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home : features : features April 29, 2016

12/18/2013 9:24:00 AM
Pioneer medicine woman visits Granville fifth-graders
Faith Roefols, portraying 1860s pioneer Mary Ramos, picks out a bottle of medicine from her basket of herbal remedies she will talk about to fifth-graders at Granville Elementary School on Dec. 5.
Trib Photo/Sue Tone
Faith Roefols, portraying 1860s pioneer Mary Ramos, picks out a bottle of medicine from her basket of herbal remedies she will talk about to fifth-graders at Granville Elementary School on Dec. 5.
Trib Photo/Sue Tone

Sue Tone

Faith Roelofs adjusted her bonnet and hoisted her basket full of herbal remedies on her way to talk to fifth-grade students at Granville Elementary School. She did not bring the herd of goats that made Arizona pioneer Mary Ramos famous in the 1860s.

Roelofs, a Highlands Center for Natural History volunteer, takes on the character of Mary Ramos in her presentations to fifth-grade classes, adult centers, and at the Highlands Center. She links her knowledge of medicinal herbs to the fifth-grade study of the human body.

Mary Ramos walked to Prescott from Tucson in the mid-1860s. Although she didn't leave any personal written material, history has her in Tucson during the Civil War. In 1863, gold was discovered at Lynx Creek, which attracted a growing population to the Prescott area.

In 1864, she and her herd of goats joined with Hampton Brown and walked to Prescott, homesteading at Lynx Creek. They married in January 1865, and she started a boarding house, the current Fort Misery, which was moved to the Sharlot Hall Museum grounds.

"People were willing to pay more for a room in her boarding house - $25 per week, paid in gold - because she had goats and milk to go in coffee, and she had good food," Roelofs said.

Ramos was considered a medicine woman because of her herbal remedies for snakebites, broken bones, indigestion, heart attacks and headaches. Roelofs brings into the classroom six herbs that are grown in Granville's Wildlife Habitat, sponsored by the Highlands Center.

Willow bark, she said, is a source of aspirin and also thins the blood for those who may have suffered heart attacks. Ramos made cough medicine from pinon pine needles. She used the juice in cactus pads as a poultice for snakebites. Mint tea was good for indigestion, as was the Apache Plume flower, a Yavapai Tribe remedy.

For more information on Roefols' presentation, call the Highlands Center at 928-776-9550.

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