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"Indian Miracle Man"? Chief Two Moons Meridas.| Chief Two Moon is a name to be remembered in the history of patent medicine in America. Who was he? Where was he born? Was he a Pueblo Indian as he claimed or not? There are some facts about Chief Two Moon that we will probably never know; but, as the New York Times, on November 3, 1933, reported in its story of his death the previous day, "His immense `practice' was more than a mere legend.


"Indian Miracle Man"? Chief Two Moons


"His immense `practice' was more than a mere legend.(1) Two policemen were required to handle the traffic near his headquarters in Waterbury, Connecticut on Sunday mornings, and his `register' was crowded with the signatures of `patients' from all parts of the country . . . .Hundreds insisted that he cured them where medical science had failed." Indeed, Chief Two Moon is a part of America's fascinating herbal, pharmaceutical, and medical history; the known facts concerning his life surely should be told.
Chief Two Moon was born Chico Colon Meridan but later changed his last name to Meridas. His father, Chico Meridan, was born in Mexico, as was his mother, Mary Tumoon, from whom he no doubt took the name Two Moon. Where Chief Two Moon was born, no one knows with certainty. According to Dorothy Cantor, education director of the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, Connecticut, Chief Two Moon claimed he was born in Devil s Lake, South Dakota, and so his death certificate states; however, Ms. Cantor s extensive research, which included correspondence with officials of the U.S. Department of the Interior as well as with people who had known the Chief, could not confirm the place of his birth.(2) From another source,(3) we are told that he himself did not know the year of his birth; however, his marriage license indicates that he was born in 1888, and that is the date on his tombstone. How he developed an interest in herbal medicine is also uncertain. It is believed that, as a young man, he sold herbs on the street comers of Philadelphia. Nevertheless, little, if anything, is known of him until 1914 when he married Helen Gertrude Nugent in Brooklyn, New York. [Ed. note| Loretta R. Nugent, co-author of this article, was married to Daniel Nugent, Helen Nugent's nephew.] On the application for their marriage license, he gave his address as 210 East 29th Street, New York City; his age was 26; his occupation, metal worker. In 1914, shortly after their marriage, Chief Two Moon and his wife moved to the Graf rooming house on Griggs Street in Waterbury, Connecticut. Here he began to make local history, selling his herbal medicines on the street and in parking lots as well as from his rooming house. When none of his patients died in the 1918 flu epidemic, his fame spread rapidly. Many of his patients were convinced that he had supernatural powers, enabling him to penetrate the minds of his patients and to know intuitively answers to questions before they were even asked. For example, a patient from Warren, Ohio, wrote, "His supernatural power of discerning ailments of the human body and prescribing relief places him at once in the front ranks of benefactors of his brother man." He was also a sleight-of-hand artist and skillful in telling fortunes; these abilities drew crowds of people to him.


