Author will visit Lee-Whedon to launch book about a pharmaceutical titan from Medina

Posted 22 August 2022 at 7:52 am

By Catherine Cooper, Orleans County Historian

MEDINA – Orleans County has some unique associations with pharmaceutical innovations. The corporate names Eli-Lilley and Burroughs-Wellcome both have their origins here.

Silas M. Burroughs Jr. was born in Medina in 1846. He died in Monte Carlo in 1895. He and Henry Wellcome pioneered the use of Empirin Compound for headaches. They also developed a technique to make powdered medicine more palatable by making pills.

Burroughs is the subject of a new biography recently published by the Lutterworth Press, of Cambridge, England. The author, Julia Sheppard, has long had an interest in the life and career of Burroughs.

She visited Medina on two occasions previously to conduct research on the Burroughs family. She consulted with local historians Richard Nellist, Todd Bensley and the late Ed Grinnell and used the resources at Medina’s Lee-Whedon Memorial Library.

Sheppard will return to Lee-Whedon on Friday, September 9, at 7 p.m. to launch her newly published book, Silas Burroughs: the Man who Made Wellcome.

Burroughs was an energetic businessman and a progressive thinker who supported profit-sharing for employees as well as the 8-hour working day. Sheppard will discuss his life in the context of contemporary social and pharmaceutical developments.

Burroughs was instrumental in the foundation of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation which specializes in biomedical research. His generous bequests to his hometown benefitted the Presbyterian Church, John Proctor, a boyhood friend as well as Boxwood Cemetery. The iconic sandstone chapel at Boxwood was built in his memory.

Copies of this new biography will be available for purchase at the program, courtesy of the Author’s Note bookstore. This program is presented by the Medina Historical Society.