Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.
This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is a street scene with imposing buildings, most with signs announcing the work offered by their tenants. When these drivers posed in front of their trucks in 1941, the Elkton Lithia Bottling Company had been in business for about 35 years.
Bottling lithia water was a logical enterprise for Elkton. After all, the town is situated near three lithia springs. These natural mineral springs were unique in that they contained lithium salts known for various health benefits.
|ad in New York Daily Tribune Dec. 1901|
from Chronicling America
Newspapers of the late 1890s and early 1900s are full of humorous testimonials affirming the wonders of lithium water. Eminent doctors with glowing credentials claimed immediate relief from gout, gravel in the bladder, insipient Brights Disease, nervous dyspepsia, rheumatism, “female complaints,” eczema, and just about any disease associated with the kidneys and digestion. And those claims weren’t in support of just any ol’ mineral water. No, water from Bear Lithia Springs in Virginia was the best, so there should be no reason for anyone to look elsewhere.
|Hotel at Bear Lithia Springs 1890s|
photo courtesy of Casey Billhimer
In the early to mid-1900s, resorts boasting the presence of hot springs and mineral springs were almost guaranteed a steady flow of tourists in search of relaxation and better health. Elkton was right in the mix with several large hotels advertising not only being close to the lithium springs but also having it available right in the hotel itself.
|from Richmond Times Dispatch 1920|
An ad for the Elkton Hotel in 1917 promised modern conveniences including private bath, water pumped from the springs, and “no malaria, always cool.”
Bear Lithia Springs is midway between Elkton and the town of Shenandoah where my relatives lived for many generations (and some still do). They visited Bear Lithia Springs often for picnics, fresh air, and maybe even to cure that nagging nervous dyspepsia.
While it is now spelled “Bear,” the spelling was originally “Baer” for the family who lived there originally: Jacob and Barbara Baer, who were among the first German settlers in the Shenandoah Valley. Small world factoid: my sister’s college roommate from Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania is a descendant of the Baer family of Virginia.
For more signs of the times, please visit Sepia Saturday.