Medicinal Plants Used by Traditional Medical Practitioners in Dega Damot District, Amhara, Ethiopia

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Ethnopharmacologic survey of medicinal plants used to treat human diseases by traditional medical practitioners in Dega Damot district, Amhara, Northwestern Ethiopia

Wubetu M, Abula T, Dejenu G
BMC Res Notes. 2017 Apr 18;10(1):157
PubMed Central: PMC5395840

Amhara Region of Ethiopia
Amhara Region of Ethiopia [Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators at Debre Markos University and Addis Ababa University conducted an ethnopharmacologic survey of medicinal plants used to treat human diseases by traditional medical practitioners in Dega Damot district, in the Amhara region of northwestern Ethiopia.

Writing in BMC Research Notes, the authors note that although about 90% of the population in the district relies on traditional health products for primary health care, no studies have previously been conducted on the use and practice of traditional medicine in the region.

Allium sativum
Allium sativum [Source: William Woodville: “Medical botany” (London: James Phillips, 1793), Wikimedia Commons]
Working with 45 traditional medical practitioners chosen with the help of community leaders and local authorities, the team documented 60 species of medicinal plants used for the treatment of 55 disorders including evil eye, malaria, wounds, peptic ulcers, and rabies. Important medicinal plant species included Allium sativum (for evil eye), Phytolacca dodecandra (for rabies), and Croton macrostachyus (for malaria).

The authors note that drought, overgrazing, and firewood collection are among the threats to sustainability of medicinal plants in the area:

“According to the results of this study, drought is the most serious threat to medicinal plants followed by overgrazing. This is in conformity with the survey conducted in Gemad district and Kilte Awulalo, but according to a study done in Loma and Gena Bosa, agricultural expansion was the major threat followed by timber and other demands. This is probably due to the increasing number of population. However, study done in Hawasa city indicated urbanization as the most serious threat for medicinal plants.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.




The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Where Cultures Meet: An Ethnobotanical Study of a City on the Silk Road

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An ethnobotanical study in Midyat (Turkey), a city on the silk road where cultures meet

Akgul A, Akgul A, Senol SG, Yildirim H, Secmen O, Dogan Y
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2018 Feb 7;14(1):12
PubMed Central: PMC5804065

Investigators at the University of Florida, Mississippi State University, Ege University, and Dokuz Eylul University conducted an ethnobotanical study in Midyat (Mardin Province), in southeastern Turkey, to document uses of local plants and to make an inventory of uncommon plants used ethnobotanically in the area.

Writing in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, the authors describe Midyat’s role as a millennia-old meeting place of cultures:

“Midyat, formerly known as Matiat, was built in the ninth century BCE by Syriac settlers, and a record of it was found written on Assyrian tablets. The Silk Road is an historic route for overland travelers. The town of Mardin in south-eastern Turkey is an attraction of the Silk Road. The Silk Road is more than just a trade route linking Asia and Europe; it is a display of cultures, ethnicities and religions that have settled in the region, and presents 2000 years of historical and cultural wealth. From east to west, it was used in transporting silk, porcelain, paper, spices, and jewels for cultural exchange between continents.”

As far as the authors know, this is the first ethnobotanical study conducted in Midyat.

“Ethnobotanical studies have been on the increase in many regions of Turkey. In Midyat (Mardin Province, Turkey), people benefit from the diversity of flora by using plants as a rich source of medicine. Medicinal plants were used by Anatolian cultures, hence the accumulation of large amounts of remarkable medicinal folk knowledge in the region. Although there are some studies in eastern Anatolia, the southeast region of Anatolia is still a poor area in terms of ethnobotany studies. Midyat has a great diversity of plant species given its climatic variation and different ecological habitats. The different ways of life and rich culture in the districts of Midyat have created diverse ethnobotanical usages. One of the oldest traditional plant usages is medicinal, which depends on knowledge and practical experience of using these natural materials.”

Alcea setosa
Alcea setosa [Source: Wikimedia Commons, Ikram Zuhair]
Among the 92 taxa of traditional plants documented, 35% were used for medical purposes. These included Alcea setosa (cough and flu cure, wound healing, labor pain); Alcea striata (cough and flu cure, wound healing); Anthemis cotula (treatment for stomachaches and flu); Malva neglecta (stomachache cure, weight loss, labor pain, kidney diseases, diuretic); Matricaria aurea (cough and flu cure, stomachache cure, bronchial cure, cardialgia); Salvia multicaulis (wound healing, flu and cough cure, labor pain, anti-inflammatory, antidote); and Teucrium polium (stomachache cure).

In their conclusion, the authors note the importance of conservation, both of the plant species and of ethnobotanical knowledge in the region.

“Our study indicates the importance to document not only medicinal plants, but also edible plants or plants used for fodder, fuel, dyes, and other purposes…. The conservation of this extensive knowledge is crucial, particularly because knowledge is no longer being passed down from older to younger generations. The use of endemic plants is relatively rare, but Centaurea stapfiana, Thymbra sintenisii are used extensively, and their conservation status is compromised by their use as food and fodder plants. Additionally, our findings suggested that Midyat and its vicinity might represent a beginning point for further comparative cross-cultural ethnobotany that can contribute to enhancing the current knowledge of folk medicinal plants and lead to conservation plans for protecting rare plant species.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.




