Berry-Millard Family

Happiness is the family……..

Marie Berry Cross

Text Box: Marie Berry Cross “Herbalist”
(excerpt taken from the book- “Hands Across Michigan –Tradition Bearers” - by Alan R. Kamuda)
When Marie was growing up, a trip to the drugstore was a walk through the fields behind her grandparents’ home near Mecosta.
“My granny would gather us together and say, ‘We’re going to go get our winter medicine,’”.
Before the Civil War, her grandmother, 18 year old Lucy Millard, fled her parents’ home in Palmyra, Missouri to sear for the man she loved — Isaac Berry, a slave who had fled to Canada.  They were reunited in Ontario and married.
Isaac helped build Mecosta County.  He gave two acres of his farm for the first school in the area, and Granny Lucy was the first teacher.
“I’ve doctored all my family with herbs,” said Cross, “and my favorite one is the dandelion.  My grandmother would roast the roots, grind them and make coffee.  She would use the leaves for greens in salads and soups and as spring tonic and gallbladder tea.  Also, you can make white wine from the blossoms or dip them in batter and fry them, then roll them in sugar for a delicious treat.  Even as kids, we would take them steam and make little curls out of them and hang them over our ears as earrings.
Text Box: Marie gathers cuttings from an everlasting plant.  They will be tucked into a pillowcases to help bring on sleep.  Her grandmother taught her to see fields as medicine cabinets.  Her family lived mostly off the land: hunting, fishing, and gathering.  Her grandmother taught her how to use things others call weeds.  
Text Box: Marie holds mullein plant.  It is eaten to soothe coughs; it is also used as a balm.  Some of the medicinal teas Cross’ grandmother taught her to brew are from alfalfa leaves, for pain in joints and to help digestion; watermelon seeds, as a diuretic and to relieve kidney and bladder problems; comfrey leaves, to soothe the stomach; chickweed, to induce sweating and help dieters; elderberry blossoms to reduce fever.
Text Box: Cross holds red lichen used in potpourri.
Text Box: Marie hugs her great-granddaughter, Jessica Smith, then 3 in 1992.  Jessica is learning the same lessons Marie learned from her grandmother, who was born before the Civil War.