The Blood Stoppers
By Elton Camp
In rural Alabama during the early 20th Century, various folk remedies were used for disease or injury. Those involving anything more than very minor bleeding causes much concern.
A spider’s web placed across a small wound was used to treat bleeding from external injuries. The web material provided a framework to trap platelets and speeded the natural clotting process. If the procedure didn’t introduce infection, it might help.
Severe bleeding was much more serious. When Birdie gashed her hand while chopping firewood, Belle found the usual remedies to be inadequate to solve the problem.
“Maw, hit hurts ’n’ I’m afeerd thet I’ll bleed t’ death,” Birdie whined.
As blood continued to ooze from the deep cut, Belle became increasingly alarmed. Something had to be done.
“Leamon, hitch up th’ wag’n. We’s takin’ Birdie t’ see Miz Helen,” she directed.
The use of “Miz” with the first name of a woman, married or single, indicated familiarity, but a high degree of respect. Miz Helen was reputed to have the power to stop bleeding merely by reading a verse from the Bible. The blood stopper, accustomed to such visits, hurried to the wagon when they pulled into her yard.
“Let me see thet hand, chile.”
She wanted to help. After examining the injury and giving Birdie a reassuring hug, she rushed back into her house and returned with a well-thumbed copy of the King James Version of the Bible.
Turning to Ezekiel 16: 6, she walked toward the east as she read the verse, but substituted the youngster’s name in place of “thee.”
“And when I passed by Birdie, and saw Birdie polluted in thine own blood, I said unto Birdie when thou wast in thy blood, Live; yea, I said unto Birdie when thou wast in thy blood, Live.”
Within an hour, the bleeding slowly diminished and finally stopped. To assert that natural mechanisms, with the passage of time since the injury, had controlled the blood loss would’ve been futile. The result spoke for itself. If Birdie had bled to death, the explanation would’ve been that it was “her time to go.” It was a “no win” situation for medical correctness. The simple faith of rural people sustained them.
“Thanky, Miz Helen. God bless y’u,” Belle uttered. Tears filled her eyes as she hugged the blood stopper.
No payment was offered and none was expected. Miz Helen believed that she had a free gift and she gave freely. The day’s experience would be repeated many times, strengthening sincere belief in the woman’s healing powers.
Another elderly woman in the McLarty community used a different technique to end bleeding. It wasn’t necessary that the victim be present.
When informed of a person in need of help, she held up both hands and called out, “Upon Christ’s grave three roses bloom. Stop, blood, stop.”
It would be easy to ridicule these uneducated people who lived in more simple times, but they did what they could with the knowledge they had. For the most part, their motives were good.