This article is from the Dr. Pepper FAQ, by Christopher Flaherty with numerous contributions by others.
There were at least two doctors relevant to this question: a Dr.
Charles T. Pepper, of Rural Retreat, Virginia; and a lesser-known Dr.
Pepper of Christianburg, Virginia. Both were alive in the late 19th
Century when Wade Morrison (the owner of the drug store where Charles
Alderton worked) moved to Texas from Virginia in the 1870's. And here
is where the confusion starts.
Until recently, the story was that Morrison had worked as a pharmacist
for a drug store in Rural Retreat owned by Dr. Charles T. Pepper, and
that since Charles had given Morrison his first job, Morrison returned
the favor by naming the new soft drink after him. Jeffrey Rodengen
describes this story in much greater detail in his book "The Legend of
Dr Pepper/Seven-Up." Rodengen even investigates the rumor that
Morrison named the drink after Dr. Pepper so that Pepper would approve
of his daughter marrying Morrison, concluding that since Pepper's
daughter was "only 8" when Morrison moved to Waco in 1882, the "love
story" must not be true. This is all fine information Rodengen dug
up, but there's one small problem: all of it may be false!
Milly Walker, the Collections Manager/Curator for the Dublin Dr Pepper
Museum in Dublin, Texas, sent me a letter on November 21, 2002,
describing a great deal of the research and information she had on who
the original Dr. Pepper might have been. This is some of what she had
The Pepper family of Virgina is apparently quite extensive.
Harry Ellis had quite a nice family history book about the Peppers,
and it is in the corporate archives in Dallas. What we found was that
according to the United States Census, Morrison lived in the town of
Christiansburg and worked as a pharmacy clerk. In that same census on
the next page (if I remember correctly) is another Dr. Pepper and he
has a daughter, Malinda or Malissa, who is only 16 to Morrison's 17.
If you understand that the census takers walked from house to house,
you can tell they were near neighbors. This makes much more sense to
me than Dr. Charles T. Pepper, 40 miles away in Rural Retreat.
Ms. Walker added: "There is not one piece of evidence that Morrison
ever worked for Dr. Charles T. Pepper in Rural Retreat, VA. As far as
I can tell, the stories about Morrison came to light after Harry
[Ellis] told them."
So, in other words, Morrison didn't name Alderton's new drink after
Dr. Charles T. Pepper because: 1) Morrison never worked for Charles T.
Pepper of Rural Retreat, Virginia, in the first place; 2) Morrison was
never in love with Charles T. Pepper's daughter; and 3) It's very
likely that Morrison named the drink after a completely different Dr.
Pepper of Christianburg, Virginia, and that *this* Pepper's daughter
was the one whom Morrison had been in love with all those years ago.
Moral of the story: It pays to do your research!