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As It Was: Applegate Miner Employs Unusual Use of River Sand

Southern Oregon pioneer William Bybee eagerly shared his cure for common digestive troubles based on a woman’s home remedy.

He was working in the Applegate Valley mine fields in 1861 when he became very ill.  He had tried many cures and medicines and had spent heavily on doctors without curing his dyspepsia.  A Mrs. Wimer of that region suggested her remedy.

Bybee had little hope that something so simple would help, but he was desperate.  After a few days his health improved and after a few weeks he was eating regularly again.

It was so simple and so cheap.  He gathered some remedy material, washed it carefully and dried it in the oven.  Just one teaspoon after a large or discomforting meal cured the problem.  Bybee always carried a vial of the stuff with him and shared it frequently.

He asserted this was the only medicine he had taken for 40 years and he was in good health at the age of 71.

What was this miracle cure?  Simply a teaspoon of common, river-bottom sand with a swallow of water.

Source: "Odd Cure for Dyspepsia: Southern Oregon Man Uses Dry, Clean, Sand." Morning Oregonian, Oct. 1901 [Portland, Oregon], p. 7.

Alice Mullaly is a graduate of Oregon State and Stanford University, and taught mathematics for 42 years in high schools in Nyack, New York; Mill Valley, California; and Hedrick Junior High School in Medford. Alice has been an Southern Oregon Historical Society volunteer for nearly 30 years, the source of many of her “As It Was” stories.