Topic: Medicine

An Historical Sketch of the Seneca County Medical Society

At the anniversary meeting of the Seneca County Medical Society held at Waterloo, July 23, 1885, a resolution was introduced by Dr. S. R. Welles, and adopted by the Society, that a committee be appointed which should prepare biographical sketches of members of the Society from its earliest history to the present time. As a result, this manuscript was published which includes 75 biographies of the early pioneers of the Seneca County Medical Society.

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The Choctaw Rainmaker

The Choctaws had several classes of dignitaries among them who were held in the highest reverence: The Medicine Man or Prophet, the Rain Maker, the Doctor a veritable chip of Esculapius. Well indeed did each fill his allotted position in life, and faithfully discharge the mystic duties appertaining thereunto, both in their own opinion as well as that of their people. The Choctaws Materia Medica, like all their race, was Nature, herbs and roots furnishing their remedies both externally and internally; and the success with which they used those remedies proved their knowledge of the healing properties of the various herbs and roots” in which their extensive forests abounded. They had a specific for the, bite of the sintullo (rattle snake). Their doctors relied much on dry cupping, using their mouth alone in all such cases. Oft have I witnessed the Choctaw physician, east of the Mississippi river, administering to the necessities of his suffering patient through the virtues found in the process of dry-cupping; Stretching the sufferer upon a blanket spread upon the ground, he kneeled beside him and began a process of sucking that part of the body of which the patient complained, or where, in his own judgment, the disease was located, making a guttural noise during the operation that reminded one of dog-worrying an opossum; at different intervals raising his head a few inches and pretending...

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Biography of Doctor Shubael Converse

The son of Shubael and Phoebe Converse was born at Randolph, Vt., September 7, 1805. He studied his profession with Doctor R. D. Mussey of Hanover, N. H., and at Dartmouth College, graduating at that institution in 1828. Soon after he settled in Strafford, where he resided in the practice of medicine until 1837, when he purchased the business and homestead of Doctor Horace Hatch at the southern border of Norwich village, and removing there was engaged in the active pursuit of his professional duties for a period of thirty years, until his sudden decease August 6, 1867. Doctor Converse possessed in a high degree the respect and confidence of the community, both as a citizen and a physician. A man of enlightened views and much public spirit, he was especially interested in the cause of popular education. He was superintendent of schools in Norwich from 1846 to 1854, and again in 1855 and 1856. After the removal of Norwich University to Northfield in 1866, he was prominent in establishing the Norwich Classical and English Boarding School the following year. He represented the town in the legislature in 1845 and 1846 and was chosen a Senator from Windsor County in 1855 and 1856. Among other young men who pursued medical studies with Doctor Converse at Norwich were Doctor Henry Baxter of Highgate and Doctor Charles D. Lewis of Kentucky....

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Yuchi Medicinal Ceremonies

What has so far been said in regard to the treatment of disease deals only with what might properly be called shamanism. Besides the regular practice of curing disease, which is in the hands of especially qualified persons, there are various methods employed by individuals for themselves when attacked by sickness or threatened with it. The town itself celebrates a public ceremony when threatened with evil in the shape of sickness, or when actually suffering from some epidemic. When a man becomes sick and does not desire to employ a shaman to cure him but prefers to treat himself,...

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Plants Used in Cherokee Medicine

The results obtained from a careful study of this list may be summarized as follows: Of the twenty plants described as used by the Cherokees, seven (Nos. 2, 4, 5, 13, 15, 17, and 20) are not noticed in the Dispensatory even in the list of plants sometimes used although regarded as not official. It is possible that one or two of these seven plants have medical properties, but this can hardly be true of a larger number unless we are disposed to believe that the Indians are better informed in this regard than the best educated white physicians in the country. Two of these seven plants, however (Nos. 2 and 4), belong to genera which seem to have some of the properties ascribed by the Indians to the species. Five others of the list (Nos. 8, 9, 11, 14, and 16) are used for entirely wrong purposes, taking the Dispensatory as authority, and three of these are evidently used on account of some fancied connection between the plant and the disease, according to the doctrine of signatures. Three of the remainder (Nos. 1, 3, and 6) may be classed as uncertain in their properties, that is, while the plants themselves seem to possess some medical value, the Indian mode of application is so far at variance with recognized methods, or their own statements are so vague and conflicting,...