It was, however, his "Bitter Oil -- the Wonder Tonic" that brought patients to him from all over the country. Advertised as a laxative, it contained mineral oil, tincture of aloes, and compound tincture of gentian. An advertisement in the Thursday, June 8, 1933, Manchester Evening Herald (Manchester, Connecticut) read as follows| This miracle medicine thoroughly lubricates, cleanses and revives the entire intestinal tract, removes all internal poisons, thus relieving constipation, gastric conditions, sick headache, biliousness, kidney and bladder troubles, etc. Consistent use will soon put vigor and vitality into any run-down system. His patients became so numerous that in 1921 he moved to a house at 33 Wales Street and before too long (1925-26) built a laboratory, which still stands today, at 1864 East Main Street in Waterbury. Letters of thanks and commendations of his products poured in from all around the country.(4) Mr. William Kellogg of Bridgeport, Connecticut, wrote a letter, dated July 24, 1928, thanking the Chief for all he had done to help his wife, and at the close of the letter said, "You have done so well by my wife, I want to ask you if you can advise me regarding my own case." Mr. and Mrs. George Robinson of South Portland, Maine, on January 27, 1928, wrote, "The work you have completed on Mrs. R. and myself certainly is worth publicity. Your diagnosis was correct. Your treatment, the same. The result, as you predicted. Cured. Who could do more?" On Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1929, Madelyn Grogan wrote, " . . . it almost stuns me when I think of what a miracle your apparently simple remedie s worked. I feel one hundred per cent now and my legs are well and strong again. Your Bitter Oil and herbs proved to be the Elixir of life for me, and while you must know that my heart is brimful of thanks, I sincerely hope that your name and fame will permeate every land and that the prayers of a happy and grateful people will ever be an inspiration and a blessing to you." Many other letters expressed the same feeling.
Chief Two Moon's "Bitter Oil" product was "Sold at all Leading Drug Stores," or it could be obtained through salesmen or by mail order. From the James A. Hetherington drugstore at 55 E. 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue in New York City came the following letter to Chief Two Moon on November 3, 1925| We have been handling Chief Two Moon Bitter Oil for the past two years and found it to be one of our most popular as well as profitable sellers. We cannot say too much for the agency of Bitter Oil. It has proven to be one of the best agency propositions we have ever taken on. The Hindle Drug Stores, Inc. of Bridgeport, Ct., wrote the following letter to the Chief on November 24, 1925| Due to the consistent advertising given Two Moon Bitter Oil, and the beneficial results obtained by customers who use it regularly, we find our sales of same to be very gratifying. Our sales average two gross a month, and are steadily increasing as the Oil becomes better known. Chief Two Moon's Bitter Oil came in three sizes. An 8-oz. bottle cost $1.00; the 12-oz. size, $1.25; and the large 16-oz. bottle, $l.50. Other items listed on the order blank of the Chief Two Moon Herb Co. were| All Herb Rheumatism Relief, etc., All Herb Stomach Relief, All Herb Asthma Relief, All Herb Female Tonic Relief, All Herb Liver Relief, All Herb Kidney Relief, All Herb Tonic (Builder) Relief, Skin Cream, Cough Elixir, Pile Ointment, Liniment, Household Ointment. These, too, were available in the three sizes and at the same prices as he charged for the Bitter Oil. A mixture of herbs from the big bins he had in his consultation room was $5 a bag. Each of Chief Two Moon's medicinal mixtures contained a variety of herbs. Below are listed the ingredients of some of Two Moon's products. His Stomach Tea, for example, had 13 herbs in it| Tinnevelly Senna, Coriander Seed, Gentian Root, Juniper Berries, Centaury, Calamus Root, Buckthorn Bark, Jamaica Ginger, Cascara Sagrada, Pale Rose Buds, Anise Seed, Lavender Flowers, Fennel Seed. The Female Tea contained| Squaw Vine, Motherwort, Chamomiles, True Cramp Bark, Uva Ursi, Ginger Root, Helonias Root, Celery Seed, Aletris Root, Mexican Saffron, Cascara Sagrada, Cornflowers, Black Haw Bark. Nervine Tea contained| Hops, Cascara Sagrada, Black Cohosh Root, Lady Slipper Root, True Cramp Bark, Select Lavender, Valerian Root, Blue Malva Flowers, Celery Seed, Musk Root, Pulsatilla Herb. For his Rheumatism Tea, he used 11 herbs| Wintergreen, Yellow Dock, Black Cohosh, Uva Ursi, Birch Bark, Bittersweet Twigs, Cascara Bark, Buckbean Leaves, Coriander Seed, Burdock Root, Buchu Leaves. But the Tonic Tea contained more herbs than any of his other products. It had 14. They were| Fennel Seed, Dandelion Root, Licorice Root, Sarsaparilla, Senna Leaves, Cascara Sagrada, Sassafras Bark, Clover Tops, Juniper Berries, Chamomile, Mexican Saffron, Elder Flowers, Blue Malva Flowers, Calendula Flowers. A few of Two Moon's other preparations and their ingredients were| Kidney Tea| Juniper Berries, Cascara Sagrada, Buchu Leaves, Uva Ursi Leaves, Chamomile Flower, Mexican Saffron, Dog Grass, Elder Flowers, Celery Seed, Cornflowers. Asthma Tea| Wild Plum Bark, Cherry Bark, Capsicums Liver Tea| Wahoo Bark of Tree, Gentian, Senna Leaves, Berberis aquifolium, Mandrake Root, Capsicums. Cough Elixir| Chloroform, Calcium Glycerophosphate, Creosote, Sodium Glycerophosphate, Terpin Hydrate, Alcohol 25% Base. Liniment| Camphor Gum, Oleoresin Capsicums, Oil of Rusci, Oil of Sassafras, Oil of Origanum, Spirits of Turpentine, Pine Oil. Skin Cream| Benzocaine, White Mineral Oil Russian, Zinc Oxide, Base Cream, Powdered Boric Acid, Spermaceti, White Petrolatum. Rectal Ointment| Powdered Alum, Benzoinated Lard, Powdered Nutgall, Stramonium Extract U.S.P., Precipitated Sulfur. Cathartic #1: Epsom Salts, Sulfuric Acid, Quinine Sulfate, Spirits of Anise, Burnt Sugar, Distilled Water. There was very little unique or even unusual in the various Two Moon herbal formulas. They drew upon the conventional medical wisdom of the period and, in many cases, incorporated the same remedies, both botanical and chemical, that would have been utilized for the same conditions by practitioners of mainstream medicine.
The source of the formulas is unknown but probably drew on the numerous formularies and dispensatories of the early twentieth century. To peddle his herbal medicines throughout the area, Chief Two Moon had several buses for salesmen to travel in from point to point. He also owned a fleet of cars and an airplane. Chief Two Moon charged nothing for his consultations, only for his tonics and herbs. Though his charges were small, he became very wealthy and is said to have spent his money on expensive clothes, furniture, and travels. However, he did give generously to the poor. The only condition he ever imposed upon those he assisted was that any help he gave would be kept secret. Therefore, not until his friends and beneficiaries came together after his death were the stories told of his charitable deeds. Mr. James Courtney, a friend of the Chief's and the proprietor of a market near the Chief's home, knew of more than 300 families in Waterbury for whom Chief Two Moon had purchased food and clothing, paid rent, provided fuel, and assisted in other ways. A man who had been unemployed for two years told of the Chief caring for his family and then getting him a job. A mother told of Two Moon advancing her several hundred dollars to pay for an operation on a crippled child.
A story that did ma ke the newspapers before his death concerned his generosity during the prior Christmas season. At that time, he distributed 200 turkeys, 4 tons of coal, 12 pairs of shoes, 200 dolls, a supply of candies, and 100 baskets filled with fruit and food to needy families in the city. In 1926, Chief Two Moon went to New York City where he was received by the mayor and given a public reception on the steps of New York's City Hall. He then traveled on to Washington, D.C., to see President Calvin Coolidge, but at the last minute, Coolidge changed his mind and did not meet the Chief. Chief Two Moon and his retinue continued on to Florida. As the story goes, the trip did not turn out very well for the Chief. He had to leave Jacksonville in a hurry because of some displeasure he caused the authorities there.
Then his publicity agent, Anne Whelan, accused him of not paying her the salary he said he would. She settled out of court. Chief Buffalo Bear, a Sioux Indian, sued Chief Two Moon because of a broken wage agreement. The latter, it was claimed, had said he would pay Chief Buffalo Bear $35 a week plus a year's board; instead, he was discharged after the Florida trip. Though he sued for $1,000, he settled for $450. In Atlantic City, officials gave the Chief the keys to the city. By 1928-29, the Chief Two Moon Herb Co. had a business on Atlantic City's famous Boardwalk -- 1623 Boardwalk, to be specific. William Spotted Crow and his family worked for Two Moon at this "Indian temple," the facade of which did indeed look like some kind of an ancient Indian place of worship. Later, however, the Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce refused to let Chief Two Moon continue to do business there. It was believed that, had he received permission from them, he would have moved his business from Waterbury to Atlantic City. For most of his adult life, Chief Two Moon tried to prove he truly was an American Indian. In 1929, he traveled to the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota hoping that the Oglala Sioux would make him a chief of their tribe. He left disappointed, however; in spite of the $500 he had given the chiefs of the Sioux tribe for the ceremonies when he was there (the chiefs had expected more), he was given only the title of honorary chief and "friend of the Indians." Undaunted, he planned another trip to South Dakota and, according to his agents' correspondence, was willing this time to pay more for the title he coveted. Serving as an influential helper of Chief Two Moon, Mr. William G. Sorrentino of New Haven wrote to Richard Whalen, the postmaster -- and an interpreter -- at Pine Ridge reservation, in June, 1930, regarding this second trip. After some further correspondence, it was agreed that Chief Two Moon would donate $1,000 or so with the stipulation that his name be given as th e sponsor of the Pine Ridge rodeo, that he receive "a royal welcome" and "be made chief of the tribe with all honors and ceremonies usually [sic] for such events."


