In early 1863, S.P. Wright, of Del Norte County, introduced a bill in the legislature that would make it a criminal offense for
“any person to practice medicine who cannot produce a diploma, or some other evidence that he or she is a graduate of some medical college. In case any person should die while under the treatment of persons so offending, the person attending shall be indicted by the Grand Jury and tried for manslaughter. Spiritual doctors, steam doctors and cold water doctors had better take in their shingles.”
So, of course I looked up “steam doctor” and a rug shampooer came up… naw, that’s not it.
Google books gave me this excerpt froma journal of Mississippi history:
“…you will be a steam doctor, widely known. You will throw away your poisons and become a great and notable advocate of the botanic system.”
And that was all I found. Sounds like the first holistic practitioners to me… but apparently they didn’t do so well.
Early laws are great clues to the problems folks faced in the early years of any community. It was isolated up here, and apparently there were few folks with formal training. I’m sure things are better now (but next time you’re at the doc’s, you might want to make sure there’s a diploma on the wall…)