Looking Back at Medicine in Attala County

Former Kosciusko resident Dr. Stanley Hartness was the guest speaker at the Attala Historical Society’s Get to Know Attala County and Attala Countians Better meeting.

At the recent meeting, he delivered a presentation titled “Tie a Bag of Asafoetida Around Your Neck and Call me in the Morning: A Lookback at Medicine in Attala County.” He also brought his collection of antique medical equipment to display, some of which are framed in artwork curated by a Mississippi artist.

The title of the presentation was inspired by the phrase doctors often say to their patients: take two aspirin and call me in the morning. Since he was talking about early medicine, he chose to use asafoetida in the title, a plant once used to prevent and treat throat and chest infections. The presentation was about who were the first doctors in the early communities of Attala County, where those communities were, and how and where doctors of the era received medical training.

Hartness related that Kosciusko was settled in 1834 by John Adam, who built a tavern at Red Bird Spring. He explained that an article in The Sun newspaper said Kosciusko’s name was originally Greenville, which later changed to Paris, before finally being changed to Kosciusko by William Dodd. The same article stated that Dr. Munson was the city’s first physician. Hartness said there were no doctors in Attala County in the second Mississippi census of 1841, “but by 1870 several doctors had hung up their shingles.”

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