EARLY EIGHTEENTH CENTURY EXPLORATION
MEDICINES NOTED BY THE EARLIEST EXPLORERS OF NORTH AMERICA: 1700-1750.
John Bartram. Observations on the Inhabitants, Climate, Soil, Rivers, Productions, Animals, and the Matters worthy of Notice, Made by Mr. John Bartram In his Travels from Pensilvania to Onondaga, Oswego and the Lake Ontario, In Canada. To which is annex’d a curious Account of the Cataracts at Niagara by Mr. Peter Kalm, A Swedish Gentlemen who travelled there. London, 1751.
Jonathan Carver. Travels through the Interior Parts of North American, in the Years 1766, 1767 and 1768…The Third Edition… Reprinted by Ross & Haines, Inc., Minneapolis, 1956.
Carver gives a fairly straight, unopinionated rendering of the “physicians” and “conjurors” of those tribes he encountered in the Midwest and Middle Canada region. His terminology is Anglican, such as the use of the term “prince” to refer to a Winnibago leader. He is also critical of the French and Jesuits impressions of the Tribes which they encountered. Carver’s criticism of Native American definitions and symbolism pertaining to religious beliefs is brief but concise in his Chapter 13 “of Their Religion.” He gives an interesting philosophical rendering of the Native American midwifery success for a problem delivery the “surgeons” had given up on in Penobscot, Maine, pages 396-7. His account of the rattlesnake [pp. 479-481] gives historical context to the earlier first-hand experiences the English had when they first saw this poisonous reptile. Traditional Rattlesnake bite treatments are also given in this section. Chapter 19 [pp. 494-521] “Of the Trees, Shrubs, Roots, Herbs, Flowers, &c.” details the herbalism, which has been summarized in these notes. [Note: Carver is reviewed separately under New France.]
Bear (Animal Spirit conjuring)
Spirit conjuring practice mentioned which makes use of smoke and a broth made from Bear.
[J. Bartram, 1751, p. 24-25]
Spirit conjuring practice mentioned whish makes use of smoke and a broth made from Bear. A description of conjuring with blankets and hot stones beneath it is given.
[J. Bartram, 1751, p. 24-25, 32-33]
Ethnobotany (miscellaneous notes)
Numerous descriptions of bark lodging are given, i.e. see J. Bartram, 1751, p. 24-25. He also notes Ginseng, but not its use, on p. 26.
An encounter with a snake is described, after travelling the principal branch of the Swataro, near Blue Mountains:
“At this place we were warned by a well known alarm to keep our distance from an enraged rattlesnake that had put itself into a coiled posture of defence, within a dozen yards of our path we punished his rage by striking him dead on the spot.”
(See also pages 19, 26, 68, 72 for brief mention of rattlesnakes.)
[J. Bartram, 1751, pp. 11-12]
Ed. Charles Scribners’ Sons, NY, 1912. pp. 313-337.