Power of Plants
An Online Exhibition from the William Root House Museum & Garden
William Root (pictured) was one of Marietta’s earliest merchants and its first druggist. Born in Philadelphia in 1815, William moved to Marietta in August 1839 to open a drug store and pharmacy on the Marietta Square. William would have likely used many herbs from his personal garden in his pharmacy. During this time period, medicines could be made from plants using a variety of methods:
Pictured above: Castor Oil was generally used as a laxative. Castor oil was also widely used to induce labor in pregnant women. Butternut Bark was used as a mild laxative to relieve constipation and to remove toxins from the system by stimulating the liver and bowels. Antikamina Tablets were advertised as a cure for coughs, Rheumatic pain, and stress. The tablets were similar to Codeine, an opiate used to treat pain. Precipitate is not a medication, but the form the medication comes in. Precipitate is the solid substance left behind when a chemical reaction is used to separate solids from a liquid (a concentrate). Rhatany Root was often mixed with cocaine and used as a remedy for diarrhea. It was also commonly ground and used in tooth powders (now known as toothpaste).
The gardens at the William Root House have been designed to reflect the gardening practices of the mid-19th century. All of the vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, decorative flowers, and blooming shrubs grown in the garden today have been researched for availability in Georgia during the 1860s. Homes like this one typically had three distinct gardens: an ornamental garden in front of the house with flowers and shrubs, a kitchen garden near the cookhouse (pictured) with medicinal and culinary herbs, and a vegetable garden at the back of the property.
The plants listed below are currently grown in the gardens at the William Root House. We welcome you to learn about their medicinal uses and how they were prepared during the 1860s. Simply tap on any image to enlarge it. Use the arrows to advance to the next image. The information presented on this page is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a recommendation or an endorsement of any particular medical or health treatment.