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The Country Doctor Museum

Education is the primary mission at The Country Doctor Museum. We are dedicated to creating an appreciation and understanding of rural medical history, chronicling the evolution of health, medicine, and the medical profession, empowering educators, and improving the overall health of the public. The museum is committed to developing public support and meeting the needs of the community through its educational programs, services, and resources.

The value of medical history, specifically rural health care history, is to remind us that modern medicine was built over the centuries with each succeeding era witnessing important additions to the body of medical knowledge. The practice of medicine is still a balance of art, interpersonal skills and a strong sense of caring, and science, incorporating the newest technological advances to enhance patient care.

Visit the ECU Laupus Health Science Library History Collections to learn more about the history and practice of health care, primarily in eastern North Carolina.

East Carolina University’s Mobile Health Screening Van made a house call to the Country Doctor Museum on October 13, 2021. ECU health care providers were on hand to give free health screenings for heart, kidney and diabetes risk factors. Also on site were representatives from local health agencies including the Nash County Public Health Department (photographed), Trillium Health Resources, and Southeastern Healthcare of NC. We appreciate their participation to share their programs and resources with our guests.

Oral History Day

In May 2018, students from Southern Nash High School’s AP US History class, under the tutelage of Mr. Scott Hendricks, offered a community oral history day at The Country Doctor Museum. Students worked in teams to meet and interview community members about their experiences and memories with illness and home remedies while growing up in a small town. Participants recalled common practices such as cod liver oil as a preventative and unusual treatments such as packing a wound with cobwebs. Browse the summaries and audio files below to learn more.

Age: 74

The subject grew up with one brother and one sister in a small farming area that grew mainly tobacco and cotton. They recall having measles, chickenpox, and having their tonsils removed as a kid. When they had their tonsils removed, they were put to sleep using Ether. They do not recall going to the doctor often but when they did, they visited doctors in Spring Hope, North Carolina. Some home remedies that they recall are gargling with hot salt water to soothe a sore throat and using Vicks Vaporub on chests to help with colds. The medical advancement that impacted their life the most is no longer having to cut people as much when giving them surgery and having shorter hospital stays after the completion of surgeries.

Age: 76
Grew up in: Nash County in between Bailey and Spring Hope.

Lived with two brothers and one sister; grew up on a farm in Nash County. A Vietnam Veteran, Dickinson experienced trouble breathing due to chemical agents used during the war. Remembers using home remedies such as sassafras tea, black draught, syrup and baby milk used as laxative, and castor oil. Dickinson stated that Symbicort had the greatest impact on his life.

Age: 84
Grew up in: Nashville, NC

Lois recalls life on her farm in Nashville, growing tobacco and corn. She reminisced on the lasting effect castor oil had on her. Mrs. Abernathy recalled how her mother mixed the castor oil with orange juice, and to this day will not eat an orange because of it.

Age: Mary, 84, Derl, 88
Mary grew up in Bailey, NC (farming area)
Derl grew up in Bailey, NC (in town)

Mary and Derl Pace, a married couple in Bailey, NC, recalls that their illnesses were treated with home remedies and occasional doctor visits. Mary Pace describes her mother using a mustard paste for for chest colds in order to “burn” the cold away. Mary Pace was diagnosed with malaria and was treated with a 2 year treatment of quinine. They also expressed how modern medicine has impacted their lives with the creation of the polio vaccine.

Age: 62
Grew up in: Black Creek

Mrs. Denton recalls living on a tobacco farm with a somewhat small family, and being mostly healthy besides the anemia she had. She visited the hospital rarely, remembering one time when she went to Wilson Memorial upon her brother having surgery for appendicitis. She also recalls some home remedies, turpentine and sugar for sore throats, warm milk to cure itching of the measles. They also used balsamere, which was usually for horses, to help heal cuts (according to her, it also really burned). She believes one of the main impacts of newer technology is breast cancer screening, with MRI’s and improved mammograms.

Age: 77
Grew up in: Bailey, NC

Mrs. Simonof recalls visits from doctors, such as visits from Dr. Brantley, as well as her victory over cancer. She speaks about her experiences in treating things such as bee stings with chewing tobacco. She is also grateful that there are now vaccines for the measles since when she was growing up she got them and there was no vaccine at the time.

