The half dozen bottles of J.R. Stafford’s Olive Tar recovered from the SS Republic wreck site were all found empty of their original formula. Touted as a remedy for colds, coughs, sore throats, asthma and scarlett fever, Stafford’s treatment was inhaled and applied. Its blended aroma of olive and pine claimed to “materially aid the recovery of the patient and completely disinfect the air of the chamber thereby preventing the spread of the disease.”
Advertisements of the era also presented testimonials of Olive Tar users who publicized its curative attributes in healing more than just human ailments. One such personal statement cited the benefits of J.R. Stafford’s ointment when rubbed on the sore backs of his 12 company horses.