Healing on the Land

Throughout history, struggles with disease, social and geographic distance, and loss often led to revolutions in medicine, politics, and economics and to the mistreatment of racial and ethnic minorities. These struggles and triumphs have various lessons to teach contemporary audiences navigating the current pandemic and life after COVID-19. In the coming weeks, we will explore some of the ways North Carolinians have endeavored to take on the challenges of health and healing over the course of history. Please join us as we tell our stories of Healing on the Land.

Healing on the Land

 

 

Welcome to our web series, Healing on the Land. Check back weekly for a new installment in this ongoing project.

 

Monèt Marshall, A.yoni Jeffries, and Gabrielle E. W. Carter in Conversation

In this video, Historic Stagville hosts Monèt Marshall, A.yoni Jeffries, and Gabrielle E. W. Carter in conversation at Horton Grove. These three Black North Carolina artists discuss how their farming, food, art, history, and music are gateways to healing. Together, they ask how sites of mass slavery, like Stagville, can become sites of healing for Black Americans. Their talk was recorded on the grounds of Horton Grove, the only surviving slave dwellings from the Bennehan and Cameron plantations. Stagville and Horton Grove are among the largest and best documented sites of slavery in North Carolina.  

Historic Stagville preserves the remnants of the one of the largest plantations in North Carolina. By 1860, the Bennehan-Cameron family owned over 30,000 acres of land and enslaved over 900 people. Stagville is dedicated to interpreting the lives, families, culture, and work of these enslaved people and their descendants. Today, the Historic Site includes four original slave dwellings (c. 1851), a massive barn (c. 1860), and a Bennehan family house (c. 1787-1799).

Historic Stagville
Facebook: @Stagville 
 

Speaker Bio(s):

Monèt Noelle Marshall is a director, playwright, actor, curator, cultural organizer, producer, filmmaker and consultant. She is the founding Artistic Director of MOJOAA Performing Arts Company, a Black theater company in Raleigh, NC that centers living Black playwrights of the South. Most recently she has collaborated with African American Policy Forum on Gucci’s Chime for Change zine, Scalawag Magazine, NC Museum of Art, Historic Stagville, City of Raleigh, and Hayti Heritage Center. But above all else, Marshall is most proud of being Robin and Bryan’s daughter.  

A.yoni Jeffries is an Afro-Indigenous singer, songwriter, musician, arts curator, community organizer, and co-founder of Handèwa Farms, an Afro-Indigenous-led hemp-farming co-op in Rougemont. NC. Handèwa means “generational” in Tutelo, the native tongue of Jeffries’s Occaneechi-Saponi tribe. Growing up between Brooklyn, NY, Durham, NC, and Mississauga, Ontario, A.yoni often traveled between states and countries on her own, developing a fierce independence at a young age. As a professional, A.yoni wears many hats, but she treats her ongoing, multidimensional creative life as an opportunity to learn, grow, and connect disparate people, places, and ideas. 

Gabrielle E. W. Carter is an Artist and Cultural Preservationist who uses Diasporic and local food as a vehicle to reimagine wealth, marginalized food systems, and inheritance. Her work uses oral history, cooking, and film to examine and explore the Black experience in relation to land cultivation, traditional practices, and agronomy. She also co-founded the North Carolina based Black Farmer CSA, Tall Grass Food Box, a platform to support and encourage the sustainability of Black farmers, by increasing their visibility and securing space for them in the local marketplace.  

 

 

Asheville, Thomas Wolfe and the Spanish Influenza

Thomas Wolfe’s fiction captures a significant slice of time in North Carolina history. His first novel is set in Asheville and at Chapel Hill in the early 20th century. Wolfe’s father, a stone cutter, carved slabs of death, his mother, a businesswoman who saw no money in dying ran a boardinghouse. In this period Asheville, a boom town, had become a popular resort for recreation and a place to recover from illness. 

In the wake of the stresses from the current public health disaster we ask the question where can I go to heal my soul? This program strives to aid remote audiences reconnect with Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site as a historic place and space to learn about health and healing. Join us as we examine Asheville’s response to the Spanish Flu in 1918 and how Thomas Wolfe’s fiction can be used as a teachable moment in North Carolina history. Despite its reputation as a place for health and healing, nothing could prepare Asheville for the Spanish Influenza, a novel virus, unlike any that had been encountered up to the time. 

Thomas Wolfe Memorial preserves the childhood home of author Thomas Wolfe. Considered by many to be one of the giants of 20th-century American literature, Thomas Wolfe immortalized his childhood home in his epic autobiographical novel, Look Homeward, Angel. Wolfe’s colorful portrayal of his family, his hometown of “Altamont” Asheville, North Carolina, and “Dixieland” the Old Kentucky Home boardinghouse, earned the Victorian period house a place as one of American literature’s most famous landmarks.

