Lunsford Richardson

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Lunsford Richardson
Richardson Lunsford Archive org historyofnorthca06conn 0377.jpg
Lunsford Richardson
Born 1854
Selma, North Carolina
Died August 20, 1919 (aged 65)
Nationality U.S.
Occupation pharmacist
Known for Richardson Vicks Inc.

Lunsford Richardson, 1854–1919, was a U.S. pharmacist from Selma, North Carolina, and the founder of Vick Chemical Company (which became Richardson Vicks Inc.). He died August 20, 1919.

Early life[edit]

Lunsford was born in 1854 on a farm near Selma, North Carolina. He attended Davidson College, where he graduated with highest honors in Latin in 1875. He taught at The Little River Academy before he became a pharmacist. He married Mary Lynn Smith, from Greensboro, North Carolina in about 1884. Their son, H. Smith Richardson, 1885–1972, was born on July 19. His second son was Lunsford Richardson 1891-1953. He also had 3 daughters.

Lunsford bought a drugstore in Selma where he concocted and sold a menthol-laced ointment for "croupy" babies that he labeled "Vick's" in honor of Dr. Joshua W. Vick, his brother-in-law who helped him get established in business. Later he sold the store in Selma and bought one in Greensboro. This was the Porter and Tate Drugstore - Dr. Porter was the uncle of William Sydney Porter, the author known as O. Henry.

Development of VapoRub[edit]

While working in Greensboro he developed a number of home remedies under the name "Vicks." This name was suggested to him from an advertisement for Vick's Seeds, and Vick was also the last name of his brother-in-law, a family physician. It was short and easy to remember. Eventually there were 21 "Vicks Family Remedies." The main product included menthol, a new and little known drug from Japan, added to a balm. Since the product was used only externally, there was no risk of stomach upset. It was originally called Vicks Croup and Pneumonia Salve before it became VapoRub.

Founding Vicks[edit]

In 1898, he sold his drugstore and formed Lunsford Richardson Wholesale Drug company, one of only 4 wholesale drug companies in North Carolina. He sold the 21 Vicks products as well as other drugs. In 1905 he sold the wholesale drug company and founded Vicks Family Remedies Company, which became Richardson-Merrell Inc, and later Richardson Vicks Inc.

Initially, Vicks struggled to sell outside the Greensboro area until Lunsford's son, H. Smith, decided to concentrate only on the renamed VapoRub, the one unique and distinctive product of the 21.

Civic activities[edit]

Lunsford was active in Church activities (as elder to First Presbyterian). An editorial in the Greensboro Daily News August 22, 1919 said, "he never passed anyone on the street, young or old, black or white, without a nod and a smile." He was particularly interested in the welfare of African-Americans. During World War II, a Liberty ship was christened the S.S. Lunsford Richardson at "special request of the leading Negro citizens of North Carolina to honor the memory of a white friend." L. Richardson Memorial Hospital in Greensboro was renamed to honor him after receiving his donations for a modernization program, it originally served the black community.

See also[edit]


"The Early History and Management Philosophy of Richardson-Merrell" Richardson, H. Smith, 1975, 75-26205