Frank Boyett: Henderson man searched in vain for success with a pimple cream:

Leslie E. Culver itched to market a pimple cream nearly 100 years ago, but wound up aching for the balm of Gilead.

“Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there?” asks the Old Testament prophet at Jeremiah 8:22. “Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?”

The term “balm of Gilead” has since come to mean an all-purpose cure.

Culver’s sights were set quite a bit lower when he applied for a patent for Lesculene, an obscure pimple cream that was briefly manufactured in Henderson in the mid-1920s. His patent application was dated Oct. 6, 1925, according to Volume 344 of the Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office. The patent was issued Dec. 15 of that year.

Culver incorporated The Lesculene Co., the name of which was a combination of his first and last names, but file No. 134 of the Articles of Incorporation is either missing or misfiled at the Henderson County Clerk’s Office so I can’t tell you much more than that.

Lesculene attempted to be flesh-colored and came in a small, white jar of milk glass, similar to what cold cream would have been marketed in. The jar was packaged in an orange and black cardboard box, with detailed instructions printed on a separate piece of paper.

“We do not guarantee that this one small box will entirely remove a bad case of pimples, but frequently one box is sufficient. It is equally as good for Prickly Heat.”

A single package sold for 60 cents, according to the label. That’s also the price quoted in a small notice in a 1927 publication called “Drug Markets.” A separate advertisement sought salesmen and demonstrators.

Lesculene continued to appear in trade publications until 1930. But the firm had apparently gone under by then. And so had its inventor.

Culver was born in Union County, the son of Thomas E. and Lee Culver, according to his marriage license. He married Mary Taylor Eaves Feb. 19, 1921, who was the daughter of W.E. and Lena Eaves of Henderson. A son, Edward Eaves Culver, was born the following year.

He was a salesman at the time of his marriage, and apparently continued to be a salesman. His Lesculene proposition never got spread around much because it is not listed in the 1927 city directory or in the 1929 telephone book.

Culver and his wife, however, are listed in the 1927 city directory at 28 S. Alvasia St. But Mary Culver would not live long past that date. She died Nov. 11 of that year in Louisville.

Her death dragged him through the depths of despair, which is one possible reason for Lesculene’s failure as a business.

On April 11, 1929 – 17 months after the death of his wife ­– he also died.

“A short time after he had told a friend that he ‘would rather be in the cemetery beside his wife,’ Leslie Culver, 36, of Morganfield, Ky., a former resident of Henderson, committed suicide by shooting himself through the head at the home of his father-in-law, W.E. Eaves, 34 South Adams street, at 11:20 o’clock Thursday morning,” is how The Gleaner began its story about his death.

“Culver left a note lying on the picture of his departed wife in which he wrote, “my troubles are so great, I cannot bear it longer.”

His mother in law was pleading with him to not do it as he “drew a revolver from his pocket, placed it to his forehead, and fired.” The suicide took place in the backyard of the Eaves house and was also witnessed by a neighbor, Annie Cates, and a boy named William Hatchett.

“If anything happens to me, see that I am put close to Mary Taylor,” he told his mother in law as he drew the pistol. “Mrs. Eaves rushed to him and he fell in her arms, dying instantly.”

He was a traveling salesman for the Goodrich Rubber Co. at the time of his death. No mention was made by The Gleaner of Lesculene or what had become of it.

His son lived with the Eaves grandparents; Culver had lived in Morganfield with his parents. Other survivors included his sister, Mrs. John (Gertrude) Rogers of Chicago, and two brothers, Boyd Culver of Chicago and Edgar Culver of Morganfield.

He is buried in Fernwood Cemetery beside his wife. Their son, who died in 1969 at age 47, is buried on the other side of her.

Boyett: Henderson man searched in vain for success with a pimple cream