For the Historian: North Carolina’s Country Doctor Museum

The Country Doctor Museum, North Carolina© 2009 Bill Russ/North Carolina Department of Commerce. Division of Tourism, Film & Sports DevelopmentThe museum's collection of by-gone surgical implements, natural medicines, and books transports visitors to the nineteenth century.

6629 Vance St., Bailey, North Carolina

In the rough-and-tumble environment of rural America’s yesteryear, country doctors had to set bones, deliver babies, combat disease, and even prepare their own prescriptions. This museum demonstrates their multiple talents with a fine display of instruments, medical books, handwritten notes, and office equipment.

The collection is housed in a pair of connected 19th-century buildings once used by two North Carolina country doctors: Dr. Howard Franklin Freeman’s office dates to 1857, and Dr. Cornelius Henry Brantley’s to 1887. In the front room is a vast wooden cabinet displaying apothecary jars and a large rolltop desk with cubbyholes for prescriptions and bills.

Civil War surgeons’ amputation kits, a hinged leather artificial leg, turn-of-the-century obstetric instruments, and a model of a doctor’s horse and buggy help to illustrate the history of medicine in the United States from about 1800 to the early 1900s.

One interesting exhibit shows the tools that were used to amputate the left arm of Confederate general Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in 1863. Ironically, Jackson, who was shot accidentally by his own men, died eight days later, a devastating loss for the Confederates.

Walk across a small garden of medicinal plants to the Art of Nursing exhibit, showcasing uniforms and equipment of the trade spanning the last 200 years.

Open Tues.–Sat. year-round. Admission charged.

(252) 235-4165

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