Herbs and Medicine at Old Independence Regional Museum

Herbs and Medicine at Museum

Dressed as “Aunt Becky,” Marie Garvey Fowler will present a program, “Herbs, Spring Greens, and Folk Medicine,” March 22, 2 p.m., at the Old Independence Regional Museum.

This program is in conjunction with the museum’s current exhibit:

“Living off the Land: Season by Season.” The first segment of the

2009 exhibit “Spring: Time to Plant, Make Tonics, Ink and Dye” is now on display. Other seasonal segments will be added throughout the year.

“The Herb Lady,” as Fowler is known in this area, is an expert on plants used as medicines during the Civil War. In her own words, she described the development of that aspect of her knowledge. “The Early American Museum and Botanical Gardens in Mahomet, Illinois, asked if I would do a program for a Civil War enactment. Researching for this program was the beginning of my interest in the Civil War period. When we moved back to Arkansas, I started studying in earnest on the use of herbs during this period of our history. I visited libraries around the state of Arkansas, and any trip out of state that took us near a Civil War battlefield required a detour. The research was finally written up, and two parts of this paper have been published in consecutive issues of “The Herbarist,” put out by the Herb Society of America.

After receiving a Master’s degree in Fine Arts, Fowler taught Art at Hood College, Frederick, Maryland. Later, she was working at the Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, when she married Dr. Gerald Fowler, a psychologist. They currently reside in Batesville.

Well known and respected in the field of herbs, Marie Fowler formerly taught Biology and Botany at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and served as Editor of “The Sprigs of Thyme,”

newsletter of the Champaign-Urbana Herb Society.

Fowler has frequently presented programs on herbs to local, state, and national meetings of various herbal societies. Two of them were “Greek Mythology and Plants” and “Making Latin Easy,” as related to botanical terms.

In addition, Fowler served as Editor as of the Arkansas Herbalist Society’s newsletter, taught classes and workshops, owned a retail greenhouse, and hosted a local radio show–all about herbs.

Those who attend Fowler’s program may also take time to interact with the museum’s spring exhibit. They may view mule drawn plows and natural materials that pioneers used to dye cloth. Visitors may pick up a quill and write with homemade pokeberry ink, and play an electric game board to see how many seeds they can identify.

The Old Independence Regional Museum covers a twelve-county area, including Baxter, Cleburne, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Marion, Poinsett, Sharp, Stone, White and Woodruff counties.

The Museum, located on the corner of Ninth and Vine streets in Batesville is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m., and Sunday, 1–4 p.m. A small admission fee is charged, and a Senior Citizens discount is available. Class field trips to the Museum may be scheduled by calling 870–793-2121.