and stupid. Yeah. But after he married her, , then suddenly he remembered about his family and he told her then, So Minnie
Jen: It happens to all of
Laura: it does, Minnie was surprisingly, this is the crazy part. She was actually pretty cool with the whole
Cam: Like the rest of this isn't crazy. Okay. Go ahead.
Laura: right? Yeah. But Minnie's father, you might not be surprised to find out, was not happy.
Laura: He was really angry , he was angry about the marriage, the bigamous marriage. Then he was even angrier when the greenfield sheriff turned up in Memphis and arrested the newlywed Brinkley on charges of forgery and practicing medicine without a license.
Laura: Can you imagine if your daughter married a guy like that? I'd be,
Jen: No, I don't wanna imagine that.
Laura: no, I know. It would be horrible.
Cam: I just wish 'em all the happiness.
Jen: Oh yeah, you do. Unless it's your daughter.
Cam: I know them, not mine them.
Laura: , Brinkley and Minnie were actually very happy together. Minerva's she goes by Minnie. Um, but after a settlement was reached, which of course Minnie's dad had to have pay for right Brink land, his new bride, , left town, and then he traveled together through Kansas and .
Laura: Arkansas. And eventually Brinkley decided he really did need that medical license. So he just bought one from the Eclectic Medical University of Kansas City.
Jen: Well, how
Cam: just, you know, you, you either go to school for eight to 10 years or just buy one,
Jen: Well, I wish I would've known. It was so easy to become a doctor. I wouldn't have done that a long
Cam: I know Dr. Jennifer,
Jen: I know.
Cam: appreciate that. Yeah.
Laura: so, so the love birds, um, oh, now this is also amazing. The certificate allowed him to be licensed in eight states.
Cam: that must be a special certificate cuz I don't think that's how it works
Laura: Yeah. I think if, if you spent 50, it's just like one state, right? But if you go spend
Jen: It was a buy one get seven more free type.
Laura: so they had, the lovebirds had their bliss, interrupted briefly because, you know, this is 1917 and Brinkley was drafted and he was sent to Fort Bliss, Texas.
Laura: And now Brinkley claimed that he had been the only medical officer, and he worked tirelessly there in less than ideal conditions. So it wasn't surprising that he suffered a breakdown and was dismissed. But guess what the records say.
Laura: Well, they don't say that. They said that he spent over half of his two and a half months of enlisted service in the sick bay as a patient suffering from, this is quoted rectal fistula, multiple.
Cam: Oh, oh. Not what I would've went with.
Cam: I was thinking about, uh, Jen and I, uh, freshman year in gym, where we just claimed we had our period all the time, so we didn't have to do anything. That's what I
Jen: gonna go like the Hollywood route and say it was exhaustion, but not an anal fissure.
Cam: Not that. Not that. Mm-hmm.
Jen: Anything but
Cam: Bottom of my list, if you will.
Laura: so I, so much fun editing this. Um, okay. he was released from the military, Brinkley was free to serve his fellow countrymen stateside. And he traveled with Minnie to Milford, Kansas, where he first performed that uplifting surgery on a man with the sagging libido. Um, by this, by this time he had,
Laura: by this time he had officially divorced his first wife. and married Minnie, which was kind of nice since they now had a son of their own. , so other than his bogus medical license, he was totally legit when he decided to become the man who would put Milford on the map as the home of the Brinkley Hospital, which was a place where miracles happened. Um, so transplanting healthy sex glands to someone in need of vigor, was not uniquely Brinkley's idea. So this is really crazy. , going back a few years, Charles Edward Brown, Sard again, I need your pronounced.com names. Um,
Jen: Dot com. Yeah.
Laura: Gave a, a lecture about injecting himself with filtered extracts from the quote, crushed testicles of young dogs and Guinea pigs to regain the vigor and intellectual stamina of his youth. So that's what this actual, that's a real actor lecturer. Yeah.
Cam: I think crushed isn't what they want. I'm just saying. You
Jen: Well, not on them, but I'm, I guess if you wanna extract the essence of
Cam: crushed. Crushed them.
Jen: uh, well, like you would
Cam: We don't
Jen: like to get orange juice. That's what I'm thinking. Like to make orange juice. You
Laura: oh, um, I was thinking of like a mortar and pest
Jen: Oh yeah.
