Good Medicine and Good Music

A Biography of Mrs. Joe Person, Patent Remedy Entrepreneur and Musician, Including the Complete Text of Her 1903 Autobiography


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About the Book

Alice Morgan Person (1840–1913) was a colorful North Carolinian. Born wealthy and married well, she fell into hardship after the Civil War but remarkably overcame it by marketing her own patent medicine and playing and sharing her arrangements of folk tunes. Presented here is her previously unpublished autobiography as well as a detailed account of her life based on new research and first-hand accounts. Her place in the histories of American patent medicine and southern folk music are discussed.

About the Author(s)

Award winner David Hursh is head music librarian and associate professor at East Carolina University’s J.Y. Joyner Library in Greenville, North Carolina. He is the author of several scholarly articles that have appeared in Music Reference Services Quarterly and North Carolina Libraries.
Chris Goertzen is an associate professor who teaches music history and world music at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg.

Bibliographic Details

David Hursh and Chris Goertzen
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 216
Bibliographic Info: 12 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3459-6
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5464-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      ix

Introduction      1

BOOK I: “The Chivalry of Man as Exemplified in the Life of Mrs. Joe Person”: Alice Morgan Person’s Story in Her Own Words, 1858–1892

Preface      7

Foreword      9


1. The Origin of Mrs. Joe Person’s Remedy      11

2. Castles in the Air      14

3. The Development of the Remedy      20

4. More Castles in the Air      22

5. The Chivalry of Man      25

6. More Chivalry      29

7. Clouds—Sunshine: “After the Alps Comes Italy”      35

8. I Go to Church      38

9. More Chivalry      40

10. Partner No. 2      47

11. Tarboro and Tarboro Ways      50

12. Partners, Adieu!      52


Flowers Plucked from the Hedges and Thorns from the Briar-Bushes      55

Poor John!      59

“Sonny”      59

Not My Daughter, Oh No!      60

What Is Happiness?      62

Big, Rich and a Strong Pillar      64

An Honest Man Is the Noblest Work of God      65

A Woman’s Opinion      66

Finale      66

BOOK II: A Life Out of the Ordinary: Alice’s Story in the Words of Others


1. Daughter and Sister      71

2. Wife and Mother      85

3. Medicine Maker and Musician      103

4. Public and Private      129


5. Snake Oil or Native American Medical Marvel?      137

6. The Remedy and the Turn-of-the-Century Patent Medicine Trade      151

7. Alice and Music in Fashion      167

8. Popular Airs, Blue Alsatian Mountains, and Nostalgia      179

Appendix: Timeline of Alice Morgan Person and Her Company      189

Chapter Notes      193

Bibliography      201

Index      205

Book Reviews & Awards

“fascinating…a thorough composite…a very worth-while book, exhaustively researched”—Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association.