Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

The Carolina Oxypathor Company

N_53_16_4749 From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives; Raleigh, NC.

Pictured is the office of the Carolina Oxypathor Co. located at 124 W. Martin Street c. 1913, just a few doors down from the original News and Observer building. The photograph above was likely taken for an advertisement.

Oxypathor—It already sounds bogus, right? Well, your suspicions are well-founded. In the early 1900s, as the marvels of electricity continued to permeate the everyday lives of Americans, the science behind electricity was a mystery to most people—it was magic. This presented a lucrative opportunity for quacks and charlatans across a variety of fields.


Women are seen inside the office of the Carolina Oxypathor Co. N.53.17.519 From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives; Raleigh, NC.

One quack in particular, E. L. Moses of Buffalo, NY, developed the Oxypathor in 1910. This device consisted of a piece of tubular shaped metal filled with sand while its attached wires were fitted to a person’s wrists and ankles. The metal part sat in a bowl of water while the “patient” enjoyed the benefits of large quantities of oxygen absorbed through the skin. The Oxypathor claimed to heal a variety of conditions including disorders of the blood, pneumonia, typhoid fever, etc.


Oxypathor device seen in display case at NC State Fair. N.53.16.4746 From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives; Raleigh, NC.

Oxypathor device seen in display case at NC State Fair.
N.53.16.4746 From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives; Raleigh, NC.

In reality it was a better paper weight. A 1914 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated, “The Oxypathor belongs in the same class as the left hind foot of a rabbit caught in a graveyard in the dark of the moon.” The device retailed for $35 and cost just over $1 to manufacture. The company was basically printing money. Between 1909 and 1914 approximately 45,000 units were sold for a profit of over one million dollars—around 30 million in today’s dollars. In 1914 criminal proceedings were brought against E. L. Moses and he served an 18 month prison sentence. The fate of the proprietor running the Raleigh location is unknown, but surely karma caught up with him.


The Easter Blizzard of 1915

N.53.15.4971 From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives; Raleigh, NC.

N.53.15.4971 From the Albert Barden Collection, State Archives; Raleigh, NC.

Pictured is Morgan Street looking west at its intersection with Boylan Avenue. The large house seen on the left is roughly the same location as present-day Planned Parenthood. The house seen on the right (704 West Morgan Street) is extant, although modified. Likely sometime in the 1950s it gained asbestos siding and lost its porch. Thankfully, its Italianate eave brackets remain to this day.


Incredibly, this photograph wasn’t taken in the icy grips of winter—it was taken in spring, Easter Sunday of 1915 to be exact, after a destructive and record breaking weather event that crippled North Carolina and several other states. The front page of the News and Observer read, “Raleigh Flounesed [sic] In Grasp of Its Greatest Blizzard.” It was the deepest snow seen so late in spring and it decimated North Carolina’s electrical and communications infrastructure—toppling telegraph, telephone and power poles. The streetcars halted and the Edison bulbs dimmed as a result of high winds and wet snow falling continuously for over 17 hours. The newly formed Carolina Power and Light was the supplier of the juice and tasked with restoring service. To begin surveying the damage in Raleigh, CP&L sent employees and a photographer (possibly Cyrus P. Wharton or Manly Tyree) out to document the damage and cut live wires. They set out from the central substation at Method Road and headed east on Hillsborough Street, making photographs and surveying the destruction.

The entire series of photographs taken that day can be seen here. This photograph was the last of the series to be identified, being confirmed just last week using the 1914 Sanborn Insurance map and a healthy amount of study. In fact, there is an early historical marker in this photo. Can anyone spot it?

A Storied Structure: The Heck Andrews House — Inside Out

8x10 black glass ambrotype. c. February 2015

8″x10″ black glass ambrotype c. 2014 by Ian F.G. Dunn

What’s inside?
Generally speaking, this question has been nibbling at our collective elbows for millennia. What we can’t see, what we can’t quite imagine, possesses us with wonder. From the ancient pyramids to that perfectly good golf ball you destroyed at age 13, we just have to know what’s inside — we just have to. Many have wondered what opulence, or perhaps squalor, lie within the walls of the Heck-Andrews House on Blount Street.

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