Laura: but I, I, yeah, I mean,
Cam: or. Terrible,
Jen: I just hope that they were all removed from the animal before
Laura: I, I think that they were, I think that they were, , , and when he was talking about this experiment, , he told the audience that his young wife approved of them, especially so , people were legitimately investigating this.
Jen: That's kinda scary,
Laura: I know really others around the world. I, this one is pretty gross, too or worse than the rest. Um, others around the world offer different glandular surgeries to help old men perk up. Uh, surge vernoff, practiced monkey testicular grafting in Paris,
Cam: hmm. I've heard.
Laura: par You have,
Cam: it. Yeah. It's very big over there. I'm kidding. I've never heard of that.
Laura: no, actually there is a cocktail named after him called the Monkey Gland.
Cam: Oh, yum. Can't wait to try it.
Laura: sound great? , another biologist was also interested in the testicular virility connection. , a guy named Eugene Stein and he transplanted male Guinea pig testes into a female, , Guinea pig.
Jen: Okay. I was worried.
Cam: I was gonna say I would. I'd aim. I'd aim a little higher. Come on. the goat was bad, but Guinea pig really?
Jen: for you, you get Guinea pig balls.
Laura: well then the female Guinea pig started, uh, to exhibit mounting behavior. So, you know,
Jen: I see that. Yeah.
Laura: Yeah, I guess, it could, I don't think really that would work, but maybe, um, those in search of manly vigor did not always just stick to animal interventions. So I found this in, um, a Chicago newspaper in the early twenties.
Laura: There were actually a rash of gland thefts among the young and healthy,
Cam: no, you don't
Jen: the young among like taking it from
Cam: young Guinea pigs.
Laura: no young people. So most of the time what happened was a young man was out drinking. He was accosted and chloroform into submission as he stumbled home.
Laura: When he awoke, he was missing a key part of himself. So
Jen: And he's probably really missing that too.
Cam: This is like the, legend, you know, where they wake up in the bathtub
Jen: with their kidney gone.
Laura: Yes, yes. It's
Jen: to call 9 1 1. Yeah.
Laura: it's the 1920s version of that. , and there was this quote from a policeman in the article, Lieutenant Barth Fleming, he said, Poons, Deon sought the fountain of eternal youth. Doctors recently have found it in gland transplantation. A youth, however must be sacrificed for the agent to be restored.
Laura: We now have another duty. This is the policeman. They have another duty that are protecting our youth from the agent. So he has taken his responsibility very seriously there.
Laura: I know, isn't that crazy?
Cam: protect and serve man.
Laura: So the thefts in Chicago happened at the time, at around the time when Brinkley's business in Kansas was booming. Brinkley Hospital in Milford had his own herd of goats. They were the totenberg, of course, I think to. Berg Totenberg,
Jen: The potent totenberg.
Laura: of course. And, um, oh, special goats. And many men and women
Cam: All right? Mm-hmm.
Laura: and then there were many men and women willing to pay a lot of money for Dr. Brinkley's, uh, surgery. The town of Milford, of course, loved him because he was bringing all this money and publicity, , to the town. He hobnobbed with the rich and famous traveling
Jen: knob. I'm sorry, I had to laugh at Hobnob. It
Laura: I love that word.
Cam: knob of the, of
Jen: the knob. Yeah.
Laura: Um, and he traveled to LA to hang out with the owner of the LA Times, , Harry Chandler.
Laura: , some say that Brinkley actually operated on Chandler, but we don't really know for sure. One thing I know, right? It was all very hush. Yes.
Laura: One thing we do know that happened during his visit to LA was that he toured a radio station and was impressed with its potential. He flirted with the idea of starting a clinic in California, but the state medical board told him he was not qualified to operate there, so I guess he needed to buy another.
Jen: , wow, that wasn't part of the eight that he got for
Laura: that California
Cam: gonna say that wasn't part of the states.
Laura: No. Yep. This guy setbacks do not have an impact on him. I mean, he is,
Jen: It goes forward.
Laura: he just really tries everything. So
Jen: Can almost say he is got balls,
Jen: right? Yeah.
Laura: after the,
Cam: I would've said dedicated
Jen: Well, I didn't, I didn't. I'm on theme.
