…and Still I Rise Exhibit: Occupations
Dr. John Taylor – Tillsonburg & Innerkip, 1861-1884
Little is known of Dr. John Taylor who was a root and herb doctor who practiced herbal medicine in Innerkip from 1861 until the age of 80 when he died on March 28, 1884.
According to the 1871 Census, Dr. Taylor, his wife Nancy and daughter Elizabeth (Eliza) Jane Taylor were all born in the West Indies, where 67 year old Dr. Taylor was listed as a Root Doctor in East Zorra Township. Taylor escaped from slavery in the United States during the 1950s probably coming to Canada by the way of Pt. Burwell. In 1861 the family resided in Tillsonburg but by 1871 they lived in Innerkip.
Dr. Taylor was very secretive of the recipes of his herbal remedies but after his death, his recipe book was published. He gave his book of recipes to George Hotson and James Miller to publish after his death. In 1885, the Sentinel –Review Steam Publishing House published his THE MEDICINAL RECIPES of the late Dr. Taylor of Innerkip. The book contains 68 pages on the identification of herbs as well as herbal remedies.
He had been trained in herbal lore by his father who was “a pure African doctor.” For 23 years, Dr. Taylor was famous for providing cures for chronic and dangerous diseases when the medical profession gave up. He dealt with the epidemics of his day like smallpox, measles, and scarlet fever by recommending a warm tea of Catnip and Saffron. Before the availability of antibiotics, Dr. Taylor added Lobelia to all his cough mixtures, as an effective remedy for lung infections. One of his favourite cough mixtures was made from Sage and St. John’s Wort.
Dr. Taylor was known to be highly critical of the orthodox medical profession “whose ‘diplomas’ give them a licence to poison people with mercury, arsenic, antinomy, iodine and opium.” He was charged with violating the Medical Act by practicing without a licence. However, Taylor cites in his book that the charge against him was brought on for he saved a man’s life when medical doctors were going to amputate the man’s leg.
As one of the last Canadian herbalists to have contact with Native healers, Dr. Taylor learned first hand of the Blue Cohosh:
‘This is an Indian remedy, and considered by them to be of great value to facilitate child birth. It is said that they drink a tea of this root for two or three weeks before the expected time of confinement and that owing to this, the confinement of the Indian woman is a matter of but short duration and small concern. It has been abundantly proved by our white women as a valuable medicine in cases of profuse menstruations, inflammation of the womb, in suppressed menses and in all cases connected with the uterus, or womb.
It is mostly used in the form of a strong infusion or tea in proportion of an once of the root powered or bruised to a pint of boiling water. Dose, about half a teacupful three or four times a day.’
Today, Dr. Taylor’s book THE MEDICINAL RECIPES is used by the British School of Physiotherapy in Essex England. Dr. John Taylor is buried in the Innerkip Presbyterian Cemetery. Following his death, Eliza Taylor practiced Herbalism in Otterville until the early 1900s.
Reverend Charles William & Susan LeBurtis - Woodstock, 1890s - 1926
Susan LeBurtis was born Susan Brown in Artimesai Township in Grey County in 1857. She was one of seventeen children born to Lemuel and Phebe Brown. She moved to Collingwood to find work and met Rev. Charles LeBurtis.
In 1985, the couple moved to Woodstock where Rev. LeBurtis was a minister at the B.S.E. Church. Susan provided herbal remedies to cure her friends’ and neighbours’ numerous aliments. This became so popular that they sold herbal medicines from their home located on 331 Dundas Street. In advertisements, the business was known as William LeBurtis Manufacturer of LeBurtis’ Blood Purifier.
After Reverend LeBurtis died in 1910, Susan took over the business. By 1912, she renamed this business Le Burtis Medical Company and moved to 327 Dundas Street. Susan was so well known for curing ailments with her herbal remedies that many of her clients came from the States. She only charged when there was a cure. Although charged by the Ontario Medical Association for practising without a licence, Susan’s case was dismissed.
Susan LeBurtis continued to sell and practice herbal medicine until her death on April 8, 1926.
Chris Carter. “Practised 23 years in Innerkip. Woodstock couple tracks down historical herbalist” The Daily Sentinel-Review. Thursday July 28, 1994. p. 3
Pettigrew, Joyce A. A Safe Haven The Story of the Black Settlers of Oxford County, The South Norwich Historical Society 2006, p. 111; pp. 100-101
“Old Ontario remedies 1845: John Taylor Herb & Root Doctor” The Canadian Journal of Herbalism, April 1991, Vol. X11 No. 11. pp. 21-23.
“Historical herbal medicine men sometime short on know-how.” The Oxford Review, Saturday July 6, 2002.
Picture from Greg Morton's website.
William (Hippo) Galloway, Woodstock. Born in Hamilton, Ontario in the 1880s, William came to Woodstock about 1899. He was a member of the Bain Baseball Team. This was a successful team that played in the Canadian Baseball League. Formed under the Bain Wagon Company, a manufacturer company in Woodstock, William played third baseman making him one the few Black players in organized ball until Jackie Robinson in 1946.
Also in 1899, William and Charles Lightfoot from Stratford were the first Black players to play hockey in the Ontario Hockey Association. However, due to racial tension when an American player refused to play with him. Although his Woodstock hockey wanted William to stay, they had to let him go. William left Woodstock for the States where he joined the all Black team called the Cuban Giants. He later played for the Page Giants.
Fred (Bud) Kelly, Ingersoll, 1916
Born to Henry and Arvilla Kelly, Fred is the eldest of two brothers who both were athletic. Born in Ingersoll, Fred joined Frank Selkes’ 118th Battalion hockey team which was an intermediate Ontario Hockey Association team. According to an article that appeared in MaClean’s magazine; “Kelly claimed his first pair of skates were whiskey flasks tied to bottom of shoes.”
In 1916, Kelly was scouted by NHL’s Toronto St. Pats which would later become the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kelly was passed over for playing in the pros not because of his race but as he reported due to a missed breakaway opportunity seen by the St. Pats’ manager.
Charles Kelly, Ingersoll,
Like his older brother Fred, Charlie was an athlete who played baseball in London England with the Coloured Stars. Charlie was inducted into the Ingersoll Sports Hall of Fame.
Sue Ferguson. “Hockey’s blacked-out history.” MaClean’s Canada’s Weekly Newsmagazine, May 22, 2000. p. 8.
Gerry Sharpe. “Local History Spotlight on Sports Base Ball.” Local History Collection, Woodstock Public Library, July 1992.
Quote: “Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world." ~ Harriet Tubman