Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Doctors' house calls and medicine

Doctors attended to the sick in their homes, but according to Rosalie Calvert of Maryland, "he makes us prepare all the remedies."  Many cookbooks during this period included "simple remedies."

In a Sept 17, 1819 letter Rosalie listed her various duties - supervising making clothes, wines, provisions, dairy, garden and even teaching her children when they did not have a teacher.  And complain a tad that her husband "does absolutely nothing" except "manage his lands."

"My servants are very negligent and my husband does absolutely nothing other than manage his lands.  The wines, the provisions, the servants' work, horses, carriages, garden, dairy - I am in charge of all that.  Besides which, all our clothes, linens, etc., from mine to Emily's [Amelia, the youngest, 1817] are made here at the house and I have to supervise everything, often cutting and fitting them myself.  Since winter I haven't had a teacher for my three youngest children; Caroline [eldest child born 1800] gives them some lessons, but it takes up some of my time too. ...  

When our servants are sick, we use a doctor from Washington, but he makes us prepare all the remedies, etc.  It all takes a lot of time and you can well imagine that with such a large number of negroes, we have illnesses frequently."
Mistress of Riversdale, The Plantation Letters of Rosalie Stier Calvert. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

Rosalie Stier, (1778-1821) from a wealthy Belgium family married George Calvert (1768-1838) in 1799 and moved into "Riversdale" in Riverdale, Md. Her parents returned to Belgium in 1803.  George Calvert’s father was the illegitimate son of the 5th Lord Baltimore, and his sister married the son of Martha Washington.

Stabler Leadbeater Apothecary Museum in Alexandria, founded in 1792 where medicines were made and sold. Magnificent collection of equipment, components and written records – ledgers, orders, journals customers Martha Washington, Robert E. Lee and others until 1933, when it was turned into a museum. Maryland cookbook author Elizabeth Ellicott Lea's  daughter married a Stabler who was working at the apothecary shop, until they moved back to a farm next to her Mother's north of Sandy Spring, Md.

©2020 Patricia Bixler Reber
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