Dr. James Still was born in Washington Township, now known as Shamong, Burlington County, New Jersey on April 9,1812 to Levin and Charity Still. Father and mother born in Maryland and were slaves. Levin bought his freedom and soon after sent for his wife Sidney. Once she arrived up north she was caught and sent back to the plantation in Maryland with her four children Levin Jr., Peter, Mahalah and Keturah. As time passed by Sidney ran for freedom again with only her two daughters Mahalah and Keturah. On her second escape she was successful in reaching freedom to the north. To protect herself she had to change her name from Sidney to Charity; in fear of being caught and sent back into slavery. Her only chance of reaching freedom was to leave her two sons Levin Jr. eight years old and Peter six years old back in slavery. A few years after they came to New Jersey, James was born. He was the sixth child born of eighteen children, a couple of children died at birth.
At the young age of three years old he had his first vision of becoming a doctor. "It so happened that Dr. Fort was called to our home to vaccinate the children, my brother John being about six months old at the time. The doctor performed the duty, and I have sometimes thought that the virus being inserted in my arm must have taken better than usual, for the sting of the lancet yet remains. From that moment I was inspired with a desire to be a doctor. It took deep root in me, so deep that all the drought of poverty or lack of education could not destroy the desire." *pg.16
Dr. James Still's education consisted of only three months of instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic, which completed him to start out in life. He felt honored to have three months and maybe this appreciation of a small thing grew into a success. *pg.30
At the age of nineteen years old working the farm land, Jame's visions of healing haunted him continually," I also had more time for contemplation, being often alone to plough the field or carting from the woods. How many times have I seen visions of my future course open up to me! At times I was entirely absorbed by these visions, and it would appear to me that I was practicing medicine with great success." *pg.32-33
In the year of 1835 Dr. James Still married his first wife Angelina Willows and they birthed a little girl named Beulah. All seemed to be going well until Angelina fell ill of a cold and turned into consumption.On August 12, 1838 on a Sunday, Angelina passed away. For awhile it was just he and his little girl Beulah, but soon decided to place her at his mother's home. Dr. Still decided to marry again to a Henrietta Thomas, August 8, 1839. Some time after their marriage little Beulah died August 11, 1839 on a Sunday as her mother. Through these deaths, James became more determine to study natural medicine. In the year of 1840 his first son was born by his second marriage, little Jimmie.
The beginnings of studying botany came when Dr. James decided to go to Philadelphia to purchase a book on medical botany. "Entering I asked the man behind the counter if he had a medical botany. He looked at me and answered in the negative. There was an old gentleman in the store, who noticed me and said, 'Has thee a notion of studying medical botany?' I answered, 'Yes.' Then, said he,'Thee must never give it up.' The old gentleman was dressed in Quaker garb, and said to the storekeeper, 'Can't thee tell him where to get one?' The man hesitated etc." This Quaker man was persistent with the clerk until Dr. James found what he was searching for, which gave him great inspiration latter on in life of race, creed or color. *pg.72-75
Through the pangs of his poverty he never gave up, but used as a tool to fire the determination of achieving his dream of becoming a doctor in medical botany, nature's healing power. Through his poverty he found the power of Great Providence, God. Through his poverty he found compassion and empathy for those struggling with ailments of the body, finances and spirit. Through his poverty he found who he was born to be.
What Kind Of Man Was He?
Empathetic, compassionate and poetic in his healing are some of the few words we could describe this man of destiny in the healing of body, mind and soul.Dr. Still would be in deep reflective thought, thinking how he could make the sick more comfortable during time of illness. *pg.97-99 Even through all the racial diversity and prejudice Dr. James Still never used this ignorance of some to deter him from achieving his dreams of becoming a doctor. *pg.28
Dr. James Still became the third largest real estate owner in Medford Township of that time. He paid all his debts, mortgages and reinvested. His book, "The Early Recollections and Life Of Dr. James Still was privately printed in 1877.
Philosophy Or Medical :
What drove this man inside and guided him into the direction of healing or was it more so the healing of the soul. The physical body being a conduit in reaching a more severe ailment, a patient spirit. When one can heal the soul the physical body should follow whether in life or death. The healing of the soul brings about the healing of peace within, so that the pain of healing can be endured. These words has been past to me through studying and my meditation of my great, great grandfather Dr. James Still. Such grace, beauty and dignity of this man's words were emanated through his being. His quiet spirit and strength of his soul made him the man of wisdom as the Providence would have him to become. Oft times he would go into the woods and walk along the creeks; studying nature and communing with the Providence. Doctor Still would absorb the beauty and quiet wisdom he needed for the practice of botanical healing. Nature taught him more than just healing the body, it taught him the healing of the soul. He desired to find compassion for those who were suffering from an ailment. To read "Early Recollections and Life Of Doctor James Still" you will find his words and thoughts poetic in nature almost Shakespearean, reminding me of another famous author Khahil Kibran, "The Prophet." **
His honoree title should have been Doctor of Philosophy (Early Recollections Of Dr. James Still- Historical Sketch-Medford Historical Society) *pg.8.
