Vol. VIII, No. 1, 1995

Samuel Baker's Animal Medicine and Other Wisdom

Arranged and edited by Donald Holliday, with technical assistance from Dr. Ross McPhail, retired veterinarian, Republic, Missouri and Dr. Franklin Hoggard, Department of Chemistry, Southwest Missouri State University

Samuel Baker (1829-1918) was in many ways an extraordinary Ozarker. Born in London, England, he was educated by a French tutor before being apprenticed in 1846 to a baker in London. In 1854, a year after becoming a journeyman baker, he emigrated to the United States and in 1857 bought 200 acres near Vienna, Maries County, Missouri. In 1865 he married Sarah Capehart and during the fall of 1869 bought and moved to the Samuel J. Forrest farm on Barren Fork of the North Fork River, Ozark County, Missouri. He established there the community of Nottinghill, named for his home neighborhood in London. Successful farming combined with his share of an inherited lease of family property in England made him a prosperous man. On each of four sons, he settled a considerable farm. His success as a farmer may be his most remarkable feature: Samuel was a baker who had to learn how to farm--and in the Ozarks to boot.

Samuel saved records: receipts and grade cards from his French tutor; his papers of indenture and release from his apprenticeship, a train ticket from New York to Buffalo, tax receipts, handwritten deeds and wills. Samuel's papers, together with those collected by children and grandchildren, and including files of Kyle and Delp family papers, have been given by grandson William Giles Baker to the Center for Ozarks Studies.

In many ways, however, Samuel Baker was like other Ozarkers. He had to tend his own stock for example, which included doctoring them. In his "cookbook," along with various wisdoms, he recorded what he learned about preventive and remedial animal doctoring--a subject as important to the 19th- century Ozarks farmer as the health of humans, because a farmer's whole livelihood, and thus the health of himself and his family, depended on healthy horses and other livestock.

In the following compendium of excerpts from his remedies for horses, editorial gloss and comment are indented and printed in italics. Examples of his remedies for cows and hogs are provided without comment. The final items exemplify the potpourri of observation and wisdom to be found in the cookbook.

Left: The Baker farmstead. 1869 house, background. Mary Delp Baker milking, 1936. (All photos: William G. Baker Collection, Center for Ozarks Studies).
Right: "Big barn, little barn," Samuel Baker farm. Note log construction of barn at right. Photo ca. 1940.


From The Cookbook of Samuel Baker

Remedies for Horses:

For Botts

Botts, or Bots, are various ailments in horses resulting from worms which are the larvae of the botfly. BoO2ies lay eggs on horse hairs, especially around the fetlocks.

Give a handful of finely chopped up horsehair in bran.

Giving horsehair as treatment was at one time probably suggested by horses' chewing on and apparently eating parts of each others 'manes and tails. While the bran might make a horse's stomach feel better, this remedy is not a likely killer or preventer of worms. Put a piece of bluestone as large as a pea in a pint of milk and give.

Give a pint of blue dye yeast or a piece of indigo in milk.

Blue cures: "Bluestone" is copper sulfate, a blue compound about the color of indigo; it will destroy and expel worms (antihelmintic action). Although I have not been able to identify blue dye yeast, it seems most likely that it, like indigo, were used as remedies by a kind of parallel logic--blue things kill worms.

Scrape the upper lip until it bleeds and rub in gunpowder.

Drench with one pint of powdered charcoal and salt and water.

Give for a dose

2 oz spirits Nitre
1 oz laudanum &
oz tincture of assefoetida [sic]
Gunpowder cures: In Mr. Baker's remedies, the potassium nitrate (nitre, or saltpeter) in gunpowder is antihelmintic. It won't kill worms in the digestive tract by being absorbed into the blood stream; however, in attempting to rub enough of it on a scraped lip, a horse doctor might cause the horse to swallow enough to do some good. The charcoal, being mostly carbon, will also help eliminate worms. Laudanum, tincture of opium, is a strong narcotic, once commonly used as an effective pain killer and sedative. (Having myself grown up following draft horses all day, I've often thought gunpowder was indeed the thing to use on horses, as long as they're shot between the eyes.)