Thus, during this visit in the late summer of 1930, Chief Two Moon was presented with a document proclaiming him chief of all the Sioux. Try as he would, however, he could never get the Department of the Interior to certify that he was an American Indian. Correspondence with senators, officials of the Department, and even an army general, was to no avail. He was never officially acknowledged as an American Indian. In the early 1920's, some Waterbury residents, because of the complexion of his skin, tried to prove he was of African-American origin; this claim also remained unproven. However, a headline in the November 29, 1929, edition of the New York Evening Journal read, "Indian Miracle Man Besieged by Sick," and in the first paragraph it states, " . . . a dapper, coffee-colored American Indian has become famous as a modem miracle man." The New York Times article referred to earlier described him as "the colorful little brown man in the big, white sombrero." It seems that every publicity story about him referred to Chief Two Moon as an Indian, as did all of his thousands of patients. During his visit in August of 1930 to the Pine Ridge reservation, Chief Two Moon noticed that many of the older members of the Sioux tribe were troubled with constipation and stomach disorders. Upon his return to Waterbury, the Chief Two Moon Herb Co., not realizing it was contrary to government regulations, shipped some of its Bitter Oil product to Richard Whalen, the postmaster at Pine Ridge who agreed to distribute it among the Indians if permission to do so was received from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Consequently, the Chief Two Moon Herb Co. wrote a letter to the Commissioner on October 15, 1930, requesting "permission to have this distributed (gratis) . . . .This `Bitter Oil' is composed of the highest grade of Russian mineral oil that can be obtained in the market, combined with extracts of roots and herbs, and has been of benefit to thousands suffering with constipation and kindred stomach troubles."(5) Permission was no doubt granted.