The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

The Medicinal Plants of Bhutan’s Lower Kheng Region

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Pharmacological, ethnopharmacological, and botanical evaluation of subtropical medicinal plants of Lower Kheng region in Bhutan

Wangchuk P, Yeshi K, Jamphel K
Integr Med Res. 2017 Dec; 6(4): 372–387
PubMed Central: PMC5741394
Zhemgang Dzongkhag (District), Bhutan
Zhemgang District, Bhutan

Investigators at James Cook University, Wangbama Central School, and the Bhutan Ministry of Health conducted an ethnobotanical study to identify subtropical medicinal plants from the Lower Kheng region in the Zhemgang District of Bhutan, where Bhutanese Sowa Rigpa medicine has been practiced for centuries:

“In Bhutan, while some traditional physicians argue that Sowa Rigpa originated in the 8th century CE with the advent of Mahayana Buddhism, many scholars believe that it was only in 1616 that Lama Zhabdrung Nawang Namgyal laid written foundation to this medical system. The Bhutanese Sowa Rigpa medicine (BSM) belong to the larger corpus of the Tibetan scholarly medical (TSM) system, which was derived from Chinese Traditional Medicine, Indian Ayurvedic Medicine, Greco-Roman medicine, and the Persian medicine (Galenos). However, the country’s culture, tradition, local medical practices, geography, and vegetation influenced the way BSM evolved independently over many centuries, making it specific to Bhutan.”

The authors note that theirs is the first ethnobotanical study to be conducted in the Lower Kheng region:

“The criteria and reasons for choosing these areas as our ethnobotanical study areas were: (1) there was unsubstantiated/anecdotal claim about the lush growth of LAMP in the region; (2) no ethnobotanical study has been conducted in this region to date; and (3) Lower Kheng people are poor and their engagement in the medicinal plants collection, cultivation, and marketing programs could help them generate cash income.”

Aquilaria malaccensis
Aquilaria malaccensis [Source: W. Saunders – Illustrations of the botany and other branches of the natural history of the Himalayan Mountains. Volume 2 (Public Domain)]
The research team identified 61 medicinal plants, 30 of which were found in abundance, including Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellirica, and Phyllanthus emblica, together known as “King of Medicine” (Mengi-Pawo) or “Three Powerful Medicines.” Another species, Aquilaria malaccensis, which is considered rare in other parts of the world, was found to be abundantly cultivated in household and community gardens throughout the region. More than 20 species were found in all the villages surveyed. These included Bombax ceiba, Canarium strictum, Cassia tora, Cautleya spicata, Choerospondias axillaris, Cinnamomum impressinervium, Erythrina arborescens, Justicia adhatoda, Knema tenuinervia, Mucuna imbricata, Otochilus lancilabius, Phlogacanthus thyrsiformis, Piper mullesua, Rhus chinensis, Stephania glabra, Symplocos sumuntia, and Tinospora cordifolia.

In their conclusion, the authors recommend further work toward sustainable development and commercialization of the region’s medicinal plants:

“Many plant species have commercial and economic values. While MSP is currently viewed as the sole domestic market for these medicinal plants, many species have international significance (especially applicable to countries that practice Tibetan Sowa Rigpa medicine and Indian Ayurvedic medicine including India, Nepal, Mongolia, Tibet, Europe, and Northern America). The communities would largely benefit by domesticating or cultivating them in the household gardens or as cash crops in their family orchards. This medicinal plants program has the potential to alleviate poverty in these three Gewog communities and could enhance the happiness, wellbeing and development in Bhutan. Since the communities consume 28 medicinal plants as food grains, spices, herbs, and fruits, it can be assumed that the local people are also deriving health benefits.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.




The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Uses, Knowledge & Conservation Status of Plants in Two Quilombolas Communities in the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil

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Local ecological knowledge and its relationship with biodiversity conservation among two Quilombola groups living in the Atlantic Rainforest, Brazil

Conde BE, Ticktin T, Fonseca AS, Macedo AL, Orsi TO, Chedier LM, Rodrigues E, Pimenta DS1
PLoS One. 2017 Nov 28;12(11):e0187599
PubMed Central: PMC5705149

Minas Gerais in Brazil
The state of Minas Gerais in Brazil [Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons]
Investigators at the Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Centro de Ensino Superior de Juiz de Fora, Universidade Federal Fluminense, and Universidade Federal de São Paulo conducted an ethnobotanical and ecological survey to evaluate the uses, knowledge, and conservation status of plants in two Quilombolas (descendants of slaves of African origin) communities in the Atlantic rainforest of Brazil: São Sebastião da Boa Vista and São Bento Abade in the state of Minas Gerais.