Give Mullen tea, let them eat the leaves.

Boil persimmons bark or the unripe fruit in water, sweeten it, and give about a quart.

Scrape potatoes and give, or the juice of potatoes with water to drench.

Give one tablespoonful of powdered caraway seed.

Herbal cures: Herbal medicines for animals were generally the same as those for humans, though animals required larger doses. Mullen soothes internal membranes (emollient action). Asafetida (listed in a previous remedy and in several following) and caraway effectively relieve gastric distress such as flatulence in colic-- a carminative. Potato or potato juice is mildly emollient. Persimmons might be antihelmintic, as are black walnut hulls and leaves, especially if the infusion is made strong.


To prevent Botts:

Rub on the legs, neck, and where the eggs are, this mixture: equal parts of coal oil, vinegar, and turpentine.

This preventative is probably the best cure listed for botts. Both the coal oil (kerosene) and the turpentine, also an oil, repel flies and, because of their lubricating and penetrating properties, penetrate and kill the eggs (parasiticide).

For colic

It is to be presumed that the horse is troubled with worms when he has frequent attacks of colic, when he loses his appetite & strength without apparent cause. Give Bitter infusions as wormwood, tansy, rue in dose of 3 or 4 oz mixed with warm milk.

Colic is distress in the digestive system, a symptom with many causes, one of which is worms, as Mr. Baker observes. Its treatment includes all those for botts---and others---as well as anything that will alleviate distress. Wormwood, tansy, and rue are all effective antihelmintics and thus destroy and expel worms rather than merely alleviating the symptoms.

Pour strong salt and water on the hind part of the back.

Like giving horsehair for botts, the saltwater applied externally would have no effect on internal worms or distress, though for a time it would repel flies.

Give one pint of salt in water.

Worms in the digestive tracts generally live very well in salt.

2 oz Spirits of Camphor

1 oz Laudanum

1 oz Tinc.

Assafaetida [sic]

Both laudanum (sedative) and asafetida have been addressed above. Camphor, applied externally, is a parasiticide and presumably would perform the same action internally. However, one of its more effective internal uses is carminative, relief of distress from flatulence. This combination of two carminatives and one sedative is a sure reliever of digestive stress.
Samuel Baker and Sarah Capehart Baker, Portrait made "prior to 1906."


1 teaspoonful of powdered assaftida [sic]

1/4 teacup of Turpentine

3/4 do of linseed oil

Drench in nostril if hard to make swallow

Turpentine is addressed above, but as an external remedy. Here the remedy is internal, where turpentine (C10H16) has the same effect as does camphor (C10H16-O), a carminative action. Linseed oil is laxative; 3/4 teacup (do means ditto.) of it would likely cause worms to be passed.

Pull hard at horses tail 3 times and slap belly.

This remedy will not effect worms or digestive distress, though it might increase the feeling of camaraderie between horse and owner.

1/2 pint lard

1/2 pint Molasses

Melt & mix together and give for Colic & Botts.

Lard, like linseed oil, is purgative, though not as effective. Nevertheless, it should cause some worms to pass. The molasses is a sweetener.

Worms in horses

A teaspoonful copperas, handful salt, handful tobacco dust, 1 quart ashes, sprinkle along the trough under feed.

Copperas is hydrated ferrous sulfate, an antihelmintic. Tobacco is also an effective antihelmintic. The added combination of ashes, addressed under gunpowder cures, should make this a sure-kill wormer.

For Distemper

Smoke them with greasy tarry rags.

Distemper is a viral infection which effects the respiratory system. Smoke was a common treatment of the symptoms, but had little effect on the infection. The following four remedies are no more effective, although the mustard soothes the coughing symptom (bechic action).

Put a bran poultice around the neck.

Put a few drops of turpentine on top of head between the ears, a little coal oil in the ears.

Give a tablespoonful of powdered rosin in his food three times.

For Glanders

One quart of Cogniac [sic] Brandy. Four ounces of pulverized Cayenne Pepper, shake well together and let stand 12 hours. Drench through the nose, using one gill to each nostril, repeating the dose every 48 hours. Keep horse dry, in three weeks will be well.


