Walk On

The Champions Who Walked Among Us

The Champions Who Walked Among Us – Article 4 – The Doctress


She was a sparky little thing, curious about nature and the anatomy of the human being.  Being around her mother, who had a keen sense for business and ran her own hotel, and a father who was a Scottish army officer, she had the best of both worlds.

It was from her father that she inherited her dogged, stubborn determination to never give up. After all, what was a setback other than a test to strengthen one’s courage and spur one own to achievement.  So was it taught to this young girl, the product of an interracial marriage between a Scotsman and an African, who was a free black woman in Kingston, Jamaica.

Learning about herbs from her mother, she watched as her mother ministered to those who were ill, as well as run a successful business. The herbal, medical treatment her mother had learned helped many, and they were healed. Thus, it was quite natural, the young girl would want to know more, so she travelled about, from country to country, visiting the Bahamas, Haiti, Cuba, and Panama, as she gathered more and more knowledge from people who used plants and herbs to cure certain diseases, and The Doctress was born.

No one had ever told her she could not do what she set out in her heart to accomplish. Quite the opposite, she had learned nothing was impossible; that dreams do come true; that the dignity of the human being is inviolable.

  • What do you do once you have gathered knowledge?
  • How do you give back what you have learned?

Opportunity came clothed in the garment of an epidemic, in 1850.  Cholera broke out among the inhabitants of Kingston, and The Doctress began her medical residency. Her herbal medicine bag in hand, this woman was instrumental in keeping the death toll low.  The epidemic passed, and her tenacity and caring temperament brought her accolades of praise and respect.  Soon, she was doctoring on people who had gunshot wounds, ministering to people with yellow fever, and applying her knowledge and expertise in outlying regions all over Jamaica.

  • What do you do once the crisis is over?
  • Where do you go with the expertise you have gained?

1854, the Crimean war had already started. British soldiers were dying quickly of  illnesses caused by cholera and malaria. Statistics say that of the twenty-one thousand British soldiers who died during this war, only three thousand died from actual war wounds.

  • Where was The Doctress?
  • Did she not reach out to help her countrymen?

Hearing about the conditions, The Doctress traveled to London. It was time to do something about the situation, and she had the knowledge, the expertise, to alleviate the maladies, which were attacking the soldiers. She pleaded to a society that would not tolerate a woman interfering into men’s affairs, and her pleas fell on deaf ears. The Doctress was rejected, noticing perhaps for the first time, that society condemned  women who decided to step outside of the norm.

The great Doctress had reached her limits, some had thought, but had she really?

  •  What do you do once you have gathered knowledge?
  • How do you put it to use?

Off to the battlefront, she went. No money, no equipment, and no herbal medical supplies, but she had learned how to think.  There she established near the battlefront a hotel, which gave her the capital she needed to give free care to the soldiers who came seeking her help.

The British Home office had finally established a dispensary some kilometers from the Battlefront with Florence Nightingale and her team of nurses, but it was The Doctress who many of the soldiers sought. When the battle was raging its hardest, The Doctress was somewhere on the battlefield ministering care to her soldiers, and closing the eyes of those who had been fatally wounded.  Yes, it was The Doctress, many soldiers yearned to see.

1856, the war had abruptly ended. The Doctress returned to London and opened up a business, only to find herself going through bankruptcy proceedings in November of the same year. The business had failed. There she was, alone and penniless, with no recognition of her work and her devotion to the British soldiers. She had received no pay, no thanks, and no recognition from the British government, even though the soldiers sang praises of her. The Doctress was financially dead!

  • What do you do once the crisis is over?
  • Where do you go to revive your weary soul?

Tired and weary, The Doctress was bankrupt. She made the people aware of her plight by writing about it in the newspapers. No, she was not one of those with false pride. She had no problems reaching out and saying, I need help.  The soldiers who had received care from her started a petition, and ten years later in 1867, Queen Victoria acknowledged her for her glorious deeds during the Crimean war, and she received a small pension.

A spring day, May 14, 1881 presented itself at its best; the songbirds passed by with a song, the eucalyptus trees stretched towards the heaven, the herbal plants let out soft cries of praise, as they filled the air with their smells. Suddenly, a soul took one last breath of the aroma in the air and crossed over. Mary Seacole, The Doctress, a citizen of the British Commonwealth, had Walked On! One of the founders of alternative medical treatment in the Western world, and the first woman to work in a medical capacity as a doctor on the battlefield had taken her flight! Dr. Mary Seacole had Walked On!

Walk On, I say, Walk On!

Ciao,

Pat Garcia

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5 Comments

  1. Wonderful story, Patricia, well told. The last paragraph is particularly beautiful.

    Like

  2. Raani York

    This is the story of a great life – and it has touched me! I enjoy your writing style and the special kind of feeling you are showing within your words! Thank you for sharing!

    Like

  3. Interesting. Very inspiring, Patricia. It makes me feel as though I could do so much more. Thanks for sharing her story!

    Like

    • Hi Peggi,
      Thank you very much. I enjoy researching women in history who have paved the way for the privileges that we now enjoy but they are still pretty much unknown. it is amazing what some women accomplished for the good of all mankind.
      Here is wishing you a nice weekend.
      Ciao,
      Patricia

      Like

  4. susanscottsa

    Thank you so much Patricia .. an amazing story of an amazing woman. I will come back to your blogs and twitter and FB them they are such value, thank you again.

    Like

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