« PreviousContinue »
when I shall have the No. 6 3rd preparation and all the tinctures filtered, bottled and neatly labeled; and you will probably go into a prophetic trance when I shall have to restore you by administering 'Wake robin,' and 'No. 6.'"
"Young man," said he, "it availeth nothing for you to make sport of my prediction. I repeat, you will be a steam doctor, widely known. You will throw away your poisons and become a great and notable advocate of the botanic system, when I shall rejoice, because I am the cause of it."
I carried the medicines home, compounded and made up all the preparations, put them in clear glass tincture bottles, put on fancy labels and set them up on some shelves I made for them. They looked very pretty and the taste and smell of them indicated that they were potent remedies. I had compounded and put into nice specie jars all the powdered preparations before the fourteen days were out. The old man Pruett came and was perfectly carried away with the appearance of the preparations; and said to his son-in-law, Dr. Bailey, who came up with him, "Whv hadn't you made out such preparations, they are so nice?"
"Because they are just as good in their crude state," said the doctor.
The old man looked at him a moment, and then turning to me said, "If I get sick, I shall send for you. You must be sure to come and bring with you some of these nice medicines. I am sure I shall prefer them to the lazy way we have been using them." I gave him specimens of the tinctures; he wanted to show them to the family.
They began to send for me before they had gone land hunting. I soon encountered two or three cases that were so violent that I was afraid to trust the new remedies in their treatment; and I said so. I was asked by the confident Kirk Pruett, whose negro it was that was sick, if I understood the steam practice in such cases. On being answered affirmatively, he said, "Well, go ahead with the steam medicines. I will hold myself responsible for the result for I know you'll cure him."
Then I administered my first lobelia emetic. It was a bad case of fever. By the time the emetic had ceased to act, the patient seemed to be cured and wanted some broiled meat, which I ordered for him.
I had large saddlebags made, and I carried the Thomsonian medicines in one and the old school drugs in the other.
There were a number of families in the community who had furnished themselves with Thomson's books, and they all encouraged me to go ahead in procuring plenty of medicines. They would employ me, if I would confine my practice in their families to the steam medicines; and I might administer my poisons to all else who desired it.
All my old customers continued their patronage, and all the steam doctors far and near, when they had a bad case sent for me; for my Pruett friends had taken pains to spread the news that I had made myself thoroughly acquainted with the system and that I had been performing miracles with the sick cases among them.
Some of my old school customers had been listening to the wonderful accounts given by the Pruetts of the cures I had performed, and when they had occasion for my services, desired me to practice the botanic system on them. It frequently occurred at houses where two were sick at the same time that one would require the steam practice while the other would say, "Give me the old school medicines, for I would rather die scientifically than be cured by quackery."
But the fact that the cases treated with the botanic agents recovered sooner every time and that under that treatment there were no deaths could not be concealed; and the people in my region of practice began to turn over to it in many families. They sent for me fifty miles or more, for which I often received $100. My business grew daily. I made so much money that year that I began to pay installments on my old $5,000 Mobile debt.
In the course of this year's practice I had, in hundreds of cases, demonstrated the superiority of the botanic system, and I desired to discontinue the Allopathic System altogether. Yet I knew many of my patrons still preferred the old medicines, and I did not wish to lay them aside, and I continued to carry the drugs with me and wherever I could succeed in convincing them of the superiority of the other I did so, and gave it to them.
About the middle of the second year of my double practice, I lost a two year old child under circumstances leaving me no ground to doubt the fact that the death was occasioned by the allopathic remedies. And, while I was gazing on the twitching muscles of the dying child, I made a solemn vow to myself that I would never administer another dose of the poisons of that system.
I started home; and after passing through the gate into the big road, I emptied the old school medicines from my saddlebags and left them in a pile on the ground. It was at the heat of a summer day, and one of the vials containing sulphuric or nitric acid, bursting by the heat, flowed into a paper containing chloride of lime, when considerable effervescence took place. The people reported that it boiled and smoked there for two or three days, and grew to a great heap. Many came to see it.
The doctors, who by this time were beginning to say a good deal about my apostasy, made a great scandal out of the boiling mass I had thrown out at Malone's gate. But I turned the tables on them by telling the people that it was all old school medicines I had thrown out there, and that, if I kept my senses, I would never kill any more children with it; for I had vowed never to carry a particle of it with me again.
