COL. B.J. PALMER

 

President

Central Broadcasting Company

WHO Radio, Des Moines, Iowa

 

President

Tri-City Broadcasting Company

WOC Radio, Davenport, Iowa

 

President

Palmer School Of Chiropractic

 

Founder of: B.J. Palmer Clinic, Owner of a dozen businesses. Scientist, businessman, author, lecturer humanitarian

A public figure whose host of friends hail him affectionately as “BJ.”

(circa 1921)

 

“B.J.”  Palmer had sixteen years experience as a broadcaster with the longest record of continuous service as a major station operator, owner in Iowa and the Middle West. He began amateur radio experimentation in 1921, he established WOC, Radio station in Davenport, Iowa in March 1922. The call letters stand for Wonders Of Chiropractic.  He then merged WHO Radio (call letters stand for We Help Others) in Des Moines, Iowa and WOC Radio Davenport, Iowa. In 1930 he combined them into one Clear Channel Radio Station, WHO with 50,000 watts of power. In 1933 he then re-established WOC radio at Davenport, Iowa.

 

Great demands were made on his time as a noted lecturer, world traveler, author of many books and owner of numerous business and professional enterprises. B.J. kept himself informed of every new development in radio broadcasting and was always among the first to utilize every improvement made in radio broadcasting, regardless of the cost involved.

 

“B.J.” experience, showmanship, knowledge and visionary abilities provided the best possible program service and most efficient broadcasting equipment that was available at that period of time, insured the success of WHO radio, “a good station to deal with” and the reason it became the greatest advertising medium in Iowa and the Middle West for many years to come. (circa) 1930-1961)

 

Davenport, Iowa

The exotic garden known as A Little Bit O' Heaven was built by B.J. (Bartlett Joshua) Palmer on the grounds of the Palmer Chiropractic College. As son of the discoverer of chiropractic medicine, B.J. took over the leadership of the school after his father was jailed for practicing medicine without a license and became the champion and developer of modern chiropractic practice. B.J. possessed a flamboyant but difficult personality; he was a charismatic visionary but also a fabulous self-promoter and stubbornly opinionated leader. His career was defined by impassioned battles to legitimize defend chiropractic against its detractors. But he enjoyed his position as exalted leader of the successful Palmer Chiropractic School, where he and his wife Mabel, the First Lady of Chiropractic, lived in a mansion on the campus atop a hill overlooking Davenport.

He enjoyed experimenting with new technology and is credited with the invention of several electric diagnostic machines. He built the largest radio station in the Midwest.

BJ Palmer

Colossal Head of B.J. Palmer

But B.J. also considered himself an aesthete and art collector. Recovering from a nervous breakdown in 1923, he initiated construction of a contemplative garden to showcase his art collection in a courtyard beside the mansion. As a reprieve from the stressful life of running the school, he and his wife traveled around the world several times, giving lectures and hauling back Chinese antiquities and Indian art pieces. Through dealers in Asia and Seattle he acquired unique objects according to his eccentricities: a fearsome cache of knives of all types, a scholarly collection of phallic symbols from primitive cultures, esoteric religious icons from the East, showy totem poles from Alaska, live alligators from Florida and salon nudes from the workshops of Europe. Much of the collection was open to the public for a small charge in a garden decorated with mosaic walls and picassiette sculptures of vaguely pagan mythological creatures, while more private galleries of curiosities and bric-a-brac were housed in additions to the mansion and in the basement.

For many years A Little Bit O' Heaven was the most popular tourist attraction in Davenport. A guidebook produced by the Palmer School claims that the garden directly inspired numerous home hobbyist to take up the trowel and build their own rock gardens, but one wonders if part of its popularity was also the esoteric drama of its world-spanning exotica. With B.J. scouring the globe for the ripest fruits of wisdom and artistic endeavor, the visitor could understand how chiropractic medicine tapped into deeper beliefs than the simplistic notions of mechanistic modern medicine. Was a man simply a pile of disconnected bones and tissue? Or was he an outpouring of innate and inborn emotion and desires from some central core? Here at A Little Bit O' Heaven the visitor could contemplate the strange and perhaps a bit frightening from around the world while in an informal and stimulating garden setting. Here live alligators, grimacing idols and taboo icons of fertility cults relaxed among the foliage with classical statuary and uplifting inspirational aphorisms painted on the walls. In this small recreation of Heaven on Earth, the Dionysian and Apollonian were united in a vision of health and happiness for all pilgrims to see in practice.

