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June 18, 2018 / Joanne Yeck

Healing Waters: “Premium Bitters”

Advertisement c. 1894. Courtesy Peachridge Glass.


In 1855, “going to the springs” or “taking the waters” was part of standard medical practice for restoring health and curing specific disorders. In May of 1855, a testimonial from J. W. A. Saunders of Buckingham County sent to Elisha Baker, singing the praises of a bottled water called “Premium Bitter,” was printed in the Richmond Enquirer:

COTTAGE, May 17th, 1855,

Near Curdsville, Buckingham Co., Va.

Mr. Elisha Baker:

Dear Sir. My wife having been for many years affected with Liver Complaint and Nervous Debility, hearing of your “Premium Bitters,” she was induced to give them a trial. After trying a half dozen bottles, she found her health much improved, and her digestive organs greatly strengthened; and as a tonic she finds it is indispensable in her case, and continues to use it to her improvement. —It is a very popular medicine with many of my neighbors, and it is becoming almost in general use as a tonic in this section.

With my best wishes,

I am yours, truly,

J. W. A. Saunders

N. B. —Several influential gentlemen in this County will send you certificates of most important cures affected by your Premium Bitters and their families. We all concur in its being the most valuable medicine ever introduced to the section of the country.


J. W. A. Saunders.

The manufacturer, E. Baker of Richmond, responded to Saunders, providing a long list of druggists who carried the product, including Walter H. Middleton in nearby Farmville.

Learn much more about E. Baker and Premium Bitters at “E. Baker’s Premium Bitters – Richmond.”

For more about healing waters, consult “’Going to the Springs’ in Buckingham County,” in “At a Place Called Buckingham,” Volume Two.


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