After this occurrence I carried none but botanical remedies with me. Now came Howard's Improved System of Botanic Medicines. It was written in better style and spirit than Thomson's books were, and, after getting through with the perusal of it, I conceived the idea of combining my Indian medicines with it and try to get up a Southern system of practice that would be more applicable to Southern disease.
I studied hard all the time I was not actively employed. I very much needed a knowledge of systematic' botany, and I studied it on horseback as I rode from place to place until I understood all that was known about it then.
About this time, I opened a corrsepondence with the Howards, and wrote an account of my conversion to the botanic system with a number of other articles describing cases and their treatment, which were considered very interesting and very highly spoken of by the editor of the journal who published them.
At this period, 1834, people began to talk about what a fine country Texas was said to be. They had a great meeting on the subject and made up an emigrating company which consisted of one hundred heads of families. This company included mechanics, school teachers, preachers and doctors. They bound themselves by signing an appropriate article to go all together to that country, if the exploring committee on their return should report favorably of it. The committee consisted of ten men, who were considered good judges of country, and whose veracity was reliable.
They gave me the appointment of physician in the exploring party, and we were to be ready to set out on the 20th of November, 1834.
I went to work with all my might, putting my home and family in a condition to leave them and collecting funds to defray .the expenses of the trip.
The 20th of November came. The members of the committee were to assemble at my house and start from that point for the long journey.
I was all ready with my pack horse, a nice pack of choice medicines and a peck of sugared parched corn flour, a good rifle, powder, bullets, a butcher's knife, four pocket knives, fish hooks and lines, a good bowstring, a good big axe, a frying pan, coffee pot and tin cup. But the company did not come, not a man of them.
I intended to make the trip since I had put myself to the trouble of fixing for it, if no one else went. So I laid up my preparation carefully, for I was not quite ready to set out alone. I needed a little more money, if I had to go by myself.
I turned out amongst my customers and in the course of eight or ten days had raised my traveling purse to $1,050—$100 of it in specie and the balance in U. S. bank paper.
I was now ready, and gave notice that I intended to set out on the first day of January ensuing. A few days previous to that time, a good friend and neighbor came to me and said that he hated to see me go off on such an expedition as that would be without company; that he had been thinking that if he could raise as much as $200 he would bear me company. This was talked of among the people, and on the 9th of January we set out, six men, eight horses and one dog.
We crossed the Tombecbee river at Cotton Gin Port and camped the first night a few miles beyond in the Chickasaw country.
It rained a great deal about that time, and our progress was delayed two or three days on account of the high water. The remainder of our journey to San Felipe in Texas was quite pleasant, no accident or mishap occurring to any of the company.
From San Felipe we went over to the Colorado, which we struck five or six miles above where Columbus now stands. We turned up the Colorado and crossed it at a ferry belonging to Capt. Jesse Burnham fifteen miles below where La Grange now stands. From there we continued up the country until we reached Bastrop. We remained several days r.t that place. The 4th of March came, and with it a severe norther that drifted the snow waist high against the back of our tent.
Old man Weaver thought that we had gone far enough into the frozen region and proposed to go back south. No one objected, and on the 6th of March we set our faces to the south. On the evening of the 9th we camped in two or three miles of the ferry on Colorado that we crossed on as we came out. The weather had now become pleasant; and in the morning when I returned from bringing in the horses, old man Weaver observed to me, "Well, Gid, we have come to the conclusion that we have seen enough of Texas. Have you V
My reply was, "No; I have seen nothing yet. I can not consent to return until I make myself able to make a satisfactory report in reference to the character and prospects of this great country."
"Well," continued he, "we are satisfied and we intend to start home this morning. Get your book and let us have a settlement." I was contractor for the company and had up to that date paid out my own money for all things that were for the use of the company.
I made the estimate and they all without a word refunded my money. We then had a little auction for the camp equipage. I bought one leaf of the tent and the axe. All passed off well, and the settlement was amicable. We all saddled up. I took my seat on a log, holding my horses. They shook hands with me as they went by me, and left me seated on the log. They went into the Colorado bottom and were soon out of sight. My horses set up an awful squealing after them, and I felt pretty lonesome myself.
After my horses had become somewhat pacified, I mounted and rode up to Captain Burnham's, a few miles from where they left