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Myers Remedies cabinet
At one time, there were several thousand of these Myers Remedy Company medicine cabinets in small towns throughout 13 states, serving millions of customers. All of the Myers medicines were prepared and packaged in Philippi.

“Are You Sick?”
Dr. J.W. Myers and his Remedy Company

By Barbara Smith

Early in the 20th century, Dr. J.W. Myers set a high standard for medical practice in Barbour County and throughout the region. Because of a shortage of health care, Dr. Myers established the first local telephone system in the Philippi area, followed by a successful medical remedy company, eventually serving more than a million people in at least 13 states. The world-renowned Myers Clinic, also founded by Dr. Myers and his sons, stands as a living monument to this dedicated physician and his remarkable family.

Jehu Winfred “J.W.” Myers was born in Tucker County in 1872. After a childhood on the family farm, he “read medicine” for three years with a local physician. Overcoming his father’s resistance, he then went to Physio-Medical College of Indiana. Immediately after graduation in 1895, Dr. Myers began practicing medicine in Nestorville, Barbour County. He found himself traveling day and night to visit patients. He would ride until the horse wore out, then come home, switch his saddle and medicine cases to a fresh mount, and start out again. Eventually, he bought a sulky, not only to relieve himself of having to ride horseback, but also to give himself time to read medical journals while he traveled.

His practice continued to grow, as did the realization that he could not meet the needs of the region without adequate communication. So he ran a telephone line from his house to those of his father and brother-in-law. This service grew into the Citizens United Telephone Company, serving 1,700 customers in five counties. Dr. Myers built the first switchboard in Nestorville himself, later building three more switchboards to accommodate more than 1,000 miles of wire. His wife, Mrs. Lennie Crim Johnson Myers, was the first switchboard operator.

This communication system was not enough, however. Dr. Myers decided that ill people in those rural areas needed direct help until a physician could reach them. From his own office supplies, he prepared a quantity of simple drugs such as antiseptics and laxatives. To begin with, he sent these remedies directly to people needing them. He then began placing small supplies at various convenient locations in the area of his practice. When a telephone call came, Dr. Myers asked questions, made a preliminary diagnosis, and told the patient what drugs to obtain. As soon as possible, Dr. Myers followed up with a visit.

The cabinets of basic medicines were often the only help available to hundreds of people who were far from doctors’ offices or drugstores.

You can read the rest of this article in this issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.