Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dr. Durham’s Herb Walk

The minute I learned about Dr. Lindsey Durham’s “receipts” (prescriptions for cures) I knew I would have liked this man! He practiced “eclectic medicine”, just as I grow an eclectic garden. It’s not quite the same thing – I have no interest in practicing medicine or using my herbs for anything but teas and cooking, but my garden is eclectic because I grow thyme underneath a viburnum, yarrow among the daylilies and sage in front of a fothergilla; there is rosemary next to a rose and others flanking the mailbox. There is no such thing as a flower garden, an herb garden or a hedge of shrubs in my landscape!

Back to Dr. Durham: his grandfather, Abram Durham, came from England (County Durham) and settled in Virginia in 1750, where Lindsey’s father, Samuel Davis Durham was born in 1755. Samuel married Isabel Lindsey in 1781 and, with several others, set out for Georgia the following year.

Read Ellen Whitaker’s “A Brief History of the Life of Dr. Lindsey Durham” in her and Debbie C. Cosgrove’s “Dr. Durham’s Receipts: A 19th Century Physician’s Use of Medicinal Herbs” for more details of this remarkable Georgian’s life and career.

Shortly after turning onto FR 1234 off Macedonia Road, off Georgia Highway 15, halfway between Watkinsville and Greensboro, one arrives at the Scull Shoals Education Center, where Debbie and Bill Cosgrove, with the help of countless volunteers, have established a small replica of Dr. Durham’s 13-acre herb garden.

Debbie Cosgrove (center, in black, outstretched arm) lecturing during Dr. Durham's Herb Walk on November 7, 2010.

Many of the trees, shrubs and flowering plants are labeled and it can be a pleasant Sunday afternoon to go and take a look, particularly in spring, but also in autumn, and especially with Debbie Cosgrove as guide. This is truly a place where the history of eclectic medicine comes to live.

Scull Shoals - Oconee National Forest - Georgia

If history and archeology fascinate you, include a guided tour of Scull Shoals on your itinerary. If you are more of a traditional tourist, however, the site will disappoint you. There is not a lot to see! And there are no creature comforts of any sort.

In early November, an archaeologist walked a small group of us through the site and imparted information about digs that had occurred or were expected to take place in the future. Warehouse ruins in top left.

The old forest has in many places given way to Chinese privet, there is scant evidence of river landings and even the best-preserved structures are, with one exception, not more than small heaps of rocks and bricks.

Warehouse ruins, dating back to 1870

All that's left of what was once the mill manager's or superintendent's large, 3-story house. 

I have now twice visited and will probably go again, but with its lack of facilities and ample presence of mosquitoes and other insects, it’s the “off-the-beaten-path” travelers, along with the history and archeology buffs, who are likely to be the only ones to find this an interesting place to visit.

In late September, author Robert Skarda conducted a tour of the site; warehouse ruins on right.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Remembering History

Often, when I travel the roads of North Georgia, I wonder what this land was like two hundred years ago, not long after white settlers began arriving here from Virginia, the Carolinas and the Georgia coast, before the Trail of Tears and long before the Civil War.

We have some knowledge from William Bartram’s writings.

And more from contemporary writings by authors such as Robert Skarda, whose “Scull Shoals: The Mill Village that Vanished in Old Georgia” recounts a late 18th-early 19th century settlement along the Oconee river in northeast Georgia, including Georgia’s first paper mill. The book is available from Friends of Scull Shoals.

The area around Cleveland, where Loganberry Heritage Farm is located, belonged to the Cherokee nation; the pre-white settlement of Scull Shoals was part of the Creek lands. Unlike the Cherokees, who are an independent tribe, the Creeks were a confederation of tribes who were considered hard to distinguish from one another and whose names were so difficult to pronounce that, it is said, white settlers simply called them “Creeks” because of their location along creeks and small rivers.

The history of North Georgia is colorful, riven by brutal, unconscionable acts, and fascinating for a newcomer to the area.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Enchanted Land

That’s what John Berryman (“Berry”) Turner and his family found in 1828, when they settled near what is now Cleveland, in North Georgia.

