HERBS & HEALING
- Grant Recipient
Legends & Lore®
- 5934 W Smith St, Fountain, NC 27829, USA
- 35.674822, -77.63998
Town of Fountain
Born in 1897, Emma Dupree or “Aunt Emma” was a prominent herbalist, traditional healer, and folk medicine practitioner from Pitt County, North Carolina. She was also known as a “granny woman,” a local term for a person skilled in the art of traditional healing. The child of formerly enslaved people, she grew up on the Tar River and showed an early interest in herbs and healing, earning the nickname “Little Medicine Thing.” Intimately familiar with the herbs that grew along the banks of the Tar River, she would gather and harvest to stock her traditional apothecary.
In addition to wild gathering, Dupree was known for her “garden-grown pharmacy,” which included double tansy, rabbit tobacco, maypop, mullein, catnip, horseradish, silkweed sassafras, and white mint. From these she made salves, teas, and tonics that brought comfort to the sick, the infirm, and the ailing. Dupree was a dedicated community healer, willing to charge no more than what the afflicted could pay.
She was recognized for her genius in her lifetime. In her later years, she shared her knowledge with the medical establishment, including doctors and anthropologists who sought out Dupree for a deeper understanding of the medicinal value of North Carolina’s native herbs. The North Carolina Folklore Society presented Dupree with the Brown-Hudson Award for significant contributions to folklife in North Carolina, and the State of North Carolina presented her with the North Carolina Heritage Award for lifetime achievement, recognizing her as one of North Carolina’s premiere folk medicine practitioners.