The Gueth Family


Friedrich Gueth Sr, our emigrant ancestor, was born on April 29, 1825 in Waltershausen Bavaria.  He  came to the United States in 1845 and married Sarah Zimpfer in 1855.  Sarah was the youngest daughter of John Jacob Zimpfer and Juliana Dorothea Zipper.


This union produced two sons, George and Frederick Jr.  The senior Gueth’s principal occupations were farming and barbering. (After the Citizen’s National Bank was built (1888) in Sidney Oh, he maintained a barber shop in the basement of that building.)  

Freidrich Sr. was a barber in Germany, and he pursued the trade his father performed, as was tradition.  In early Europe, a barber was also the local surgeon, one of the most common European medical practitioners.  Surgery was seldom conducted by physicians, but instead by barbers, who, in having razors indispensable to their trade, were called upon for numerous medical  tasks ranging from cutting hair to amputating limbs.  


Friedrich Sr. became a US citizen in 1857.  My great-grandfather, Frederick Gueth Jr.  was born on March 2, 1861 and was married to Sarah Catherine Moothart in Oreana, Illinois on December 21, 1881.  The Moothart family had lived near Anna prior to relocating to Illinois.  Fred Jr. and Sarah settled just north of the Meranda Rd / 25-A intersection.  Frederick Jr’s principal occupation was farming.  At one time, Indians camped on this farm.  A photo record concerning the encampment is found in the pictures I have included.


Frederick Jr. and Sarah Catherine had 5 children, three of whom survived to adulthood.... Pearl Estella, who married Ralph Clarence Boyer, Edward Louis, who died in 1909 at age 21,  Florence Irene Gueth, who married Parker Lee Johnston (my grandparents).

Frederick Jr.’s secondary occupation was a trade he learned from his father.  As a town barber or surgeon, his father had  removed cancers from those who were afflicted.  Frederick Jr.  was involved in this business for many years…..until legislation required physicians to be licensed…. from that time he was longer permitted to "practice medicine". 


In the early 1980’s I (Timothy Mann) met an elderly Dinsmore Township resident that insisted that Frederick saved her great aunt’s life.  Apparently others believed the cure was legitimate, because Frederick’s research and cure was purchased in 1919 by some local attorneys for $10,000.

In “Pharmaceutical Chemistry” , published in 1920, the Gueth’s Cure was a recognized cancer treatment.  Both generations of this familiy advertised “no cure, no pay”.  Their cure was also listed several times in the 1918 edition of Annual Reports of the Chemical Laboratory of the American Medical Association, Volumes 11-20.

In the mid-1990’s I (Timothy Mann) saw a full list of ingredients…. and two items that stood out in that list ….. an antioxidant -salicylic acid- and a healing herb…cinnamon.  Since I lacked chemistry knowledge, I did not recognize or understand how the other items might be effective…. or if they were masking agents that made the cure more difficult to duplicate.


My ancestors used this cure for decades.  After the cancer cure business came to a close, the Gueth family invested in Arabian horses.  In 1897 their barn caught fire and burnt to the ground.  

My great-grandfather was unable to free the horses. Frederick remained a farmer after the fire until his death in 1926.


Concerning the cure… this is the information I have…. 


Years ago I found this in the 1919 Annual Report of the American Medical Association…

GUETHS CANCER CURE 103   Salicylic acid was determined approximately by acidifying a portion of the preparation with hydrochloric acid, shaking with ether until extraction was complete, shaking the united ether extracts with very dilute ammonia water, acidifying the ammonia solution, extracting the latter repeatedly with chloroform, evaporating the chloroform, drying the residue over sulphuric acid and weighing. The residue was slightly contaminated with emodin-like substances but did not appear to be seriously impure. The melting point was not taken, as the substance was identified by the ferric chlorid test and by precipitation with iodin in alkaline solution. It was not thought worthwhile to determine the salicylic acid by the iodin method.' 

GUETH'S CANCER CURE   Inquiries were received concerning the composition of Gueth's Cancer Cure, and a specimen was sent by one of the correspondents. 

The specimen had an odor like acetic acid, a strong acid reaction to litmus, and appeared to contain some vegetable drug in suspension. 

Acetic acid was identified by the odor, and by the dark red color which was given on adding a few drops of ferric chlorid test solution to a portion of the filtrate obtained by removing the solid matter from some of the preparation by filtration. Microscopic examination indicated the presence of powdered sanguinaria (blood root). The presence of blood root was confirmed by extraction of the mixture with ether, after making alkaline, and treatment of the ethereal solution with a drop of hydrochloric acid. A beautiful red precipitate was formed which settled out of the ether. A solution of this precipitate in water gave the usual reactions for alkaloids. 

The examination indicates that the preparation consists essentially of a suspension of powdered sanguinaria (blood root) in acetic acid. Quantitative determinations were not made. Years ago blood root, because of its irritant properties, was thought by some to be of value in the treatment of cancer. It never attained much popularity with the medical profession and has long since fallen into disuse. 

1. J. of Assoc. Ag. Chem. 1:343. 1915.