This is the origin story of the goat gland procedure, as told by Brinkley and repeated ever since. Portions of this story and photos of Stittsworth and his son Billy appeared in newspapers all over the country as early as 1920. The Stittsworths also “starred” in and often appeared in person with a promotional film made in 1922 or 1923. However, there are many reasons to not believe this version of the story.
Here are some of them:
(1) Bill Stittsworth’s son said that he and his father were on Brinkley’s payroll until 1942. This is strange, because Brinkley stopped doing the goat gland surgeries in 1933 and thus had no reason to pay someone to promote it after that point. Logic suggests they were being paid not to tell everyone that this was all made up. Perhaps the younger Stittsworth lied, or remembered wrong; but the Stittsworths appeared in many photographs from 1919-on, and in person in 1923 with the promotional film, so it makes sense that they would have been paid for this. Interestingly, it doesn’t seem that Stittsworth was mentioned by full name in the advertising or public relations efforts. We did find one article referring to him as “Uncle Billy, one of the village patriarchs.”
(2) This story, with photos of the world’s first “goat gland baby” (Billy Stittsworth) only began appearing in newspapers after Brinkley hired H.R. Mosnat, an ad man. Mosnat’s efforts (better classified as pioneering public relations than advertising) included placing this “news item” in papers all over the country.
(3) The story was highly inconsistent; Brinkley sometimes claimed that he had been doing experiments with “xenotransplantation” for many years by this point and was eager to try it out on a human; sometimes it was Stittsworth’s idea and he tried to say no, etc.
(4) The story is ridiculous.