Many hard rock miners came to the town of Delamar in the mountains ofeastern Lincoln Country in the late 1890’s. Ed Dula was one of those. He and his wife built a small cabin, like many others, out of the native local rock. Some of these homes could still be seen on the hillsides around the ruins of town as late as 1956, according to a story, with photos, published in the Las Vegas Sun.
The Dula family had several children while Ed worked in the mines. As reported in the newspaper article, the youngest son of the family was Tommy.
A sickly child, as an infant little Tommy was saved from death by “a mixture of cornstarch and whiskey.” An odd combination to say the least.
For unknown reasons Tommy couldn’t survive on breastmilk, as the other children in the family had done. Bottle formulas didn’t exist in those days. Or if they did, it was certainly beyond the ability of the mountain mining town of Delamar to have any.
Mrs. Dula said, “the poor little fella sickened on cow’s milk, too. He was losing weight and cried all the time. I tell you it was awful. We were afraid every day would be his last.”
Delamar had a doctor, whose name is not mentioned, but apparently he was of no real help. “He had me try diluted canned milk,” Mrs. Dula said, “but that didn’t work either.”
An old Irish woman was living in Delamar with her son and his family. She heard about the problems with little Tommy Dula. She had a solution: Boil some cornstarch and water into a thin gruel, she said. Then strain it free of lumps. Add two teaspoons of Grade A whiskey to the pint. Irish whiskey was probably preferred.
Both ingredients were easy to come by. The general store had cornstarch, and whiskey, of that Delamar had plenty. Nobody said it had to be Irish whiskey, so it may not have been, just Grade A stuff, and that was not hard to find.
Mrs. Dula was desperate to try anything, and hurried to the task, “and with some misgivings,” gave the mixture to the baby. It worked. Little Tommy survived, grew up, worked for and later retired from the Union Pacific Railroad, and was one of Caliente’s best known citizens.