Writing in PLoS One, the team describes Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest as one of the world’s most biodiverse and most threatened biomes:

“Brazil is one of the world’s megadiverse countries, and the Atlantic rainforest, which stretches from the northeastern to the southern regions of the country, is the most biodiverse biome of Brazil, with up to 476 plant species found in one hectare. Unfortunately, the Atlantic rainforest is also one of the most threatened forest types in the world, with nearly 90% of its original area devastated. As is the case with the majority of Brazilian protected areas, the Atlantic Rainforest is also home to many traditional communities–those that have lived in one location for a long period of time, such as the Quilombolas. According to the Living Report of World Wide Fund for Nature, 90% of tropical forests worldwide are not under formal protection and millions of people living both inside and outside of reserves rely on their resources.”

Through interviews with local Quilombolas experts, the team documented 212 ethnobotanically significant species in São Sebastião da Boa Vista (including 105 native species) and 221 in São Bento Abade (96 native species).

Medicinal and technological uses were the most important uses in both communities. Some of the most culturally important medicinal species were also among the most vulnerable, among them Dalbergia hortensis and Sparattosperma leucanthum.

In their conclusion, the authors strongly recommend “development of a sustainable management plan that considers local knowledge about management and use of plants”:

“These data illustrate the rich ethnobotanical knowledge and heritage of the communities. However, our results also suggest that more than 50% of local useful species in both communities (those ranked in Category 1 for conservation priority) may be at risk if there are no plans for the management and replanting of them. Of these plants, Dalbergia hortensis is a special conservation priority because of its great cultural significance. Other species such Sparattosperma leucanthum, Lygodium volubile in SSBV, Cecropia glaziovii in SB, and Croton urucurana in both communities rank high for cultural significance and conservation priority. Based on our results, the development of a sustainable management plan that considers local knowledge about management and use of plants is essential. Developing programs to increase populations of those species at risk, including agroforestry programs can help meet the needs of producing culturally important species and of biological conservation. It is urgent that the government demarcate Quilombolas land for cultural maintenance, quality of life and preservation of nature.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.




The information on my blog is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge. A physician should always be consulted for any health problem or medical condition.

Sequachee Valley News – June 12, 1913

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On Beautiful Little Sequatchie

By Spencer Judd

[The Nashville Banner has a very interesting department, edited by R. A. Wilson, entitled “Fins, Furs and Feathers,” and Saturday it contained the following well written article concerning the beauties of Little Sequatchie river, which is so well known to manipulators of the rod and reel.]

“Editor Fins, Furs and Feathers:

Forty long years I had been cherishing the hope of fishing in Little Sequatchie River. I had heard so much of the classic beauty of its environment, of its blue depths of cold spring water and the consequent fighting quality of its fish, that I used to dream about the fierce contests I was to have under these ideal conditions.

“It is just over the mountain, and almost any time will do; next fall will be a fine time to go over there, and between strikes bathe my soul in all the glories of Indian summer.” Thus I reasoned about it, and in the autumn would match the attractions of spring against the fading light with the result, one more postponement. And it is not always easy to get over the mountain,” as even a very small “mole hill” presents difficulties sometimes. At any rate, I did not get there while all those years rolled by. Vaulting ambition lured me many times to far distant waters, but through all that period I had a feeling, which amounted to absolute certainty, that some time I would cast my line over Little Sequatchie, and I have just now returned from that long thought of expedition.

As this charming bit of water lies “over the mountain” from most of your readers, probably they are not familiar with it, and would enjoy a picture and word of description. Of course, there is a “Big Sequatchie” and a valley by that name drained by the larger stream, and there is the little town of Sequatchie, but we are immediately concerned with none of these, except that the town is the point on the Pikeville branch of the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway, where we embarked on our way to Fairy Land. A team with driver is requisitioned in short order, as night is drawing on, and we have a couple of miles to drive. We are soon bowling along towards our little river, as it passes near the town, but presently we swing away to the left, and are destined not to see the stream until we are quite a mile and a half from town. And I was so glad of that swing. I think if I had first seen the river passing under the railroad bridge, there would have been no charm to it, all the glamour of romance would have faded away.

As it was, we came upon the little beauty very much as my fond fancy had pictured it many, many times over. ‘Twas in that quiet time of afterglow, when the world is filled with a mystic radiance, and only music is heard, music of which the dominant note is the silvery vesper song of the hermit thrush.

On every hand a pink and white glow came alternately from where the different shades of wild azalea were blooming in great profusion, while the violets and the wild iris mingled their purple tones in friendly rivalry. And over all the soft light came filtering down through a tender fabric of new beech leaves. Those trees alone were worth going a long way to see. Let me say, in this little aside, that the man who has not a special admiration for the baby leaves of the beech is surely lacking in an important element, the aesthetic sense is left out of his system, and he is so hopelessly inartistic as to be impossible. And such is the setting for the little gem of a river.

The road is bearing away to the right, and I am watchful and expectant when, of a sudden, through the pink of the azaleas I catch a gleam of blue water, and my right arm goes out and gathers in the reins and we stop at the very brink of Little Sequatchie River. Probably the driver is still wondering why I took the reins, why I gazed so steadily, and why I had nothing to say in the presence of the little river, about which I had so much to say before reaching it. Oh, well, let us hope his grandchildren will understand it.