Laura: after the idea of the clinic in California did not work out. Um, he returned to Milford, invested in his clinic some more, and then started his own radio station in 1923. And it was called K F K B. Which either stood for Kansas first, Kansas Best, or Kansas. Folks know best, not sure. Um, Brinkley used the radio two.
Cam: man that is fo show
Laura: he really, he really is. , and it, you can
Cam: Telegraph radio personality. I mean,
Laura: Well, guess what he did with this radio program? Guess what he promoted?
Jen: Uh, gland surgery.
Laura: Yeah. Himself. Basically,
Laura: he, yeah. Yeah. Um, and, and his clinic. And he was really successful and the clinic was thriving. , in fact, he brought in so much money that when a California grand jury wanted to indict Brinkley, so they actually started investigating him in California when he was interested in, in, , opening his own clinic there.
Laura: So they wanted to indict him, have him sent back to California for practicing with a fake medical degree. The Kansas governor at the time, Jonathan M. Davis, refused to comply. He told California that we people in Kansas get fat on his medicine. We're gonna keep him here so long as he lives.
Laura: , so Brinkley continued operating in his clinic and broadcasting his message to the world. He used this radio station to dispense medical advice in a regular segment that he called cleverly medical question box. So Right. So listeners sent him descriptions of their ailments and he prescribed medication .
Laura: And guess where people could only buy these medicines
Jen: At his
Laura: at is at the pharmacies? Yep. That had a deal with Brinkley. Um, they belonged to what he called the Brinkley Pharmaceutical Association, and it sold over the counter
Cam: got so many businesses. He, I, I
Jen: What a grifter. Seriously.
Cam: He's amazing.
Laura: , he sold these, over-the-counter meds at inflated prices and they sent a portion of their profits back to Brinkley. Like you said, he, he is, uh, he's got his, , fingers in a lot of pies. Right.
Jen: If only he would've used his everything for good instead of monetary gain
Cam: He was, he was doing a good Jen. He's making babies from GOAT
Jen: He is sure he is. Uhhuh. Uhhuh.
Laura: Well, and think of all the people he's curing with these, these, uh, medicines. , you won't be surprised to learn that he had been on AMA's radar for a while. , we know his attempt, right? Shocking. We know his attempt to practice medicine in California was denied. , also in 1923, there was a St. Louis Star journalist Harry t Brundage, and he investigated and published an expose on the corrupt and unfortunately, all too common process of selling medical diplomas to unqualified buyers. And one of the prime offenders was Brinkley's Alma Mater, the Eclectic Medical University of Kansas City. , plus there were complaints from reputable doctors about patients who are suffering as a result of their treatment at Brinkley's facility.
Laura: , so unsurprisingly in, in light of his questionable medical training, which he may be 70% completed, um, at less than a reputable medical school, um, frequency of operating while intoxicated and less, yeah.
Laura: less than sterile operating environments. Um, so some patients suffered from infection and an undetermined number died, so he would go on to be sued more than a dozen times for wrongful death between 1930 and 1941.
Jen: that's it though. Like only a dozen times.
Laura: Yeah, that is actually kinda surprising, isn't
Jen: Yeah. That's pretty low for 11 years,
Cam: I don't think they were sue happy like we are today.
Laura: be. Yeah, no, that is, that is kind of surprising. So what's really interesting to me in all this is that the people of Milford,
Cam: interesting to you on all of this, like none of that was,
Jen: I know.
Cam: God, this is a national
Laura: so, so, but Milford loved him. So every report I read said he'd earned the people of Milford's respect as a competent and caring doctor during the 1918 influenza epidemic, which is when he, you know, it's right after he got in the army and they just moved there. , and people really seem to have respected him for that. So his clinic brought in a steady stream of income to the otherwise impoverished community, and his radio station was doing great. K F K B was voted the most popular radio station in America in a survey by radio times. So I mean,
Cam: I wanna be a doctor with the radio station. Sign me up.
Laura: he's not a doctor, but he plays one on the radio. So, um, at this point, the AMA led by Dr. Morris Fishbine. , was devoted to getting Brinkley out of the operating room and off the airwaves. , in September of 1930, Kansas revoked Brinkley's license. , and whatever one thinks of him, he did not take defeat.
