Indian Cures

Indian CuresOctober 9, 1892, Call, San Francisco, California – In the depths of the forest, an Indian breaks his leg or arm, said Dr. Hingston is his address at the British Medical Association meeting at Nottingham.  Splints of softest material are at once improvised.  Straight branches are cut, of uniform length and thickness.  These are lined with down-like moss or scrapings or shavings of wood or with fine leaves interlaid with leaves, if in summer; or with the curled-up leaves of the evergreen cedar or hemlock, in winter; and the whole is surrounded with withes of willow or osier or young birch.  Occasionally it is the soft but sufficiently unyielding bark of the poplar or the bass wood.  Sometimes when near the marshy margin of our lakes or rivers the wounded limb is afforded support with wild hay or reeds of uniform length and thickness. Thus is the genius of Indian cures.

To carry a patient to his wigwam or to an encampment a stretcher is quickly made of four young saplings, interwoven at their upper ends, and on this elastic, springy couch the injured man is borne away by his companions.  When there are but two persons and an accident happens to one of them two young trees of birch or beech or hickory are used.  Their tops are allowed to remain to aid in diminishing the jolting caused by the inequalities of the ground.  No London carriage maker ever constructed a spring which could better accomplish the purpose.  A couple of crossbars preserve the saplings in position, and the bark of the elm or birch cut into broad bands and joined to either side forms an even bed.  In this way an injured man is brought by his companion to a settlement, and often it has been found on arrival that the fractured bones are firmly united and the limb is whole again.  This is affected in less time than with the whites, for the recuperative power of these children of the forest is remarkable.  In their plentitude of health osseous matter is poured out in large quantities and firm union is soon affected.

The reparative power of the aborigines when injured is equaled by the wonderful stoicism with which they bear injuries and inflect upon themselves the severest torture.  They are accustomed to cut into abscesses with pointed flint; they light up a fire at a distance from the affected part (our counter-irritation; they amputate limbs with their hunting-knives, checking the hemorrhage with heated stones, as surgeons were accustomed to do in Europe in the time of Ambrose Pare, and sometimes they amputate their own limbs with more sang fiord than many young surgeons will display when operating on others.  The stumps of limbs amputated in this primitive manner are well formed, for neatness is the characteristic of all Indians’ handiwork.

The Indians are familiar with and practice extensively the use of warm fomentations.  In every tribe their old women are credited with the possession of knowledge of local bathing with hot water and of medicated decoctions.  The herbs they use are known to a privileged few and enhance the consideration in which their possessors are held.

The Turkish bath, in a simpler but not less effective form, is well known to them.  If one of their tribe suffers from fever or from the effects of long exposure to cold a steam bath is readily improvised.  The tent of deerskin is tightly closed, the patient is placed in one corner, heated stones are placed near him, and on these water is poured until the confined air is saturated with vapor.  Any degree of heat and any degree of moisture can be obtained in this way.  Europeans often avail themselves of this powerful sudatory when suffering from rheumatism.

The Indians have their herbs—a few, not many.  They have their emetics and laxatives, astringents and emollients, all of which are proffered to the suffering without fee or reward.  The “Indian teas,” “Indian balsams” and other Indian cures —the virtues of which it sometimes takes columns of the daily journals to chronicle— belong to nature and are not theirs.  To the white man is left this species of deception.

Chief Seattle

Chief SeattleBy the mid 1850’s the Pacific Northwest was becoming heavily settled by whites. The area had traditionally been occupied by the Duwamish and Suquamish Indian tribes. They were headed by a chief from both tribes by the name of Chief Seattle. As the early settlers came to the area Seattle welcomed them, and the settlers treated his tribes with kindness. 
 
Through the influence of Jesuit missionaries, Seattle became religious. When in 1855 an Indian war broke out, Seattle was able to convince the warring factions that fighting the whites would only hasten their demise, and peace was had.
 
While Seattle was still alive the settlers named their major city after him. But Chief Seattle believed that if a man’s name is mentioned after his death it would disturb his eternal rest. So, to compensate Seattle for any difficulties he would have in the next life, they taxed themselves and paid him for the rest of his life. And, on June 7, 1866 Seattle did move onto another life. He was buried in the Duwamish cemetery. Twenty five years later, a monument was erected at his grave. 
 
There’s another interesting story about early Seattle, the town. During the gold rush, to meet the building needs of California, Seattle’s lumber industry boomed. They would cut the trees and “skid” them down to the lumber mill. The path they used became known as the “skid road,” and it became the main street in Seattle. Once the trees were cut in that area, the businesses moved and this area became a haven for drunks and derelicts. Thus creating the term we use today for the bad part of any town, “skid row.”

Chuckwagon: Southern Fried Apples

To make Southern Fried Apples:

Fry 4 slices of bacon in a Dutch oven.  Remove bacon.

Peel and slice 6 to 8 Granny Smith apples.

