Co-author David Hursch signs a copy of Good Medicine and Good Music: A Biography of Mrs. Joe Person. Person was the great-grandmother of CBC legend Scottie Stephenson.
Another chapter in North Carolina and American history was recently realized with the publishing of Good Medicine and Good Music: A Biography of Mrs. Joe Person. Mrs. Person was an entrepreneur and musician who became one of the best known women in the state. Oh yes, she was the great-grandmother of Louise Scott Stephenson or “Scottie” as she preferred to be called.
Many of us knew Stephenson as the longtime corporate secretary of CBC and many considered her the “heart & soul” of the company. More on that later…
Stephenson was very proud of the many accomplishments of her great-grandmother. She donated her papers to the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She wisely produced a typescript of the handwritten manuscript of Mrs. Joe’s unpublished autobiography and gave a copy to ECU’s head music librarian, Professor David Hursh. In addition, she donated her arrangements of southern folk music.
FOX 50’s Scott Reid (3rd from right) celebrates his Aunt Scottie Stephenson along with his cousins and Dr. Henry Stubbs (left of Reid) who was a driving force to get the book published after Stephenson died.
Stephenson invited David Hursh to lunch at the Cardinal Club in 2000 and told him the story of this remarkable woman, a woman who was left with six children to raise alone during the post-Civil War South. When Person’s young daughter was stricken with illness, she was compelled to give her an old Indian “remedy” to miraculously cure her. She decided to manufacture this special medicine and sold it throughout the southeast.
A trained musician, Person loved music and collected southern folk music of all stripes. She had them placed on paper and sold music manuscripts also.
The publishing of this book fulfills the Stephenson’s quest to celebrate to legacy of her foremother and how she overcame adversity to care for her children. By all accounts, Mrs. Joe Alice Person was a special woman that we should all admire.
Perhaps this newspaper reporter after interviewing her tells it best. “There is a strange feeling when talking to Mrs. Person that she is more than two parts man. And this impression comes queerly enough at the same moment that you are thinking what a motherly woman she looks. It is clear that in a business transaction with Mrs. Person, it would be ‘man to man’ with odds in favor of the woman. It is equally patent that in a moment of distress or call for pity, the Mrs. Joe Person of ‘Remedy’ fame and drumming success would vanish instantly into the character of a very round, ordinary and wholly sympathetic old lady, with the foolishness of mother-love and tenderness her characteristic trait. After all, it was this very mixture of love of an everyday mother and the prowess and determination of a hustling young man which worked together for the establishment of a unique business, and made something more than a man out of Mrs. Joe Person.”
Stephenson approached a number of people in hope of publishing a book on what can only be described as an act of love. Much of what is said of the character of Mrs. Person lived in her. For all of us who were privileged to have known Scottie, this book fills in the blanks of the remarkable woman we knew…and how some hundred years later, the apple fell from the tree!
Thank you, Scottie!
To learn more visit: http://www.digital.lib.ecu.edu/person.aspx
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Clarence Williams for this capcom story & these capcom photos.