Laura: Lying down, Brinkley decided the best way to get his license back was to run for Kansas Governor.
Jen: Oh yeah, you can reinstate yourself. I.
Laura: Sure. So using his K F K B, he campaigned as an independent write in candidate, , his platform, which I found in a Kansas Belleville Telescope article, said that John I Brinkley is standing for the office of governor of this state, the man himself. 13 years ago, he returned from the Great War, having offered his life for his country.
Laura: Remember, he just was suffering from the anal
Jen: Anal fissure.
Laura: Yeah. Fighting impaired health, having no finances and having the opposition of his profession. He has built the Brinkley institutions by the sheer force of his determination, courage, hard work, and sticktuitiveness have been the tools by which he has carved out success.
Laura: So then , the crazy thing is, um, he actually almost won.
Jen: I'm not shocked.
Laura: He was a he. Yeah. So he made a good showing. , the Democrat had 217,171 votes. The Republican had 216,920 votes, and Brinkley had 183,278. So for somebody who came into the race late and they had to write his name in, he really did very well.
Jen: It did very well.
Cam: he's an educated doctor and radio star. Come on.
Laura: He was using
Jen: you want to be in your politics? Yeah.
Laura: Mm. Shortly after he lost his medical license and then the election, the F C C refused to renew his broadcast license on the basis that his program. Mostly advertising, which it totally was right. , so without a license to practice medicine, Brinkley put two of his proteges in charge of the clinic.
Laura: He sold the radio station in Kansas and set up another one. This one he located along the Mexican border on Mexico side and outside of the jurisdiction of the F fcc.
Laura: Right. And this one was, yeah,
Jen: Got a grift.
Laura: this one was called X E R and it was what they called a border blaster at the time. It could be heard as far away as Canada.
Jen: Wow. Back in the thirties,
Laura: uh, yeah, this was, yeah, this was in 1931, right? Isn't that what I said? I was getting lost. Yeah. That's when he ran for gov from, yeah, yeah, yeah. So 19
Cam: He's a powerful person.
Laura: . So, , local said the signal was so strong they could turn on car, car headlights. It made their beds.
Laura: Springs hum.
Laura: There's gotta be a joke
Jen: Made their bed springs home.
Laura: , and, and it sent brinkley's voice wandering in and out of other people's telephone conversations. So it was a really strong signal. , and it allowed Brinkley to use his Mexican station to run for office in Kansas again in 1932.
Laura: I don't think he did very well. , not like the first time. And unsurprisingly, x e r had a format like kf kbs, so Brinkley continued his practice of offering medicinal cures to writers. Also, he sold advertising spots. This is disturbing advertising spots to a variety of products.
Laura: One was Kohler back, co, k o l o r b a k, Kohler back Hair Dye, which caused lead poisoning. Another was Lash Lure, which caused blindness, uh, Rathore, which. Was certified radioactive water. Uh, Komal Komu was a depilatory made from rat poisoning. Yeah. Right. And Lysol, which was advertised as a safe douche.
Jen: knew that. Yeah.
Laura: Yeah. A Smithsonian article explains that this reference to it as a douche was a euphemism for birth control. Had you heard that too? Yeah. Um, in other words, Lysol, which at the time was an antiseptic soap that prior to 1953 contained cresol and it was thought to kill sperm. , Cresol does not actually kill sperm, but it does cause inflammation burning and even death.
Laura: yeah. Not, not good. Right?
Jen: I guess the f d A wasn't around at
Jen: so stop all these
Cam: He's doing his, uh,
Jen: sound mostly
Laura: well, he's in, he's in Mexico too, right?
Cam: he's doing his campaigns ad ads from Mexico. If that doesn't tell
Jen: And it seems like all those are, uh, all those products are aimed at women, right? Pretty much. And that they're all harmful.
Laura: Yeah, that is, that's, that's an interesting, I didn't make that connection, but you are absolutely right. Other than the, the depilatory, I guess that could go for male and female PE patients, but,
Cam: don't think men back then, they didn't
Jen: Take your hair
Cam: that, did they?
Jen: Ripping hair out. Yeah.
Cam: manscaping back then. Mm-hmm. I don't think that existed.
Jen: there was any escap.
