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‘Biting the bullet’ local minuteman shows off 1700s medical instruments

Stow Minuteman Robert Stokes. (JOANNA REAGAN PHOTO)
Stow Minuteman Robert Stokes. (JOANNA REAGAN PHOTO)
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In keeping with its 124-year objective of education, the Prudence Wright Chapter National Society Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored a program entitled “18th Century Medicine” presented by Stow Minuteman Robert Stokes.

The public program was held at the local DAR headquarters on Pepperell Town Common, which formerly was the 1831 District 1 Schoolhouse, and was enthusiastically received by all present, both members and guests.

Stokes outlined the differences in training and skills of apothecaries, surgeons, and physicians in the 1700s. He showed the many tools and instruments used by medical practitioners, including knives, saws, tooth pullers, bloodletters and leeches.

Of interest was the lead bullet which patients would bite in lieu of anesthesia, hence the phrase, “Bite the bullet.”

After the program, the DAR held its business meeting, which focused on service to veterans, followed by refreshments and socializing.

The Prudence Wright Chapter NSDAR is a nonpolitical, volunteer women’s service organization located in Pepperell, organized on Oct. 19, 1898 by Mary Lucinda Parker Shattuck. There are 36 active members from 17 towns and seven states. DAR members come from a variety of backgrounds and interests, but all share a common bond of having an ancestor who helped contribute to securing the independence of the U.S.

For official membership, any woman 18 years or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, who can prove lineal descent from a patriot of the American Revolution is eligible to join. Meetings are open to the public. “Friends of Prudence Wright” membership is open to everyone, including those whose ancestors arrived after the War of Independence.

The Chapter shares in the National Society’s mission to ensure historic preservation, education, and patriotism. Massachusetts Society has 40 chapters and over 2400 members. Prudence Wright meetings are on the third Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m., and all are welcome.

For more information or to be added to future emails showcasing future events email PrudenceWrightChapter.DAR@gmail.com.

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