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Granny Women: Healing and Magic in Appalachia

Phyllis has long known about the healing properties of herbs. She has studied herbalism for many years and makes her own healing products.

Appalachian cabin.

Appalachian cabin.

Self-Reliant People

In the old days, people living deep in the Appalachian Mountains had to be very self-reliant. Granny women are the ones people went to for healing and magic in Appalachia.

It was not easy to get to a doctor and rarely could a doctor reach anyone in time to help them get through an illness. Accidents happened and doctors were nowhere around in emergencies, but there was always a Granny close enough to fetch for help.

Granny women knew the way of herbs and home remedies and also used witchcraft methods.

It was not the modern Wiccan type magic, but the magic of the Old World witchcraft passed down for generations by elders teaching their daughters and granddaughters.

It was the healing magic that came from Ireland and Scotland with the early settlers.

Granny Women Grew Most of Their Own Herbs

Healing With Herbs

Every village or community in the mountains had at least one Granny Woman to run to for help and healing.

These women knew exactly which plant, herb, root, or bark would heal each malady or injury that came up.

When the Irish and Scotch people began immigrating to America in the 1700's they brought with them their own culture and traditions. Some of these traditions were from the Ancient Ones of northern Ireland.

They knew the healing powers of herbs, roots, bark, and other plant parts -- and they knew which combinations of herbs would be the best remedy for each treatment.

Plantation of Ulster

Most of these immigrants were descended from Scottish and English families who colonized Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster (an organized colonization) in the 17th century. They are referred to as Scotch-Irish or Scots-Irish.

During the 1700s over 200,000 people from the province of Ulster in northern Ireland immigrated to America. Another 100,000 arrived between the years 1783 and 1812, in the years following the American Revolution. Throughout the 1800s more Scots-Irish, over one million, continued to arrive.

Ulster Province in Northern Ireland

Ulster is the Colored Areas.

Ulster is the Colored Areas.

Herbs and Witchcraft

Among the immigrants were the women who knew the ways of the Old World witchcraft and herbalism. Many of the immigrants settled in Southern Appalachia and the Ozark Mountains. The women were healers and midwives and often the only practitioners of health care for the poor living in rural areas. They did not take payments for their healing. As with other settlers, they shared what they had -- gratitude for help and knowledge was often in the form of food, quilts, or other needed items, but it was not expected.

These women became known as "Granny Women". They relied heavily on herbal medicine. For instance, a regular remedy for whooping cough was made and bottled to give to the caretaker of the ill one. The Granny would boil one ounce of fresh red clover blossoms in one pint of water, strain, then add one cup honey. This was to be given to the child, one teaspoon twice a day until the cough cleared up.

Herbs Have Been Used for Healing for 1000s of Years

Midwifery and Birthin' Babies

Women who had children of their own were often called upon for "Birthin' Babies". Since they had gone through the process of giving birth, they were expected to be able to help other women in labor. These lay-midwives had no formal training. Over time, the midwives became more experienced and were of great assistance and need.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Granny Women and their midwifery skills were the main help for about half the births in Southern Appalachia. Childbirth was a great concern and a dangerous time in the old days and it was the Granny Woman who played an integral role in seeing that the babe and the mother survived.

Babes Were Birthed at Home With the Help of Midwives

Fetch Granny !

When someone was sent to "fetch granny", the Granny Woman would grab her bag, get on a mule or horse and leave her own family, often for days, to care for the woman in labor. She often stayed for a few days after the child was born to make sure mother and babe were "gettin' on okay". The Granny had her herb remedies in her bag and her rituals to perform to ensure a safe birth.

One common ritual of a Granny Woman when attending a birth, was to put an axe under the bed of the mother during labor. This was symbolic of "cutting the pain". Also, if all the windows were opened during labor, that was symbolic of opening the birth canal for easier delivery. Spells and charms were not looked on as odd or strange and the settlers trusted their Granny.

It was not until 1923 that the first professional training for midwives was established in Kentucky by Mary Carson Breckinridge. The Frontier Nursing Service, which Breckinridge established, is still in existence today.


Contact With Cherokee People

When the settlers came in contact with the Cherokee people a bond of respect and support was created. One of the most beneficial methods they shared was herbalism and healing.