Choices: “Sink or Swim”
Dream- Something hoped for: something that somebody hopes, longs or is ambitious for. Usually something difficult to attain or far removed from present circumstance. [Encarta World English Dictionary]
Device- A plan, scheme or procedure for effecting a purpose. Something devised or contrived as a (1) plan, procedure, technique (2) a scheme to deceive: stratagem, trick b: Something fanciful.
[Merriam-Webster Dictionary]Many times in our lives we have choices to make at very critical points of transitions.
We are presented with a test of discernment. At these crucial points we discover if
our dreams and ambitions are just fanciful or true with meaning.
In the year 1830, James and his brothers went into the woods to chop and gather
wood for the home and profit. This particular morning it was cold and damp with
heavy sleet, James found it best to keep his coat on for warmth. Levin comes upon
the boys and found fought with James laboring with his coat on. Coming from the old
school Levin felt this cloak would deter the boys from working harder and producing
more wood and made statement of this. James felt it best not to reply, in fear of his
father Levin would love him according to the scriptures. Quite tired of this mode in
loving, James was determined to leave after his father left the woods. He got himself
together and left for Amos Wilkins farm..... cont.
During the first year the workers had their drams every morning and soon James
became a lover of strong drink. Every morning increasing the dose to get the
effect.....cont. (pg.31 para.1)
As we read on in this chapter we find that James at a young age quickly made his
choice to follow his dream. This short and quick experience motivated his passion
even more into the fulfillment of his vow and promise to himself; not forgetting the
Almighty Providence. Recognizing firstly the healing of himself in the temptation of
following his peers and the beginnings of a habit that would easily and quickly
diminish his dream.
We go back to the departure and device of drinking the dram of alcohol. James at a crucial age of decision making, had experienced one of his first lessons in the wisdom of discernment. As we see, no device should super cede or be greater than our dream. When we fall prey to the vices in our lives we can destroy the very true nature of who we were born to be. Even at a later time of recognition we can come to the light, but not as powerful at the moment of testing. Sadly, some have come to recognize their dream all too late and burnt out from their devices of distraction. Never living out the full potential of having their dream desire to come to fruition. We procrastinate until the dream has dimmed and put to rest, never to awaken into action. Such a great lost for ourselves and those we could have helped along the way, a wasted gift from the Providence that has been put to death. Doctor James Still had battled this demon of alcohol at a young age, but was short lived through the power of vision. I believe in my heart and soul he would have wanted this to come to the attention of the reader or he would have never put this experience in his book. We must never brush over the truth, for the truth shall set you free. I believe he would want the listener/reader t learn from his own frailties. For in our weakness, we find the power to heal; where our strength lies there is no need to heal. In our darken hour of destruction we can find the strength through our dream and knowing The Providence will protect you and guide you. This is one of the occasions I find Dr. James Still a healer of philosophical, spiritual and self empowerment in the truth of making the right choices.**
I sit and wonder oft times, “If Dr. James Still had made the wrong choice…I would not be here to tell of his legacy and the foundations he laid for me to stand upon.” **
©2011 Francine C. Still Hicks
Dr.James Still as a young man at the age of 19 years old came to recognition of himself. Through his empowerment in the desire to become a doctor along with the faith of the Great Providence, he would not fail. The only failure would be the failure not to keep his vow and promise to become a healer. The recognition, “ If I cannot heal myself from the contamination of negative influences, how can I heal another or fulfill my dream?"
Anything of a negative nature not caught early whether physical, mental or spiritual will be most difficult to heal, but it can be done. If, your dream desire and faith is the pilot of your destination’s flight.”
©2012 Update/Francine C. Still Hicks
The Journey Towards His Dream
Over and over in James mind the thought of poverty, with no more than ten dollars worth of clothing, nine dollars and fifty cents in money, without home or friend; his situation seemed bleak. With the thought of being taken for a runaway he quickly remembered, “I have my indentures to protect me.” Finally reaching Philadelphia he decided to visit his sister Keturah Wilmer and spent the night. James arose in the morning and after having breakfast he began his next journey through the streets of Philadelphia along Forth Street. There he was approached by a gentleman who asked if he was looking work. James replied, “Yes I am!” and this begins another journey…working at the glue factory. (*pg.40-53)
In life we are presented with many turn of events, as we move towards our dream focus. Often our experiences are painful and bitter; a part of our grow that we are unwilling to go through or even consider in our scheme of design (equation). We must remember and focus on the positives that lies within the negatives. Sometimes our solutions lie right before us, sometimes our solutions are hidden within. With the riddle, we must find the key for ourselves. As James went on his dream journey he unlocked many doors with one key…himself. On our dream journey we find items of necessity. Such as; wisdom, endurance, adaptation, determination, integrity, honesty and strength. These items I call our, “System tools and luggage of necessity.” In order to bring our desired goal into fruition and longevity the items above are only a few we pick up along the road of life. At the same time we are being tested in, “the trying of our faith.” That He above and within will see us through as long as our desired dream is of a pure and true nature and truly our own.
