Someone knows how much money is made each year by today’s bottled water industry. I don’t know, but I imagine the sum is in the millions of dollars. Over a hundred years ago, Iredell County was a part of that industry.
Area mineral springs
Barium Springs is probably the best-known historical source for local bottled spring water because of its association with the Presbyterian orphanage that was located there beginning in 1891. The institution of Barium Springs is now the Barium Springs Home for Children. It is interesting to note that the Barium Springs were first known as “Poison Springs” because animals were said to have avoided the mineral-laden waters.
In an effort to increase the flow of Barium Springs’ mineral-rich water, explosives were used, with the result that the springs were reduced to a mere trickle. Once able to produce water in a volume large enough to be a profitable business, barrels of the water were loaded on trains at the Barium Springs depot. The waters of the seven springs there were touted as being a cure for just about anything that ailed you.
Although it was not touted as a healing spring, “a cool spring” east of Statesville gave its name to a fine school and community.
Another spring was Creswell Springs, located west of Mooresville, which was a popular attraction associated with health before the Civil War.
There is some evidence of a spring/spa at Mount Ulla. Better known is White Sulphur Springs in Catawba County. White Sulphur Springs was also known as “Catawba Springs” and as “Elliott Springs.”
Eupeptic Springs was popular
Today’s column is about Eupeptic Springs, which was — and still is — located in the New Hope township in Iredell’s northwestern corner. More than a century ago, Eupeptic Springs was a popular vacation site and spa where one could forget workaday cares, snooze in a hammock and, of course imbibe the health-giving pure water. The spring remains, the resort has faded.
A post office
A United States post office was established at Eupeptic Springs, which was growing into a community. There are three different dates which are claimed to be the date of the establishment of the post office, the earliest being Dec. 3, 1875. Another source states that the post office was established on Jan. 8, 1876, with Dr. John Foard as the postmaster, while yet another source says it was established in 1886, with Mr. R.J. Bryant as postmaster. The post office, whenever established, was probably located in a general store, is believed to have operated until May 15, 1905.
As was the case at Barium Springs, containers of the waters were sold and shipped on the railroad.
In 1895, The Landmark’s correspondent from Turnersburg commented on the Springs’ increasing popularity. “Eupeptic Springs,” wrote the correspondent,” is getting to be right much of a summer resort for people in bad health. Several from Clarksbury neighborhood have gone up to spend some time, hoping to be benefitted by the water.”
Cabins for rent
Eventually, there were a dozen or more cabins built, along with a hotel and a lodge on the property overlooking the spring. Genealogist Mildred J. Miller, wrote that there were 22 rentable cabins on the 60-acre property by 1877.
The Landmark reported that some 100 people spent the summer in the cabins in 1887. In 1898 the cabins could be rented for $1 per week, while board would cost $12 per week. The Springs were then under the management of Mr. W.E. Current.
Several gallons of the Iredell County water were entered in a competition at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, better known as the “St. Louis Exposition,” held from April to December of 1904. The exposition celebrated the centennial of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. The Landmark mentioned locals who attended the Exposition for this area. There, in St. Louis, the Eupeptic Springs water won a silver medal. Its chemical composition revealed concentrations of silica, lime and sulfuric acid, along with traces of soda and magnesia.
There was also an academy at the Springs. In 1898 it was under Professor W.T. Comer. In 1906 the staff consisted of Messrs. L.G. Weisner and J.W. Van Hoy.
Dr. John Frederick Foard (1827-1909) became the owner of the Springs property in 1867. It was Dr. Foard who began commercialization of the spring water, and changed the name from Powder Springs” to “Eupeptic Springs.” The word “eupeptic” comes from Greek words, meaning “good digestion.”
Mr. Wilfred Turner, who came into possession of the Springs in 1881, continued with the marketing of the Spring’s water. Many testimonials from satisfied users and from physicians were featured in a brochure printed around 1908.
According to the testimonials, the waters were particularly effective in the treatment of kidney problems, rheumatism, digestive troubles (“dyspepsia”), nerve and skin diseases and “diseases peculiar to females.”
The Springs, as a resort, seems to have fallen out of favor around the time of America’s entrance in the First World War.
Gone are the days
Today, the visitor to the Springs can see the water still bubbling out of the ground and also the remains of some of the cabins, their attractive chimneys made of local stone jutting above the trees and underbrush. One can almost picture the families that came to the salubrious setting for the season: children running about chasing fireflies, their elders conversing and drinking glasses of the curative waters under the shade trees while courting couples stroll along the paths.
Come visit the Springs
The Iredell County Historical Society will meet at the Eupeptic Springs on Sunday, Aug. 1 at 3 p.m. The public is invited to attend. There is no charge. In case of rain, the meeting will take place at Friendship Methodist Church. Please bring any photographs you may have of the spring with you to the meeting.
For more information, contact Mike Trivette at 704-775-2500. Leave a message if you can’t get Mike. If you plan to attend the meeting, bring a lawn chair.
O.C. Stonestreet is the author of “Tales From Old Iredell County,” “They Called Iredell County Home” and “Once Upon a Time … in Mooresville, NC.”