In the fall of 1930, Chief Two Moon and his wife traveled to Europe where, on October 20th, they, wearing "the customary full dress attire required by papal regulation,"(6) had a private audience with Pope Pius XI. The Vatican newspaper called him the "leader of the Indians,"(2) and Italian surgeons and physicians saluted him for his "cures," calling him the "great medicine man from America."(3) Dr. G. Colazza of Rome sent a letter to the Chief at his hotel in Rome, the Hotel Palace, stating, "I hope you did not mind my submitting you to various and difficult tests with several of my patients . . . .You showed remarkable insight on the cases and in many instances your finding out the diseased organ without any suggestion or local examination seemed incredible . . . ." Mr. Sorrentino, however, left the Chief's service in Rome, explaining later that "I helped the chief through the other achievements but I could not bring it upon myself to humbug the Pope." Sorrentino was sure that the Pope believed he was giving an audience to East Indies Indians, not American Indians, because Two Moon had introduced his wife to the Pope's secretary as an Indian princess. When the secretary mentioned that Indian princesses lost their titles upon marriage, the Chief explained to her that East Indian tribes allowed their women to keep their titles after marriage. Thus, the presumed deception, although the Chief probably did not intend for his statements to mislead. He may have been speaking about Indian customs in the tribes of Eastern United States.
During the last couple of years of his life, Chief Two Moon spent much of his time in courtrooms. In the New York City Court, he was convicted of practicing medicine without a license. The State of Connecticut also brought him to trial on five counts of practicing naturopathy without a certificate or license. Evidence was obtained by the state police, and a warrant served on May 3, 1932. John H. Cassidy, Chief Two Moon's attorney, fought over the interpretation of state statutes. He quoted from section 2772 of the 1930 general statutes which defined the practice of naturopathy as " mechanical manipulation but not internal medication." Cassidy made headline news as he ridiculed the state statutes, but he lost on the point. In October 1932, Chief Two Moon brought, at his expense, 26 Sioux chiefs to Waterbury to speak on his behalf in the trial with Sorrentino and in regard to his being an Indian.



