Thomas M. Sayman

Thomas M. Sayman

Richmond, Wayne County, Indiana, USA
Death 6 Sep 1937 (aged 83)
Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA
Burial Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA
Plot Block 330/340 Lot 6314
Memorial ID 33894362 · View Source
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Millionaire president of the T. M. Sayman Products Company. He was one of the last of the old-time medicine men. He ran away from home at the age of nine and joined the circus at the age of ten. Two years later he was a seasoned trouper and circus hand and was taken on by the P.T. Barnum Circus. He toured with that show for two summers through the New England states. He traveled for years with circuses, vaudeville units and pharmacopoeia and according to advertising distributed with his products, entered a medical college when he was 18 and studied for four years. He was connected with the crude vaudeville of the time and learned the secrets of selling medicine through means of entertaining a crowd first and then selling the medicine after the crowd had gathered and they were in a happy frame of mind. He worked with medicine shows as a teenager and grew curious about the products that were sold. He found that many were worthless but that some had good effects on people. This curiosity prompted him to make a study of such things and this was the beginning of a long effort that culminated with the founding of the T. M. Sayman Products Company. In journeys around the country, he discovered the virtues of certain Indian herbs and became interested in what was called the soap plant. Two years of research and trial and error taught him how to make an effective extract which he combines with other materials to produce Sayman Vegetable Wonder Soap. This was his first concrete step in his rise to fortune. In quick succession he perfected Sayman Salve and other remedies for common ailments. Transferring operations from Carthage, Missouri to St. Louis around the turn of the century, Mr. Sayman grew richer as the years wore on. In 1912 he built the eight-story Sayman Building at a cost of a quarter of a million dollars. The years that followed showed constant growth and expansion with the manufacture of soaps, toiletries, household preparations, salves and related items that were distributed on a national scale.

Headbutting was one of Mr. Sayman's most pronounced eccentricities. He was willing to butt heads with anyone, generally on a bet up to any amount. He was said to have passed out pistols to his employees in the morning and to have collected them at night. A fully-equipped shooting gallery was maintained at the plant. In advertising for a clerk, he once specified applicants must be proficient with rifles and revolvers. A highlight of his later years was a testimonial banquet for his eighty-first birthday. Dolly, his horse from his medicine show years, stood stuffed by his left side. He received a highly-prized testimonial at the banquet. It read: Dear Doctor: Best wishes for a happy birthday. I sure think your salve is the best on the market. A street car ran over my cat and cut off its tail. I applied your salve to the tail and it grew a new cat on it."

Philanthropy was also a large part of life for Mr. Sayman. His gifts were large and continuous. He was a member of the St. Louis Chamber of Commerce and is remembered by many for his gift to the state of Missouri of Roaring River Park, an area of thirteen hundred acres which had cost him one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

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  • Created by: Connie Nisinger
  • Added: 15 Feb 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 33894362
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thomas M. Sayman (25 Sep 1853–6 Sep 1937), Find a Grave Memorial no. 33894362, citing Bellefontaine Cemetery, Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA ; Maintained by Connie Nisinger (contributor 74) .