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The Inâli Manuscript

The Inâli Manuscript In the course of further inquiries in regard to the whereabouts of other manuscripts of this kind we heard a great deal about Inâ´li, or “Black Fox,” who had died a few years before at an advanced age, and who was universally admitted to have been one of their most able men and the most prominent literary character among them, for from what has been said it must be sufficiently evident that the Cherokees have their native literature and literary men. Like those already mentioned, he was a full-blood Cherokee, speaking no English, and in the course of a long lifetime he had filled almost every position of honor among his people, including those of councilor, keeper of the townhouse records, Sunday-school leader, conjurer, officer in the Confederate service, and Methodist preacher, at last dying, as he was born, in the ancient faith of his forefathers. On inquiring of his daughter she stated that her father had left a great many papers, most of which were still in her possession, and on receiving from the interpreter an explanation of our purpose she readily gave permission to examine and make selections from them on condition that the matter should be kept secret from outsiders. A day was appointed for visiting her, and on arriving we found her living in a comfortable log house, built by Inâli himself,...

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Other Manuscripts Used in Cherokee Formulas

Subsequently a few formulas were obtained from an old shaman named Tsiskwa or “Bird,” but they were so carelessly written as to be almost worthless, and the old man who wrote them, being then on his dying bed, was unable to give much help in the matter. However, as he was anxious to tell what he knew an attempt was made to take down some formulas from his dictation. A few more were obtained in this way but the results were not satisfactory and the experiment was abandoned. About the same time A’wani´ta or “Young Deer,” one of their best herb doctors, was engaged to collect the various plants used in medicine and describe their uses. While thus employed he wrote in a book furnished him for the purpose a number of formulas used by him in his practice, giving at the same time a verbal explanation of the theory and ceremonies. Among these was one for protection in battle, which had been used by himself and a number of other Cherokees in the late war. Another doctor named Takwati´hi or “Catawba Killer,” was afterward employed on the same work and furnished some additional formulas which he had had his son write down from his dictation, he himself being unable to write. His knowledge was limited to the practice of a few specialties, but in regard to these his...

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Ceremonies for Gathering Plants and Preparing Medicine

There are a number of ceremonies and regulations observed in connection with the gathering of the herbs, roots, and barks, which can not be given in detail within the limits of this paper. In searching for his medicinal plants the shaman goes provided with a number of white and red beads, and approaches the plant from a certain direction, going round it from right to left one or four times, reciting certain prayers the while. He then pulls up the plant by the roots and drops one of the beads into the hole and covers it up with the loose earth. In one of the formulas for hunting ginseng the hunter addresses the mountain as the “Great Man” and assures it that he comes only to take a small piece of flesh (the ginseng) from its side, so that it seems probable that the bead is intended as a compensation to the earth for the plant thus torn from her bosom. In some cases the doctor must pass by the first three plants met until he comes to the fourth, which he takes and may then return for the others. The bark is always taken from the east side of the tree, and when the root or branch is used it must also be one which runs out toward the east, the reason given being that these have imbibed...

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Cherokee Formula to Frighten Away A Storm

Cherokee Formula for This Is To Frighten A Storm Yuhahi´, yuhahi´, yuhahi´, yuhahi´, yuhahi´, Yuhahi´, yuhahi´, yuhahi´, yuhahi´, yuhahi´-Yû! Listen! O now you are coming in rut. Ha! I am exceedingly afraid of you. But yet you are only tracking your wife. Her footprints can be seen there directed upward toward the heavens. I have pointed them out for you. Let your paths stretch out along the tree tops (?) on the lofty mountains (and) you shall have them (the paths) lying down without being disturbed, Let (your path) as you go along be where the waving branches meet. Listen! Explanation of This Is To Frighten A Storm This formula, from A’yû´nini’s book, is for driving away, or “frightening” a storm, which threatens to injure the growing corn. The first part is a meaningless song, which is sung in a low tone in the peculiar style of most of the sacred songs. The storm, which is not directly named, is then addressed and declared to be coming on in a fearful manner on the track of his wife, like an animal in the rutting season. The shaman points out her tracks directed toward the upper regions and begs the storm spirit to follow her along the waving tree tops of the lofty mountains, where he shall be undisturbed. The shaman stands facing the approaching storm with one hand stretched...

