When F. B. Lillie stepped off of the train in Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory on April 22, 1889, the city was a mad house with people staking claims and trying to grab a piece of the free land offered by the run. Lillie managed to find a spot to his liking, and by the morning of April 23, he opened the first drug store in the new territory. While the business was destined to have several locations, it would remain in the Lillie family for the next 83 years.
Lillie was born in Corry, Pennsylvania 1855, and as he grew up, he spent many hours hauling lumber and operating a thrasher to earn his way through school at Doane Academy in Conneaut, Ohio. At 23, Lillie moved to Abilene, and then Chapman, Kansas, where he taught school. He also moved into politics, serving as mayor of Chapman. Chapman is also where he first entered the jewelry and drug business, which he eventually moved to Dighton, Kansas.
Lillie was an opportunist, and when he realized that the new post office had no postage stamps, he made a quick trip to Winfield, Kansas to obtain his own supply. With these stamps and a quantity of letter paper, he added full writing services to his drug lines. Through the years, F B Lillie & Co Drugs also handled paint, wall paper and textbooks as additional business services.
Again taking an interest is politics, Lillie was elected to the city council of Guthrie, establishing a board of health and serving as its first chairman. He also served as president of the Guthrie Building and Loan Association, helped with the establishment of the Carnegie Library, was vice president of the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce, and president of the National Association of Retail Druggists, just to name a few of his other accomplishments.
All of the above considered, Lillie's greatest contribution would be in the field of pharmacy. He became chairman of the first legislative committee on pharmacy, and soon became the father of the Oklahoma Pharmacy Law. He called for strict educational requirements for druggists (a minimum grade school education which excluded many in that time), and helped develop reciprocity of registration with other states. Following statehood, Lillie was rewarded for his efforts when he was awarded Pharmacist Certificate Number 1 by the new State Pharmacy Board.
With everything else going on, Lillie also found time for a home life. He was first married in 1881 to Miss Elizabeth Tyler, a native of England. Elizabeth was often ill, and her niece Fanny helped care for until her death in 1906. Lillie married Fanny in 1907 in St Louis, and they had two children, a son Foress, who would later take over the business, and a daughter Frances.
Lillie died February 25, 1926 and was raid to rest in Summit View Cemetery, along side his first wife and his second wife followed in 1949.
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