Thomas Wolfe Memorial State HistoricSite:

 

Speaker Bio(s): 

Tom Muir, a graduate of the University of West Florida, has spent his career working as a public historian. He enjoys promoting the study of history for public audiences outside the traditional classroom at historic houses, battlefields, museums, and monuments. He is currently the historic site manager at Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site sharing the life and works of the author with visitors to North Carolina. 

Thomas Calder currently serves as the Arts & Culture Editor at the Mountain Xpress weekly newspaper. He is well known in Asheville for his History Archive column. There you will find that he has researched and published a series about the Spanish Influenza. Thomas received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, a literary and fine arts magazine, the University of Louisville’s Miracle Monocle, and elsewhere. 

Terry Roberts is a native of the mountains of Western North Carolina—born and bred. Currently, Terry Roberts is the Director of the National Paideia Center. He is a lifelong teacher and educational reformer. Roberts earned a Ph.D. in American Literature from UNC-Chapel Hill and his literary pursuits have included editing the “Thomas Wolfe Review” for ten years. A member of the Thomas Wolfe Society since graduate school in the late 1980s and currently President of the group, he has written many articles about Thomas Wolfe, and resource volumes about Wolfe’s ‘Look Homeward, Angel.’ Terry is the author of three celebrated award-winning novels set in Western North Carolina.

City of the Dead: Wilmington’s Yellow Fever Epidemic, 1862

UNC-Wilmington Professor Emeritus Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr. will present about the Yellow Fever pandemic in Civil War, Wilmington NC. In fall 1862 Wilmington, already the largest city in the state, went from Civil War boomtown to ghost town as people fled a disease that killed nearly half its victims.  In light of Covid-19’s effects on North Carolina, Dr. Fonvielle will examine the response to that earlier pandemic. 

Dr. Chris E. Fonvielle, Jr.
https://www.chrisfonvielle.com/about

NC Historic Sites
Instagram: @nc_historicsites
Facebook: @NCStateHistoricSites
Twitter: @NCHistoricSites

 

Speaker Bio:

Chris E. Fonvielle Jr. is a native Wilmingtonian with a lifelong interest in American Civil War, North Carolina, and Cape Fear history. He attended public schools, including New Hanover High School, class of 1971, where he was the first soccer-style placekicker in North Carolina football history. After receiving his B.A. in anthropology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Chris served as the last curator of the Blockade Runners of the Confederacy Museum. He subsequently received his M.A. in American history at East Carolina University, and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina. That makes Chris a Wildcat, a Seahawk, a Pirate, and a Gamecock. 

After a brief teaching stint at East Carolina University, Dr. Fonvielle returned to his undergraduate alma mater at UNCW in 1996, where he taught courses on the Civil War, Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear, and Antebellum America. His in-depth research focuses on coastal operations and defenses, and blockade running in southeastern North Carolina during the Civil War. He has published books and articles including The Wilmington Campaign: Last Rays of Departing Hope; Wilmington and the Lower Cape Fear: An Illustrated History; Fort Fisher 1865: The Photographs of T.H. O’Sullivan. 

In 2014, then-Governor Pat McCrory appointed Dr. Fonvielle to the North Carolina Historical Commission. Upon his retirement from UNC Wilmington in 2018, Chris was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for distinguished service to the State of North Carolina, signed by incumbent Governor Roy Cooper. He is also a regular tour guide for Wilmington Water Tours, featured guest on “Cape Fear Unearthed” podcasts, and contributor of articles on Cape Fear history for Salt Magazine. 

 

 

Never Leaving the Battle: American Indian Veterans and Mental Health

Nancy Fields discusses the mental and emotional toll war service took on American Indian soldiers from the American Revolution to Vietnam. By exploring the lives of several Lumbee veterans, Ms. Fields relates the methods of healing and coping used even after the wars had long passed.

NC Historic Sites
Instagram: @nc_historicsites
Facebook: @NCStateHistoricSites
Twitter: @NCHistoricSites

Speaker Bio:

Nancy Strickland Fields 18-year museum career has been focused in museum education and administration. She has worked at the Museum of Contemporary Native Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico; The National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.; and The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City. Her current role is Director and Curator of The Museum of the Southeast American Indian in Pembroke, North Carolina.

She is the first Lumbee graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Museum Studies. Nancy earned a master’s degree in History from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and is currently a doctoral student in the Public History program at North Carolina State University.

