Pioneer woman detailed son’s ailment
June 27, 2007
Emma Nevada Barton Loftus’ son Chester Barton had chronic stomach trouble. Emma wrote frequently about his problem in her diaries from 1917 until she stopped writing in 1958.
He pursued every avenue to find what the problem was. Every doctor around this area at one time or another examined him and prescribed different remedies, but none were successful. He spent days in bed with a bland diet trying to ease the pain.
One time in the late 1920s, Emma and Chester spent several months in San Francisco trying to solve his medical disability. Emma was seeing a doctor there due to eye problems. Doctors took many X-rays of Chester, but nothing showed up to indicate he had ulcers although he was treated for this malady.
Chester decided to go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., to see if they could get to the bottom of his complaints. In May 1940, Chester, his wife, Helen, a friend named Julia and Emma left for the Mayo Clinic. It would have been a very tiring trip as Chester would drive 550 miles a day, and, as most folks said, he drove like a “bat out of hell.” He was remembered as driving with two speeds – fast and stop.
Emma noted it was 1,990 miles to Rochester. And, if you don’t think inflation has had us by the throat, they spent $29.23 for gas and meals for the four of them, totaled $31.06.
When they arrived in Rochester, they rented an apartment. Extensive tests were going to be taken to determine the cause of Chester’s stomach problems. They spent two weeks at the clinic. After tests and X-rays, they learned Chester didn’t have ulcers. But they didn’t discover the cause of his problem. The medical tests cost $200.
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Emma noted that Chester and Helen never missed a chance to fish along the way. She said they caught 17 pike at Gull Lake. On their way home, they fished the Yellowstone River and caught three big trout. Emma also noted it cost $1.50 a night to stay in motor inns. (It was a little more at Yellowstone).
They squeezed a lot into that trip, leaving Dayton on May 27 and arriving back home on June 18. As far as Chester’s stomach problems, he suffered with them to his grave. Over the years, he tried every kind of alternative medication available to stop the problem, including Chinese herbs. I wonder if they could have found his problem today.
The Dayton Museum is located on Shady Lane and Logan in Old Town Dayton. It’s open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays and 1- 4 p.m. Sundays.
Check the Web site: daytonnvhistory.org. Group tours are available. Call 246-5543, 246-0462 or 246-0441. The Historical Society of Dayton Valley meets the third Wednesdays at noon at the Dayton Valley Community Center.
• Ruby McFarland has lived in Dayton since October 1987, she serves as a board member of the Dayton Historical Society and a docent at the museum.