The Granny Women brought Old World healing methods and the Cherokee provided extensive knowledge of herbs and their own methods of healing. The sharing, training of each other, and trading knowledge was extremely beneficial to both sides.

Between the Cherokee and the Scotch-Irish was also some strong similarities with the wee folk. The Granny Women worked closely with the Faerie Folk that followed them from the Old World to the Appalachians. The Cherokee had always worked with their kindhearted spirits, The Little People.

Both group of peoples often left 'offerings' for the little ones who helped them. This could be a bowl of cream sat on the back porch, berries, small pieces of cake or cornbread. This was believed to appease and delight the Faeries or the Little People.

Divination

The Granny also practiced divination, such as reading tea leaves, watching for signs in the clouds and several other methods.

Scrying, with a bowl of water was another method of divination. These methods are still done today by many people, like the Wiccan, Pagan, and witches of the Old Order.

Witchcraft as it was practiced in the old way by the Ancients still exists in the Appalachian Mountains. It is passed down from generation to generation -- and the Granny knows instinctively which member of her family is the next healer, so encourages that child to learn.

The healing powers of witchcraft is not a thing to shun or fear. It is a true and greatly beneficial method of healing.

The folks of Appalachia in the early days, and many of today, still turn to a Granny for help with healing, or have learned the old ways themselves.

Some people are born with the gift of healing and in time become aware of this as their knowledge just naturally comes out.

Many think of witchcraft as something bad to stay away from -- yet it was the witchcraft and knowledge of the Granny Women who saved many, many lives in the early days of the settlers, and brought the new babes into the world. True witchcraft from the Old World was based on the healing arts.

Reading Tea Leaves is Still Used for Divination

A Story About Granny Magic

Note From Author

Thank you for reading this article. I appreciate your time and interest.

My sources for this article are:

Library of Congress

Irish America

ERIC - Birthin' Babies

Childbirth in rural Apalachia


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Phyllis Doyle Burns

Comments

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on July 29, 2020:

Hi Christina. Check out the following link:

https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/southern-app... also look into https://www.learnreligions.com/appalachian-folk-ma...

Christina on July 27, 2020:

I want to go visit the granny witch areas in NC. Can help me find some good areas? I lIVE in Georgia.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on July 17, 2020:

Hi William and thank you for reading and commenting. You are right, the old ways and herbs work wonders. I use raw honey, lemon juice, and oatmeal for a face cleanser/mask. I take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar every morning to break up connection due to COPD. Thanks again.

William Beshears on July 17, 2020:

Theres many old time remedies that work today that i use like raw local honey and ginger for example herbs and the old ways if used right can work but most people would rather take a pill its our history

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on July 25, 2019:

Hi Olivia. You are most welcome. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Olivia Bishop on July 25, 2019:

Beautiful! Thanks for this!

Sandra S Fustin on July 17, 2019:

My Grandmother was a Granny and I spent most of my young childhood with her and my grandpa. She taught me many things as did my Mother did abut healing and I am able to perform many healings of non threading conditions and use this knowledge daily.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on June 29, 2019:

Hi Christina. Yes, it is sad all her knowledge on folk medicine died with her. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

Christina Summers on June 21, 2019:

My Mom’s family lives in Kentucky, and my Great Grandmother was a Granny. Sadly all our folk medicine died with her.

Lee Ann Fuentes on February 17, 2019:

I'am researching my family tree and I believe my Great Grandmother Barbra Hollifield was one of these healers,it is said that my father had smallpox and she cured him.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 08, 2019:

Hi Rdp68. Thank you for reading and commenting. I enjoyed reading about your Great Aunt Molly. She knew the ways of healing the natural way. Thanks for sharing.

Rdp68 on February 06, 2019:

I just happened to stumble upon this article, let me thank you for reminding me of childhood memories. I grew up in Wyoming county, WV. I had a wart on my hand that I could not get rid of when I was around 15. My mother had me see my great-aunt, Molly, who lived well beyond 100. She pricked the wart with a needle and cut two beans in half, dabbed the beans on the wart and told me to forget about it. Within a week, the wart disappeared, never to return. It left a neat scar that is still on my hand to this day. I don’t know what she did but it worked. I will never forget it. Again, thanks for the article. It reminded me that I need to get back and visit more often and not lose sight of my heritage and where I am from.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on January 18, 2019:

Hi Herbnurse13. Thank you for reading and commenting. You have a strong history of healers in you family. Thank you for sharing and for your very kind praise on my article.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on January 18, 2019:

Hi Betty. Thank you for reading and commenting. Your family history is very interesting, thank you for sharing.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on January 18, 2019:

Hi Cheryl. Thank you for reading and commenting. I do know someone who could help you, but I will have to get his permission to give out the contact information information. Some good books to check into are any book by Scott Cunningham; and The Way of Herbs Book by Michael Tierra.

