Column: There is something no one else on Earth may know about
Editor's note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Dec. 27, 2015. We will continue to publish previously run "Isn't That Something" columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and...
Editor’s note: Former longtime Daily Globe Editor Ray Crippen died Dec. 27, 2015. We will continue to publish previously run “Isn’t That Something” columns on Saturdays, until further notice, as a tribute to Crippen and his knowledge of local and regional history. The following column first appeared July. 30, 2005.
WORTHINGTON - I was talking with Betty Atchison.
Do you know Betty?
Betty Atchison has roots as deep into Nobles County as anyone.
Betty’s father’s father - her paternal grandfather - Ole Fauskee of Norway, could read Greek and Latin. Ole homesteaded along one shore of Lake Ocheda. Ole’s brother, Ole A. - yes, Ole and Ole A. - the brother homesteaded on the opposite Ocheda shore. Each Fauskee family had a raft. They rafted back and forth to visit and to assist one another.
On her mother’s side, Betty’s roots go even deeper, back to her great grandmother, Mrs. Thompson, and to a time before Nobles County was organized. The Thompsons were living in Bigelow Township. Bands of Indians were still moving through this land.
Mrs. Thompson was a midwife. She came to help many early families bring their babies into this world. Word of Mrs. Thompson’s skill spread quickly from one family to another
So it was, a band of Indians was camped in Bigelow Township. Their tepees were pegged in place. One day, the man who was the chief of the Indian camp appeared at Mrs. Thompson’s door. He had learned of her vocation.
The Indian leader managed to inform the young white woman that his wife had been in labor for three days. He feared she would die. He feared the baby would die. He asked for help.
Mrs. Thompson followed him to the campsite in the grassland. She was able to roll the exhausted mother-to-be on her side, and she succeeded in delivering the baby alive.
The chief sought a way to pay or repay the white woman who delivered his child. He managed another time to communicate - he told Mrs. Thompson something which, quite possibly, no one else on earth knows any longer, save for Betty Atchison.
The leader of the Indian band had a compound, a recipe of natural products, which produces a powerful salve. Betty has that recipe, and she has used it. Prominent among the ingredients is sap from a pine tree.
“At that time, they had to put all the ingredients in a kettle and boil them over a fire,” Betty explains. “When they were satisfied it was cooked, they dipped that kettle into another kettle of unheated water - the point is to cool it.
“Then, when it is cooled, you pull it. Just like taffy. We pulled it into several long sticks - that’s what we always have called it: stick salve.
“When everything was right, we would put the sticks on a table and cut off four-inch pieces. We would wrap those in brown paper - store paper.
“When you want to use the salve, you put a match to one end. That melts it. Then you spread it over - whatever. It will draw out an infection. It will draw out a sliver, or a boil. Usually it works within three days but, if not, you can apply it another time. It never really has failed.”
An Indian potion for healing, preserved through Betty Atchison’s mother’s family through (about) 135 years.
“Now I’ve got another thing I want to tell you,” Betty said.
“I mentioned those two Fauskee brothers, Ole and Ole A. My grandfather and his brother.
“At first, the only place they could get supplies was at Jackson. The brothers went to Jackson with a team of oxen - that was a three-day trip at that time. They got beans, rice. Flour. Sugar.
“They were starting home when they could see on the far horizon the terrible smoke from a prairie fire. Some of that grass would grow six feet tall, you know. And then it would be dead and matted in the next season. There would be a rain.
“Lightning would spark it. There was the fire.
“The brothers knew almost certainly the prairie was afire around their home places, but there was nothing they could do. It wasn’t really possible even to hurry.
“What do you think?
“The families got on their rafts - they floated away from the fire. Their creatures waded into the lake. They were safe. And here’s the thing:
“That fire burned across the prairie, but it missed burning both of the homesteads. Nothing was lost. There were flames everywhere, but those people were spared.
“Ole Fauskee was a man of faith. His faith deepened.”