Laura: , anyway, now that he'd set up shop in Texas and Mexico, Brinkley closed his cans, Milford Clinic. And he opened a new one in Del Rio, Texas. And from what I've read, it seems Del Rio's officials were a little bit like Kansas' back in the day.
Laura: They did not care about his qualifications, they just liked his money. And the goat gland procedures kind of put on the back burner here. So what he did was he, , did pretty much a modified vasectomy , and he sold patients a strict regimen of patented medicines. Now, the special ingredient in his modified surgery was a squirt of Maira chrome.
Jen: Oof. Ouch.
Laura: Well, it colored the patient's urine for a few days after the operation. While he lived in Texas, Brinkley traveled around the world with his wife and son. I mean, why not? He's got all the money and there are actually videos of him on. Gala Island, like with the, you know, tortoises and it's, it's pretty amazing.
Laura: , so they lived it up while the money kept rolling in, but of course, there were problems. The AMA was not finished with him. In 1938, the group published a two-part series called Modern Medical Charlatans that specifically included information about Brinkley's career and his questionable medical credentials.
Laura: Brinkley, who by this time, had fully bought into his own BS sued the author Morris Fishbein for libel. , in March, 1939 trial did not go well for Brinkley.
Jen: I was gonna say the discovery must have been really
Jen: that trial.
Laura: the jury found that, um, that he should be considered a charlatan and a quack in the ordinary, well understood meaning of those words. So, with the jury's verdict against him on the record books, then everybody who had any gripe against him sued him.
Laura: So to add insult to injury eight, the i r s began in investigating Brinkley for tax evasion at this time too. Isn't that always the way with these guys? It's the i r s that gets 'em.
Laura: He declared bankruptcy in 1941 and then the US post office department started investigating him from mail fraud
Laura: , he'd been sending all those medications through the mail. So in 1942 before the mail case could go to trial, though Brinkley died of heart failure, the money he'd amassed during his lifetime was gone. So this basically concludes what I have to tell you about Dr. John Brinkley, the goat gland miracle worker who made it big and lost it all.
Cam: And Radio Star.
Laura: and radio. Sorry, I should have left that in there too. Yeah.
Cam: Star, it's very important in
Cam: radio star can't make it here. You can make it anywhere.
Jen: Ama killed the radio. Dr. Guy,
Laura: that's our smidge of song
Jen: Yeah. It's Smid song.
Cam: People are crazy. I bought it
Laura: a, there is an excellent documentary, , based on Pope Brock's book. It's called Nuts.
Jen: Perfect title.
Cam: Of course. It's
Jen: love it.
Laura: totally, recommend that.
Laura: So ladies, do you have any like, real quick questions or anything before we go to the the factor fiction game?
Cam: I have so many questions I don't even know, but I don't even think you can answer 'em because I can't believe humankind. I can't believe humankind. That's all I'm gonna say
Jen: I mean, I know you can still buy like, like they had that huge nursing thing where they found that all these nurses have paid to get their RNs and stuff like that. They just found some of those. Yeah, I think like 7,000 nurses. I don't know the whole story of it, but I just like off cuff. But no, I don't have any.
Jen: Um, we'll get into questions as you're asking our
Laura: Right. , so listeners, we are going to pause for a second, to hear from our sponsor, and then we'll be right back to play Fact or.
Laura: , all right. Everybody, we are here with Cam and Jen from Our True Crime Podcast, and they have just listened to me tell a mostly true story.
Laura: And now, ladies, are you ready to play factor fiction?
Jen: Let's do it. We'll try it.
Laura: All right. All right. I like that
Jen: Cam, are you ready? You're quiet. You're never quiet.
Cam: I know. I'm really excited, but I'm also worried because like that all, Ooh, it could go either way. I'm ready. I'm ready.
Laura: I have te
Jen: so bizarre.
Laura: It's all so bizarre.
Cam: bizarre than I thought. I was like, oh, this will be so easy. No, it's not.
Jen: this is like anything goes type thing.
Laura: Pretty much. Yeah. . So choice number one. John Brinkley's father must have been something. He was married four times and Brinkley's own mother, this is the fiction. Brinkley's own mother was the young niece of his father's third. So that part's the fiction. Uh, Dr. Brinkley's own mother was a young niece of his father's third wife, choice two, the final star for Sally Wilkie Brinkley.