Among the chiefs were six who said they had been in the battle of the Little Big Horn 57 years earlier when Custer's 7th Cavalry was wiped out. They were Stephen Standing Bear (a noted Indian artist), Little Crow, Black Moccasin, Catches Enemy, Little Bear, and Charles Turning Hawk (one-time president of the "Black Hills Council").(9) Five of the chiefs were with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show; three others were with the "Miller Brothers 101 Ranch Wild West Show;" three others attended the Carlisle Industrial Indian School. On their way to Waterbury, the group stopped off for about two hours in Van Wert, Ohio, and the following are quotations from the Van Wert Daily Bulletin of October 19, 1932."A band of Sioux Indians, the party including twenty-three braves and three squaws . . . made a peaceful invasion of Van Wert late yesterday afternoon (the 18th), while traveling on a goodwill trip to Waterbury, Connecticut. In keeping with the traditions of that fighting tribe . . . the members of the party were garbed in native costume with the chiefs wearing the ornaments indicating their high office . . . . "The visiting Sioux band was headed by four leaders, Chief Turning Hawk, Chief Spotted Crow, Chief Black Horn and Chief Standing Bear, with two interpreters, M.E. Kidney, private secretary to Chief Two Moon Meridas . . . and Frank Goings, who fills the office of Marshall of Indian Police, and, also, Judge Noah Bad Wound, Indian legal adviser, and Richard Whalen, United States government interpreter at the Pine Ridge Reservation . . . .the goodwill tour is a courtesy extended to the Sioux by Chief Two Moon Meridas, of Waterbury, widely known as `The Man With the X-Ray Eye,' the head of a proprietary medicine company, the owner of a large estate in Connecticut and one of the richest Indians in the country. Chief Two Moons (sic) Meridas is meeting the expense of the goodwill tour and will entertain the Sioux in lavish manner during their stay in Waterbury . . . ."
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the next day, the group visited the state capitol, dined, and paraded through the downtown. The Naugatuck Daily News reported, "They sang weird tribal songs and through interpreters told of their feats in hunting, fishing and fighting." Upon the group's arrival at its destination in Waterbury, the Waterbury' Democrat, in an article on the front page of its November 5, 1932, issue, noted that the purpose of this trip was to give depositions in the defense of Chief Two Moon. William Sorrentino had filed a $10,000 suit in the New Haven Superior Court some months earlier against his former employer who, he claimed, had failed to keep his part of an agreement. The $10,000 was to have been paid to Sorrentino in return for getting Chief Two Moon recognized as an honorary chief by the Sioux. Five of the Sioux chiefs signed depositions, however, stating that Chief Two Moon had been acknowledged as supreme chief of the Sioux at a huge ceremony with over 100 chiefs and 8,000 Indians present at Pine Ridge reservation on August 6, 1930, and, further, that Sorrentino had nothing to do with this action.
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Those five chiefs signing the depositions were: Chief Turning Hawk, Chief No Water (these were the two who had the final say as to who was, or was not, a member of the Sioux tribe), Chief Spotted Crow (chief of police at the Pine Ridge reservation), Chief Noah Bad Wound (retired judge of the reservation court, appointed by the U.S. government), and Chief Kills Crow. At Chief Two Moon's Beacon Valley estate, the Sioux chiefs performed tribal rituals at a barbecue and dance which was attended by 450 persons from the area.(13) The Naugatuck Daily News on November 12, 1932, reported, "The affair was probably the most unique conducted in the history of the vicinity." Speakers included Frank W. Hayes, mayor of Waterbury; Charles A. Templeton, ex-governor of Connecticut; John T. McGrath, judge; John T. Monzani, coroner; and Mrs. A. Webster, commissioner of education, just to mention a few. All, the article stated, praised Chief Two Moon "for the charitable acts he performs each year anonymously" and "for the good work he is doing in general." On the Sioux chiefs' return to the Pine Ridge reservation, they stopped in New York City where Acting Mayor McKee greeted them on the steps of City Hall and where, dressed in full regalia of warbonnets, beaded shirts, and bright colored pantaloons, the chiefs entertained the New Yorkers with a spectacular war dance.

