Chief Two Moon is a name to be remembered in the history of patent medicine in America. As the New York Times, on November 3, 1933, reported in its story of his death the previous day, “His immense `practice’ was more than a mere legend.”
CHIEF TWO MOON MERIDAS:
Two policemen were required to handle the traffic near his headquarters in Waterbury, Connecticut on Sunday mornings, and his register was crowded with the signatures of patients from all parts of the country. Hundreds insisted that he cured them where medical science had failed.
Indeed, Chief Two Moon is a part of America’s fascinating herbal, pharmaceutical, and medical history.
Chief Two Moon was born Chico Colon Meridan but later changed his last name to Meridas. His father, Chico Meridan, was born in Mexico, as was his mother, Mary Tumoon, from whom he no doubt took the name Two Moon. Where Chief Two Moon was born, no one knows with certainty.
It is believed that, as a young man, he sold herbs on the street comers of Philadelphia. In 1914, he married Helen Gertrude Nugent in Brooklyn, New York. On the application for their marriage license, he gave his address as 210 East 29th Street, New York City; his age was 26; his occupation, metal worker. In 1914, shortly after their marriage, Chief Two Moon and his wife moved to the Graf Rooming House on Griggs Street in Waterbury, Connecticut.
THE LEGEND PART
Here he began to make local history, selling his herbal medicines on the street and in parking lots as well as from his rooming house. Bitter Oil – the Wonder Tonic, brought patients to him from all over the country. Advertised as a laxative, it contained mineral oil, tincture of aloes, and compound tincture of gentian. When none of his patients died in the 1918 flu epidemic, his fame spread rapidly. Many of his patients were convinced that he had supernatural powers, enabling him to penetrate the minds of his patients, and to know intuitively answers to questions before they were even asked. He was also a sleight-of-hand artist and skillful in telling fortunes; these abilities drew crowds of people to him.
Chief Two Moon’s “Bitter Oil” product was sold at all leading drug stores or it could be obtained through salesmen or by mail order.
Chief Two Moon’s Bitter Oil came in three sizes. An 8-oz. bottle cost $1.00; the 12-oz. size, $1.25; and the large 16-oz. bottle, $l.50. Other items listed on the order blank of the Chief Two Moon Herb Co. were:
- All Herb Rheumatism Relief
- All Herb Stomach Relief
- All Herb Asthma Relief
- All Herb Female Tonic Relief
- All Herb Liver Relief
- All Herb Kidney Relief,
- All Herb Tonic (Builder) Relief
- Skin Cream
- Cough Elixir
- Pile Ointment, Liniment
- Household Ointment.
These, too, were available in the three sizes and at the same prices as he charged for the Bitter Oil. Each of Chief Two Moon’s medicinal mixtures contained a variety of herbs: His Nervine Tea contained: Hops, Cascara Sagrada, Black Cohosh Root, Lady Slipper Root, True Cramp Bark, Select Lavender, Valerian Root, Blue Malva Flowers, Celery Seed, Musk Root, Pulsatilla Herb. For his Rheumatism Tea, he used 11 herbs: Wintergreen, Yellow Dock, Black Cohosh, Uva Ursi, Birch Bark, Bittersweet Twigs, Cascara Bark, Buckbean Leaves, Coriander Seed, Burdock Root, Buchu Leaves.
But the Tonic Tea contained more herbs than any of his other products. It had 14: Fennel Seed, Dandelion Root, Licorice Root, Sarsaparilla, Senna Leaves, Cascara Sagrada, Sassafras Bark, Clover Tops, Juniper Berries, Chamomile, Mexican Saffron, Elder Flowers, Blue Malva Flowers, Calendula Flowers.
There was very little unique or even unusual in the Two Moon herbal formulas. They drew upon the conventional medical wisdom of the period and, in many cases, incorporated the same remedies, both botanical and chemical, that would have been utilized for the same conditions by practitioners of mainstream medicine. To peddle his herbal medicines throughout the area, Chief Two Moon had several buses for salesmen to travel in from point to point. He also owned a fleet of cars and an airplane.
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