Colonel Eli Lilly in 1885
(July 8, 1838 – June 6, 1898) was an American soldier, pharmacist, chemist, and businessman who founded the Eli Lilly and Company
pharmaceutical corporation. Lilly enlisted in the Union Army
during the American Civil War
and recruited a company of men to serve with him in the 18th Independent Battery Indiana Light Artillery
. He was later promoted to major
and then colonel
, and was given command of the 9th Regiment Indiana Cavalry. Lilly was captured in September 1864 and held as a prisoner of war
until January 1865. After the war, he attempted to run a plantation
, but it failed and he returned to his pharmacy profession after the death of his first wife. Lilly remarried and worked with business partners in several pharmacies in Indiana
before opening his own business in 1876 in Indianapolis
. Lilly's company manufactured drugs and marketed them on a wholesale
basis to pharmacies. Lilly's pharmaceutical firm proved to be successful and he soon became wealthy after making numerous advances in medicinal drug manufacturing. Two of the early advances he pioneered were creating gelatin capsules to contain medicines and developing fruit flavorings. Eli Lilly and Company became one of the first pharmaceutical firms of its kind to staff a dedicated research department and put into place numerous quality-assurance measures.
Using his wealth, Lilly engaged in numerous philanthropic
pursuits. He turned over the management of the company to his son, Josiah K. Lilly, Sr.
, around 1890 to allow himself more time to continue his involvement in charitable organizations and civic advancement. Colonel Lilly helped found the Commercial Club, the forerunner to the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce
, and became the primary patron of Indiana's branch of the Charity Organization Society
. He personally funded a children's hospital in Indianapolis, known as Eleanor Hospital (closed in 1909). Lilly continued his active involvement with many other organizations until his death from cancer
in 1898. (Full article...