Last September, Clayton residents Jerry and Becky Higgins traveled to Cincinnati where the couple along with their daughter, Dr. Allison Higgins, presented a 169-year-old medical diploma to the University of Cincinnati’s Winkler Center for the History of Health Professionals.
The diploma belonged to Jerry Higgins’ great-great-grandfather, Henry Randolph Higgins. Higgins, was part of the botanical movement and studied at the Botanicio Medical College of Ohio in the early 19th century. Higgins and his colleagues are described as botanical practitioners or “steam doctors.” Steam doctors practiced diaphoretic therapy and their principal remedies were sweat-baths, lobelia and capsicum, according to University of Cincinnati spokesman Richard Puff.
Higgins, who was from Rockingham County, Va. received his diploma in 1843, returned to Virginia and set up his practice. He practiced medicine in Virginia and North Carolina until his death in 1891.