“Goat Gland Doctor:” A Legendary Con Man

On July 8, 1885, John Romulus Brinkley was born in Jackson County. In 1908, Brinkley left his job in North Carolina as a telegraph operator and moved to Chicago where he entered medical school, but soon dropped out. Nonetheless Brinkley set up his first practice in Greenville, S.C. From there he moved to Arkansas and secured a degree from “Eclectic Medical University,” which would probably be called a “diploma mill” today. His rise to fame commenced in 1922 with his development of an operation whereby the sex glands of goats were transplanted into the bodies of impotent men.

Brinkley’s ownership of radio station KFKB in Milford, Kan., helped him to publicize his treatment. Officials of the American Medical Association denounced Brinkley as a charlatan but that scarcely dented the rush of business to his hospital. In 1933, he moved to Del Rio, Texas, where he founded XERA, the world’s most powerful radio station, across the border in Mexico. At the height of his success, Brinkley had a net worth of $12 million. The press touted him as the “Kansas Ponce de Leon” and the “Goat Gland King.” The target of many lawsuits, he died bankrupt in 1942.

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