J Martin Littlejohn bestrides osteopathic history especially in Chicago, Illinois, USA and in Europe. This article re-addresses much that has been written. His brother, James Buchan Littlejohn has never been acknowledged as an equal partner in formulating coherent principles, meanwhile James developed a lucid direction for US osteopathy against vitriolic osteopathic pressure. Although James’s distinct vision has never been recognised, he laid out a blue print for osteopathy to evolve into osteopathic medicine. His path was protecting major surgery as an integral subject within the core curriculum of Kirksville and Chicago and later, introduction of materia medica into the Chicago course as a prelude to opting for prescribing drugs. An irretrievable falling out between the two brothers meant that J Martin Littlejohn never stated James’s valuable contribution in his writings. This paper reasserts the dangers of hagiographical approach in placing osteopathic pioneers on a pedestal, divorced from a social historical context. Much of their cherished ideas were those attributed to or co-authored by others, unmentioned persons like James Buchan Littlejohn. Both brothers represent distinct paths for the profession’s development: James’s in the vanguard of those advocating its place within mainstream medicine and academia; JML’s located within Protestant non-conformism, a metaphysical component and complementary medicine. Importantly, their Littlejohn College ideals envisaged broader causative factors than the spinal lesion to dysfunction which were rejected outright by the profession. Whereas James’s reputation was enhanced and JML’s declined, under considerable duress from external institutions neither brother could sustain their working or personal relationship.