Herbnurse13 on January 14, 2019:

This is a wonderful account of history. Being a Healer and Herbalist and the descendant of Healers, I can attest that what you have here is accurate. My Family came from Scotland and were Healers and “Granny Women”. My Great Grandfathers were Healers and also used divination to track Water for wells.

Thank you for posting this. It is excellently written.

Betty Brewer on January 13, 2019:

This is very interesting. I do use herbs. I grew up in the country and this is the only way mom and grandmas had to treat and Dr. us kids. And 10 of us turned out fine. We didn’t know what a Dr. or a Hospital was. We had one old lady that was supposed to be a midwife that surve the the whole part of the country where we lived.

cheryl on January 13, 2019:

Love this article and I have not had an antibiotic in 20 years..I go to God's medicine cabinet..do you know if there is a teacher that will show folks the healing ways..I would love to spend time with them , Blessings

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on November 19, 2018:

Hi Anita. Thank you for reading and commenting. Yes, a lot of people use herbs for healing and do quite well. Thanks again.

Anita Hasch on November 15, 2018:

Such an interesting hub. Many people, myself included are going back to using herbs for healing.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on November 09, 2018:

Hi Melissa. I am so glad you enjoyed the article so much. Thank you for such a lovely comment. I agree with you about valuing the ways of our ancestors. T'is sad, indeed, to see their era fade away. Thank you. Take care.

Melissa Meadow from United States on November 09, 2018:

Fascinating read, truly.

I love learning and reading about times gone past and I so wish people today would value the way things were done in the days gone by. People have lost touch with the ways of our ancestors and the knowledge they had through experience and trial and error. It's so sad that instead of valuing the ways of those that have come before us, so many condemn, judge, and fear what they clearly don't understand. Tragic, really.

I'm born and raised in the Appalachia region and have always cherished and marveled at the old ways and the history of this region. I loved this article and cannot thank you enough for this enriching read!

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on January 14, 2018:

Hi Mary. Thank you for reading. I am glad you enjoyed the article.

Mary on January 10, 2018:

My grandmother was one who helped birth babies and Wake the Dead. I was raised in rural Ky. and wished i had been more appreciative of what was around me. I enjoyed the article.. Thanks.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on November 03, 2017:

Hi Susan. Thank you so much for sharing your story - I love to hear from folks in Appalachia. Life experiences in your area are so interesting. I recently wrote a story about a man who was a seventh son of a seventh son and was thinking about writing another one about him, so I am glad you reminded me about that. Thank you for visiting and sharing.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on November 03, 2017:

Hi Kim. How exciting to find that and signed by a Granny Valentine. I bet she was relied on by many folks in her time. Thank you for sharing that. And thank you for reading.

Susan on November 03, 2017:

I have lived here all my life. A midwife came when my two baby sisters were born. I remember going and telling a neighbor it was time one night. I was very young and didn't even know what that meant at the time. We also had a neighbor who was the seventh son of a seventh son. I got thrash when I was a young girl and my Dad took me over for Him to blow in my mouth. I was very unhappy about it and thought his breath would make me sick. I was very surprised when it was like crisp cool wind and my thrash was gone the next day. I still didn't understand it but I can not deny it happened. Any way Thank you for your article I found it very interesting.

KimBied on November 02, 2017:

I recently found a birth record for my great aunt. It was signed by Granny Valentine. Jone's Cove, TN.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on October 16, 2017:

Hi Arielle. Thank you so much for reading. I enjoyed reading your comment. Have a great day.