What I beheld was an expanse of deep blue water, probably one hundred feet wide to the right and left unbroken by a ripple as far as we could see. I had not noticed until now how the mountains had been closing in on us as we advanced on Coppinger’s Cove, but there they were, so close that their beetling bluffs were fairly traced on the blue water, and one hoary monster was actually laving his stony foot in the limpid stream. Would you not have held up the horses in the presence of such a scene? I learned soon after that we had been looking out over the celebrated “Beech Hole,” one of the most noted fishing points on the stream.

I am sending a picture of this stretch of water and I know you are going to enjoy it. It is fairly representative within its limitations of black and white. I think you will appreciate the soft, hazy effect of the spring morning, and if you have the soul of a fisherman, you will go loafing down that path to the left, and on and on far beyond the realm of care for a little while.

The picture was taken the morning after my arrival and when I tell you that I spent the first half day with the camera before I touched the rod you will understand somewhat the compelling beauty of the stream, also that I have learned something of the sweet philosophy of patience. There were many attractive bits of scenery to be recorded, and the fish could wait.

There are not many stretches where the little stream is in such a “reflective mood” as at “Beech Hole.” That is rather exceptional, as it is dancing frolicking little river, hurrying along as if glad to escape from the gloomy caverns in these towering crags, from whence it sprang.

Oh, yes, a very happy river, gurgling and singing, and sometimes shouting as it leaps over boulder-strewn shoals, and swings like a dancing dervish into the foaming pool beyond. Full of all the bubbling enthusiasm of most young things, it makes a joyous start on its long journey to the sea.

For three days, all too short, we had a fine time, just the little river and I. I entered into the rejuvenating spirit of the frolic and waded the icy water where the onrush was fierce and almost irresistible. I paddled a canoe aginst the current, and up and down this stream I tumbled, without bruise, along its rock strewn shore.

Yes, we had a great time those three days, and for three nights I was highly entertained by stories, mostly reminiscent, related by mine host, Uncle Austin Coppinger, a pioneer and original character, all of his sixty-seven years having been spent right there in Coppinger Cove, and all his life he has been a hunter and fisherman. He is a gifted story teller, with an unfailing memory and a highly developed sense of humor. I have a good picture of him, with his old long rifle, and I will send you a print, with a little sketch later on.

Why are you so inquisitive about the fish? Of course I caught fish. If you do not believe it, ask old man Coppinger if we did not have fish for breakfast every morning.

Read the entire newspaper at the Library of Congress.

Sequachee Valley News – November 8, 1900

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THE MILLS AT PETER CAVE.

Interesting Trip Made by Two Local Young Men to That Famous Lumber Camp.

Sunday morning the writer received an invitation from Mr. W. C. Roberson to accompany him to Peter Cave where the two saw mills of Messrs Milbrandt and Karris, respectively, are located. Much time did not pass ere we were on our winding way through the rocky coves of Cumberland.

The day was just such a beautiful fall day as you read about. The sky clear, the air cool, the trees ablaze with red and gold and the forest aisles strewn with fallen leaves. Our horses trotted briskly along snuffing the keen air and dodging the mud-holes, of which there seemed to be an abundance. It is said that lumber teams have mysteriously disappeared in these holes, that Austin Coppinger says so, and looking at them, it would seem passing strange if something did not get lost in them occasionally. However we will let that pass, or rather pass the mud holes as best we can.

At Austin Coppinger’s we saw a large sign “Do not talk to me on politics, A. Coppinger” and at Jesse Coppinger’s Switch noted that he had made great improvement to his residence making a comfortable home.

Passing on up the cove the way became more tortuous and the sides of the mountains closer, and finally the road took the bed of the river and pretty nearly stayed there.

After several miles of travelling over rocks and boulders, through fords, through mudholes, up hill, down hill, etc., we began to feel like the Fairy in Shakespeare’s comedy of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” who sings:

“Over hill, over dale,
Thorough [sic] bush, thorough [sic] briar,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough [sic] flood, thorough [sic] fire,
I do wander everywhere.”

As we journeyed we saw a corn field that looked like Bill Nye’s 40-acre farm of cliff and, accosting a passer-by, asked him how they cultivated it. “Well,” he said “When they get ready to plant it they get a maul and some iron wedges and drill the holes. If they use fertilizer they tamp it into the bottom of the hole with a tamping bar and everything is lovely.”

“Indeed” we said and passed on.

Arena, tho only postoffice in the Cove, is prettily situated facing the western sun, and the whole city as one looks up the principal street and only thoroughfare, would make a capital subject for the artist’s pencil.

Above Arena, the scene grows wilder and the spruce pines, which cluster along the side of the road, which is nearly always the bed of the creek, present a cold, gloomy and forbidding appearance. It is a splendid place in which to play that noble game of cards entitled “solitaire.”

