Mr. C.D. Roberts of 1900 E. Main was feeling a bit unwell. He had bad headaches, an irregular appetite, saw dark spots before his eyes and felt as if something in his stomach was alive.
Not sure what to do, Roberts consulted the European Medical Experts at 745 S. Main St., where he was treated with the secret cure of “The Great Fer-Don.” “He was prevailed upon to try it, with the result that his system was quickly relieved of this monster scores of feet in length,” surely the Loch Ness creature of internal parasites.
Mr. Fred Schaffer, 125 W. Colorado in Pasadena; Albert Crist of the Parker House on 5th Street; and others have been similarly cured, the ad in The Times says. The European Medical Experts miraculously used bloodless surgery to treat Mrs. M.J. Brenner of San Gabriel, relieving her of gallstones; removed a tumor from Mrs. Jack Rowell of 303 Central Ave. without an operation and treated half a dozen people for deafness.
One might wonder, since Main Street runs north and south, where “1900 E. Main” might be. More to the point, who is the Great Fer-Don?
One ad says, “He is a man of large build, has dark hair tinged with silver gray. His flow of speech is pleasing and magnetic. In his lecture and demonstration Fer-Don said: ‘I came to your city to introduce my medical compound discovery and bring with me some of the methods of the old world, which will be demonstrated to the public by the staff of European Medical Experts.”
Fer-Don is not a registered doctor with the state of California, but the staff members are, the ad says. And what miracles they worked: little lame children walked again and cancer was removed without a trace. He was a philanthropist too: Not only did the Great Fer-Don treat a poor Pasadena woman without charge, he gave her $50.
Among those providing testimonials was Capt. Vivian Edwards, who apparently won fame for crossing the country in a buggy pulled by goats. “I was in so great pain that I would have tried anything,” he said. “I would have suffered being cut open or would have drunk molten lead if I had thought it would bring relief.”
Three doses of medicine from the European Medical Experts was sufficient, however. “Like electricity, it went through my system,” he said. “In five minutes I knew I was going to find an end to pain. With the next dose I felt still better and the next morning with the third and last dose of this medicine I was relieved of a large number of gallstones.”
Before long, the Great Fer-Don was giving free lectures on a lighted platform in the vacant lot at 7th and Spring streets. The Diamond Cluster Band preceded his carriage and performed for 15 minutes before lectures. Eventually, Fer-Don added acts until he had an entire vaudeville show.
The Great Fer-Don said that he would leave Los Angeles on Jan. 1, 1908. But after announcing that he was staying indefinitely, the Great Fer-Don and his medical experts disappeared in May 1908.
When next heard from, James M. Fer-Don and his wife were being sought on a felony warrant from Sacramento. It seems that his $100 medical cure was nothing more than colored water. He appears to have been in Oakland about 1909 before vanishing permanently from the historic record.
e-mail: lmharnisch (AT) gmail.com