Age: 68

Mrs. Rich recalls growing up in a small farming area with her seven brothers and sisters, her parents, and her grandmother. She recalls having the measles, Vicks Vaporub being rubbed on the chest to help with colds, and Trumpet Weed being put on cuts. She also remembers going to the doctor’s office in Nashville rather than the doctor coming to her house for a house call. Mrs. Rich was most impacted by the availability of the medical profession in North Carolina.

Age: 91
Grew up in: Nash County

Janie Joyner grew up in Nash County in a small farming area where she remembered having measles, chickenpox, and polio where there are now vaccines for today. Janie Joyner is is a cancer survivor in which she states chemotherapy played a huge role in her battle with cancer.

Age: 68
Grew up in: Sneads Ferry

Mrs. Jones recalls working on her Uncle’s farm a lot, where crops such as tobacco, soybeans, and cucumbers were grown. She remembers having appendicitis and having surgery at Onslow Memorial Hospital, and hating ether, saying it smelled terrible upon waking up. She saw Dr. Henderson in Sneads Ferry, and recalls using turpentine, aspirin, and mustard plaster for various ailments.

Age: 80
Fondest Moment: Minister Edna Mount explained how her older, home remedies were better than modern medicines used today.

Minister Mount lived in Mt. Pleasant with her mother, grandmother, and three siblings (one sister and two boys). Minister Mount recalled that the only time she visited a doctor, Dr. Van, was when she experienced appendix pain, besides that, her grandmother and mother provided the needed medical attention for the family with home remedies. Minister Mount shared that turpentine, castor oil, whiskey, and herbs from the woods to create catnip tea, was used as effective remedies for the families illnesses.

Age: 76
Grew up in: Griffin’s Township

Mrs. Parker recalls growing up on a farm with 9 people living in the house, including her parents. She remembers having the chickenpox and poison oak so bad that she had to get shots every day. One home remedy that she remembers is mixing sugar and honey to help with a bad cough. Mrs. Parker visited Dr. Jones in Nashville, NC and she recalls going to more office visits than having him come out to house calls. The medical advancement that has impacted her life the most is better advancements with heart surgeries and other heart related problems.

Age: 79
Grew up in: Bailey, North Carolina

Jean Castin grew up in a small farming area in Bailey, North Carolina, in a household with four children. She remembered experiencing chickenpox and measles for which there are vaccines now today. Jean Castin remembers using remedies and medicine such as Vicks, sugar and honey, Vaseline, castor oil, and aspirin. Jean Castin states that the shots for arthritis have had the greatest medical impact on her life.

Kaye Folsom


Age: 72
Grew up in: Bailey, NC in a small farming area
Fondest Moment: When she was diagnosed with tonsillitis and was told by Dr. Newell she could potentially need a tonsillectomy

Kaye Folsom described how medicine was limited when she was growing up in Bailey NC and also the concern of the country doctor (Dr. Newell) being a female. There were some enhancements when she was growing up which included the polio vaccine that was given during school. She also expressed her gratitude for new technological advancements such as x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans as they have made everything easier.

Age: 73
Grew up in: Louisburg/Wilson

Mrs. Scott recalls living in Louisburg until age ten, when her and her family moved to Wilson to work on a soybean, tobacco, cotton, and cucumber farm. She had nine brothers and two sisters, one of the brothers having Down Syndrome and being treated by Dr. Newell. She received most care at home, and remembers using pine knee and sweet oil, snuff juice on bee stings, and baking soda to brush teeth.

Age: 76
Grew up in: Bailey, NC

Joyce Brantley recalls growing up in Bailey, NC with her parents, four brothers, grandfather, and great aunt. She recalls two doctors: Dr. Freeman and Dr. Newell, both of which she described having great knowledge in the field of medicine. Joyce believed that the usage of homemade lard mixed with mustards helped heal colds and congestions. Having known the effects of polio through a local, Catherine Stott, being in an iron lung, the polio vaccine was the greatest medical advancement to Joyce.