Arriving at the saw mills the eye was gladdened, the heart cheered, and the appetite enhanced, the first by the sight of the yellow lumber piles glittering in the sunlight, the second by the thought of human companionship and kind feeling among the sturdy woodsmen and the third by the desire to gratify the inner man.

We were met by Ingersoll Jones, the polite bookkeeper for Farris & Co., who received us hospitably and soon we were engaged in the beauties of dissecting canned salmon, sardines and crackers, the regulation diet of all who arrive after dinner hour, which is strictly from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. at the Peter Cave Restaurant.

We inspected the Farris Mill first and concluding that everything was in good order there went over to the Milbrandt Mill and made a critical examination of it. This mill stands there just as if it had taken wings from its site up near the county bridge and flown over the mountains and landed In the cove. The shingles have been replaced by boards, put on with that reckless disregard for appearances which characterizes a lumber camp; but even they, the shingles of course might have been knocked off in taking that tremendous flight.

Everything was just the same even to the location of the grindstone and the file room. The water pipe, however was hors de combat, no water coming through it, and in reply to a question some one said that he guessed a saw log had run over it and broke the connection.

Among the familiar faces we saw were those of Dan Ferguson and Toll Burnett, those distinguished fox hunters and coon catchers. Fox hunting is a great pastime and after night many an exciting race has been run in that cove, healthy for the dogs and unhealthy for the fox.

The small-pox scare has not reached here yet. One old lady who is terribly afraid of it, when told by a certain person that he had been to South Pittsburg hollered out “Good God, and you’ve been right where the small-pox is” and bolted up the mountain side as fast as she could go. And this is the nearest to a case of small-pox in that vicinity. With plenty of fine water, pure air, bright sunshine, joke and jest, free life in the woods and plain but wholesome food, these manipulators of the canthook and axe have nothing to fear and Dan Furguson says If Mr. Small-pox comes up there darned if be don t get his dogs after him and make him hunt his bole.

Uncle Bob Jones, R. P., Governor or “kernel” whichever you want, was one of the familiar faces seen and his first query was “How is Bryan a-running?” Uncle Bob has tremendous arguments with his particular friend and crony, Austin Coppinger and their wordy combats are celebrated from Peter Cave to Sequachee and thence no one knows.

These two mills of Farris and Milbrandt cut respectively 12,000 and 23,000 feet of lumber per day of ten hours and a regular wagon train is kept busy hauling it ten miles to Sequachee for shipment. It is now under consideration to move the Farris mill two miles further up the cove, closer to the timber.

After many pressing invitations to stay, at what appeared to be four o’clock in the afternoon owing to the height of the mountains around us, we started on the return trip arriving at Sequachee soon after sunset, or as Mr. Roberson remarked “only a few minutes after the time we had started.”

Inman.

Special to the News.

A. O. and Clint Kelly went squirrel hunting the other day and had a great time, killing one squirrel. Clint was here visiting friends and relatives.

A man passed through here the other day with his head tied up. A large crowd was standing around the stores. Some one shouted smallpox and you never saw such a lively crowd.

R. Pitman went to Chattanooga Sunday on business.

Bob Elliot is slowly improving.

H. Coppinger arrived in Inman Sunday to spend a few days.

Jesse Coppinger and Lee Turner were in our little town the other day.

Defetchit got hurt in the mines week before last and had to miss the game between Inman and Sequachee, and also not able to write to the good paper although it was chuck full of good news.

Henry Mitchell and family moved to Inman last week.

I broke my axe handle last week.

Myself, Henry Mitchell, Joe Layne, Joe Kelly, Lon Lane, Will Kelly, and Russ Byers went coon hunting Saturday and caught one pitiful little slick tail. It’s face was all broke out. I think it had the smallpox.

Mrs. Dr. Gott has returned after a week’s visit to relatives at Oak Grove.

Joe Vasey addressed the public here behalf of the Federation of Labor.

I dont like for any one to write to me now for they might seal the smallpox up and send it to me.

Some people are moving to the mountain. That’s no good. Smallpox can climb a hill same as it can walk in the valley, so stay at home and keep the door shut.

I want to say a few words about the smallpox. I had the smallpox in New Orleans five years ago, and while I was lying at the point of death I could see others some struggling and gasping for breath and some dying. I as well as the others were tied hands and feet to our beds, and all I wanted was to scratch, and if I could have got to myself no doubt I would have put myself to death with my finger nails as some others did. I did not need any guard to keep me in doors, and I didn’t jump up and run to the table and eat a pone of corn bread and a pound of meat. I was seasick on the waters once and that was awful, but nothing to compare with smallpox. All I ate was rice, a little soup and a small slice of moonshine and I didn’t want anything. The yellow fever used to be one of the most contagious diseases in America and the small-pox today is harder to control than the yellow jack and I venture to say that if that was the small-pox that they had here in the summer when the small-pox does set in it will kill everybody. I never heard of small-pox before in August. Now the people in Mississippi have what they call the Cuban itch and the variolid and when anyone has the variolid he thinks it is the very ____l. Its so now that when anyone goes across the Sequachee river they are afraid to let him come back “for day air afeared ob de small-pox.” My wife had a fever blister on her lip and she asked if I didn’t think it was the small-pox. I saw a pig with a sore head the other day. I expect its got the small-pox. Bye bye.

