Faces Behind the Façades

Bristol Center

No family's history more closely parallels Hamilton College’s than that of the Bristols. Joel Bristol was one of the first settlers to answer the call of the Reverend Samuel Kirkland to establish the Hamilton-Oneida Academy. In addition to contributing one British Pound Sterling, 300 feet of timber and 20 days of labor, Bristol served on Hamilton’s first board of trustees and sent his son George to be educated on the Hill. George Bristol was a member of Hamilton’s first graduating class in 1815 and the first of seven generations of Bristols to attend the College.

Among the Bristol alumni was William McLaren Bristol. Five years after graduating from Hamilton in 1882, Bristol and his friend John Ripley Myers, Class of 1887, invested $5,000 into the failing Clinton Pharmaceutical Co., located down the hill from the College.

Essentially a physician’s supply house, the business steadily expanded under their leadership. The company’s first nationally recognized product was dubbed a “poor man’s spa”: a laxative mineral salt called Sal Hepatica that, when dissolved in water, reproduced the taste and effects of the natural mineral waters of Bohemia. Another success was Ipana, the first toothpaste to include a disinfectant to prevent bleeding gums. The demand for these products propelled Bristol-Myers from a regional into a national company and eventually the international giant now known as Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Constructed in 1965, the Bristol Center was dedicated in William McLaren Bristol’s honor, thanks to the generosity of his sons Lee H. Bristol ’14 and William M. Bristol, Jr. ’17, and grandson William M. Bristol, III ’43.

Wiiliam McLaren Bristol
William McLaren Bristol

Contact Information

Stacey Himmelberger

Editor, Hamilton Alumni Review
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323
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