Sunday, November 2, 2014

My great, great grandfather on his Negro woman's snake bite

Via comment by Ray on "Healing the Sick and Wounded" -- The North Caroli...

"Thanks for a very interesting report. I guess I am reminded of how much knowledge of our fauna we have lost. I don't think I could identify half of the barks, trees, & shrubs mentioned. However the knowledge of cleanliness alone offsets this loss."

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https://lh3.ggpht.com/-VZhHyFRf5qY/UMTSAPlTM4I/AAAAAAAAC5w/MtJy-ZvkD9I/s1600/IMG_0192.JPG

FOR THE TARBORO PRESS

Mr. Howard: 

For the benefit of the public I wish you to publish the following. A few days past (in the morning) one of my Negro women was badly bitten by a poplar leaf highland moccasin snake. She came to me while at breakfast evidently in great pain, with two small holes on the side of her left foot, the bloody water issuing therefrom. I immediately opened the holes with my lancet, to nearly the size of a common blood-letting orifice, to which I applied a composition of hartshorn, sweet oil and laudanum, with some other simple remedies. I then started in search of a weed I had heard recommended. I obtained this weed about 3 o'clock in the evening. At this time her foot was much swollen, and she appeared in much pain. I beat a part of the weed, gave her a table spoonful of the juice in a glass of milk, and bound the beaten weed to her foot. Before night her foot was assuaged and next morning she went to work without any complaint, entirely well.

It is my desire that every person should know this powerful antidote against snake poison. It is like throwing water on fire for efficacy. It is found in the woods, generally on the edge of swamps, creeks, and branches: grows up similar to the common garden plantain, though generally it has but two or three blades of leaves. The wide or upper part of the leaf is scalloped somewhat like the poplar leaf, and invariably has a nut or smooth round root at the surface of the earth, about the size of a red oak acorn; to the taste it is more bitter than quinine. Every family ought to keep it on hand; when dried it should be beaten and boiled in milk. It is my opinion, that no person would ever sustain any injury of consequence from a snake bite, if the juice of this weed could be given immediately; it will, however, cure if given afterwards in time. 


Jos. Jno. Pippen 
Edgecombe Co. N.C. Sept. 2, 1839


(My G, G Grandfather) On His Negro Woman's Snake Bite

2 comments:

  1. Brock, do you have any idea what that plant might be? I spent a lot of time in the eastern NC swampland as a child. It sounds familiar to me but I have no idea what it is. I'd sure like to know more. CH

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  2. two or three blades of leaves. The wide or upper part of the leaf is scalloped somewhat like the poplar leaf, and invariably has a nut or smooth round root at the surface of the earth, about the size of a red oak acorn

    Me too, could you draw something like the description as that would be a start? Reminds me of "Leaves of three, let it be".

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