Arielle on October 13, 2017:

Thank you for the article. It does remind me of home. My great grandmother was a lay midwife and knew womens arts. We know the grannies and grandpas as folk magic practitioners, or people touched by God. Bless their heart, and bless you for writing it. Also I will note that witches by name don't get ran off around here. Everybody and their brother practices something in one way or another, so nobody can even say anything about another lol. You can be a Christian and be a witch or a granny or folk magic practitioner or whatever you wanna call it. Its all the same workings. We are the dark horses of Appalachia ;) Love us, hate us.. but centuries later we still around lol.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on October 13, 2017:

Thank you, Diana, for reading and commenting.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on October 13, 2017:

Thank you, Sandria

Diana on October 13, 2017:

I know there is something stronger than what we can just except in our society there is so much more it's only open our hearts and our minds we would be filled with so much knowledge and joy yes so many will not see

Sandria on October 11, 2017:

This is wonderful and exactly what I have been looking for I am looking to learn the herbal and wildcrafting to help my family.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on August 20, 2017:

Hi Karine. Nice to meet you. I am glad you like the article and thank you for commenting. I appreciate your kind praise. Yes, it is a beautiful tradition of healing and more people are rediscovering the amazing benefits of herbs. Thanks again.

Karine Gordineer from Upstate New York on August 14, 2017:

Wonderful Hub! Such a beautiful tradition of healing.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on April 15, 2017:

Hi Dick. I think you misunderstand. I did not intend to give the impression that what Grannys did was witchcraft, nor that they were witches. They were healers and helpers to their community. Some of the Grannys used harmless witchcraft methods like tea leaf reading and card reading. One of the superstitious beliefs was to put an axe or knife under the bed of a woman in labor, to cut the pain. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Dick baker on April 12, 2017:

It was not witchcraft and in these mountains if said to be a witch they would have run off. Grannys where very religious and very superstitious

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on April 11, 2017:

Hi Donna. Your grandmother was a special woman, I would love to hear more about her. I appreciate you sharing that family history, and for reading my article. Thank you so much.

Donna Piko-Jones on April 10, 2017:

The term "Granny Women" is not familiar to me; but my grandmother was most certainly one. She was midwife to every woman in her rural community. She worked with herbs, wood bark, and other natural things found in the woods to heal. I could tell so many stories about this dear woman, and yes, she also used witchcraft. She passed her powers/abilities on to my mother, and she to me. Thank you for this lovely story.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 22, 2017:

Glad you like it. Thank you Witch of Stitches.

Witch of Stitches on February 19, 2017:

Another interesting article.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on January 12, 2017:

Hi Amanda. Thank you for reading, so glad you like this article. It is sad how many have lost touch with Mother Nature, but there seems to be a surge of re-connecting to her. Thanks again.

Amanda Marshay from Salt Lake City, Utah on January 12, 2017:

This was so informative. I find it so fascinating how are culture is losing touch with Mother Nature. Thank you so much for sharing this!

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on November 25, 2016:

Thank you very much, SakinaNasir. So glad you enjoyed it.

Sakina Nasir from Kuwait on November 22, 2016:

Great hub Phyllis! ☺ Loved reading it! Keep up the good work! God bless you!

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on November 16, 2016:

Hi Anita. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks. Yes, a lot of people practice natural healing methods and herbalism.

Anita Hasch from Port Elizabeth on November 16, 2016:

Enjoyed your hub Phyllis, healing with plants and herbs seems to becoming popular again.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on September 21, 2016:

Hi Shirley. Thanks for stopping by. You might want to check Watkins Home Products for Petro-Carbo Salve. My folks used it for burns and it works well. I keep a tin of it on hand. Thanks again.

Shirley Adams on September 21, 2016:

I'm from Eastern Kentucky by Virginia state line. My mom was one of these Granny women. People would come to our home all the time to see her. She could birth babies, take warts off your hands, say secret things that done things, stop blood, thrush in a babies mouth. I fell into a wood stove at five and burned my face bad. The women wrapped all kinds of stuff in the kitchen and began to make some type of salve, mom put it on my face and neck then bandaged it up daily until I healed up. To this day I have NO SCAR AT ALL ANYWHERE. I have always wanted get the recipient for that salve but my mom's gone and I can't. Does anyone know where I can get it. It's great stuff. I love all the responses you need do more these. Thanks,shirley

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on September 16, 2016:

Hi Amanda. I bet your Granny was an interesting and loving person. When someone is connected to nature like she was then life is filled with love. My

Dad read tea leaves and I do it once in awhile. Thank you for reading my article and commenting. I really appreciate it.