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Importance Attached To Names in Cherokee Formulas

In many of the Cherokee formulas, especially those relating to love and to life-destroying, the shaman mentions the name and clan of his client, of the intended victim, or of the girl whose affections it is desired to win. The Indian regards his name, not as a mere label, but as a distinct part of his personality, just as much as are his eyes or his teeth, and believes that injury will result as surely from the malicious handling of his name as from a wound inflicted on any part of his physical organism. This belief was found among the various tribes from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and has occasioned a number of curious regulations in regard to the concealment and change of names. It may be on this account that both Powhatan and Pocahontas are known in history under assumed appellations, their true names having been concealed from the whites until the pseudonyms were too firmly established to be supplanted. Should his prayers have no apparent effect when treating a patient for some serious illness, the shaman sometimes concludes that the name is affected, and accordingly goes to water, with appropriate ceremonies, and christens the patient with a new name, by which he is henceforth to be known. He then begins afresh, repeating the formulas with the new name selected for the patient, in the confident hope...

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Cherokee Formula for Song For Painting

Cherokee Formula for Song For Painting Yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi. I am come from above-Yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi. I am come down from the Sun Land-Yû´nwehi. O Red Age’yagu´ga, you have come and put your red spittle upon my body-Yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi. And this above is to recite while one is painting himself. Explanation of Song For Painting This formula, from Gatigwanasti, immediately follows the one last given (For going to water), in the manuscript book, and evidently comes immediately after it also in practical use. The expressions used have been already explained. The one using the formula first bathes in the running stream, reciting at the same time the previous formula “Amâ´yi A´tawasti´yi.” He then repairs to some convenient spot with his paint, beads, and other paraphernalia and proceeds to adorn himself for the dance, which usually begins about an hour after dark, but is not fairly under way until nearly midnight. The refrain, yû´nwehi, is probably sung while mixing the paint, and the other portion is recited while applying the pigment, or vice versa. Although these formula are still in use, the painting is now obsolete, beyond an occasional daubing of the face, without any plan or pattern, on the occasion of a dance or ball play. Cherokee Original (YÛ´nWE´HI UGÛ´nWA’LI II.) Yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi. Galû´nlati, datsila´i-Yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi, yû´nwehi. Nûndâgû´nyi gatla´ahi-Yû´nwehi. Ge’yagu´ga Gi´gage, tsûwatsi´la gi´gage...

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Indian Medicine

Medicine is an agent or influence employed to prevent, alleviate, or cure some pathological condition or its symptoms. The scope of such agents among the Indians was extensive, ranging, as among other primitive peoples, from magic, prayer, force of suggestion, and a multitude of symbolic and empirical means, to actual and more rationally used remedies. Where the Indians are in contact with whites the old methods of combating physical ills are slowly giving way to the curative agencies of civilization. The white man in turn has adopted from the Indians a number of valuable medicinal plants, such as cinchona, jalapa, hydrastis, etc. In general the tribes show many similarities in regard to medicine, but the actual agents employed differ with the tribes and localities, as well as with individual healers. Magic, prayers, songs, exhortation, suggestion, ceremonies, fetishes, and certain specifics and mechanical processes are employed only by the medicine-men or medicine-women; other specific remedies or procedures are proprietary, generally among a few old women in the tribe; while many vegetal remedies and simple manipulations are of common knowledge in a given locality. The employment of magic consists in opposing a supposed malign influence, such as that of a sorcerer, spirits of the dead, mythic animals, etc., by the supernatural power of the healer’s fetishes and other means. Prayers are addressed to benevolent deities and spirits, invoking their aid. Healing...

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Cherokee Treatment for Gunwani’ Gistu’ni

Cherokee Treatment for Gunwani’ Gistu’ni Yû! Listen! Quickly you have drawn near to hearken, O Blue Sparrow-Hawk; in the spreading tree tops you are at rest. Quickly you have come down. The intruder is only a bird which has overshadowed him. Swiftly you have swooped down upon it. Relief is accomplished. Yû! Yû! Listen! Quickly you have drawn near to hearken, O Brown Rabbit-Hawk; you are at rest there above. Ha! Swiftly now you have come down. It is only the birds which have come together for a council. Quickly you have come and scattered them. Relief is accomplished. Yû! Explanation of Gunwani’ Gistu’ni This formula, also for Gûnwani´gistû´ni or Atawine´hi, was obtained from A’wan´ita (Young Deer), who wrote down only the prayer and explained the treatment orally. He coincides in the opinion that this disease in children is caused by the birds, but says that it originates from the shadow of a bird flying overhead having fallen upon the pregnant mother. He says further that the disease is easily recognized in children, but that it sometimes does not develop until the child has attained maturity, when it is more difficult to discern the cause of the trouble, although in the latter case dark circles around the eyes are unfailing symptoms. The prayer-like several others from the same source-seems incomplete, and judging from analogy is evidently incorrect in some...

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