Museum is devoted to country doctors


ATLANTA -- If you're going to eastern North Carolina or the Outer Banks this summer, Susan S. Rogers of Rome, Ga., suggests a stop at Bailey, N.C., where you can see something unusual: a museum devoted to country doctors.

Most museums focus on art or natural history. But not the Country Doctor Museum of Bailey, a crossroads 35 miles southeast of Raleigh. At first glance, it looks like a quaint little Victorian home. At the end of the walkway a carriage lamp holds the familiar sign of the country doctor, a horse and buggy.

The museum was formed by the joining of two former country doctors' offices built circa 1887. The curator leads visitors through the apothecary, the doctor's office, and the exhibit area. Her lively discourse includes the "4 Ps": purge, puke, plaster and phlebotomy.

In the apothecary, wall-length shelves filled with jars were in the first pharmacy in Bailey.

In the doctor's office, a 19th century roll-top desk, a still-workingwall telephone, a black leather examining table and surgery chair and leather prostheses are on display.

The exhibit areas houses a collection of once-common medical tools, including bowls, leech jars, ear trumpets and gunshot forceps.

A collection of medicinal herbs is growing in a garden behind the museum. Dill once settled an uneasy stomach, the curator tells visitors; sage was prescribed for colds.

Written accounts describe travel by horseback and medical examinations done on kitchen tables by the light of an oil lamp. Bills ranging from 50 cents to a dollar are on view, along with notations that doctors received payment in the form of a head of cabbage, a pound of butter, or a country ham.

For information, contact the Country Doctor Museum, P.O. Box 34, Bailey, N.C. 28707; (919) 235-4165.

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