Dofetchit.

Read the entire newspaper at the Library of Congress.

To Migrate Is Human (Why I Believe in Open Borders)

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A tourist family called me over as I was walking my dog in Riverside Park today.

“Excuse me, could you tell us, is that New Jersey?”

“Yes it is. That’s the Hudson River, and on the other side is New Jersey.”

Therein lies a tale.

My twelfth great-grandfather on my father’s side was also the grandfather of Henry Hudson, the Englishman who explored the river four hundred years ago. My immigrant ancestors followed in the 1680s, first entering this country through the Virginia Colony, traveling southwest through North Carolina, and eventually settling in Tennessee’s Sequatchie Valley in the 1800s, where they mostly stayed put until after the Second World War.

My father and mother moved to Georgia a couple of years before I was born. I moved to New York City, and at the beginning of the new century took up residence with my new family just a hundred yards or so from the river explored by my long-distant kinsman.

My life story has taught me that migration is a natural and essential element of the human condition. One might even say it is what makes us human. Moreover, any efforts to stifle this profound driver of humanity are doomed to failure — although, tragically, not before they cause awful human suffering, as we are witnessing today.

To be continued.

The Sequachee News – January 30, 1896

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FULLERTON’S BLUFF.

By William C. Hill.

In the early part of the present century there settled in this country of East Tennessee, a gentleman of moderate means whose only desire was to escape the crowded town and enjoy the delights of a primeval existence.

His fortune was not excessive as we have said before. On the contrary it was comparatively meagre, but still he had invested it in funds of such a nature as brought him a sure yearly income, and one that was ever welcome. He was the proud possessor of four promising children, two boys and two girls, and had a helpmate whose knowledge of housewifery was only equaled by her close attention to their very intricate details. By her influence, her husband’s capital had been invested in a banking house, of which her brother was cashier, and for several years the interest realized from the investment was sufficient for their wants. Contented with their pecuniary gains they only desired to found for themselves an earthly Elsium [sic], in which to bring up their young children, and spend their own declining years.

With this determination in view, husband and father had traveled on horseback through various parts of Tennessee seeking a locality which would suit his purpose.

Tennessee at the time was covered with vast forests of gigantic trees, oak, poplar and chestnut. The densest timber lands were of course along the river bottoms and the low valley lands, while those that covered the mountain tops and plateaus were of a more stunted character.

The deer without dread of the hunter’s rifle herded in the dim recesses of the forests; ungainly bears prowled over the fallen logs and made their dens in the caverns under the cliffs; catamounts shrieked defiance to one another, and sharpened their claws upon the standing trunks in their mad wrath, and foxes, squirrels, turkeys, pheasants, and other smaller game, lived and preyed upon each other in the greatest numbers. Snakes were plentiful, too—they always are in a new country. Rattlesnakes sunned themselves upon the rugged cliffs, and copperheads peered sinisterly from the bushes in the vicinity of the few trails that crossed the country. The Indians were peaceable, and had their own villages, and were more or less associated with the whites. Trading posts had been established, and the mighty monarch of the forest was bowed before the heavy strokes of the axe. Such were the characteristics of the epoch. The people were rude and hardy, endowed with sterling qualities for a backwoods life, self reliant and vigorous. They were keen of vision, and constant of hearing through their continual attention to the various sights and sounds of forest life. They had their dances and social gatherings, where buxom girls tread the mazes of their favorite measures with great strapping lumbermen, with violent exertions and mad festivity. Then they had corn-hustings and log rollings, and occasionally a wedding at which all officiated.

Such was the backwoods life at the time when Mr. Fullerton first made his appearance in the vicinity of the place which was afterwards to become his home.

A few months later and there might have been seen a wagon train slowly crossing the Cumberland plateau. There were two covered wagons drawn by mules, an extra team slowly hauled by two yokes of oxen, followed in the rear by several cows, while other domestic animals were stowed away in various parts of the caravan.

As there were no roads in that section and the trails were poor at the best, progress was necessarily slow and it was some time before they arrived on the spot which Mr. Fullerton had fixed upon as the one most suited to his desires. It was on the edge of the mountain, on a gently rolling descent, which rather abruptly ended in a precipice of many hundred feet, strewn at the bottom with enormous boulders, and tangled and thorny vines. The land was mostly covered with cedar and chestnut, and with the exception of occasional pines that soon fell beneath the sturdy strokes of the two black servants who had accompanied Mr. Fullerton, and served, when fallen, as walls for a log house. There was also a fine spring, which after wandering through laurel beds for some distance, fell over the grey cliff in a thin veil of spray, which soon gave it the name of the “Bridal Veil.” In the winter season it was more than a bridal veil, it was demoniac in action, twisting and turning, churning itself into greater fury and greater action at every successive leap until it paused in a wide circular basin in the rocks, where it disappeared as if for ever.

