Wednesday, June 10, 2015

(LUKE) R. O. Luke and the Miracle Cure

Every generation has its snake oil cures.

Richard Osmer Luke, my great grandfather, was featured in a
testimonial in a 1930 newspaper. “‘Wonderful!’ Thousands Say of New Sargon,” it began.

According to the advertisement, after taking multiple bottles of Sargon Luke noticed incredible bodily improvements:

“The pains in my…leg have entirely disappeared! … my nerves have been strengthened. I enjoy sound, refreshing sleep, and my whole system is…built up and invigorated.”

“Sargon Pills straightened out my liver, cleansed my system of poison [and] regulated me perfectly.”

“I feel like a different man.”

“My wife is as happy as a child over my wonderful improvement!”

Most of these pronouncements are suspect, but perhaps Sargon did assist regularity: one of its primary ingredients was a laxative. The other was grain alcohol.

Despite its popularity, the medical cure-all was essentially a fraud.

Line of descent:
Richard Osmer Luke, 1870-1938
Russell Victor Luke, 1905-1996

- Newspaper article from The Salt Lake Tribune, May 18, 1930, page 11, available at
- Some of the Sargon information is from

Thursday, June 4, 2015

(SCOFIELD) Sex, drugs, and on parole - Maud Cheshire's teenage travails

Teenagers can be a lot of work. George Cheshire, my husband’s 3rd-great grandfather, certainly knew that.

At 15, his daughter Maud ran away from home, possessed of the “childish notion that married life [was] absolutely necessary to her existence.”1 Fortunately, she was discovered before she was able to leave Utah for Montana, where she was supposed to meet her paramour. She “sassed her aged father,” however, and refused to return home. George asked the police to intervene, charging that Maud’s associates were “questionable, to say the least.”2

For her part, Maud alleged “that her stepmother treats her cruelly, often striking her with a walking stick.” Maud’s brother told police that she “had always been inclined to run wild”; her father seemed to agree--rather than denying her charges of corporal punishment, he said she deserved it.3

Five days after running away Maud was arrested. Two days later, she went to court “and pleaded guilty to the charge of residing in a house of prostitution.” Calling her associates “questionable” was evidently an extreme understatement. Maud’s sentence was suspended when an aunt agreed to take charge of her, and Maud “promised to do better.”4

Promises, promises.

Two months later, Maud was arrested again. She and another girl were picked up in a rooming house, located above a saloon5, on charges of prostitution. The detective “testified that the girls bore a bad reputation, and had been in the hands of the police on several occasions on similar charges.”6 The girls admitted that “two gentlemen” had rented the room for them.

The judge remanded Maud to the state reform school and Maud “clapped her hands in glee.” She explained that she “had lots of friends there.”7

After 3 or 4 years’ incarceration (at the school), Maud was paroled.8  Whether through conformity or discretion, she kept her name out of the papers for almost a decade, with the exception of a brief notice that she was getting married.9

Unfortunately, matrimony did not make it easier for Maud to abide family life or social conventions. After 7 years of marriage, her husband filed for divorce.

Her husband alleged that during their married life, she had “become accustomed to the use of drugs and that she also…acquired the habit of entertaining other men.”10 One night, “when he came home at midnight…his wife was entertaining another man and…when he remonstrated against such action she struck him with her fist and threatened to carve him with a knife.”11

The divorce was quickly granted.

Maud didn’t have long to regret or rejoice in her return to singleness. Nine months later, she died of a heart condition, worsened by morphine use. She was 28 years old.

Line of descent:

George Cheshire, 1822-1908 (Maud's father, mentioned in the article)
Thomas Cheshire, 1843-1925
George Cheshire, 1873-1935
Clara Lavon Cheshire, 1915-2007


1 - Salt Lake Herald, 17 Oct 1899, page 3
2 - Salt Lake Herald, 19 Oct 1899, page 5
3 - Salt Lake Herald, 19 Oct 1899, page 5
4 - Salt Lake Tribune, 24 Oct 1899, page 5
5 - Salt Lake Herald, 28 Dec 1899, page 3
6 - Salt Lake Herald, 14 Jan 1900, page 5
7 - Salt Lake Herald, 29 Dec 1899, page 5
8 - Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Sep 1903, page 3
9 - Salt Lake Herald, 29 Sep 1904 or 1905, page 5
10 - Evening Standard, 3 Sep 1912, page 9

11 - Evening Standard, 3 Sep 1912, page 9

These newspapers are all available at either or