New York papers carded three-column pictures of the ceremony. Within the year, Chief Two Moon became ill. Without realizing the greatest desire of his life -- to be officially acknowledged as an American Indian by the U.S. Department of the Interior -- he died on November 2, 1933, at his home, of cirrhosis of the liver. He was buried in Hillside Cemetery in Roslyn, Pennsylvania. The cause of his death remains something of a mystery. Friends reported that they had never seen the Chief intoxicated. It is possible that some of the herbs in his medicines were hepatotoxic, but an examination of the various formulas does not reveal any obvious responsible ingredient. Many of the formulas did contain alcohol, but consumption of a sufficient quantity to cause cirrhosis would certainly have produced an obvious state of drunkenness, at least on occasion. And thus the life of the "modern miracle man" came to an end.
Chief Two Moon himself never claimed to have performed a healing miracle, giving credit instead to nature's remedies; however, thousands of his patients believed he cured them of their ills when physicians had given up all hope. Joseph D. Marrese, one of the Chief's admirers in Westwood, New Jersey, wrote on August 19, 1931, "After being given up by the doctors, I learned of Chief Two Moon Meridas. After 3 weeks treatment with the Chiefs Bitter Oil and Herbs pains began to disappear . . . .Today thanks to Chief Two Moon Meridas I am free from pain and can honestly say that I never felt better in my life." Another friend, Melvin Bodley of Poughkeepsie, New York, wrote the Chief in 1922, saying, "I was treated by local doctors for a long time, but could not see much improvement, only at times. I was finally induced to try your Bitter Oil, and I can frankly say that after using the first bottle I began to pick up and after finishing the third bottle I felt like a new man." Most of his out-of-town visitors (he would not call them patients) had come from New York City, New Jersey, or Long Island, but cars with license plates from Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania often lined both sides of Wales Street where his home and office were located in Waterbury. Though sometimes called a charlatan, he was more often praised as a hard-working, compassionate folk doctor, and, of course, for the healing properties of his herbal medicines. Among the numerous letters of thanks he received was one, written March 23, 1928, from J. S. Braren, pastor of St. Mark's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jamaica, New York. Pastor Braren said, in part, "Having arrived in the critical age of the middle fifties . . . I found myself lacking in vitality . . . a few organs misbehaving. Then I gave myself into your skillful care and for three months followed your regime as faithfully as possible. Now after the interval of four months I can say . . . I have enjoyed perfect health without even becoming the victim of a single winter cold; I have carded on my work with unusual vigor and success . . . I certainly attribute this physical and mental alertness to the splendid treatment received at the hands of Chief Two Moon Meridas, whom naturally I greatly admire both as man and as wonderful benefactor of an ailing humanity." Oscar Tschirky, the famous "Oscar of the Waldorf" and creator of the delectable Waldorf salad, was another loyal believer in the Chief's herbal potions. However, perhaps one of Chief Two Moon's most prized testimonials came from Eva Tanguay, a well-known vaudeville star of the time, who, on October 18, 1929, sent a telegram to him from Hollywood saying, "Send another bottle of your bitter oil quick." That, indeed, is a request that would please any patent medicine "miracle man," true-blooded American Indian or not.
FOOTNOTES (1.) Anon., "Chief Two Moon dies in Waterbury," New York Times, November 3, 1933. (2.) F. Juliano, "Chief Two Moon: quack medicine man or true man of medicine?" Waterbuy Republican, October 1, 1989. (3.) Anon., "Chief Two Moon, showman and medicine maker, passes," Waterbury Republican, November 3, 1933. (4.) The quotations and formulas that follow are abstracted from an extensive collection of Chief Two Moon letters and other memorabilia in the possession of two of the authors (T.J.F. and L.R.N.). (5.) Letter from Chief Two Moon Herb Company, Waterbury, Connecticut, to Commissioner of Indian Affairs, dated October 15, 1930. Supplied to T.J.F. courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (6.) Anon., "Pope received American Indian," New York Times, October 21, 1930. (7.) Personal communication, Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, Connecticut, to T.J.F. (8.) Steinberger, B., "Chief Two Moon: museum tells story of local popular Indian," Waterbuy Republican, October 22, 1983. (9.) Anon., "Mayor McKee Greets Sioux chieftains at City Hall," New York Times, November 19, 1932. (10.) Anon., "The day the Indians invaded Van Wert," Van Wen Daily Bulletin, October 19, 1932. (11.) Anon., "Sioux Indians on way to visit Chief Two Moon," Naugatuck Daily News, October 20, 1932. (12.) Anon., "Sioux tribe sends five chiefs here," Waterbury Democrat, November 5, 1932. (13.) Anon., "Over 450 attend Indian barbecue and dance here," Naugatuck Daily News, November 12, 1932. Article copyright American Botanical Council. ~~~~~~~~ By Thomas J. Fillius; Loretta R. Nugent; Virginia Tyler and Varro E. Tyler">Reprinted from Pharmacy in History, Vol. 37 (#3, 1995): 143-151, the quarterly journal of the American "Chief" Two Moon Meridas (1888? - 1933) was an American seller of herbal medicine who claimed that he was of Sioux birth.