Nancy’s area of research focuses on Southeastern Native peoples and the American colonial experience.

Nancy is a trustee for the North Carolina Humanities Council, and serves as a board member for the Robeson County Arts Council and the Museum of the Cape Fear. 

Nancy is a member of the Lumbee Tribe. Her family resides in and around the Pembroke area. She was raised in Charlotte with very close ties to her family in Robeson County.

Eastern North Carolina and the 1918 Influenza Epidemic

East Carolina University’s Laupus Health Science Library archivist Layne Carpenter will present about the Spanish Flu in Eastern North Carolina. As the Great War came to an end in the fall of 1918, a lethal disease spread across the globe. By the time the epidemic concluded in March 1919, more people died from the “Spanish” Influenza than died in the war, including an estimated 13,000 North Carolinians. This lecture will explore the deadly influenza virus strain and its rampage throughout the eastern counties of North Carolina. The impact on eastern North Carolina society, medical care, and public health will also be explored by examining primary sources from the period. This topic of study is especially relevant during the Covid-19 era.  

NC Historic Sites
Instagram: @nc_historicsites
Facebook: @NCStateHistoricSites
Twitter: @NCHistoricSites

Speaker Bio:

Layne Carpenter is the Archivist at Laupus Library. She completed her undergraduate degree in history at Westminster College and her MA in history and public history at UNC Charlotte. Layne has worked with special collections and museums for over nine years and has been with Laupus Library for two years. Making history accessible to the public has always been her passion and she loves researching history, no matter the time period. After designing an exhibition about the Spanish Influenza in the fall of 2018, this topic has become her latest area of study. 

Seeking Dr. Harris: An African American Doctor in the American Civil War

Dr. Margaret Humphreys presents information about Dr. J.D. Harris (1833-1884).  Harris was a black surgeon who served in the American Civil War.  Born in NC to free black working-class parents, he had a remarkable career.  He published poetry in the mid-1850s, served the Anti-Slavery Society in Cleveland in the late 1850s, signed John Brown’s “Constitution,” and urged American blacks to emigrate to Haiti.  He published a book promoting Haitian emigration in the early 1860s.  After medical training and service in the Civil War, he married a white woman in 1868 and ran for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1869 (lost).  He served as a physician in a South Carolina mental asylum in the early 1870s, practiced in the Howard University teaching hospital for a couple of years, and then was admitted to a mental hospital in DC, where he died in 1886. The biography  explores issues of free black opportunity pre-war, self-identity as mulatto/colored, ways in which emigration plans answered the increasing anti-black violence of the 1850s, blacks in medicine in reconstruction, and finally the place of an educated physician in a black asylum in the 1870s and 1880s—pre-Freud, pre-eugenics, post-emancipation.

NC Historic Sites
Instagram: @nc_historicsites
Facebook: @NCStateHistoricSites
Twitter: @NCHistoricSites

 

 

 

Speaker Bio:

Margaret E. Humphreys is the Josiah Charles Trent Professor of History and Professor of Medicine and Affiliate, Duke Global Health Institute of Duke Global Health Institute and Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society. A specialist in the history of science and medicine, Dr. Humphreys has focused her research and publications primarily on infectious disease in the U.S. and the American south, as well as the history of medicine during the American Civil War. Dr. Humphreys has also published on the history of diabetes, public health ethics, and colonial medicine. Her research has appeared in Isis, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Literature and Medicine, Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Social Science and Medicine, Public Health Reports and Environmental History.

Of special note are her books Yellow Fever and the South (Rutgers University Press, 1992), Malaria: Poverty, Race, and Public Health in the United States (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001), Intensely Human: The Health of Black Soldiers in the American Civil War (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008), and, most recently, Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).  In addition to her own research, she was editor in chief of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences from 1999-2012.

Dr. Humphreys is an active member of the American Association for the History of Medicine (AAHM), and of the Society of Civil War Historians.  She serves on the Advisory Board of the Triangle Center for Evolutionary Medicine (TriCEM).

Healing on the Land: Diquan Edmonds and Delphine Sellars in Conversation

In this episode, Delphine Sellars and Diquan Edmonds join Site Manager Vera Cecelski in conversation at Horton Grove. Each speaker represents an organization that keeps and cares for land that was formerly part of the Cameron plantations: Historic Stagville State Historic Site, Catawba Trail Farm, and Triangle Land Conservancy’s Horton Grove Nature Preserve. They share the different ways each of them seek to transform plantation land into spaces for healing, through land conservation, community agriculture, and public history. Their talk was recorded on the grounds of Horton Grove, the only surviving slave dwellings from the Bennehan and Cameron plantations. 

