Section 9

Berwick
Its People and Institutions as I knew them about Sixty Years ago.

D. O. PARKER.

Wednesday, April 28, 1897


DR. VANBUREN.

John VanBuren, honored name;
He from New Jersey early came,
A doctor of the healing art;
A man of large and generous heart;
And ere he left his native shore,
Was deeply versed in classic lore.

By night and day at suffering’s call,
He listened to the prayers of all;
The aching teeth he charmed with steel,
The bleeding wounds he made to heal,
The broken bones he put in place,
And soothed the ague of the face.

And skilful in the "practice" then,
Approved by all the wisest men,
He drew the blood from flowing veins,
Assured it was the source of pains;
Gave calomel in doses large,
To kill or cure or make no charge.

The fever patient, burning hot,
And wasting on his weary cot
Loud begging, "water or I die!"
He guarded with a watchful eye,
For fear perchance he’d steal a sip,
And kill, not cool his burning lip.

Black Peggie was the steed astride,
The doctor rode with kingly pride.
With saddle bags of squills and pills: -
His antidotes for human ills,
And surgeon’s scalpel or his knife,
With which to save some lingering life.

Upon his knee in childhood’s hours,
I’ve sat beneath yon willow bowers;
And while his cherished pipe he smokes,
Have reveled in his tales and jokes;
And piped the whistles which he made,
In bliss the years can never shade.

From him I learned to love and reverence age;
He was so kind, that patriarchal sage;
Loved and adored by all the regions round;
A child with children, with the learned profound.
When full of years and run his measured sand,
He slept with kindred in his native land.

NOTES: - Dr. VanBuren came to Nova Scotia in early life and for several years practiced his profession in the western part of the province, but like many others of that period indulged too freely in intoxicating drinks. He came to live with my father when I was a child and was one of our family for seventeen years. Soon after coming to Cornwallis he experienced religion, united with the Baptist church and lived a very temperate, devoted and exemplary Christian life. He was an accomplished classical scholar and in all controverted questions was our family oracle and no one for a moment questioned his infallibility. There was no other doctor nearer than Kentville. His office and bedroom were in the chamber where he kept a large stock of drugs; and this was known to the whole surrounding county. The doors of the house were never locked and people came at all hours of the night to his chamber without disturbing the family. When he was very feeble from age, a wealthy brother, who was a clergyman, providentially learned of his whereabouts and invited him to his home in Tennessee, U.S., in the bosom of which home he was bountifully and tenderly cared for till his death. His influence in Berwick was pure and elevating and he took with him the best wishes of all.


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