The Blacksmiths Ledger
The Backus-Page House Museum
Tyrconnell Heritage Society
Good morning! As mentioned last week in our first ever Transcription Tuesday, we will be exploring the scripture on the inside cover of the Blacksmith Ledger. Here is a closer look to what was revealed when we first open the Ledger of our local blacksmith of Tyrconnell back in 1867.
This recipe titled “A Good Tonic” by T.A. Benson was difficult to research. No information was found under the name T.A. Benson however we thought to take this opportunity to focus on the text in this small part of the ledger in hopes to reveal the purpose and history of Tonics, and what our blacksmith may have used it for.
According to the C19: The Nineteenth Century Index, the word “Tonic” comes from the Greek word tonos, which means to tone or tension and is applied to many remedies that physicians administer to patients that appear to be in a state of bodily weakness and who require improvement in his/her tone to increase strength. Doctors in the 19th Century and earlier formally thought that tonics acted directly on the nerve and contractile tissues. Thus home remedies such as the one in the Blacksmith Ledger title “A Good Tonic” would have most likely been used as a Nerve Tonic, to suppress nerves and such behavior (1915).
According the Museum of Royal Pharmaceutical Society, generals proprietary tonics were thought to “purify” the blood. Many believed that by “cleansing” their blood and keeping bowels empty, they would be able to rid themselves of illnesses. However published in 1909 were investigations conducted by the British Medical Association a year earlier, found that many of these homemade remedies were ‘quack’ and some ingredients had little to no medicinal value. Other substances used in various recipes were found to be highly addictive and dangerous. Medicine during this time was not yet developed and demonstrates that this recipe was most likely used prior to the release of the British Medical Associations publication of its investigation on many home remedies being used (2011).
Ingredients in the Blacksmith’s Ledgers “A Good Tonic”:
· Ginger would have been used to combat digestion, lack of energy, vitality, infections, nausea and vomiting.
· Gentian is a plant for the disease of the stomach and the digestive system. It was thought to and now is proven to treat a loss of appetite, excess gas caused by poor indigestion, liver failure problems and intestinal worms. In general powdered Gentian was used to invigorate the body, purify the blood and help prevent or overcome infection.
3. Nux Vomica
· The plant Nux Vomica was introduced in 1830 and was used as a central nervous stimulant. However it had many side effects (some of which would have been silenced by other products in the recipe) such as a loss of appetite, hypersensitivity, depression, anxiety, rigidness, stiffness in the arms and legs, convulsions and possible death.
If you’re feeling curious read up on the medical history in Upper Canada, the beginning of Medical Education and how our Colonel Talbot influenced both education in the medical field and politics by clicking on the following http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/history-of-medicine/ link!
* Tune into next Week’s Transcription Tuesdays as we finally get into the first entries of the Peter Cameron Blacksmiths Ledger! Have a good week and don’t forget to bring dad out to the Backus-Page House Museum for Father’s Day!