Amanda Parker on September 16, 2016:

I'm from Harlan County, KY. My Granny was a Granny Witch, he mother read tea leaves. We still live by these methods today.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on May 30, 2016:

H Anita.How nice to read about your grandmother and her natural ways of healing. Thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate it.

Anita Wray-White on May 25, 2016:

My grandmother lived by these practices in Arkansas. When run down roots and turnip greens. When aching from arthritis or rheumatism she and all her sisters would go to Hot Springs for healing. I think they brought this from hundreds of years before in the old country. For her it all went hand and hand with praying and religion. All ways to heal and feal better. And to have that belief that you would be healed.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on May 13, 2016:

How interesting. I vaguely remember the deck and Rook card now. Seems like one of my aunts had the deck. Thanks for the information, FreemanPresson.

FreemanPresson on May 13, 2016:

The Rook deck is actually still being made, and the Wikipedia article says they were specifically made for uptight Christian folk to have a card game not associated with poker or cartomancy! I had not seen a Rook deck since the 50s.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rook_(card_game)

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on May 12, 2016:

Hello, Archie McKinney, and thank you for reading and commenting. You must be proud of your great great grandmother. What a wonderful and wise woman she must have been. Thank you for sharing her history with me. I would love to know more and write about her life. Thanks again.

Archie McKinney on May 10, 2016:

Good post. My great great grandmother was born in East Tennessee the year that General Winfield Scott began the removal to Oklahoma. She was a healer and eventually came with her family to homestead in the Ozark Mountains of Southern Missouri. She lived long enough to see the advent of patent medicine and the decline of demand for healers. She lived well into her 80s and continued healing for family due to,the remote location of their homesteads.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on May 06, 2016:

FreemanPresson, my Dad used regular playing cards for divination and I have also. Yes, I know "evil gambling and all" was not well tolerated. Now, what are Rook cards? I don't think I have heard of those.

FreemanPresson on May 06, 2016:

Thanks for the great article!

Lots of people with the gift for divination just read playing cards. Even then, some families wouldn't have those. My Dad (b. 1907) was only allowed Rook cards because, y'know, evil gambling and all.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on May 06, 2016:

Hi FreemanPresson, I took out mention of the Tarot since it is a controversial subject. Thanks again for bringing that to my attention.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on May 06, 2016:

Hi FreemanPresson. So nice to hear from you. I believe the use of Tarot cards came much later than the ancestors of Granny Women. I will check out my out my wording and source to make sure I got that right - thanks for bringing it to my attention. What a great heritage you have. Thanks again and I will get back to you on the Tarot cards mention.

FreemanPresson on May 06, 2016:

I'm also descended from Scots-Irish, Irish, and Cherokee people. I caught the tail end of some of those traditions ("Great-aunt Sally can take off warts and treat your colic-y horse, etc). The one thing I wasn't so sure about was Tarot cards. Have you seen anything that proves any of them had Tarot before the late 20th century?

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on April 24, 2016:

Hi wendi_w. So glad you enjoyed the article. You have a very interesting family history. Thank you for sharing that and for reading / commenting. I appreciate your visit.

wendi_w from Midwest on April 24, 2016:

Really great Hub, much of what you describe is true of the Midwest where German, Bohemian,Swedes, and Sioux Indians combined. My Grandmothers were of Gypsy and German descent . Both Grandfathers were water witches and my grandmothers blended there heritage with Sioux Indian medicine and planting as well as a touch of Christianity. I love reading stories like these

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on April 06, 2016:

Hi Shannon. You might try watching some videos on Youtube about 'Appalachian Granny Women'. There are some videos there that could give you some ideas. Some advice is to develop your characters well so your readers get to know them. Thanks for reading and commenting on my article, I appreciate it.

Shannon on April 05, 2016:

This is really interesting, is there anywhere that you can direct me toward further readings on this topic? I'm wanting to write a short story, and the main character has a background sort of around this topic. Please and thank you!

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on March 16, 2016:

Hi Shyron. So glad you loved reading about the Granny Women. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Blessings to you, too, my friend. Hugs.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 15, 2016:

Hello Phyllis, this is great, I do love reading about courageous women of the past, and the magical cures of herbs.

