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Perry County, Ohio


Every town, village and neighborhood has its folktales that have been passed down from generation to generation. It may be the tale of that so-called haunted house or spooky old Mr. Mason down the street. Folk-lore may also be found in weird experiences or in the supernatural, in legends, oral history, proverbs, and in popular beliefs or customs. Folklore could be about the ghost who is said to haunt the railroad tracks down by the old coal mine. What about the pet cat that warned of a fire or the unseen figure that saved a little girl from drowning. Or it could be how Great Grandma knew how to stop bleeding or cure burns.

FOLK-MEDICINE IN OHIO. MARCH 1897 - Mrs. George A. Stanbery, writes from Adair Arc Terrace, Zanesville, Ohio, as follows:

In Somerset, Perry County, Ohio, lived an old German woman, by the name of Mrs. Harper, who was said to do wonders in curing diseases; and as I was a small child at that time, these things, talked about in my presence, made a great impression on my mind, but when most needed some of the most important points had fled from my memory. So I wrote to a relative of Mrs. Harper's, a Mr. Samuel Poorman, now of San Francisco, but formerly of Somerset, Perry County, Ohio, thinking that he or some of his family might be able to give me some information. I had also written to a friend in Somerset, asking her to find out for me about the measurements required in the cure for the " decay of the flesh in children." The two letters came together, and both had the desired information. Mrs. Benoni Beckwith, of Somerset, still keeps up the practice, and she very willingly gave me her method, which, by the way, is exactly the same as that used by Grandmother Harper ; and as Mr. Poorman has given me other valuable and (to me) new cures, I will quote from his letter. I am sorry that I shall be obliged to wait to hear from him before submitting a very important cure for relieving persons of pain who have been burned or scalded. He sent me the secret on a separate paper, because it loses its charm by being too generally known ; but he did not say whether or not I might send it to you with the others, so I must wait for permission. A man can give the secret to a woman, or vice versfr ; but a woman must on no account give it to a woman. As I am now in possession of the charm I am waiting for some one to burn himself, when I will try my powers. Grandmother Harper's Cure for the Decay of the Flesh. The child must be brought on three successive mornings, and stripped of all its clothing. Then with a linen string measure the length of the foot seven times. With this string measure the length of the body, commencing at the crown of the head and follow down the back to the tip of the heel. If the length of the child is less than seven lengths of the foot, the child is affected with decay. In this event a loop is formed with this string by holding its ends together between the thumb and forefinger. The loop is then passed overthe child three times from the head to the feet. The string is wound around the hinge of a door or gate, and as the string is worn away the child is restored to health. Mrs. Harper put the string on a wooden hinge. These were much used at that time on gates and barn doors. I presume an iron hinge would answer the same purpose. Mrs. John Wisemarfs Cure for the Thrush (Sore Mouth). "Three straws were obtained from the barnyard, which were broken or cut into equal lengths of about three inches. These were bound together in the middle with a string. The bundle thus formed was then passed between the lips of the afflicted child three times from right to left. The bundle of straws was then buried in the manure pile in the barnyard, where it remained until the next 'trying,' as it was called. In severe cases the operation, with the same bundle of straws, was repeated three times at intervals of half an hour. This whole process with the same straws was repeated in twelve hours, and again in twenty-four hours, making in all nine ' tryings.1 This would suffice for the most obstinate cases. In moderate cases there would be three ' tryings ' at intervals of twelve hours. Whether in the various resurrections of the bundle of straws there was any cleansing I do not know, but I presume not. " Sallie Jackson, my sister's oldest child, when an infant, was so badly afflicted with Thrush that blood oozed from her mouth whenever she opened it. Mrs. Wiseman operated on her. On the first ' trying ' blood flowed from her mouth in a stream, on the second ' trying,' in half an hour, a very little blood was seen, and on the third there was no blood. My sister was directed to return the following morning (twelve hours later), but when morning came she found the child's mouth entirely well ! There was no further treatment, and no more Thrush. " Mrs. Wiseman treated a Mrs. Aumentrout, of Thornville, Ohio, to whose breasts the disease had been communicated by her child. They were in such condition that the doctors had decided to remove them to save her life. The treatment was the same as for the child, passing the straws over her breasts as they were passed through the lips of the child. In this case there were three trials, or ' tryings,'at half-hour intervals, which were repeated in twelve and in twenty-four hours. At the last of these tryings no signs of Thrush remained.
Phthisic. A shoemaker by the name of Dennis treated her for it in the following manner. Measuring her height against the door- casing, he bored a hole with an augur at that point, took a lock of hair from her head, placed it in the hole, and then filled the hole with a neat-fitting pin of wood. She never after had the Phthisic. I cannot say whether there was any wheezing about that door-casing or not afterwards. " To Cure Enlargement of the Spleen. Pass the afflicted child from east to west, as the sun goes, around the leg of a chair or a table three times. " To Cure a Wen. When an entire bone is found lying on the ground (one that has not been broken or cut) rub the bone over the wen, and then replace it in the same position it was in when found. " The late H. C. Trainor, of Sacramento City, Cal., cured warts by tying three knots in a thread over the wart. The thread did not have to touch the wart, but was held in such a way that the loop for the knot was directly over the wart until drawn into a knot. The thread was then thrown away, and in a very few days the wart would disappear. "William Dugan, who used to work for my father, had a great reputation for stopping hemorrhages, but I know nothing of the process. You should be able to learn something of it from the Hammonds of Somerset." Then Mr. Poorman says: " I herewith enclose a memorandum explaining sister Mattie's method for the relief of burns. I make it separate, because of the secrecy necessary and the method of communicating it from one to another. It will not do for 'a person to tell it to one of the same sex. Mattie has given it to me, and I give it to you. I think those claiming to possess these powers hold, among other things, that the power is lost if the method is too often communicated to others." I have written to-day to Mr. Poorman for permission to publish the Burn Remedy. Mr. Poorman says that " on one occasion my brother-in-law had a horse that was bleeding profusely from a wound, and all efforts to stanch the blood were unsuccessful. As a last hope for saving the life of the horse he insisted on Mattie's (his wife) trying her burn remedy. She did so, only varying the latter part to suit the case, and they both say the flow of blood ceased immediately,"




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