Elizabeth Roll Thompson
The Medicine Woman
Spouse(s): Samuel C. Wood
Family tree: Elizabeth Roll Thompson 1801-1895
Elizabeth Roll Thompson
Abridged Compendium of American Genealogy:
First Families of America, Vol IV, p. 533
Elizabeth Roll Thompson's mother, Sarah Roll (1783-1803), the daughter of Isaac Roll and Sarah Cauldwell of Elizabethtown, Essex County, New Jersey, married Jacob Smith Thompson (1764-1827). Sarah died in Ohio, when Elizabeth was about two years old.
Elizabeth Roll Thompson (1801-1895) was born in Elizabethtown, Essex County, New Jersey, and married Samuel C. Wood (1794-1847) in 1820 in Butler County, Ohio. Samuel was born in Botetourt County, Virginia, the son of James Wood and Jemima Phillips. He was a veteran of the War of 1812.
Elizabeth and Samuel moved from Darke County, Ohio, probably the New Madison area, to Randolph County, Indiana in 1837, having a farm just north of Ridgeville, which was then called Newton.
Practitioner of Herbal Medicine
Elizabeth was the fantastic woman who practiced medicine in Randolph County, Indiana. Family tradition says she was a naturopathy, one who treated diseases by assisting nature with the use of herbs, vitamins, and salts. Although The term naturopath was coined in 1895, the year of her death, she was certainly a practitioner of herbal medicine. She rode horseback over a twenty mile radius, doctoring people suffering with such ailments as toothache, goiter, rheumatism, cough, pain in the side and back, and frozen feet, and preventing sore breasts in new mothers.
Transcriptions of Elizabeth's Prescriptions
Elizabeth used herbs and other natural medicines, some listed in the prescriptions below. Evidently she did not charge for her services, rendering them as a public service.
Several copies of her prescriptions are in the possession of Ruth Wood, made by her grandmother Rebecca Finch, who copied them from those in the possession of her mother-in-law Elizabeth Roll Thompson. Ruth photocopied the small, bound notebooks about 3 1/2" by 5 3/4". The handwriting is 19th century script, possibly of more than one person.
It is evident that the prescriptions were copied carefully into these notebooks because they were intended to be used to make medicines that were considered effective. Included are prescriptions for cough mixture, weak nerves, to prevent sore breasts, inflamation, and other discomforts. Scans of some of the pages will be included here at a later date. The original format, the spelling and puncutation, of the documents is preserved. The author's own comments are in brackets.
2 lbs. sal soda
2 oz. Borax
2 oz. Alum
1 oz. Benzene
l lb. lime
5 oz. alcohol
1 oz. arganum
1 oz. Laudnuna
1/2 oz. camphor gum
put in a little when disolved
put on fire 1 pound
fresh butter from the
churn Lard 1/4 lb. beeswax
melt together when half
cold stir from bottle quite
cold go by directions-
for enlarged neck or goiter
to be _ by 1 oz Iodine
Receipt for K[illing] of pain
1 pt. alcohol
1/2 oz. cagaput oil [cajeput tree with aromatic evergreen leaves?]
1/2 oz. sasafras oil
1/2 oz. cloves ce___ oil [the word after "cloves" is partly eradicated, the last word faint]
1/4 oz. cedar oil
use externally by mixing
half water & half medicine
rubing by fire until tired
pain in back & sides
and for rheumatics
for internally use some
drops in water to give taste
for dispepsia pluresy colic
wind spasms - it will relieve
toothache ear ache can be
stand by using clear or ___ [the last, crowded word was written at right edge, it could be "with"]
batting frozen feet or tender feet by
using it clear
The Scope of Her Practice
She was a member of the Women's Relief Corps, an organization dedicated to helping families and widows of soldiers during and after the Civil War. She was still a member of the Corps at her death at age 94.
Virkus, in his The Compendium of American Genealogy, Vol IV, p. 533, says, "Elizabeth Roll Thompson Wood (1801-1895) of Ridgeville, Indiana; a pioneer woman who practiced medicine over several counties. She imported flowers, medicinal flowers, medicinal herbs and garden stock from the East and distributed specimens as a public service..."
Elizabeth and Samuel had fourteen children, the first ten born in Ohio, and the last five at Ridgeville, Indiana. As parents they must have emphasized the importance of a good education, because several of their children entered professions.
Four of Elizabeth and Samuel's sons died in the Civil War. Charles Roll Wood of Company G in the Indiana Regiment, was killed in action. Elija T. Wood was 16 when he enlisted in the 7th Indiana Cavalry, and was killed in action. Elisha B. Wood was in the cavalry and survived to graduate from the Classical Department of Ridgeville College and attend college in Ann Arbor; he was admitted to the Bar and was an attorney in Minnesota.
Alexander Wood, George M. Wood, and William Wood were in the Indian Outbreak of the Northwest. Alexander graduated from the Classical Department, Ridgeville College, and was admitted to the Bar in 1855. George M. was a school teacher. George M. and William were killed by the Sioux under Ink-pa-duta at the Spirit Lake Massacre in Iowa.
An abstract of the will of Samuel Wood, dated December 31, 1846, shows his concern about the education of his sons, "Wife Elizabeth to have all property her lifetime, except $10. Sons Charles, Andrew, Elijah and Elisha to have 36 days of schooling each year between the ages of 6 and 14. After 5 years, the $10 to be used toward erecting a church near the graveyard. Ex[ecutor] Absolom Wood, son. Witness[es] Jonathon R. Wells and George E. Thompson."
Elizabeth Roll Thompson Wood died in Bluffpoint, Indiana, at the residence of her daughter, Adeline Wood Rarick (Mrs. I. N. Rarick.)
Wood, Ruth, firstname.lastname@example.org, email messages, and photo copies of prescriptions, 1998. Most of the information here came from Ruth. She is a descendant of Elizabeth Roll Thompson.
Roll, Martha, (deceased), email messages, 1998. Martha was coauthor with Lynn Roll Kennedy of the manuscript The New Jersey Rolls, 1,190 pages, in addition to appendicies and index. Contact the webmaster at email@example.com if you are interested in the Microsoft Word 6.0 digital edition of this manuscript originally published in Word Star format by Hansel L. Haycox, firstname.lastname@example.org. The appendices are not included in the digital edition at this time. The work may be available in other formats from Hansel L. Haycox.
Virkus, Frederick Adams, F. I. A. G., ed. The Compendium of American Genealogy, The Standard Gelealogical Encyclopedia of the First Families of America. Chicago, Illinois: The Virkus Company, 1930. Volume IV. page 533.
The graphic images of herbs were graciously provided by Juli Knight.