Diocletian Lewis (March 3, 1823 – May 21, 1886), commonly known as Dr. Dio Lewis, was a prominent temperance leader and physical culture advocate who practiced homeopathy and was the inventor of the beanbag.
He was born on a farm near Auburn, New York. He left school at 12 to work in a cotton factory. He later worked at a hoe, axe and scythe factory and returned to school.
He started teaching school at 15. At 18, he organized a school in Lower Sandusky, Ohio (now Fremont). He extended the curriculum to include algebra, geometry, Greek and Latin. This so impressed the townsfolk that they constructed a building for the school, and when a certificate of incorporation was obtained for it, they named the school the Diocletian Institute in his honor. He had to work hard at his own studies to stay ahead of his pupils. Severe illness obligated him to give up the school after a year, and he never returned.
He decided to go into medicine, and worked for three years in the office of the physician for the Auburn State Prison. He then studied at the Harvard Medical School. Apparently a lack of funds prevented him from finishing the course there, and upon leaving he immediately opened up a medical practice in Port Byron, New York. His partner in that practice, Lewis McCarthy, interested him in homeopathy, and he attended the Homeopathic Hospital College of Cleveland, Ohio. In 1848, he opened a practice in Buffalo, New York. However, because he only received a degree in homeopathic studies and no M.D., his use of the title doctor was fraudulent and his practice of medicine was illegal. He began a monthly publication called The Homœopathist.
After a year in Buffalo, he married Helen Cecelia Clarke. In 1852, he gave up his practice and went south with her on behalf of her health. Three of her sisters had died of tuberculosis, and she was showing signs of the same disease. Lewis claimed to have used homeopathy to cure his wife Helen’s TB, and from that day his so-called “Consumption Cure” became well-known and profitable. Helen worked with Lewis on his publications, writing her own column on dress reform and woman’s health.