Second Saturday Review – Colonial Medicine

Article by Barbara Raczkowski

Photo courtesy of Clarissadillon.info

Did you ever meet anyone, who owned their own still?  Then…..you discover that the owner of this apparatus is an 86yr. old woman, attired in period clothing, who has a PhD. in history from Bryn Mawr College.” Oh, my….this is going to be interesting.”

This was my experience when I met the speaker at the Master Gardener’s “Second Saturdays” event, which was held on Aug. 10.   Her name is Clarissa F. Dillon, whose scholarly knowledge covers two continents….North America and Europe.  She talks about 17th and 18th century housewifery. Standing behind her still, which she calls her penguin as it does indeed look like a copper bird, Clarissa began her lecture talking about “Dr. Mom”. Colonial women besides being wives and mothers were also doctors, nurses and apothecaries.

The lecture was illustrated by a table filled with colonial artifacts….tool, syrups, compresses and herbs, referring to different objects Clarissa lead us through a mesmerizing and fascinating lecture.

Our colonial ancestors evolved from the belief that an evil life style caused  disease, (the devil made me do it…..blood letting anyone?) to a more enlightened and scientific approach of cause and effect.

What I found particularly fascinating was that Clarissa goes back and studies first hand, original documents.  She told us that it was customary for colonial women to notate their experiments and their results and very often the “successful cures” would be passed down from generation to generation and often from friend to friend.  She has researched hundreds of these documents from ordinary citizens.  In addition, she jokingly told us her PhD and scholarly acclaim have also given her access to some colonial celebrity healers such as  Ben Franklin’s first wife….whose name was Guilelma Springett.

Even more fascinating is the fact that she then goes back like the scholar that she is and duplicates all the receipts (recipes) which she researches.  She shared many interesting things including the fact that there are three different plants which, when applied to a bleeding human body, will stop the blood flow.

If you are interested in learning more about her, you can go to her web-site: Clarissa Dillion.info

And just for the record, Clarissa has a permit for her still, which holds less than a  gallon of liquid…..and uses it for scientific and historic purposes only…..and she never served us any “refreshments” although Second Saturdays are always accompanied by tasty treats !  Hope you will join us for some upcoming events……

Second Saturday Classes for 2019

Join some Master Gardeners for fun garden themed projects or informative lectures – all for a very reasonable price.

Happy New Year!

We have a great line up of Second Saturday Classes for 2019. Join some Master Gardeners for fun garden themed projects or informative lectures – all for a very reasonable price.

All of the sessions take place on the second Saturday of each month from 10am till noon at the Education Center in Smedley Park in Springfield.

You can register by mailing in this form, or by calling the office at 610-690-7669. Register for any or all of the following sessions.

January 12     Birds in the Winter

Do you know the best ways to care for our feathered friends in the winter?  Find out what different varieties visit  your garden and what to feed them to keep them coming back for your enjoyment. Our speaker is the owner of a Wild Birds Unlimited store and will share his knowledge of our feathered friends.

Cost $10  Instructor: Ben Labovitz.

February 9   Pruning

Take the guesswork out of pruning your trees and shrubs. Learn how, when, and where to correctly prune trees and shrubs on your property. Ray Murphy a horticulturist at the Nemours Estate will share his knowledge of years of pruning.

Cost $10   Ray Murphy, Master Gardener and Professional Horticulturist

March 9    Vegetable Gardening

A baby Trumpet Squash

Expand your home vegetable gardening skills by growing your own fresh vegetables. Learn how to start your own seeds, how to plant and cultivate your vegetable plants for a healthy harvest.

Cost $10   Leslie Trimble, Master Gardener. You can register on line here.

April 13    The Spotted Lantern Fly

Spotted lanternfly on apple
Photo: Erica Smyers, Penn State

Learn the correct facts about the serious invasion of our new insect pest.  Find out how you can help and what are the best steps to controlling this new pest.  The Spotted Lantern Fly has been in our area for a few years but will probably be more of a nuisance this coming year.  Be involved and learn all you can do to help.

Cost:  Free to the public.   Instructor: Dr. Mark Boudreau Penn State Brandywine professor

May 11  Consumer Reports Workshop…..A Sustainable Diet

A healthy diet is better for the environment as well as you and therefore more sustainable. We will be provided tips on buying organic food and learn about comparison shopping between regular and organic food.  We will also do some taste testing and there will also be a give away.

Cost: Free, but limited to 30 people and you must register to attend.   Instructor: Linda Lawson,  Consumer Reports. You can register on-line here.

June 8    Bluebirds and build a Bluebird House

Learn all the facts about bluebirds (courtship, nest building, egg laying, hatching, feeding and more). We will also build a bluebird house. Please bring a portable drill with a Phillips drive.

Cost $20  Instructor: Ken Leister Limited to 15 participants. You can register on-line here.