It is needless to relate the first clearing of this charming spot; how the logs were piled in great heaps and fired; how the land was first broken in amid the constant urging and herculean efforts of the laboring oxen; how the the first crops were sown, worked and harvested; how one of their most valued horses fell over the cliff one night in the darkness—a gallant grey, which they had brought with them from old Virginia, one of a pair; or what were their conflicts with bears and catamounts that preyed unceasingly upon their stock and crops, or their expeditions for the more harmless deer. Each succeeding year saw more improvements upon their mountain farm and blessed by sun and rain, it grew in beauty and abundance with every season.

Mr. Fullerton was a passionate admirer of flowers. He came from a paternal line of florists, one of whom had been chief gardener to Evelyn, that lover of all things pertaining to floriculture, whose parks had often been enriched by the fertile imaginings of his brain. As we have said, Mr. Fullerton was an enthusiast in his way. A choice variety of lily or a collection of cacti was of greater value to him than a whole mint full of precious stones. His flowers were his pride. Early and late he watched for their first opening, or even for the first tiny leaf that pierced the rich mold of his garden. He loved them with that earnest attention that admits of no waverings, no distractions. There are things in flowers which are well worth study. Mr. Fullerton appreciated that in its broadest development. His earliest desire was to know more of their qualities and peculiarities, and to understand the reasons thereof. Of course there were an infinitude of difficulties in his path, but after all, what such to a man of his mold.

So with an enthusiast’s eagerness, almost before the ground had been laid out, he had sent for all the flowers that were the prime favorites of his heart—dahlias, peonys [sic], fuschias [sic], flaunting gladioli, and a host of others.

It was a great hour when they arrived, carefully packed, and in good condition from their long and difficult journey from older civilization. The minute it took to unwrap the bundles seemed an age to his impatient fingers, and when the leafless treasures were exposed to view his eye fairly gloated upon them. Nor had he forgotten those fruits which delight the taste as well as the eye.

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The Sequachee News – July 18, 1895

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The Story of Naomi.

By Clarence H. Pearson.

She had lived all her life in a log cabin on the side of one of the Cumberland mountain in eastern Tennessee. To her the little towns in the Sequachee Valley represented the great centres of manufacture and commerce. She had once visited South Pittsburg, which was said to have a population of something over four thousand, and the strange and wonderful things she saw there furnished her with food for many days of reflection. Her daily life was extremely uneventful, She kept house for her father who was her sole surviving relative and her only companion. He was a grave, unostentatious man who pursued his chosen occupation quietly and industriously, but never tried to extend his business beyond certain limits, and never advertised. He was a moonshiner.

One day late in August, a party of campers from Chattanooga came and pitched their tents on the mountainside not far from the little cabin. The company consisted of a married of thirty-five or thereabout, several lively and exceedingly noisy young people, who have nothing in particular to do with this story, and little Dot, the baby, aged four. They disported themselves very much after the manner of campers in general, exploring every nook and cranny of the mountain, and singing, laughing and shouting until they awakened the echoes for miles around.

“Game’ll be powerful sca’ce this fall ef this yer pack o’ yellin’ lunatics don’t shove out soon,” grumbled Naomi’s father one, day, “for I ‘low they’ll skeer every livin’ thing outen the kentry.”

One afternoon, when, everyone thought she was asleep in one of the tents, little Dot started on a tour of discovery. About the first object of interest she found was a long, slender, graceful, golden-brown creature with beautiful, seal-brown markings, and a queer little rattle on the tip of its tail. Its eyes shone like diamonds, and little Dot thought he had never seen anything quite so lovely and attractive in her whole life.

Naomi came upon the child and her new acquaintance at a very opportune moment. The reptile irritated by the too close approach of the little one had struck, fortunately burying its deadly fangs in the folds of the brightly colored dress instead of the white, delicate flesh. Without a moment’s hesitation, the girl caught the squirming reptile by the neck so close to tie terrible, gaping jaws that it could not turn to bite her. It coiled so tightly around her arm as to almost paralyze it, but she held it in a firm grasp, and taking a stone in her left hand, laid the ugly triangular head on a boulder and pounded it to a shapeless mass. Then, contrary to all precedant [sic], she refrained from fainting.

Little Dot’s parents were profuse in their expressions of gratitude, and the rest of the party were so loud in their praises of her courage that at first they made Naomi very uncomfortable. They came to the house frequently and little Dot followed her about like a shadow. It was very easy to learn to love the beautiful little creature whose life she had saved, and to conceive a strong friendship for the parents whose kindly feeling toward their child’s preserver was so manifest.

About this time Naomi’s father met with a serious reverse in business. Two strangers who were ostensibly prospecting for coal discovered the the cave where he kept all the tools and implements of his occupation and carried them away. They also took the owner before the Federal Court to answer to the charge of violating the United States revenue laws. In a few days, for justice is not always leaden-footed, especially when dealing with illicit distillers, word came back that the old man had been sentenced to imprisonment for two years.

