George F. Berger

15 07 2012

In 1905, 48 people were admitted to the Oregon State Insane Asylum with a diagnosis of “alcoholism” and 16 for syphilitic symptoms.[1]  George F. Berger was one of those people.

Berger was born in Wisconsin in April of 1869 to Frank and Margaret Berger, Germans who had immigrated to the United States from what is now Baden-Württemberg.[2]  His family, including an older sister Mary, farmed in Randolph, Courtland, Columbia County, Wisconsin.[3]

Sometime between 1870 and 1880, the family moved to Oregon.  By the 1880 Federal Census, George was 12 years old and living on Olive Street in Eugene.  Father Frank is no longer in the picture and mother Margaret is going by the last name of Haney, suggesting she may have remarried.  With a two year old brother named Jacob Berger, it would further suggest that George’s father died or left sometime between 1878 and 1880, leaving George as the man of the house at a very young age.

Due to an unfortunate fire which destroyed the 1890 Federal Census, we are forced to pick up George’s trail again in Oregon City in 1896 when we find him working as a bartender for Thomas Trembrath.[4]  Four years later, he had moved back to his mother’s 5th Street home in Eugene, where he and his now 21-year-old brother both worked as bartenders.[5] Berger did not keep a low profile after his move back to Eugene.  He was arrested and fined for gambling at least twice.  As a 1903 Oregonian article reported: Read the rest of this entry »

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Cure by Hangover? — 1951

30 03 2011

The following is a transcription of an article that appeared in the Capital Journal newspaper September 20, 1951 (page 15).  Prior to the introduction of specially designated substance abuse recovery and treatment centers, OSH was one of the few places people could go to get help with alcoholism.  Even in the earliest records, alcoholism is frequently mentioned as reason for admitting people to the hospital.  A 1916-1917 report of “causes of insanity” of people brought to the Oregon State Hospital lists alcoholism as 6th in known causes.  This article gives an interesting perspective into treatment practices during the 1950s.

Cure by Hangover? State Hospital Pioneers New Cure for Alcoholics

By Paul W. Harvey, Jr. (Associated Press Special Correspondent)

If you’re an alcoholic and want to get cured, just go to the Oregon state hospital and take the antabuse treatment.

If you keep taking antabuse the rest of your life, you’ll never take another drink. That’s because antabase combines with alcohol to form a poison in the blood stream.

Taking a drink after antabase makes you think you’re going to die.  The blood pressure rises, quickly, then falls so low it might cause severe shock.  The eye balls pop way out.  Then you get violently sick at your stomach.

Antabuse, a newly-discovered chemical, is only one of the many treatments the state hospital uses to try to cure alcoholics.  Actually, it is used on only about three per cent of the hospital’s alcoholism victims.

Since antabuse is dangerous unless given under a doctor’s supervision, it can be obtained only from a few selected doctors.

The state hospital is one of the very few in the country that treats alcoholics.

Dr. Dean Brooks, assistant to the hospital superintendent, has charge of treating the ever-increasing number of alcoholics.  He doesn’t make any big claims, asserting the treatment is helpful in only 30 per cent of the cases.

Read the rest of this entry »