Meridas was born Chico Colon Meridan, son of Chico Meridan and Mary Tumoon; his exact place and date of birth are unclear. Later, his marriage certificate records his birth at Devil's Lake, South Dakota on August 29, 1888, but this information in unconfirmed.

By 1914 Meridas was selling herbal medicines in the streets of Philadelphia and New York. In New York he met Helen Gertrude Nugent and later married her. Shortly afterwards they moved to Waterbury, Connecticut.

Meridas began to sell his herbal medicines from his house. Contemporary newspaper accounts stated that during the 1918 influenza epidemic, none of his patients died. This increased his prestige and clientele. His most famous product was "Bitter Oil", a laxative that was widely marketed as a cure-all.

In 1921 Meridas moved to a larger house and established an extensive and prosperous herb business in a storefront at 1898 East Main Street. He built his own laboratory at 1864 East Main Street in 1925. His business increased to such an extent that he had a fleet of buses for his salesmen and an airplane. He took money only for his products, not his advice. He spent lavishly but also surreptitiously donated to charities and to the poor.

In 1928 the Atlantic City gave him the keys to the city when he founded his Indian Temple there.

Meridas claimed that he was a Pueblo Indian. However, the Unites States Department of Interior refused to certify that he was an American Indian, although he was presented as one in his publicity. On August 6, 1930 the Oglala Lakota Sioux of the Pine Ridge Reservation gave him the honorary title of chief, due to his financial help during the Great Depression.

In October 1930 Meridas and his wife traveled to Europe to meet Pope Pius XI.

In May 3, 1932 Meridas was indicted and later convicted of practicing medicine without a license in New York and Connecticut. In November 1932 Meridas brought 26 Sioux to Waterbury to speak for his defense, some of whom stated that they had taken part of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. They also stated that Meridas had been named an Honorary Chief of the Sioux. They later celebrated at Meridas' Beacon Valley, Connecticut estate.

Two Moon Meridas died on November 3, 1933.