Laura: That's the first wife, came when a drunken Brinkley was arrested and needed her help to bail him out. , choice three. Brinkley spent most of his time in the Army suffering from anal fistulas
Cam: Oh, hate that. Mm-hmm.
Laura: Choice four,
Cam: there, done that. Mm.
Laura: according to the newspaper in Chicago in the early 1920s,
Laura: there were a rash of gland thefts among the young and healthy. So those are your four choices.
Jen: I'm gonna say the whole niece, mother, aunt, cousin thing. I think that's pretty plausible. Don't you, cam? I mean, I think that
Cam: I, I, I have my one, I have, I have mine, I think. No. Whammy's, I have mine.
Jen: Yeah. Okay. So the aunt, sister, uncle person, I, I believe that's probably
Cam: And a, a long time ago they did that.
Jen: right? I mean,
Cam: you married who you knew, right.
Jen: mean, it's not like you can jump on Grindr or Tinder and just find somebody
Cam: Back then it
Jen: back. Then you get whoever comes to your
Jen: open game.
Cam: Could be a cousin. It's
Jen: could be the cousin. Okay. What's the, what was the second one?
Laura: Second one was Uhhuh, . , the final straw for his wife was when he, she had to bail him out of jail for being.
Cam: Hmm. Well, I think many wives have been there. Am I wrong? Like it's, no, but I mean, it happens. I think that's
Jen: And if she had to do that a lot,
Cam: Uh, but
Jen: but he was making money and she was finally like enjoying the,
Laura: This is the first wife.
Jen: oh, the first
Laura: The first wife, the one that left him with the kids?
Jen: with the three.
Jen: But wasn't he making money by then with all this goat testicle things?
Laura: Uh, no, no, no. This is before then. He didn't have, he didn't have his medical diploma at that point.
Jen: Oh, he didn't buy that.
Jen: saving to buy
Cam: It's fake Loma. He
Laura: fake diploma.
Cam: Loma. Mm-hmm.
Jen: Okay. Okay.
Cam: fake fake Loma didn't exist.
Jen: Okay. So she left him before he got rich and famous. And that might have been the final straw. I can see that. Okay. And the third one again,
Laura: , according to Chicago newspapers in the early twenties, there was somebody going around. Uh, there were a rash of gland thefts among the young and healthy. Mm-hmm.
Jen: Okay. I, I would think that, I would've heard about, not me personally, but I would think that there would've been a, you know, that might be more common knowledge unless it was just kept under
Cam: know, people are
Jen: wants to, nobody
Cam: a little crazy though. People are a little crazy. Like, I could see that they thought that they, they jump on the bandwagon and do that. You know what I'm saying? Like you go.
Jen: not many men would come forward I think to say, you know what, I've totally been uniced, you know what I mean? cut. I don't know if
Cam: don't know though.
Jen: would then go to
Cam: you take one, is it okay? I don't know. You got one. You can still
Jen: I mean, you could take two and
Cam: you, you know, men, I,
Jen: you don't need 'em to
Cam: if, if you had one, I think they'd almost be too embarrassed to say, Hey, I had one removed. Right?
Jen: you don't need 'em to survive. But I would think you would bleed pretty heavily if you got 'em
Laura: And so, and then, then the fourth choice, , he spent most of his time in the army suffering from anal
Jen: And if
Cam: Oh, that's my favorite right there. That one's my favorite, which happens, which I gotta admit happens. I, I
Jen: that'd be something really embarrassing. God, I can't come to the
Laura: I so is, I don't really, is a fistula the same as a, as a hemorrhoid?
Cam: It's kind of worse. Well, I don't know, it's like a cut and so
Jen: it's like a paper cut
Cam: paper. Cut on your hoot. Boo boo. Your boo
Laura: Uh, yeah. Okay. Okay. Yeah. Okay. All
Cam: So it's, uh, and, and you know, it, it reopens
Jen: Every time,
Cam: every day, maybe twice a day. Give or
Jen: depends on how regular you have.
Cam: on how regular you are. Yeah. So I, I get that. I
Jen: Depends upon what Dr. Brinkley
Cam: I don't know if that really prohibit you from fighting in the field.
