Next installment of plants that affected history.
WHITE SNAKEROOT: Sorrow for the Lincoln Family
A tragic death, hardly remembered, was due to a common flower, one that covers acres of meadows in Frances Slocum in a sea of white in midsummer.
Common white snakeroot looks harmless, but its lovely flowers hide a wicked bite.
Snakeroot is poisonous and not just to eat.
In the early to mid 19th century, cows would graze on snakeroot, which turned their milk poisonous.
Called milk sickness, humans often ingested the toxin by drinking the milk of cows that had eaten snakeroot.
During the early 19th century, many thousands were killed by milk sickness.
Notably, milk sickness was the cause of death in 1818 of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, mother of Abraham Lincoln.
She died at age 34, leaving behind 9-year-old Abraham and his sister.
In a sad footnote, Abraham helped by carving the peg’s for his mother’s casket.