The following are just a few pictures of the pioneer cemetery and community garden at Mill Spring Pioneer Village. The garden area had to be enclosed because local farmers also ran a large herd of approximately 350 pigs in the narrow valley. The original wooden fence was later replaced by the CCC with a stone wall. In addition to food, the garden also served as a pharmacy of sorts, as medicinal herbs were also grown to combat the common illnesses of early settlers. Locals were attended to by a self-taught physician, Dr. Jacob Lemon, who worked out of the apothecary. Dr. Lemon mixed his own medicines, and no doubt made ample use of the herb garden.
As an interesting side note, during the 1800's, most states did not require Doctors to be licensed. By 1850, the only states that had laws overseeing medical licensing were Michigan, Louisiana, New Jersey, and Washington DC. So pretty much anyone could practice medicine during this time period.
Treatment for illnesses focused on alleviating symptoms, not the actually illness or disease, which was allowed to run its course due to lack of knowledge of the causative agents of the illness. Hospital stays were very rare, and most often happened only when an operation was required. Treatment usually occurred in the patient's home by a traveling doctor, who may have accepted trade goods for treatment. Doctors would accept pigs, chickens, eggs, and other farm produce as payment for services.
Some of the common ailments affecting pioneers included broken bones, wounds, influenza, Pertussis (Whooping Cough) and chronic diseases such as arthritis, gout, and TB (Consumption). Epidemic diseases such as Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Scarlett Fever, Cholera, Diphtheria, & Smallpox could decimate and kill entire families, and even villages. Furthermore, it was not uncommon for women to die from complications during childbirth.
Gargles, herbal teas, tonics, oils, salves, cold and hot compresses were commonly used for a variety of ailments, as well as camphor, willow bark (Aspirin), opium, morphine, and even toxic chemicals such as mercury-based elixirs. Judging by the alcoholic content of some of the medications, even if they didn't actually work, I bet the patients were feeling no pain, after taking a couple good doses. Kinda like Lucille Ball's
Some of the more interesting medications and placebos found in apothecaries at the time include:
- Bovinine Tonic : (Mixture of alcohol, glycerin, salt, and cow's blood) for nervous exhaustion, anemia and diseases of the blood.
- Carter's Little Liver Pills : For headache, constipation (laxative), dyspepsia, and gallbladder disorders.
- Cocaine Pills: for toothaches.
- Dr. Kilmers Swamp Root : A kidney, liver, and bladder cure, in addition to rheumatism and dropsy.
- Laudanum (Tincture of Opium) : a painkiller often mixed with alcohol for headaches, TB, rheumatism, insomnia, coughs, and "women's troubles".
- Merchant's Gargling Oil : (Mixture of petroleum. soap, benzine, iodine tincture, ammonia water, and oil of amber) used as a "Liniment for man or beast" and used for wounds, bruises, burns, stomach cramps, asthma, and unidentified pains.
- Mrs. Winslow's Soothing Syrup : (Mixture of morphine, sodium carbonate, spirits foeniculi (alcohol), and aqua ammonia) for quieting restless infants, and teething. Came under scrutiny in early 1900's with reports of Infant deaths.
- Scott's Emulsion of Cod Liver Oil : (Mixture of cod liver oil, hypophosphites of lime and soda, and glycerin) for consumption, coughs, conditions of wasting, anemia, and ricketts.
- Shaker Extract of Roots : Used for dyspepsia.
- Syrup of Sarsaparilla : (Mixture of alcohol, epsom salts, sugar) for digestive disorders, dysentery, complicated disorders of females, and liver ailments.
- Tilden's Extract : (Cannabis Extract) "Used with success in hysteria, chorea, gout, neuralgia, rheumatism. tetanus, hydrophobia and the like."
Loved these stone arches! Told my husband I wanted to build something similar for our little garden! I would do the stonework if he could just make me a temporary wooden form for the arch. Ever since I watched the "Secret Garden", one of my favorite movies, I have always wanted a walled garden.
The following is a list of plant and herbal medicines that were often used by pioneers to alleviate common ailments. The effectiveness and claims of some of these treatments may have been more of a placebo effect, than as an actual working cure, and some plant based medications could be downright toxic and deadly :
- Aloes : Antibacterial for wounds, hemorrhoids and as a laxative (Constipation).
- Beet Juice : Used to detoxify blood and for kidney stones.
- Camphor : Mixed with olive oil for croup, rheumatism, chest colds, asthma, and hysteria.
- Carrot Poultice : Applied to boils, to draw out infections.
- Catnip : Given to colicky babies with colds, fevers, bronchitis, measles, and chickenpox.
- Clover Blossoms : Arthritis, gout, insect stings, and to enrich the blood.
- Echinacea : Urinary tract infections, kidney ailments, and influenza.
- Elder Berry : Rheumatism, gout, arthritis.
- Elm Bark : Antiseptic, poultice for boils and ulcers.
- Flaxseed : Pneumonia, colds ,bronchitis, and digestive disorders.
- Garlic : Fevers, bronchitis, and whooping cough, thrush, cramps, and intestinal worms.
- Ginger Tea: Stomach aches, fevers, and colds.
- Lavender: Fevers, cuts, wounds, insect stings, asthma, coughs, insomnia, migraines, nervousness.
- Onions: Chopped, and placed in sick rooms as it was falsely believed to help stop the spread of communicable diseases such as smallpox.
- Peach Tree Leaves : Sedative, nausea and vomiting.
- Peppermint : Given to colicky babies with colds, cramps, and "female" ailments.
- Rhubarb : Constipation. burns, boils, carbuncles, and "female" ailments.
- Sage : Intestinal worms, and upset stomachs.
- Molasses : Mixed with sulfur to make a spring tonic.
- Mustard : Used in a poultice for respiratory ailments such as chest colds, asthma, pneumonia, and influenza.
- Tansy Tea : "Female" Illnesses.
- Thyme : Rheumatism, and sprained muscles.
- Yarrow : Colds, burns, wounds, abscesses, fever, and sore throat.
The Blacksmith shop sets at the edge of town, not far from the Carriage house.
The carriage house had a small covered wagon and antique horse buggy. So cool!
Finally, after driving around for a while, we found a road that passed by the old pioneer cemetery located on top of a ridge 1/4 mile SE of the village. We spent some time exploring the cemetery, and found several graves from the early 1800's. Among the tombstones, we found several graves of infants, and young women who had died in childbirth, a common occurrence in the "old" days. The average age of those buried in the cemetery is 27, which is pretty young!
Absolutely loved the stonework of the front entrance to the cemetery! So awesome!
One of the oldest headstones in the cemetery belonged to a soldier who fought during the War of 1812, between England, the United States, and Napolean's France.
The one thing that really impressed me about this cemetery is the fact that the caretakers of this historic site went to a lot of trouble to make sure that most of the headstones were well supported in the back. I Have visited many old cemeteries, and its always so sad to see broken headstones scattered about. Unfortunately, It looks like the graveyard may have been vandalized at some time in the past. Loved the stone masonry and common symbolism of the hand pointed upward on this weathered tombstone.
We were able to locate the graves of Hugh Hamer, the Mill's owner, and his son William.
For anyone who is interested, found 2 awesome websites and excellent genealogical resources, loaded with pictures, census records, and newspaper sources of the Hamer family history at the following: