Doctor Jordan’s mother Harriet
brought with her from slavery an extraordinary knowledge
of nature and weather wisdom and home remedies as well
as folk lore and beliefs. Then for more than forty years
her friends on Spiers’ Quarters and neighboring farms
turned to her for comfort and relief in times of
Her son Jim profited greatly from her
knowledge during the early years of his practice while
he obtained added herb and conjure knowledge from his
Uncle Allen Vaughan of Brownville and his cousin known
as Aunt Jo(sephine) Minton of the Virginia Diamond Grove
community six miles north of Como.
The Doctor’s sister Emma lists the remedies as taught
by their mother:
SEDGEFIELD—for upset stomach and diarrhea, children and
adults. To prepare: take a quart of water, drop in one
burned oyster shell (to preserve the tea and give the
stomach a coating), two rusty nails (rustier the better,
to build up iron in blood), three or four green sweetgum
buds, one sedgefield vine; boil to a tea. Dosing: mix
half glass each of water and tea; use brandy instead of
water for adults if preferred.
WILD STICK WEED---for aches and pains. To prepare: boil
weed into a tea. To dose: rub tea over aching parts of
MULLEN—for colds ands respiratory ills. To prepare: boil
one bunch of mullen in two quarts of water to a tea. To
dose: drink one cup of the tea, get beneath a blanket to
sweat off the aches and pains.
WILD STICK WEED AND MULLEN—for dropsy patients. To dose:
drink the mullen tea and rub with the wild stick weed
tea. Together they will “draw the misery out.”
CATNIP—for fever. Make tea from leaves.
SAGE—for swelling. Make tea from leaves.
COLLET ROOT—for aches and pains. Chew root as taken from
the ground or dry for later use.
FLAG—for aches and pains. Make tea from leaves.
WORM SEED—for worms. To prepare: take green worm seed,
boil them in a spider of water, fry them in grease, add
molasses and cook down to a candy. To dose: feed candy
to children and adults as needed. (Harriet would gather
the seed in the spring and prepare a story of candy for
Tom Sharpe Majette of Route 2, Ahoskie, near Union
says as a boy he helped Allen Vaughan gather these
plants and herbs:
GALL OF THE EARTH—to induce vomiting.
BLACK MARSTER—to induce vomiting.
RATTLE SNAKE ROOT—to treat the nerves.
RUE BUSH—for worms.
MULLEN—for colds and sweating.
POKE MERCURY AND LOW JOHN—to repel by conjure.
LADY SLIPPER AND HIGH JOHN—to induce love and
friendliness by conjure.
RUNNING JOHN—as a conjure to carry in the pocket for
John Edward Lawrence (1881_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _)
adds to the herb remedies:
DOUBLE TANZY (two leaves)—for woman in child labor. For
Single Tanzy and weaker tea use one leaf.
SASAFRASS PITCH—for thrash.
CATNIP—to relieve babies of gas.
DOGWOOD LEAVES AND GREASE—for burns and scalding.
MAN’S DRINK—strong purgative.
SWEET FLAG—children to chew for stomach pains.
GARLIC ROOT—strung around child’s neck to aid in
MOLE FOOT—strung around child’s neck for teething.
Puckett in his “Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro”
lists some of the roots and herbs shown him by
CRUEL MAN OF WOODS—Wrap roots in red flannel. Will harm
your enemies if they try to harm you.
ANGEL’S TURNIP—Wrap in red flannel—brings good luck.
DEVIL’S SHOE STRING—Cut root into small pieces, put
camphor or whiskey on it and rub on your hands—will give
you control over any woman. “Dress inside of hands with
it and back of hands with devil’s snuff, grab your enemy
by the arm when he comes for you and he will be blinded.
Carry a bit in your pocket, no snake will bit you; a
piece in a man’s path, he will never have any money; use
it for a gambling “hand.”
PLANT OF PEACE—Take the leaves, rub on hands—will blind
enemies. Use to make “hands” to bring security and
peace—to protect you from enemies.
KING OF THE WOODS—(Three leaves representing the
Trinity)—Fine for making any sort of conquering “hands.”
Mix with sarsaparilla and coon-root and steep into a
tea. Will cure almost anything.
SAMSON SNAKEROOT—Chew to soften hearts. Use in any hand
or trick. Steep into a tea for “cramping, lame back, or
TOADSTOOL—Cut off the top, dry it, and wet with camphor
or whiskey. Rub on limbs to cure sprains and rheumatism
and to protect from conjuration.
GRAPEVINE—Hit a man with a piece of grapevine and he
will lose the use of his limbs.
TEN FINGERS—Get a leaf from this plant and measure the
middle finger on your left hand with it. Then tear the
leaf off, wrap it up, keep it in your pocket. It will
give you control over any one.
BLOOD OF CHRIST—Mix roots with sugar, spice, and
bluestone. Wrap (towards yourself) in red flannel. Bring
peace and safety.
Source: F. Roy Johnson • The Fabled Doctor
Jim Jordan • © Copyright 1963 •Johnson Publishing
Co.• Murfreesboro, N. C.
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posted 14 May 2006 / update 23