Put apples in Dutch over with bacon grease, cover and cook down the apples, but not to mush.

Serve topped with butter or cream and crumbled bacon.  They’re great for breakfast or desert.

Cowboy to Cowboy - Southern Fried Apples

 

Old West Book Review: A Thousand Texas Longhorns

A Thousand Texas LonghornsA Thousand Texas Longhorns, Johnny D. Boggs, Pinnacle Books Kensington Publishing, paperback, $8.99, 500 Pgs, Western Fiction.

The time period for this novel is shortly after the American Civil War.  The protagonist is a surly individual named Nelson Story living in a rough mining town in Montana Territory.  Nelson Story wants to make money and become a successful rancher, and gets the brainstorm to acquire a herd of cattle lie must buy in Texas, and drive the herd back to Montana where the population is hungry for beef.  So the adventure begins.  He heads for Texas and prepares to drive a herd of longhorns all the way across the country filled with sheriff’s posses and angry homesteaders afraid the Texas cattle will bring fever to their own stock.  Meanwhile Nelson Story has to maintain discipline among the drovers and freight wagon drivers, plus having to face electrical storms, driving rain, roaring rivers, drown cowboys, hordes of insects, cantankerous military commanders and Indians on the warpath.

Some of the cowboys are ex-Civil War veterans, both North and South.  Two young women disguised as men sign on to drive freight wagons filled with goods for the trip.  One is wanted for murder and both fool Nelson Story until one gets her clothing eaten off during a locust attack.  Tired men commit mutiny, one cowboy dies in river, another is the victim of a rattlesnake, plus several others are brutally killed by Sioux stalking the herd hoping to rustle horses and beeves.

Nelson Story left a wife back in Montana when he skedaddled for Texas, and the book switches occasionally to what is going on with her as she anxiously awaits her husband’s return.  She is pregnant when he departs, and must handle delivering and caring for a baby while keeping her meager household together.  Her doctor fails in love with her although she remains faithful to Nelson Story, the author takes his readers from the gritty trouble-filled cattle drive to the desperately poor circumstances of a Montana mining town struggling to survive hard times, including a diphtheria epidemic.

Nelson Story eventually makes it to Montana with most of the herd, and there is a happy reunion with his wife who is nearly as tough as he is.  Unfortunately readers never really get to know Nelson Story.  He’s tough and determined, but rarely shows empathy or compassion that we can relate to.  We never find ourselves cheering for his success.  His quick temper and tough as nails attitude works to bring in the herd, but we never feel like we’d want to ride with him.  Don’t look here for a John: Wayne or Matt Dillon hero.  This story is mostly about grit and determination with little room for sentiment.

Author Johnny D. Boggs, a Spur Award winner, knows his business.  Before writing this book, he followed the trail in an automobile to get the feel of the land, weather, and what it must have been like to cover all those hard miles on horseback.  It is well told, with lots of realistic Old West action, and sometimes a tough book to read, but we find this story a good Western adventure for sure.

Editor’s Note: The reviewer Phyllis Morreale-de la Garza is the author of numerous books about the Old West, including Lost Roundup, published by Silk Label Books, P.O. Box 399, Unionville, New York, 10988, Ph. (845) 726-3434. www.silklabelbooks.com

Some New Arithmetic

April 15, 1882, Mountain Democrat, Placerville, California – Some New Arithmetic: Some New ArithmeticIn a schoolroom are twelve benches and nine boys on a bench.   Find who stole the teacher’s gad.

A laundress takes in twelve shirts and has four stolen from her line.  How many are left and what are the losers going to do about it.

A farmer sold eleven bushels of potatoes, with the product purchased two gallons of whisky at 90 cents per gallon.  How much per bushel did he get for his tubers, and where did he keep the jug.

What velocity must a locomotive have to pick up a dead man walking on the track and fling him so high that six cars pass before he comes down?

A boy earned 20 cents a day for 18 days and bought his mother a muskrat muff costing $2.10.  How much did he have left to go to the circus with?

A mother standing at the gate calls to her boy who is just 68 feet distant.  It takes two minutes and twenty-two seconds for the sound to reach him.  Find from this the velocity with which a woman’s voice travels.

A woman earned 42 cents a day by washing, and supported a husband who consumed $1 worth of provisions per week.  How much was she in debt at the end of each month up to the time he was sent to the workhouse.

 A father agreed to give his son four and a half acres of land for every cord of wood he chopped.  The son chopped tree-sevenths of a cord and broke the ax and went off hunting rabbits.  How much land was he entitled to?

A certain young man walks five-sevenths of a mile for seven nights in the week to see his girl, and after putting in 112 nights he gets the bounce.  How many miles did he foot it altogether, and how many weeks did it take him to understand that he wasn’t wanted?

Two men agreed to build a wall together.  One does four-fifths of the bossing and the other three-tenths of the work, and they finally conclude to pay a man $18 to finish the job.  What is the length and height of the wall?

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