Historic Stagville
Facebook: @Stagville 

Speaker Bio(s):

Delphine Sellars is Executive Director of Urban Community AgriNomics (UCAN) and Catawba Trail Farm. She is the retired Director of the Durham Center of North Carolina Cooperative Extension. She holds a Master's of Science Degree in Organizational Management from Pfeiffer University, & an undergraduate degree in Social Studies from NCCU. Mrs. Sellars has 30+ years of experience in social & human services. She serves on a number of boards and committees, is a skilled facilitator, grant writer, & manager.

Diquan Edmonds joined Triangle Land Conservancy in December 2020 as the Education and Outreach Manager. Previously, Diquan worked with the North Carolina Recreation and Park Association, and has a background in parks and recreation. He received his Master’s of Science degree from North Carolina State University in Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Management where his research focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the outdoors. In the summer after earning his master’s degree, Diquan held an internship working with the Youth Conservation Corps in Yellowstone National Park. Diquan is passionate about conservation and connecting people to our natural resources.

 

Historic Stagville preserves the remnants of the one of the largest plantations in North Carolina. By 1860, the Bennehan-Cameron family owned over 30,000 acres of land and enslaved over 900 people. Stagville is dedicated to interpreting the lives, families, culture, and work of these enslaved people and their descendants. Today, the Historic Site includes four original slave dwellings (c. 1851), a massive barn (c. 1860), and a Bennehan family house (c. 1787-1799).  

 

Maladies and Remedies: Health and Healing of the Enslaved Community

 

Somerset Place State Historic Site Manager Karen Hayes will discuss the medical care received by the enslaved at Somerset Place Plantation during the antebellum era. Ms. Hayes will deliver her remarks from inside the reconstructed plantation hospital.   

Somerset Place State Historic Site:
Instagram: @somersetplaceshs
Facebook: @somersetplace
Twitter: @somersetplacehs
YouTube: @SomersetPlaceHS

Speaker Bio:

Karen Hayes is the Site Manager of Somerset Place State Historic Site within the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. A native of Pasquotank County, Karen earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, Economics, Finance and Management at Elizabeth City State University. Karen’s professional career experience in the history field began at Somerset Place in 1997as a Historic Interpreter I.  She was promoted to Assistant Site Manager in 1999 and Historic Site Manager in 2008. She oversaw the intensive preservation of the Collins Family House Restoration project conducted in 2011 to 2014.  Karen currently serves on many advisory boards and committees related to the interpretation, preservation, and promotion of African American and North Carolina’s diverse culture, history, and economic tourism. 

Somerset Place offers visitors a comprehensive social history that explores the family life of all former plantation residents: the enslaved community, plantation owners, and hired white and black employees. Tours of the historic buildings, reconstructed slave dwellings, gardens, and archaeological remains give visitors a complete look at one of North Carolina's largest antebellum plantations. The site is located at 2572 Lake Shore Road Creswell, N.C. 27928. 

Marching through Time: Advances in Military Medicine

Dressed as a US Army surgeon from the Civil War era, Mr. Chris Grimes will discuss medical advance in military medicine from the early colonial period to the Civil War. How were techniques the same and different. How much did medicine “advance” before the modern era?

NC Historic Sites:
Instagram: @nc_historicsites
Facebook: @NCStateHistoricSites
Twitter: @NCHistoricSites

Speaker Bio:

  •   1991 Graduate of North Carolina State University 
  •   President, Martin County Insurance, Williamston, NC 
  •   Historical Interpreter, Mariner’s Museum, Newport News, VA 
  •   Living Historian/Reenactor with a focus on 18th and 19th

      century medicine, navy and artillery. 

Chris Grimes’ love for medical history began in 2009 when he was introduced into the world of historic medicine and he has never looked back.  As he traveled this new road of historical exploration, it struck him that while we have made many advances during the last two centuries in the areas of anesthesia, germ theory, blood typing and antibiotics, many things haven’t changed.  Major medicines today are actually descendants of centuries-old remedies.  Surgical procedures and the instruments associated with them remain unchanged.  He grew to realize that medical care is something that touches everyone, both young and old.  Chris’ new historical infatuation began to infect all his portrayals (note: he still likes to shoot cannons and blow things up) much to the chagrin of some of his shipmates.  So, ten years after being introduced to something he never had an interest, it is his primary focus (and the reason he goes to work every morning…to fund his habit!) 

The NC Division of State Historic Sites received a NC CARES: Humanities Relief Grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, www.nchumanities.org. Funding for NC CARES has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan. 

 

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