Some information regarding Dr. Benjamin C. Peters, who married Bettie Thackston, daughter of Charles Thackston, Prince Edward Co., Va.
From History of Farmville Virginia 1798-1948, H. Clarence Bradshaw, pub. Farmville Herald, Farmville, Virginia 1948:
Short Biographical Sketches of Some Men Who Have Done Much for Our Past Rich Heritage:
CHARLES BUGG. . . . Dr. B. C. Peters, of Farmville, had come from England as a young man. One of his friends in England, a Mr. Kettle, decided to come to America and wrote to Dr. Peters for advice about coming and for suggestions concerning what to bring. Dr. Peters replied in a long letter. Before Mr. Kettle received Dr. Peters’ reply, he decided not to come. Not long after receiving Dr. Peters’ letter, Mr. Kettle learned that doctors had advised a young friend that the American climate would benefit the health of his wife. The young friend was Charles Bugg. Mr. Kettle gave him Dr. Peters’ letter together with a letter of introduction to Dr. Peters. Accordingly, Mr. and Mrs. Bugg and six children left for America. They came to New York by sailing vessels. Many people then were afraid to travel by steamboat. From New York they came to City Point (via Norfolk) by sailing vessel. Thence to Farmville the trip was made by train.
Englishmen coming to Virginia at that time almost invariably chose farming as a vocation. They had been led to believe that they could make a fortune by farming a few years; the plan was to return to England after acquiring a competence. Charles Bugg, although he had always lived in town, planned to farm. But Dr. Peters thought otherwise; he earnestly counselled Mr. Bugg not to farm, but to go into business. This advice was taken . . . .
DR. BENJAMIN C PETERS. Physician. Born in England, December 31, 1803. Married first, September 29, 1839, Ann W. Price, of Prince Edward County; second, Bettie Thackston, daughter of Charles Thackston. Incorporator, Farmville Savings Bank, 1838. Methodist. Died in Farmville, 1889.
[Also short bios on Charles William Blanton, who married Benjamin’s daughter Mary Virginia Peters (1841 – 09 Sep 1874) by his first wife Ann Price and Charles’ sons and grandson.]
Benjamin C. Peters was a practitioner of the controversial “Thomsonian” method of medicine. He was also a prolific writer. One example is an 1838 letter to the editor published in the Botanico-Medical Journal:
TO THE EDITOR.
Sir: l am well satisfied with the Recorder and with the Lectures on Medical Science, and I trust that you will not relax in your exertions to spread information upon the all important subject of preventing and curing disease. “Let truth and falsehood grapple,” and let honest men decide. If the Thomsonian System be what it is represented to be by its opponents, a mass of error and imposture, founded upon ignorance and fraud; if it be a practice of quackery and empiricism, it ought to be universally reprobated; and those who, from ignorance or cupidity, continue to use it, and thus to trifle with the health and the lives of their fellow-beings, ought to meet the disapprobation and the decided opposition of every intelligent mind. But if, on the other hand, the principles of the Thomsonians be true, the system ought to be encouraged, and its discovery ought to be hailed as one of the most auspicious that have taken place in ancient or modern times. None but those who have been sick themselves, or those who have been in the habit of visiting the chamber of affliction, can fully estimate the importance of having a knowledge of the correct principles of the healing art. It was said in days of yore, by the father of poets:
“A wise physician, skill’d our wounds to heal,
Is more than armies to the public weal;”
And the saying of the venerable bard is as true now as it was in the day when he raised his imperishable song.
I have often considered the Thomsonian System next to the Christian religion, the greatest boon that has ever been granted by indulgent Heaven to the sons and daughters of affliction. I say this, because I have seen cases of sickness give way to it, when every thing else had failed; when the physician in attendance had reminded his patient’s friends that he could only go thus far and no farther, and that they must look to a higher power, for vain was the help of man. We ought at all times to look to that being in whose hands are the issues of life and death; but, as He is pleased to work by human instrumentality, we ought to use all the means that he has given us for the alleviation of human woe. * * *
I have had a considerable practice this year, and only two have died, and these were cases in which I gave no hopes of recovery. In the month of August a colored boy was severely attacked with scurvy; and before I took him in hand, he was so far gone that no one thought there was any probability of his recovery.
His gums were swelled and separated from his teeth, which were loose; his knees were stiff and could not be used, and his body seemed to be one general mass of rottenness. The stench that came from him while he was under the operation of steaming was almost insupportable. His owner thought that he was not worth a fourpence; and, in my absence, he called in an M. D. to consult with him upon the case. The boy was at this time under the influence of lobelia, and the straining which accompanied the vomiting had caused a profuse hemorrhage from his mouth, and in this condition the doctor saw him, and seemed to be very indignant at my presumption in taking charge of the boy. He said that “Peters ought to have known that he could not cure the boy.” He then advised the owner to take him out of the reach of quackery, and wrote a prescription, observing that it would be merely giving Peters an excuse if the boy should die; that it was possible he might get well if the proper treatment should be followed; but “in all probability he-would die any how.” The Doctor departed, and, alter a short consideration of the matter, his master agreed that the Thomsonian treatment should be continued. He afterwards saw the doctor who observed to him that he might as well knock the boy in the head with a club as give him pepper and lobelia. Notwithstanding this sage advice, pepper, lobelia etc. were given, and the boy soon got well. This case was so clear and so often spoken of, that the enemies of the system started a report that I had cured the boy by the use of the doctor’s prescription. This is a wicked slander, and I am surprised that professing Christians who ought to abhor every crooked way, should be found relating it.
B. C. PETERS.
Farmville, Prince Edward County, Va.
November 21, 1838.
You might have administered, with great propriety, enemas in the next case, at first of slippery elm, then of cayenne and hemlock, and you would have effected your object without calling advice.—Ed.