Jane Hilton must have been quite a woman.
Hilton lived in Brown Swamp, a rural community a few miles northwest of Conway, during the Civil War.
Charles Mack Todd wrote a book about some of the people who lived at Brown Swamp, and Hilton’s name comes up countless times.
Before the Civil War, Hilton lost her first husband, Dock Brill. Around the time the Civil War broke out, she married John Brewton, who soon enlisted in the Confederate Army and left.
Todd recounts in his book that the newly married Hilton had an affair with a mulatto Negro handyman who worked for her and they had a son named John.
Her second husband died as a result of serving in the army and she was widowed for the second time.
“She married a third time about the end of the war,” Todd wrote. “But she was a fine woman, and despite being accused of bearing a child for a Negro, she was loved and respected by the whole community. She was a leader in the community, home, school and church societies. She was an experienced midwife and in many ways substituted for a doctor, expertly administering home remedies.”
Because she was so popular, her son grew up, joined the church, courted and married a beautiful blonde woman, and over the course of their lives they raised 10 children, all without the customary ostracism usually associated with this era connected, have been accepted into the company.
Hilton was an accomplished midwife and “home remedies” expert who served as a sort of root doctor.
According to Todd, doctors were not readily available.
“To get a doctor, one had to mount a horse and gallop a dozen miles or more to the doctor’s office,” he wrote. “…But the doctors of that time were great men with big hearts and a love for people that is second to none.”
Hilton gave birth to many babies in Brown Swamp and the surrounding communities.
Todd wrote that Hilton used the rotten pine sap, crushed into a fine powder like snuff and wrapped in a thin cloth, to dust the baby’s umbilical cord, drying it and allowing it to heal faster. The same concoction was used to cure diaper rash.