And so it happened that Naomi, having nowhere else to go, accompanied her new friends to Chattanooga. Two years amid new scenes and surroundings make a great change in the life of a simple mountain maid. At the end of that time one would hardly have known her; indeed the moonshiner’s daughter scarcely knew herself. At last came the day to which, in spite of herself, she had been looking forward for a long time with a secret dread. With a sinking heart, she read the scrawling, ill-spelled epistle notifying her that her father was once more a free man. She knew that she ought to be glad. She was glad that the long, weary days of her father’s imprisonment were over, but how could she return to the dull, staring monotonous existence which she had known before ? She slept little and wept much that night, for she had decided after a sharp struggle with her inclinations that the path of duty led her to the lone cabin on the mountain. She thought how sadly she should miss little Dot and her parents to whose kindness she owed so much ; and then with a sharp twinge of pain she thought of the handsome, manly, young mechanic who had sought her society so frequently during the past few months.

He had made no spoken declaration of love, but she was very sure that a certain very important question had trembled upon his lips at their last meeting, and that only a chance interruption had prevented its utterance. And she must leave the city the next day without an opportunity to bid him good-bye, for he was away on a visit and would not return for nearly a week.

One bright afternoon six weeks later Naomi was far up on the side of the mountain gathering nuts. Chancing to glance up from her work she saw a man standing on a high knoll a few hundred yards below her father’s cabin. His form looked strangely familiar and she watched him curiously. Presently a clump of bushes near him seemed to emit a little puff of white smoke and simultaneously the man threw up his hands and staggering forward fell to the ground. A second or two later the report of a rifle reached her ear. She turned cold with horror as the awful truth dawned upon her. A murder had been committed and worse still she felt sure that her own father was the assassin. Probably the victim was some prowling revenue officer, and yet the figure had been so like that of some one she had known. A terrible thought arose in her mind a possibility that filled her with sickening fear, and she rushed down the mountain’s steep side like some mad creature. Heeding no obstacle in her wild haste she dashed on, tearing through bushes, leaping over fallen logs, dashing her feet against the sharp stones, until breathless and panting she arrived at the spot where she had last seen the stranger. Merciful God, what a sight met her gaze! There prone on the ground lay her handsome lover with the blood still slowly oozing from a wound in his chest, and the terrible, glassy glare of death in his blue eyes. His features were distorted, his limbs were drawn up, and in his right hand was a flowering shrub which he had clutched and uprooted in his strong death agony. Naomi stood there staring with a strange, dazed look on her face. Could this poor, pitiful, helpless object be the strong, self-reliant man she had known and loved? Yes, it must be—it was, and she did not, could not weep or cry out. It was so odd, she thought, that she should stand looking at him, realizing that he was dead, and yet manifesting no grief. She wondered if she really had a heart. She could feel something beating and throbbing in her bosom, but it seemed like a great lump of ice. For a long time she remained apparently as unmoved by the ghastly spectacle as the rocks around her. Then slowly, very slowly a sense of her great loss came upon her. A numb pain unlike anything she had ever before experienced crept into her bosom and became more and more intense until she could hardly refrain from shrieking aloud in her anguish. She leaned against a small tree, covered her face with her lands to shut out that horrible stare and moaned piteously. Presently she was aroused by a light touch on her shoulder. Looking up she saw her father beside her with a world of pity in his usually cold, grey eyes. The old man had divined the whole sad truth, and the strange emotions which struggled within him flooded the wrinkled, old face with tender feeling.

“Come, little gal,” he whispered softly, “come home.”

“O pap !” she broke forth in a wail of agony, “how could you?—how could you?”

“God help me !” he murmured huskily, “I done ‘lowed ’twas a revenue man.”

Granite Monthly.


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Sequatchie Valley News – September 24, 1903

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GOOD ROADS.

Written for the News.
The Sequatchie Valley is beautiful provided one had wings to view it by, but you positively cannot see the county for the dreadful roads.

A go-cart, a carriage, a wagon or an automobile are out of the question. Only a mule and a man who has lost all sense of feeling, physical, moral, political and religious, can travel such roads, I was going to say, but I will change it and say only a man who has infinite patience, unending endurance, and who has vowed never to break the second commandment should risk his life or his reputation upon them.

Nature gave to the valley beautiful scenery, a fertile yielding soil, and such environments should produce progressive, public-spirited men. Every man in the county who opposes any measure whatsoever that assures us good roads should be buried alive to the tune of Tom Hood’s

“Rattle his bones over the stones,
Only a poor pauper whom nobody
owns”

When Rome of old conquered the then known world, she hewed her way into every country by the building of the famous Roman roads, and civilization followed fast in the way of every Roman road.

There is nothing else under the sun so civilizing as well kept roads wherever you find them tor you can count on good schools, thritty [sic] churches, and prosperous people. The man who hauls his produce to market over a fine road holds his head more erect, carries himself more proudly than the man who has all the style thumped out of him jolting over the stones and in to the ruts. Progress and prosperity go hand in hand with good roads. Let us all join bands and girdle the county with a system of fine roads.

A WOMAN.

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