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story.lead_photo.caption Texarkana Museums System curator Jamie Simmons leads a class on how to produce dandelion tea, skin balm and soap Saturday, May 23, 2020, during the museum's fourth annual Heritage Fair presentation inside the P.J. Ahern Home. More classes are being planned. Staff photo by Greg Bischof

TEXARKANA, Ark. — Several residents gathered Saturday afternoon at the P.J. Ahern Home to learn about 19th-century folk remedies involving lip care, skin care, preventive health measures and more.

During the two-hour session that opened this year's Heritage Fair, the group gathered around the historic home's kitchen table to learn about how 19th-century pioneers explored more than just America's untamed frontier.

Prior to opening the class, TMS Curator Jamie Simmons told students the Ahern Home's lawn was not cut after Saturday's early morning rain because the new sproutings of dandelions would be needed.

"The 19th century pioneers used herbs, weeds and plants to make their medicines, because at that time in history, there just weren't that many drugstores around," she said. Food and medicine were often scarce.

Simmons introduced students to their first project, which involved making tea from dandelion water by soaking dandelion greens in boiling water and adding sugar to make a form of dandelion syrup for the tea.

Simmons explained the term cough syrup got its name from pioneers who would use whiskey and moonshine mixed with honey to help ease coughing.

Simmons introduced a bottle of vodka as a substitute to moonshine), which the group used to make dandelion tea.

Group members also melted bee wax to produce a skin balm, as well as melted animal fat mixed with lye and powered oats to make their own soap.

TMS will hold more Heritage Fair education sessions during the spring and summer.

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