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The Paintings of Carl Rakeman

1820 - Doctor and Circuit Rider

Image: A doctor and circuit rider on horseback approach a cabin where a distraught woman waits.

According to the fourth U.S. Census, the population in1820 numbered more than 9.6 million. Most of this number lived an agricultural existence, often far from civilization. When medical help was needed, it was usually hours or days before a neighbor could summon the overworked country doctor. Regardless of the weather, the physician would harness his horse and chaise and struggle over poor trails.

This painting shows a physician accompanied by a circuit rider, often known as "the prophet of the long road." Francis Asbury was one such man. While the physician tended to the sick, the circuit rider gave spiritual solace to families in distress. The progress of both the doctor and circuit rider was slowed by bad roads and stream crossings.

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The Paintings of Carl Rakeman