University of Virginia Historical Collections at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library

Sweet Springs: Ledger charges for Dr. Oliver Bierne, 1855

Oliver Bierne (or Beirne) was the wealthiest man in Virginia in the middle of the nineteenth century, with holdings of about $6,000,000. Born in 1811 he was a graduate in medicine as the ledger indicates but never practiced. {Morton, 310-11} A businessman who became a part owner of Sweet Springs in 1852, he was associated with the establishment until his death in 1888. According to a Works Progress Administration research worker in 1936 Bierne and the proprietor of Sweet Chalybeate (Red Sweet Springs) were involved in a feud. Bierne supposedly convinced the surveyors of the Virginia—West Virginia line to run it between Sweet Springs and Red Sweet Springs so that Bierne would no longer have to reside in the same state as Mr. Kelly. The two springs are only a mile apart but the line does indeed run between the two and involves several 90 degree turns. {Venable}

Sweet Springs (West Virginia), Hotel Registers covering the years 1870-72, 1884-86, 1888, 1897, 1908, 2 volumes, Accession #421, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library.

The page from a Sweet Springs ledger shows the charges from June 30 to October 1, 1855 for Dr. Oliver Bierne. He paid for the boarding of himself, daughters, nieces, horses, servants, and various ladies. He also was charged for champagne and two decks of cards.


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