Wonderful Hub

Blessings and Hugs my friend

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on March 07, 2016:

Hi Sarah. You are most welcome for those resources. I hope it helps. I think the history of those women is remarkable and very interesting. They have a strong common bond. Edain McCoy may have some books that will also help you. She wrote 'Mountain Magic' and is very knowledgeable about Appalachian folk medicine and such. Thanks for coming back again, Sarah. Keep in touch.

Sarah on March 07, 2016:

Thank you so much for the advice on further reading etc., I have never used Bing images, off to give that a try! I have her on my tree as Welch and forget her married name was Maynard, but yes- most of them lived right on the Tug Fork River, which runs between KY & WV, Sarah herself lived in Kentucky for a good part of her life. Such an interesting history these women share. Thanks again for the resources.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on March 06, 2016:

Hi Sarah. Thank you so much for your visit. How interesting about Sarah Welch and her being blind - she must have really been a good midwife. I hope you find out more about her. I can give you information on some reads. I don't know if it will help you, but a list is below. Another thought is to search 'Granny Women' on Bing Images and follow back to the original source. I found an image of the Welch family, but they were in Kentucky (maybe some relations?) Mandy, in the video, is quite an interesting person.

Birthin' Babies: The History of Midwifery in Appalachia.

http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED464795

The Midwife's Tale

by Gretchen Moran Laskas

http://www.librarything.com/work/218522

http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=su%3AMidwives+Mis...

The Granny Woman of the Hills

by Ella Ingenthron Dunn

Mary Breckenridge

Frontier Nursing Service

Thanks again, Sarah. Hope you visit here again and let me know how your research is going. Take care.

Sarah on March 06, 2016:

Thank you for sharing this information! I'm an Appalachian herbalist and descendant of a mountain midwife and have been looking for more information about her life and practices. I know from her Wayne Co. WV census (1880) that she, Sarah Welch, was still at age 80, listed as a midwife and blind to boot! Can you recommend further reading specifically about midwives in Appalaichia? Thanks again. Have to add- it is uncanny how much the woman in the video looks and sounds like my grandmother!

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on March 05, 2016:

Hi Lester and welcome. It is so good to hear from you. I am glad you like the article and thank you for the confirmation of the stories . You must be very proud of your mother, your whole family and your heritage. Thank you for reading and commenting, I really appreciate it. Hope you visit again.

Lester on March 05, 2016:

These are my people , both sides of my family, Cherokee and Irish, love the stories, they're very true . My Mother was a granny way before she was a granny. My aunt could stop bleeding,my Father could witch a well .thank you for sharing blessed be .

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 21, 2016:

Hi Dixiecuz. Your statement is not quite true. Holistic medicine is used along with conventional medicine. The holistic approach is to treat the whole person, (physical, emotional, and spiritual).

Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Dixiecuz72 on February 21, 2016:

This would be the equivalent to holistic medicine today.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 12, 2016:

Hi sparkster. I will go read your hub. Sounds interesting. Thanks.

Marc Hubs from United Kingdom on February 12, 2016:

I have already written a hub about alternative medicine which goes into detail about Hoxsey Therapy. I published that a while ago. It's also about how such medicines have been suppressed, in addition to new energy technologies.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 12, 2016:

Hi TT. Thank you so much for reading and sharing about the Alaska natives. I am sure that causes a lot of consternation for the doctors. Herbal medicine can do wonders and so can doctors - it is too bad both sides cannot find a way to work together. Thanks again for reading and commenting. Take care

Judy Specht from California on February 12, 2016:

Very interesting read . Truly believe in herbal medicine, but know doctors in Alaska who run into native healers who scare the people and cause great harm because they don't believe in modern medicine. Read Christi when I was in junior high. The people of Appalachia have fascinated me ever since. Again an very interesting article. TT

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 09, 2016:

Hi Sharon Turnwall. Thanks for the visit and comment. Since you do have an interest in the wisdom and skills of your great-grandmother you just may pick up the knowledge. I am a strong believer that inherent attributes are within us (like a genetic memory) and can be developed spiritually. I think your intuition and desire will promote and enhance the learning.

