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JIM. 90 years ago: Dr. Wahoo & Eld. Barger

By "Jim"

You can blame today's column on my fumbling fingers. My intent was to search the July 12, 1911 News for items of interest a century later, but the aforementioned fingers, recalcitrant digits that they are, typed 1921 instead. Before I could escape the clutches of fourscore and ten years ago, this item in the Montpelier newsletter caught my eye:Mr. R.A. Stone, who is taking treatment under Dr. Wahoo, is improving.

Dr. Wahoo??

I rubbed my eyes and took a deep draught of, ahem, nerve restorative and general restorative, and looked again. The item still mentioned Dr. Wahoo--and off I went on a tangent, desirous to find out more about this mysterious man of medicine. It didn't take much backtracking to find a front page article from a few weeks earlier, presented as irrefutable facts to readers of the News:

Dr. A.J. Wawahoo

The subject of this sketch is an Indian herbalist who has been located for the past 3 or 4 months some 4 miles south east of Jamestown, Russell County, near the mouth of Lily Creek, a short distance above Greasy Creek Ldg. (Landing).

Dr. Wawahoo is reported as being a graduate from 5 of the leading medical colleges of this country; to have done special work at the University of Berlin, Berlin, Germany; and to hold a patent from the government to manufacture his own remedies.

He is 82 years old, a veteran of 5 wars, including 2 Indian wars; has 2 or 3 sons in Germany [and] 3 daughters with the Red Cross in Japan; and his parents are both living and enjoying life at the ripe old ages of 105 and 107. The doctor at this time has about 700 patients from all over the county and different parts of the state.

Dr. Wahoo's (or Dr. Wawahoo's) fame soon spread as far a Glensfork, as the community newsletter of July 19th reported he "was in our town last Thursday morning to see his patients."

Quite possibly, Dr. Wahoo (or Wawahoo, or Wawah) had first come to the attention of the News the latter part of May, as the edition of the 24th carried this report:

Dr. Wawah, a graduate physician who has been at the mouth of Lillie, in Russell County, treating patients for some weeks, was visited by Eld. F.J. Barger, of this place, last Tuesday.

Eld. Barger is a victim of a chronic trouble and he does not improve. He was advised to visit the above name doctor by friends who had been relieved. He was given a thorough examination, and was told that he would not have to undergo an operation.

The doctor did not have the medicine needed for the trouble, but stated that he was going to Louisville and would procure the necessary remedies, leaving them with him (Barger) on his return through Columbia.

Eld. Barger says he (Wawah) is a man 82 years old and is well educated. He is also an ordained Methodist preacher.

Eld. Barger, the father of Ores and E.B. "Cy" Barger, had removed to Bomar Heights (the area now known as Jamestown Street Hill) in 1908 or 1909 with his wife Addie (nee Williams) and sons Ores and E.B.) better known as "Cy"), from the Esto community, Russell County.

The August 23rd News carried two mentions of Eld Barger. One noted that he "improves very slowly," and the other stated he had gone to Louisville with his son E.B to consult with a specialist.The next mention of Eld Barger came in the October 4th paper, which carried the sad news of his passing on Sunday, October 1st, 1921. The obituary mentioned, in the delicate phrasing of the day, that he suffered from a "chronic trouble... near the neck of the bladder." Dr. O.P. Miller, who signed the death certificate, gave the cause of death as "cancer of the prostate gland."

Eld. Barger was three months short of his 69th birthday and for decades had labored in the vineyards of the Lord as minister of the Christian Church. The funeral service was conducted by his life long friend (and his wife's close kinsman), Eld. Z.T. Williams, and his remains were interred in the city cemetery.

Wrote the News of this departed gentleman,

There were many friends present to pay their last respects to an honorable and highly respected man...[H]is devoted companion and dutiful sons have lost their best friend.

Compiled by "Jim."

This story was posted on 2011-07-10 11:00:01
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