Entrance

After B.J. passed away in 1964, the reins were passed to his son David Palmer, whose straighforward leadership brought greater legitimacy and recognition of chiropractic. The Palmer school now became the Palmer College of Chiropractic. In time the exotic garden fell into disrepair and was closed to the public. During the construction of building additions in 1981 most of the garden structures were demolished. Much of the art collection was placed in storage in the basement of the Palmer Mansion, where it remains to this day. All that is left on the site of A Little Bit O' Heaven is a courtyard paved with patio brick and home to a few picnic tables and orphaned Chinese bronzes and totem poles.

Molehill Map

 

Legend
  1. Courtyard Sculptures
  2. Totem Poles
  3. Waterfall
  4. Alligator Pond
  5. Former Site of Gift Shop
  6. Rock Arch, Former Entrance
  7. Chinese Doors
 

History of Chiropractic

Many chiropractic patients ask,  “How did chiropractic get started?”  Well, Chiropractic got started in Davenport Iowa a little over 100 years ago.  In 1895 a “magnetic healer” as he was called, by the name of DD Palmer operated an office on the corner of Second and Brady street in downtown Davenport.  Dr. Palmer, as he was known, noticed on that day the janitor who worked in his building was nearly totally deaf. 

This janitor was a black gentleman by the name of Harvey Lillard.  Upon questioning, (probably very loud questioning) Harvey explained to Dr. Palmer that he had lost most of his hearing 17 years earlier when he was bending over and felt a “pop” in his upper back or neck.  Dr. Palmer examined the area and noticed a bump which he determined to be a spinal vertebrae out of position.  It seemed that Harvey noticed this bump right after he lost his hearing.  Having a knowledge of anatomy, Dr. Palmer convinced Harvey to allow him to try to fix it by pushing the bone back into place.

History is uncertain as to whether it was one visit or several, but the result was Harvey got his hearing back!  From that point DD Palmer changed his practice over to this new method of replacing bones that were out of position and allowing people to heal.  His practice grew and the profession of chiropractic was born.

Within two years Dr. Palmer opened the first school of Chiropractic on Brady Street in Davenport.  It was his son Dr. BJ Palmer, who continued the school after the death of DD.  It is the son BJ, who is given credit today for growing and developing the profession into what it has become today.

 

 

  Credits and Acknowledgements

For writing, editing, researching, documentation of history:

Harold L. Luick, Historian, Former Curator CMSI “Virtual” Museum, Library, Hall Of Fame

Janet Weaver, Contributing Historian.

 History of Chiropractic article courtesy of  Justin Starvish

© 2004 CMSI- Iowa/Midwest Country Music Heritage Museum, Library, Hall Of Fame, Harold L. Luick, Author/Publisher.

All Rights Reserved!   NO part of this web page or information may be reproduced, printed, by electronic retrieval with out getting permission in writing first, or by e-mail permission from the author/publisher: haroldl@cmshowcase.org

 

Exception: For brief quotations in a review or for public or private schools Teaching History of Country Music. Credit and acknowledgement must be given to: CMSI-Iowa/Midwest Country Music Heritage Museum, Library, Hall Of Fame, Publisher and Author and must be included a in all media presentations, TV, Radio, Audio, Tapes, CD, Seminars, printing or quotes.

 

For permission of use form:  Write: CMSI P.O. BOX D, Carlisle, Iowa 50047-0368. Include SASE to return Form To You.

CLICK LINK: for e-mail version of permission of use form.

 

The COST of  our  “Virtual” Country Music Heritage Museum, Library, Hall Of Fame  Web Site is provided by; volunteers, grants and  “FREE-WILL” donations from visitors, guests, and readers like YOU. If you would like to support what we are doing by making a donation to our project, IT WILL BE APPRECIATED!

Send all Donations by check, money order (do not send cash) to: CMSI support donation, P.O. Box D, Carlisle, Iowa 50047-0368

Donations can also be made by credit card thru the Pay Pal System using donations@cmshowcase.org as the payee.

 

CLICK LINK: to make Donation by PAY PAL e-mail form.

CLICK HERE TO GO BACK TO HALL OF FAME DOORWAY