Discover practice of medicine in Colonial North Carolina this weekend

Summon the Doctor! The Practice of Medicine in Colonial North Carolina will be presented at the NC History Center this weekend.

If you suffered from stomach ailments in the 18th century, where would you go for treatment? Who delivered babies in colonial America? These topics and more will be presented at Tryon Palace’s North Carolina History Center on April 15th, from 12 noon to 3:00 p.m., at a special event called, Summon the Doctor! The Practice of Medicine in Colonial North Carolina.

Six speakers will present in the NC History Center’s Cullman Performance Hall on the various professional trades of 18th-century medicine, including Apothecary, Surgery, Military Medicine, domestic medicine, midwifery, and herbal medicine. Following each speaker’s presentation, there will be Q & A session, with a full speaker panel for Q&A at the program’s close.

In the NC History Center’s Mattocks Hall, there will be an array of interactive displays showcasing 18th-century medical instruments, medicinal remedies, and other curiosities. Visitors can observe demonstrations by costumed interpreters and gain additional insight into the medical instruments and remedies showcased.

Speakers featured in this weekend’s Summon the Doctor! program include:

  • Charles Brett. Charles is a Tryon Palace Volunteer and previously was a volunteer and Apprentice at the Pasteur and Galt Apothecary Shop in Williamsburg, Virginia. Charles will discuss the origins, education, and trade skills of being an Apothecary in the 18th century, both in England and British North America.
  • Chris Grimes. Chris is a volunteer and medical historian with Alamance Battlefield Historic Site, Guilford Courthouse Battlefield, Historic Halifax, and House in the Horseshoe Historic Site, and is a member of His Majesty’s Detached Hospital in North America. He will present on Dr. Alexander Gaston and the medicines that he provided and sold in New Bern.
  • Mike Williams. Mike is a medical historian and the Commanding Officer and Senior Surgeon of His Majesty’s Detached Hospital in North America, a non-profit organization that presents 18th-century medicine programs at historic events throughout the state and is widely consulted at other state historic sites on 18th-century medicine. Mike will be presenting his topic on 18th-century military medicine and surgery, illness and injury in colonial military camps, and the various treatments available to medical professionals.
  • Shannon Walker. Shannon is the Curator of Education at the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Southport and previously served as the Assistant Site Manager/Programs Coordinator for Brunswick Town/ Fort Anderson Historic Site in Winnabow, North Carolina. She is a medical historian/interpreter for the art of Midwifery and the practice of domestic medicine by women in the 18th century and will be presenting on childbirth in the 18th century and the role women played in the practice of domestic medicine in British North America.
  • Meghan DeLapp. Meghan is a tour guide and Medical Program Coordinator with Historic Bethabara Park in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Meghan’s presentation will focus on 18th-century medical practices amongst the Moravians, more specifically on Dr. Kalberlahn, and the diary entries Historic Bethabara Park has held from the early years of the settlement.
  • Matthew McCarthy. Matthew is a tour guide with Historic Bethabara Park in Winston Salem, North Carolina and serves as a program developer and advisor for the Medicinal Garden at Bethabara. Matthew will be discussing a variety of herbs and plants found in the Medicinal Garden that were used to treat stomach aches, headaches, and, most commonly, intestinal worms, which were significant ailments to both people and livestock in the 18th century.

Anyone with a curiosity about how ailments were treated and medicine was practiced in Colonial America should attend this intriguing event happening this Saturday at the NC History Center, 529 S. Front Street, New Bern. For more information, please call 252-639-3525, or visit

By Nancy Figiel