Laura: Well, he, he never left the States. He was down in Texas the whole time, so
Laura: for the whole two months.
Cam: if that's true. Kudos for him for finding in that's, you know, he is not flat footed or any of that. Right. So Good for him.
Laura: So, any, any choices.
Jen: I'm gonna go with, um, the rash of the gland Theft,
Jen: gland theft auto.
Cam: Theft. Yep. Yep. That, that, that was my first one. That's my first one. However, thinking about this, if you go in the military and it's war time, I think anything goes. So you can have a little butt problem and they don't care. So I'm gonna, I'm gonna say no on that one. I think. Am I, I'm looking at you now. I'm, am I gonna say no, I don't like to be a loser.
Laura: no, it's okay. It's okay to lose. There's no way you could know. This stuff is also ridiculous. Actually I did find in the newspapers in Chicago, there were newspaper reports that say that there was somebody stealing the glands of young and healthy men. I found that I
Laura: you if you want.
Laura: I def, I dunno that it's true. I know it's in the newspaper. So, and it was the Tribune, Chicago Tribune, it was not a like,
Jen: was like weekly world
Laura: yeah, it was not, it was a real newspaper. Um, And then also, cam, you're gonna be disappointed that he did spend most of his time in the army suffering from the anal fistulas.
Laura: Um, his dad, you are correct. Um, he'd been married four times and Brinkley's mom was the young niece of his father's third wife. The, the choice I made up was that the final straw for, uh, Sally Wilke. Brinkley came when a drunken Brinkley was arrested and needed her help to bail him out.
Jen: So the most normal one is
Cam: then what? Which is nothing. If you listen to this whole
Jen: I know,
Cam: like I was like, that's why I picked the one. I was like, this one seems the most normal. Like he had some butt problems. I was like, human, you have butt problems sometimes.
Laura: . Yeah. The whole point is that the stuff is like, it's so crazy, nobody can make it up and.
Jen: yeah. Fact A stranger than fiction.
Laura: Fact is definitely stranger and fiction.
Jen: Nobody would believe you. Nobody would believe you. You'd get panned saying, this is too off the wall. I don't know what she's thinking.
Cam: you know, like people, people buy into that because like now you think, we think, oh, goat, goat testicles, that is ridiculous. If some little Hollywood celebrity or somebody glammed onto that, we'd be like, maybe it's true. Maybe it happens.
Laura: we're all very susceptible.
Cam: Mean to mention any names, but the, remember that one person who is a celebrity with the, uh, vagina, uh, steam bath where you sat on the thing, the cupping on the back.
Cam: I mean, there's all this crazy stuff, right?
Jen: Well, I'm telling you, if somebody told me to get some goat ads to put it on my face to get rid of the wrinkles, I'd be there in a heartbeat to do it. You
Laura: But the surgery though, I don't know
Jen: No, I'm like a cream. I'm wanting
Laura: Oh, right. Yeah,
Jen: not like a knife. Yeah.
Laura: I guess people are always interested in the next Fountain of
Cam: Oh yeah. Yes.
Laura: you know, we're, we're always chasing that, so, so yeah.
Laura: Ladies, thank you so much.
Cam: This was so fun.
Laura: hope you had a really good, I always have
Cam: do it again. I
Jen: ready too.
Cam: do it again
Laura: well maybe when I,
Cam: Poke line and sinker. I was in. I
Laura: Oh, yay. Yay. I'm so glad you enjoyed it.
Jen: Oh, we loved it. It's amazing.
Laura: It's a great story and, and I definitely encourage you to check out that nuts documentary.
Cam: at, I have to be honest, at the beginning of this, I thought, oh, that, that's the fake story. The whole thing, the whole premise. And then I'm like, oh, wait, that's not it.
Laura: Right. There's so many things in there that just, it's hard to believe. Everybody, thank you so much for listening. As always, you can find relevant images and all of my sources on Fact or fiction podcast.com, as well as on the Factor Fiction Facebook page. , I've also added a link to Our True Crime Podcast website to make it easy for you to listen to their fantastic show. And, uh, thanks everybody for listening.
Cam: Thank you for having us.
Laura: aw, thanks. .
Jen: every minute. Bye.
Cam: That was so fun. It really was fun. That