The questions we must ask ourselves, “Am I one of those people who turns away when obstacles come? Am I one of those people who become fragile, weak and fall along the way side to whither and die? Have I turned away from my dream, because of ridicule, mockery or fear of?” If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you are not ready or worthy to experience the treasures that your dream hold for you.**
©2011 Francine C. Still Hicks
The Other Land
Through this dark wilderness
We all must travel on, To a land unseen by mortal eyes,
Where many thousands have gone.
Beyond this vale there is a land,
Where night is changed to day.
Nothing there to mar our peace,
Or clouds to pass away.
A happy home where the good may rest,
No sorrow there may come.
For tears are wiped from every eye,
In that heavenly, happy home.
No sorrow there, or crying heard,
Joy is the crown all wear,
Robed in linen clean and white,
While conquering palms they bear.
There candles we shall never need
To light our path along,
The Lamb himself is the light thereof,
The theme of harp and song.
The streets are of transparent gold,
Rivers of life do flow,
Where all may drink and drink again,
Till they God's fullness know.
by Dr. James Still
"In Our Frailties We Find Strength In The Vow Of A Promise To The Providence …And To Ourselves”
Early Recollections and Life Of Dr. James Still
Quote/Francine C. Still Hicks ** Music- "Manchild" by Strategy © 2010
The Matriarch - Charity "Sidney" Still
Matriarch; (a mother who is head and ruler of her family and descendants. A woman who rules a family, a group, a state etc.).
[Merriam-Webster Dictionary] To be considered a true matriarch of God a woman takes the role as ruler of all that is womanly and of refinement. She edifies the male through her intuitive perception with a timely and delicate guidance to the freedom of being a true man; teaching him how to let go and grow. With the female of her domain, she teaches them true womanhood by example.
The patriarch never feels threaten, because she has accepted his path of independence. With freedom to live out their God given purpose on this journey called, “Life.” This is where the matriarch becomes “The Bridge.” For all who dwells in her domain, she becomes that connection through the wisdom of the Providence. She becomes the virtuous woman of Proverbs; - she is the last who blows the lamp out when those she loves are at rest - this is "The Matriarchal Bridge.”
Sidney Steel's approximate time of birth had to be in the early 1700's, before Abraham Lincoln's making and signing the Proclamation of Emancipation. As of today there is no finding of documentation when Sidney was born - or the year she escaped with her children to freedom. When Sidney reached north her name was changed to Charity in fear of being recaptured by slave hunters and put back into slavery with her children.
Charity spoke often with her sister Nancy Washington, who was a
couple of years younger than her. They would speak of their
hardships on the plantation. How they worked in the field
ploughing corn and all manner of work that men pursued. They
worked in the summer heat and winter's cold, these task were
required of them throughout the year. The clothing they wore were
of meanly clad. There was no redress for their wrongs; it was
reguarded a sin to complain. If they were married, their husbands
were no protection in their distress, daring to utter a word on their
wife's behalf; the fear of not being able to visit his wife. Frequently
the husband belonged to one plantation and the wife belonged to
another plantation. Husbands were constrained to use the utmost
good behavior in visiting their wives, for fear of being prohibited
from seeing them again. Charity spoke of how they lived mostly on
hominy or Johnny-cake, which they pounded the corn in a mortar
at night after working hours. This process had to be done on their
own time to be ready for the field in the morning.
As the conversation went on the sisters talked about how slaves
had to live without names, except for the names "Tom, Sall, Nance
or Pete." There was no last name for them, generally they were
given the owner's last name and most of the enslaved boast to be
called by his name. They knew nothing of their origin only of what
they heard from some of the old people that communicated
traditionally. When it came to their age they had no precise date.
Schools were more sacred than churches as they were allowed to
go to church, but to school never. The more benighted at the mind
the better for the master, the slave was more chattel or article of
trade. With the ignorance of the slave's mind, the better he or she
could serve the master's purpose. They were only allow to sing and
dance, for it showed contentment with the conditions. *(pgs.149-
This was the life of Charity and all those that were enslaved on a
plantation. Conditions that were not even befitting to an animal or
living creature; far beyond what a human being could withstand
and endure. There are stories I have not written in this text, stories we could
never imagine with a sane mind that people would do to another human being. Newborn babies left alone from sunrise to sunset; taken out into the field in the blistering heat or the den of winter's cold. The atrocities go on and still embedded in the memory banks of many who carried their wounds into generations. What makes it even sadder and a crime, most of these slave masters did this abomination in the name of God...blasphemous. This was their own evil volition and wrongdoing of free will and choice. **
To be continued.....
*Early Recollections and Life Of Doctor James Still
**Francine C. Still Hicks