Glanders is an ulcerous pulmonary infection which, during World War I, severely hampered U. S. Army cavalry and artillery operations. The cognac in this remedy will temporarily relieve the symptoms of glanders. Cayenne pepper, stimulant and antiseptic, is commonly used in liniments. Applied externally, this remedy would be effective on a skin form of glanders, farcy.

Salve for Fistula & etc.

Boil 1 peck of May Apple roots in water until reduced to one pint, add one pint of old grease, simmer together until all the water is out, mind not to scorch.

The best cure for fistula is, according to many experienced horsemen, "to get a saddle that don't cause it." However, an ill-fitting or -padded saddle only hastens the development of fistula, which is brucellosis, a disease which causes deep abscesses through the skin. A salve made of mayapple root, if applied carefully and sparingly directly to the fistulous openings, might alleviate the sores. Used carelessly it can create larger sores and local paralysis. Brucellosis has been practically eliminated from the United States.

Lotion for bad sores

A piece of Bluestone the size of first joint of finger (rather less) the same of copperas to one pint of vinegar.

This combination is antiseptic, but it is not antibiotic.

For Heaves

Give carrots & raw potatoes with clean oats and hay. If bowels are not easy, give an occasional dose of sulphate of soda. 2 or 3 oz. is usual dose for a horse.

Heaves, characterized by difficult and painful breathing, is pulmonary distress ranging from chronic colds to serious disease. All ingredients in this remedy, including the sodium sulfate, will ease the symptoms while rest and nourishing diet may alleviate the milder forms of heaves.

Give rosin plant to eat

Rosinweed, also called compass plant, cup plant, and gum plant, is not included in
any text on herbalism I've seen.

Liniments for horses & cows

2 oz Corrosive sublimate
1 pt turpentine and can add 1/4 oz red precipitate &
1/2 oz gum camphor.

Bathe the part, lay cloth on and drive it in by ironing hot flat iron. Good for poll evil, fistula, big shoulder, & scratches.

[To the Liniment for Horses and Cows, add] 10 oz oil of Spike & 1 oz of Cedar (for big head).

"Poll evil" is bridle sores. "Big shoulder" is sweney. "Big head" is any number of diseases of the head characterized by swelling. To camphor and turpentine, both described above, are added mercuric chloride (corrosive sublimate) and mercuric sulfide, both antiseptics, as in Mercurochrome. "Spike" is Pink Root, a narcotic usually administered internally. Oil of cedar is applied externally to stimulate skin cells and for local rheumatic distress. This is a good liniment, especially if applied with hot compresses.


For Sweney

Bore a hole with a gimlet in the center of the hoof and put in turpentine and plug the hole up. Pull the skin loose from the shoulder.

Sweney is nervous paralysis in the front shoulder and leg, caused by an ill-fitting harness collar The best remedy is rest, a good stimulating liniment, and a proper collar

Lockjaw in horses

Cut across the cord in each ear, cut down between the nostrils and find a cord which cut in two and bleed in the mouth.

No home remedy or veterinarian's cure for lockjaw in horses has yet been developed.

For Wounds

White oak bark boiled down in an iron kettle to a thickness add a little alum. To take out maggots put honey, turpentine or elder juice.

Oak bark and leaves are astringent, which helps close a wound. They are also antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, both properties which retard infection. Fly larvae in the wound had to be removed. All three remedies--or any antihelmintic--will expel larvae from the wound.


Bath with diluted Tincture of Arnica 2 or 3 times a day.


4 oz fluid extract Arnica
1/2 pint alcohol
1/2 pint of water
Applied externally, arnica is both antiseptic and stimulant.

Descendants and kin of Samuel and Sarah Baker at the Baker farm in 1933. Gathering in celebration of sixtieth birthday of Mary Delp Baker, granddaughter-in-law of Samuel and Sarah Baker Family friends are also in photograph.
Horse or colt sprain in the hind leg

Bind a cord around the other leg above the hock.

Sore or watery eyes

Bath with Laudanum mixed with 3 times its quantity of water.

Mix Calomel and fresh butter (without salt) and put in eye.