Thanks again.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 09, 2016:

Hi sparkster - good to hear from you. I bet that was "an enlightening experience". How interesting your comment is. I was recently reading about shaminism, fascinating! Many cultures around the world have their Shamans and history of that belief system. I do not recall the "Hoxsey Therapy" cure. Maybe you can write a hub about it.

Thanks for stopping by, reading and commenting. I appreciate it.

Sharon Turnwall on February 09, 2016:

Very interesting read. My great-grandmother was born and raised in Kentucky and was a mid-wife. She "birthed" over 2,500 babies during her lifetime. She always used some sort of plant to heal anything from a cut toe to a stomach ache. No one in the family knows when or where she learned all she knew and unfortunately all of her knowledge went to her grave with her. I seem to be the only one in the family who has any interest in her abilities and knowledge, unfortunately she is no longer here to teach me.

Marc Hubs from United Kingdom on February 09, 2016:

Great information. This hub reminds me of a couple of things. First, some research I did into herbs used for the "Hoxsey Therapy" cure which was a natural cure for cancer. Labelled by authorities as pseudoscience but recent research backs it up. Also, a shamanic spiritual cleansing that was done on me recently by a woman who is part Cherokee. That was certainly an enlightening experience.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 09, 2016:

Hi Seafarer Mama. Thanks for the visit. I love gardening, too. I learned a lot about gardening and herbs from my father. The books I recommend are very helpful. Your grandmother still is very special to you and that is great. Maybe she knows it is safe now to teach you and her spirit will guide you.

Thanks again for reading and commenting.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 09, 2016:

Hi Tabitha. Thank you for reading and commenting. Have a great day.

Karen A Szklany from New England on February 09, 2016:

Loved reading this article, Phyllis. I am drawn to gardening and herbal knowledge and am eager to learn more. The women in my family learned shame for being women and women's knowledge, so if they possessed such knowledge at all, they suppressed it when they came to the "new world." I have always been the odd one, much to my mother's frustration - not taking "authorities" at their word about what to think, believe, etc. Though I grew up Catholic, I am now primarily Unitarian Universalist.

I loved gardening with my grandmother. She did have quite a "green thumb." It was definitely a bonding time between us and I sometime think she is one of my Spirit Guides. I wonder if there was herbal knowledge that she held but felt it was unsafe to teach me. Grew up in NY but now live in MA. I feel like I belong here in some way. Grew up Catholic, which probably explains lots about the shame part, but now I have a chance to guide my daughter to love herself and have confidence.

The word "Witch" is very interesting. I know a bunch of women who self-identify as "witches." It is only a negative term if the person who uses it labels another with disdain. I do like the word healer better, though, because it is more descriptive and accurate for who those Granny Women were. It is very sad that in the 1690's, those who benefited from their knowledge and service turned them in to be hanged or burned at the stake.

I think that Homeopathy is a modern movement that takes from the herbal practices of the old ways. I know at least 2 women who practice and I have great respect for their knowledge.

Tabitha Canady on February 09, 2016:

Great article! So many do not know the real history of these awesome healers.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 08, 2016:

Hi Karen, you are most welcome. So much history of folk medicine from Ulster. I love redclover, I wish it grew here. We just have white. I need to pay a visit to my herbal shop soon and see if he has some. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Karen on February 08, 2016:

Thanks for sharing your article Im a ustler decendent..picking redclovers living in Aotearoa New Zealand

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 08, 2016:

Thank you very much, Terra.

Terra on February 08, 2016:

A fantastic informative read, thank you.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 08, 2016:

Thank you sumon.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 08, 2016:

Hi Alexis. You are most welcome. Thank you for stopping by.

sumon on February 08, 2016:

This is a nice article. It is really helpful.

Ashley Ferguson from Indiana/Chicagoland on February 07, 2016:

Sounds beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us. :)

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 07, 2016:

Hi Rochelle. Yep, they had a whole passel of young'uns. LOL

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, I appreciate it.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on February 07, 2016:

Beautiful Hub Phyllis! very interesting and evocative of the time. Them Garlands sure had a bunch of young'uns. They must have been strong people.

Phyllis Doyle Burns (author) from High desert of Nevada. on February 07, 2016:

Hi Darcy. Yes, their stories and the women themselves were fascinating. How fortunate you are to have such ancestors. Thanks for reading and commenting.