July 13   Stencil Workshop

Create a garden themed slate hanging decoration using stencils and acrylic paint.  Feel free to bring your own favorite stencil or choose from our array of stencils  Take home and hang the same day.  Supplies included

Cost $15 Instructor: Gerri Eunson, Master Gardener    Limited to 15 participants

August 10     History of Colonial Medicines

Come hear about the history of our medicines from the Colonial Period.”Dr. Mom Colonial Style” to be exact.  Clarissa Dillon will discuss all of the original plant based medicines and some that weren’t plant based, as well as concoctions, tinctures and will also give examples of distilled and infused meds.  She will have many examples to view and find out how they were made.

Cost $10 Instructor: Clarissa Dillon, PhD Garden Historian

September 14   Tool Sharpening

Participants will learn simple sharpening techniques suitable for a variety of gardening tools, using a sharpening stone.  Each participant will receive a sharpening stone and illustrated instructions. Bring gloves, 2 dull gardening tools, safety goggles or glasses and a pencil or pen.

Cost $20  Instructor: Liana Bauerle, Master Gardener.  Limited to 18 participants

October 12    Barred Owls

Barred Owls are known for their call “Who cooks for who”. In this multi-media program you will learn about their secretive, unique, and very inquisitive ways.  Find out about their behaviors and the close encounter Pam had with them at a local park.

Cost $10   Instructor: Pam Dimeler, photographer, bird lover and naturalist

November 9   Origami

Join us for another fun workshop on the art of Japanese paper folding.  We will be making a holiday tree centerpiece, as well as a gift box that can be kept or given as a great holiday surprise.            

Cost $10   Instructor  Jesse Crew:  Master Gardener. Limited to 15 participants

Second Saturday Fun

beehouse-web

Have you heard about Second Saturdays?

You can join some Master Gardeners for fun garden themed projects or informative lectures – all for a very reasonable price.

There is still time to get in on the action.  Check out the summary of remaining Second Saturday sessions below.

All of the sessions take place on the second Saturday of each month from 10am till noon at the Education Center in Smedley Park in Springfield.

You can register by mailing in this form, or by calling the office at 610-690-7669.


May 12 – Heavenly Hydrangeas

hydr-webHow do I know which Hydrangea is which? Should I go with the new cultivars or the old standbys? How do I get my Hydrangea to bloom, and what color will it be? Get answers to these questions and more, as we discuss this classic and easy-to grow group of ornamental shrubs and vines.

Cost $10 – Ray Murphy, Master Gardener and Gardener at Nemours Estate


June 9 – Bluebirds in Your Garden

birdhouse-webFind out the best ways to attract bluebirds to your garden. Learn more about them from naturalist, photographer, and videographer Pam Dimeler who has built and installed many bluebird houses at Linvilla Orchards and has kept them coming back from year to year at that site. Her informative and interesting presentation will have you as enthused as she is about our native bluebirds.

Cost $10 – Pam Dimeler, Naturalist, bird enthusiast, photographer, and videographer


July 14 – Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden

monarchLearn about the multitude of interesting insects, birds, and butterflies that visit our gardens. Find out how to attract them by planting the plants they love to visit over and over again and helping our environment at the same time.

Cost $10 – Kathy Hornberger, Master Gardener


August 11 – The History of Kitchen Gardening

kitgard-webLocal garden historian, Clarissa Dillon will explain the background of Colonial Kitchen gardening, how it has developed over the years, and why it is still pertinent to use today. Clarissa will entertain and enthrall you with her fact filled, hands-on procedures she still maintains at the Thomas Massey House Garden in Broomall. Enjoy a summer reprieve from working in your own garden and find out how our Colonial forefathers set the tone for our kitchen gardens.

Cost $10 – Clarissa Dillon, PhD Garden Historian


September 8 – Fall Foraging

path-webTaking a walk in the woods anytime soon? Getting hungry? Learn to identify edible and tasty wild plants. This interesting and fun-filled workshop will teach you about foraging for these local wild plants in the fall forest. We will take a stroll in the woods at Smedley Park to find what plants we can snack on. Come Hungry!

Cost $10 – Dylan DeViliger, Red Hill Farm Co-op Farmer


October 13 – Tool Sharpening for Effective Pruning

tool-webParticipants will learn simple sharpening techniques suitable for a variety of gardening tools, using a sharpening stone. Each participant will receive a sharpening stone and illustrated instructions. Bring gloves, 2 dull gardening tools, safety goggles or glasses and a pencil or pen.

Cost $20 – Liana Bauerle, Master Gardener (Limited to 18 participants)


November 10 – Native Owls of Pennsylvania

Do you know how many owls are native to Pennsylvania? Have you seen any in your area? Come find out more about the lifestyles of our Pennsylvania Owls from naturalist Pam Dimeler. Her presentation of live footage and photos of our native owls will enthrall you and peak your interest to learn more about the bird that is at the top of the food chain in Pennsylvania.

Cost $10 – Pam Dimeler, Naturalist, bird enthusiast, photographer, and videographer