Georgia, in the early 1800s, was a place in turmoil. White settlers arrived in increasing numbers, from Virginia and the Carolinas, taking advantage of “land grants”, state lotteries that allowed the winners to take out grants for the purchase of hundreds of acres of land. Georgia held 8 such lotteries between 1805 and 1833.

Inheritances to Berry Turner’s large family (he and his first wife, Rebecca Etris, had 10 children; upon her death, when he was 65, he married Jemima Wilkens, age 18, and had another 7 children with her) and debt-settlements led to divisions that did not allow his original 250 acres to remain in the family.

Today, Berry’s 5th generation descendant, Sharon Turner Mauney, owns 60 acres, including the site of the family’s original homestead, and has established LoganBerry Heritage Farm, “Logan” being another important family name in North Georgia. The naturally-grown produce includes (seasonally) tomatoes, corn, beans, garlic, herbs, greens, okra, masses of sunflowers, cosmos, zinnias and other flowering plants.

This agri-tourism destination now beckons visitors from all over the planet, primarily, of course, from Atlanta north, as well as the surrounding counties.

Call 706-348-6068 or send an e-mail ( to arrange a tour, or go and shop at the seasonal market. This year’s final market day is probably October 30 and Mother Nature will determine the first market day of 2011.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Crawford Long: An Almost Forgotten Name?

Most of my readers will probably not recognize the name “Crawford Long”. Atlantans may recognize it as the name of a hospital on Peachtree Street, but how long will that recognition last? The hospital’s name is now Emory University Hospital Midtown.

It’s understandable that the hospital’s owner, Emory University, wanted to extend its brand, but it’s a shame that the name of such important a discoverer as Crawford W. Long, M.D. now has one fewer reminder of his worldwide impact in health care.

Called “America’s Greatest Contribution to Medicine”, Dr. Long, on March 30, 1842, became the first to use ether anesthesia during surgery when he painlessly removed a cyst from the neck of James Venable.

The other day, I visited the Crawford W. Long Museum in Jefferson, Georgia.

Jefferson, the seat of Jackson County, in Northeast Georgia, is a town of fewer than 10,000 residents. Just a few miles off Interstate Highway 85, it is worth your time to take an extra hour while traveling between Atlanta to Greenville, South Carolina, to take a journey back in time to rural Georgia before the Civil War and stroll through this museum, which not only tells the story of Dr. Long and his discovery and exhibits some of his and his family’s possessions, but also includes the Pendergrass General Store, a grocery cum apothecary that is so “real” it makes you want to pull up a stool and enjoy a coke and a chat with the neighbors from a century and a half ago. Note: please forgive the literary license; coca-cola was not invented till 1868, just ten years before Dr. Long’s death. There is no record of his ever having drunk it, but the museum’s gift shop will sell you a commemorative 6-pack for $10.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Where to start . . .?

I recently joined an on-line group of travel writers, only to wonder what makes me one.

I've seen a gorgeous volcano in Ecuador and an amusing one in El Salvador. In Sri Lanka, I visited centuries-old water reservoirs, encountered an elephant in the wild and sat under the Bodhi tree grown from a shoot of the original one under which the Buddha achieved enlightenment. I've admired the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Big Ben in London and Mont Blanc in the Alps, walked the black-sand Pacific Coast beaches of Central America and seen Imelda Marcos's shoes at Malacanang Palace. I've eaten pasta in Milan, ceviche in Guayaquil, kim chi in Seoul, curries in Mumbai and arroz con pollo in Tegucigalpa. I've seen Lake Geneva angrier than the Gulf of Mexico.

And I don't want to travel any more (at least not all those long distances), so why did I declare myself a travel writer?

Ah . . .! Have you ever been to North Georgia, with its delicate spring wildflowers and its robust fall foliage? Or visited Asheville, Mobile, Fort Matanzas, the Great Smokies, Hilton Head or Cumberland Island - that place of strong women and wild horses, a book title some of us think should have been 'wild women and strong horses'? Have you?

Come back to this blog some time and we'll visit those places together.