Source: Chicago Daily Tribune, Friday, April 8, 1881
Printed by: Jon Walter
George Thornburgh and the Electric Hair Brush
It showed up in newspapers across the land, including the New York Times, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Chicago Tribune to name a few. The letter describes how the founder of Walnut Ridge, Colonel W.M. Ponder, was cured of a severe headache by this newfangled magnetic device. It was submitted by his friend, the Speaker of the House of Representatives of Arkansas at the time, George Thornburgh, who let him borrow his hairbrush.
George Thornburgh was born in Illinois and moved to Smithville, Arkansas as a child. He attended law school in Tennessee and was admitted to the bar in 1868. He later opened a law office at Powhatan, Arkansas in 1873.
Thornburgh was very active in the Masonic Fraternity. Raised a Master Mason in Smithville Lodge #29 in 1868, he served as Worshipful Master in Smithville and Powhatan Lodges before moving to Walnut Ridge in 1886. He was a member of Aurora Lodge #423 and also organized the Walnut Ridge Council #30, Royal and Select Masters.
Thornburgh was a prolific writer. While in Walnut Ridge, he became involved in the newspaper business. He bought the “Lawrence County Democrat” newspaper and changed the name to “The Telephone”. He also started a very successful newspaper called “The Masonic Trowel”, which he published in Walnut Ridge from 1887 to 1890, when he moved to Little Rock and took the newspaper with him. It became the official publication of the Arkansas Grand Lodge for many years.
Thornburgh served four terms in the Arkansas State Legislature, and served as the Speaker of the House.
The Curative Powers of the “Electric Hair Brush”
Dr. Scott was the inventor of the Electric Hair Brush, introduced in 1880. Pictured above are the hair brush and also the box for the flesh brush. His devices were not actually electric, but contained magnetized iron in their handles. As stated by Colonel Thornburgh, the most common claim for these brushes were increased hair growth and relief from headaches. By the 1890s, they were no longer popular.