Laudanum will relax the eye. Calomel is a mercury and chloride compound, usually a purgative and antiseptic.

In Founder

Give 20 to 30 drops of tincture of aconite to allay the fever.

Penetrating oil put in hollow of hoof twice a week after being foundered makes hoof grow sound.

Founder, laminitis, is inflammation of the sensitive laminae in the hoof of a horse. Aconite, also called monkshood and wolfsbane, was once used by the Chinese as a poison on the tips of their arrows. In proper dosage, it is a fever reducer, sedative, and pain killer. The penetrating oil suggested here is not the kind we loosen rusty bolts with, but linseed oil or turpentine.


Wash the mouth with equal parts of vinegar & water. If bad, scarify lightly with a knife for half an inch back of teeth.

Lampas is horny sores in the mouth. The term lampas is unknown in American veterinarian medicine. Mr. Baker apparently brought the word with him from England. The Dictionary of Obsolete and Provincial English listed the word in 1827.

Good horses books

Orange Judd Company

New York N.Y.

From Modern Horse Doctor $1.50 to Every man his own H.D. $7.50

Samuel and Sarah Baker house, built 1869. Photo circa 1939. Son George Baker and wife Mary Delp Baker at left.


Remedies for Cattle:

Black Leg in Cattle

Give one drachm of Calomel. To give, bore out the pith of a small ear of corn with a penknife, put in the calomel and plug up the end. If salivated, give some borax on a shuck.

Cattle poisoning

Give about a quart of Elder root boiled down pretty strong or pour down some grease.

Sore Tongue

Bathe with juice of poke berries


Drench with salt and water.

Give a level teaspoonful of copperas in drinking water daily for 2 days. Stop for 3 or 4 days, then give 2 doses every week for two months.

Slobbers after eating clover

Give a little corn meal to eat.

To prevent cows sucking themselves or to wean a cow or calf

Mix aloes and gum and rub over the teats.

Hollow horn

Rub the horns and the hollow between with soft sap.

To make cows clean

Give a rabbits tail in an ear of corn. (This was deleted by Grandpa). Hold a handful of turpentine in the naval until it is sucked up. If not clean in three hours, repeat.

(This also deleted, probably didn't work.)

To kill lice on cattle

Apply very salty grease with a small amount of coal oil.

Foot disease

Bluestone dissolved in water, apply with cloth at the end of a stick.


Remedies for Hogs:

Hog cholera

Give them tobacco in milk or slop

Give the hogs corn scorched on the cob. Plenty of it.

2 teaspoonfuls of saleratus.

Kidney worms in hogs

Rub one spoonful of spirits of turpentine across the loins or small of the back every night for three or four days.

For lice and to prevent cholera

Sprinkle a little coal oil on their necks to kill lice and it will prevent cholera.

General Information:

A thimbleful of salt put in lamp will prevent it exploding.

To kill weevil in peas or beans

When first gathered put in bottle or jar with gum camphor. 1 tablespoon to a barrel, make air tight.

Loose wagon tires

Get some linseed oil boiling hot and give the fellies all they will take.

To preserve foods


36 grains of Salicylic Acid, 1/2 oz alcohol
3 oz white sugar
1 quart soft water


1 oz. salicylic
1 gill alcohol
4 gals. soft water
I lb. salt
Put the fruit or vegetables into vessels and shake them down and cover with the above mixture.


1/2 oz. salicylic acid to 1 qt. soft water
Dip the eggs into the above, take out and let dry, then pack away.



1 oz. salicylic acid to 10 gals. milk

To measure a field:

Multiply the length in rods by the width in rods (16 feet) and divide by
160 (the number of square rods in an acre).

To measure a box of wheat:

Multiply the length, width, and depth together in inches and divide by 2150.4 (the number of cubic inches in a bushel).

Some Observations on Weather and Seasons:

*Jan. 16th, 1887--the glass stood at two degrees below summer heat in the shade and above in the sun.
*Dec. 21st, 1889--a strawberry bloomed in the garden
*January 20th, 1892-the glass stood at 14 degrees below zero.
*Sow clover seed 1st week in April


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