Our Story

A Legacy of Herbalists

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Lineage of Legacy Still Lives 
Tribute to Dr. James Still

    As the great-great grandniece of Dr. James Still, the mission of NTRU Divine Essences is deeply rooted in family legacy and ancestral healing. My family's history is so remarkable. In my generation, I feel so lucky to have a plethora of literature and documentation detailing the inspiring stories that brought me here to existence. I am grateful to bring honor my lineage with NTRU’s mission of spreading the natural healing miracles of nature and herbalism. As a child I grew up listening to many stories from my Grandmother Grace Still (Chatman) about my incredibly inspiring ancestors like Dr. James Still; born in 1812 Indian Mills, NJ to parents Charity and Levin Still. Charity and Levin settled in the Pine Barrens area of New Jersey after escaping twice from the dark grip of slavery plantations along Maryland’s eastern shore. In 1798 Levin Steel (later changed to Still) bought his freedom from William Woodland. With Charity (originally named Sidney) on a plantation nearby, Levin stayed in the area until about 1805. With planning and assistance from abolitionists he made it safely to Greenwich, NJ. Soon after, Charity took her first attempt at escaping with four children but was captured and returned. On her second attempt she had to leave behind her two sons Levin Jr. and Peter. It would be 40 plus years until Peter reunited in Philadelphia with his brother William Still through the Underground Railroad. Charity and James reunited in Greenwich NJ and settled further north.  


 

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Born into a time of segregation and poverty, James only received about three months of formal education. He worked under indentured servitude until the age of 18 where he studied herbs and botany learning everything he could about plants with healing properties from Native Americans of the area. At the end of each harvest time he also received a month of schooling as part of his pay. James did everything he could to save up for botany books as well as being tutored in math by his older brother Samuel. James truly believed in his ability to cure the sick and decided to open an African remedy business in Burlington County. With much hard work and frugality he continued to work and study throughout his jobs. He built a one-room shack in the woods where he would work on his herbal concoctions and spread relief to the poor sick or hurting citizens of the area. In time he would renovate this into a beautiful home for his growing family. James continued to travel by horse and buggy curing many throughout the rural area.  Being held back by racial and financial status, James was unable to attend medical college   yet he became an incredibly successful self-taught doctor. In 1877 he self-published the memoir "Early Recollections and Life of Dr. James Still 1812 -1885'",  which detailed the wrenching struggle for existence his parents endured upon their arrival in Indian Mills. Historically he is known as “Dr. James Still Black Doctor of the Pines”, though he also became one of the richest men and largest property owner in Burlington County.

Sources:

Khan, Lurey. William Still and the Underground Railroad: Fugitive Slaves and Family Ties. IUniverse Inc, 2010.

 

https://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/2015/09/14/james-still-education-center-medford-black-doctor-pines/72071200/ 

https://www.nj.com/burlington/2016/02/the_hidden_endangered_history_of_the_black_doctor.html