Herbs for an American President

Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856 – 1924)

A lovely pre-Civil War home to tour is the birthplace of Thomas Woodrow Wilson in Staunton, Virginia. You are shown the formal parlor and dining room, as well as the study, bedroom, kitchen, storage room, and family dining room. Hanging from the mantle of the storage room, adjacent to the kitchen, are the dried herbs of borage, thyme, salad burnet, tansy, lemon balm, basil, hyssop, sage, lavender, peppermint, curly mint, marjoram, horehound, lemon mint, and tarragon.

Were all of herbs presently hanging from the mantle grown in the garden of Mrs. Wilson? Although there is record of a garden existing behind the house, which could be seen from the balcony above, we do not know exactly which items were cultivated. We do know, however, that during pre-Civil War America, as recorded in a book titled “The Family Nurse” (also called “Companion of The American Frugal Housewife”) published originally in 1837, that many of these herbs were well-known and commonly used. Here are a few examples:

Sage (Salvia officinalis) tea relieved headaches and was known to relieve symptoms of measles. Mixed with honey and vinegar, it was a good gargle for sore throats.

Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) blossom tea was recommended for poor digestion.

Mint (Mentha piperita) was used for flatulence, nausea, and spasmodic pain. The bruised fresh herb of mint was applied to the stomach to ease sickness and was used for cholera treatment for children.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) was drunk to cool fevers. It enhanced perspiration when taken warm along with medications for this purpose.

White Horehound (Marrubium vulgare) was made into a tea and sweetened with honey or molasses. It was highly recommended for coughs and lung complaints.

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) The bruised leaves were said to ease the pain of bruises and to heal them without scar. It was considered good for asthma, coughs, and especially healing for the elderly. A tea of elecampane, hyssop, and horehound steeped together and taken with warm flax-seed tea at bedtime was highly praised as a cure for colds.

Well, this lovely home and birthplace of President Woodrow Wilson was called a Manse, a house provided for a pastor by a congregation. Father, Joseph R. Wilson, was a Presbyterian minister who served in Staunton, VA. Mother, Janet “Jesse” Woodrow, was a gentle wife and mother. The family lived here a short time prior to moving to Augusta, Georgia when Thomas was about a year and a half old in 1858. It is interesting to note that this move positioned the family even more firmly in the South and Joseph R. Wilson served as a chaplain in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Woodrow Wilson had childhood memories of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate President, being removed in chains by Union soldiers. He also vividly remembered the ravages of war. As President, on the brink of World War I, he remarked that he could lead the country into war, but it would be the son of the poor farmer or the son of a poor widow who would do the fighting and it would be those who would suffered greatest.

To remember a few key facts about President Woodrow Wilson quite easily, read this:  Thomas Woodrow Wilson was born December 28, 1856.  He became the 28th president of the United States at age 56.  (28+28=56)

To experience the essential oils of early American herbs, visit herbaleducator.com and click on the link “Purchase Essential Oils.” You will be able to find the essential oils of sage, hyssop, chamomile, mint, and lemon balm. Please be sure to use my YL# 517938 when placing orders – identifying me as your sponsor/enroller. Call or email me to learn more about what these herbs – in the form of essential oils – can do for you today! (Donna Evans, 571-313-1650)



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