The Elixir of Life

According to an interesting  old newspaper article,  there was in 1876 a mineral spring at Milltown (now Lakeland) in Berrien County, GA, not far from Rays Mill (Ray City), with amazing restorative powers. One wonders if the spring was promoted strictly for the tourist trade, or was it visited by the locals of Milltown, Rays Mill, and Berrien County?

In 1876, Dr. Charles S. Herron, of Washington, D.C.,  brought his brother, James B. Herron, to Berrien County seeking treatment for tuberculosis at the Milltown mineral spring .  James B. Herron, a disabled veteran of the Civil War, worked as janitor for the Smithsonian Institute, a position he obtained upon the recommendation of General (later President) James A. Garfield.

Atlanta Constitution
December 17, 1876

THE ELIXIR OF LIFE.

Consumption and Scrofula Cured.

Berrien County Comes to the Front as a Health-Center for Consumptives.

    The resources of Georgia are almost illimitable.  Her people are scarcely cognizant of her grandeur, her undeveloped wealth and natural advantages. Hundreds yearly flock to northern watering places when we have as good in our midst.  Scores visit Hot Springs, Arkansas, when, as the subjoined letter will show, we have a more wonderful spring in our state.
    Quite a number of the citizens of Atlanta have tried the virtues of its waters for scrofulous complaints and were speedily cured.
    The following letter details a wonderful cure by this:

MINERAL SPRINGS NEAR MILLTOWN, GA.

    At Bank’s mills, near Milltown, Berrien county, Georgia, is a spring, the water of which possesses very decided medicinal properties.  The value of the water for the relief and cure of disease is, I believe, of quite recent discovery.  I first heard of the spring in 1874, from friends living in the state of Georgia, and such were the reports I received that I became interested and was anxious to have a test of its virtue under my own observation, but had no opportunity of doing so until January of the present year.
    In 1875 the health of my brother, J. B. Herron, of the Smithsonian Institute, began to fail and he passed into a rapid decline.  His disease was phthisis pulmonasis (pulmonary consumption), the exciting cause of which was doubtless a wound through the lungs, received a few years since.  I need not give a minute description of his symptoms or a history of the case.  There was a general impairment of life, and the functions of nutrition were so prostrated that the tissues wasted by disease could not be repaired.  He expectorated a great deal.  His breathing became very labored, and he could not speak above a whisper without bringing on a paroxism of coughing.
    I had the counsel of the best medical talent in this city in his case, but the treatment proved only palliative.  His case was considered hopeless, and I was told he could never recover.
    As a last resort I was anxious that he should go to Milltown and test the value of the spring in his case, and after a great deal of persuasion I induced him to go, and I accompanied him.  When we left this city it was not expected that he would return alive, and on the way persons who saw him predicted that he was beyond all earthly remedies.
    We arrived at the spring on the 20th day of January, and he immediately commenced to use the water.  For a few days I could discover no change in his condition, but in about a week the change for the better was very marked. His circulation improved rapidly, night sweats were arrested.  His cough gradually subsided, and there was a better performance of the principal functions of the body generally.  He regained his appetite and strength.  His vitality was raised, and there was a rapid renewal of life.   He returned home in March, and has not been absent from the institution on account of sickness a day since his return.
    I used the water freely myself, and its effects were soon very perceptible. I became rapidly invigorated.  There was a renewal of mental and physical activity, and I could perform more labor with less fatigue than I had been able to do for years.
    I have no personal knowledge of other cures affected by the waters, but I have been informed of quite a number of well authenticated cases, principally of pulmaonary and scrofulous diseases, and also a number of very aggravated cases of deranged menstrual function in females and diseases resulting therefrom, and in every case of this nature, in which the water has been tested, it has proved specific.  Some of these cases were very remarkable, and were it not that a detailed account of them would make this article too long, I would relate them.
    For healthfulness, the locality of the spring is unsurpassed by any section of the United States, and is less subject to sudden changes of temperature than many places I have visited further south. 
    Invalids and others who have a taste for hunting and fishing, will find there unlimited opportunities for its gratification, as game is abundant, and fishing is unsurpassed anywhere I have visited north or south.
    So confident am I as to the great value of this spring in connection with the genial climate and other pleasant surroundings that, when consulted, I shall invariably recommend invalids who contemplate going south to visit it.
    The spring is the property of Henry Banks, Sr., of Atlanta, Georgia.  The accommodation for cure can be had in the neighborhood at very reasonable rates.  Valdosta, on the Atlantic and Gulf railroad, is the nearest station from which conveyance can be readily obtained.     What I have written is entirely in the interest of invalids, as I have no pecuniary interest whatever in the spring.  But I have an interest in it far above any pecuniary consideration, for under my own eyes I witnessed its curative effects in case of one who is very dear to me, who, from a condition considered hopeless one year agon, has been restored, and is now enjoying a reasonable degree of health and strength.

Washington D. C., Dec. 4th, 1876.
C. S. Herron, M.D.

elixir-of-life

In the Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year 1882, Spencer F. Baird, Secretary Smithsonian Institution, wrote:

The melancholy duty devolves upon me of announcing the death of two employes of the Smithsonian Institution during the past year. The two whose loss I have to record are Dr. George W. Hawes, curator of the department of mineralogy and economic geology in the National Museum, who died on the 22d of June, 1882; and Mr. Joseph B. Herron, janitor of the National Museum, who died on the 9th of April, 1882….

Joseph B. Hereon, a native of the State of Ohio, was born August 7, 1839, at New Cumberland, Tuscarawas County. He was engaged in the military service of his country at the period of the late civil war, having enlisted in 1862, in the 98th Regiment of Ohio Volunteers, at the age of 23 years.

It was but a few months after his enrollment in the national defense that he took part in the battle of Perry ville, Ky., on which occasion he received a bullet wound through his body, the ball entering the chest on the left side, passing through his lung obliquely, narrowly escaping the heart, and out at his back on the right side of the spinal column, near the right shoulder blade. He unfortunately lay on the battle-field from Wednesday until Saturday before receiving any medical attendance. From the effects of this severe and dangerous wound he never fully recovered. He was, however, restored to a moderate degree of health and strength, and was able to attend to light duties.

In 1866, on the recommendation of General J. A. Garfield and General E. E. Eckley, he was appointed by Professor Henry janitor of the Museum at the Smithsonian Institution, which position he held until his death. He was always gentle and courteous in his deportment; and though the injury to his lungs incapacitated him for exerting any special activity, or any great physical effort, he was always punctual and attentive to his duties. He was a member of the Society of the “Army of the Cumberland,” and of the “Grand Army of the Republic.” He was one of the Guards of Honor to the remains of President Garfield while they lay at the Capitol in Washington, and accompanied the funeral of the deceased President from this city to Cleveland. In these exertions he probably overtasked his strength; for on returning to this city from the state funeral, he went into a somewhat rapid decline, and though able to walk about his house to the last day of his life, he died rather suddenly of pulmonary consumption at his residence in Washington, on Sunday morning, April 9th at 7 o’clock, at the age of 43 years, after a service in this Institution of sixteen years.

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1 Comment

  1. Bill Outlaw said,

    January 20, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    As usual, I enjoyed this post. Thanks for your work.


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