HENDERSON, KY., Aug. 1, 1912

What three years ago was said to be a well threatening the health of the city, polluted with death dealing bacilli and teeming with impurities, and which caused a split in the city council and the annulling of the ordinance providing for city health board, in addition to bitterness that was almost a feud, is now transformed in the opinion of at least three fourths of Henderson’s population into a “Ponce ‘de Leon’s fount of eternal youth.”
What three years ago was said by leading physicians to be only a seep hole, wherein flowed the sewage seep from the city, filed with the germs of many maladies, is today the most popular place in all the city and its waters, said to be a panacea of many of the ills flesh is heir to, is being sought and used by thousands of people, not only those residing in the city of Henderson, but in the country hereabouts.

This well is in what is now known as Barret Park, originally a weed-grown hillside on the river front, now a pretty rest park, over-looking the Ohio, but until a few years ago just a waste of weeds, hidden behind a growth of high willows that fringed the river bank. It was from the early days just a dumping place for tin cans and rubbish. Five or six years ago the city took an interest in the little sloping sward. It was cleaned up, the grass cut, the trees growing on the slope trimmed up and the fringe of willows felled to give a view of the river. It was then called Sunset Park. At that time there was a little spring bubbling just as nature made it, from the ground not far from the water’s edge. When the river was at a low stage this water could be dipped up and used. After the sward was made a park, people began to drink the water. However, none at that time, save one or two people, dreamed that the stream was one of splendid medicinal qualities–that it was a panacea for many diseases.

People only drank it to quench thirst as they did any other water. However, there was one man who, by experience found that it was not alone good, cool, refreshing water, but that it made him feel good, that it was a healing draught, that it was a remedy for many ills, and he used it constantly. He was Thomas Galloway. For years he was known as a man of wonderful physique, robust health and a fine specimen of manhood. He had few ills and a doctors aid professionally was rarely invoked by him or his family. He went on using the water from that spring, but he did not care to convert others. Some he told of his own confidence in the water but they laughed at him. Then he ceased trying to tell people it was a medicinal water. He was a well man, though among those who knew Mr. Galloway believed implicitly in the virtue of the water was Dr. W. S. Galloway, a relative of Thomas Galloway. Even Dr. Galloway gave it little attention. However, he was not skeptical. He remembered how his aged kinsman felt about the water and three years ago Dr. Galloway was a member of the Henderson city council. He held that position when the city opened up Barret Park and he was reminded of the good water that flowed from the spring near the river’s edge. He at once hit upon the idea to sink a well higher up the bank, above high water mark and make it a place for park visitors to quench their thirst. He succeeded in getting an appropriation for the purpose. The well was sunk down about 80 feet. A pump was installed and the people enjoyed the water for a time.

It was not long before people began to realize great benefit from its use. One told another of the good it had accomplished until it became the general talk of the town and vicinity. People realized from the first quaff that it was a pleasant water to drink, and when it became generally believed that it was a mineral stream that supplied it, people began to flock there to get it.

Then it was that the life of the well, be it, good or bad, began to suffer its ups and downs. There were skeptics who began to hoot at the idea that a mineral well would flow from the river bank. These hooters at last had their influence. The Board of Health, provided for by ordinance, was made up of doctors and others. The doctor contingent whose duty it was to look to the health of the community, got interested. If it was a mineral spring it should be looked after; if not it might be dangerous.

Germs in it?

They said they found it alive with death-dealing germs instead of the health-giving panacea it had been pronounced to be by people who had been drinking it. They told the people they would soon all die with typhoid. They said it teemed with colon baccilla and all that, and then they did a thing that brought down the anathemas of a great many people upon their heads — they did what caused the city council to split asunder and to finally abolish the board, of health for the purpose of ousting the board that had defied the people and taken away from them what they believed to be natures cure for ills and maladies — they removed the pump and closed the well.

The well, however, had a few friends in the council. Among them was Dr. W. S. Galloway. He told the board of health he believed in the virtues of the pure waters from the well. He sought to get the board of health to rescind the action and replace the pump. They were obstinate and so was Dr. Galloway. The fight continued for months in council, and for nearly a year the people who loved the water and wanted its health-giving drafts, continued to pound away to remove the ban placed upon it by the doctors in the health board.

Try to Shut It Up.

At last, by the hard work of Dr. Galloway and a few friends, the health board was shut out and a motion went through the council to reopen the well. Then it was that it became noised about that the use of the water was a cure for the drink habit—-that it was a substitute for beer and whisky and that drinkers did not need the stronger stimulant when they drank it. It was then that the brewing interests joined the doctors. But finally the people and Dr. Galloway won out. The well was re-opened and the old pump replaced. Hundreds of people who believed they were being cured of disease and kept free of it began to flock there. The fame of the well began to spread until now it is used almost exclusively in every home in Henderson. Now it is found in many of the homes of the countryside and it has a friend in every man, woman and child who drinks it.

This water has been analyzed. It is found to be a chalybeate of the best class. It is alkaline and full of curative properties, instead of being full of bacilli. It has truly worked some wonderful cures, whether by its real virtue or by the psychological effect, it differs little.

It is estimated that 1,500 gallons are used in Henderson daily. It is a sight to see the people flock there with jugs, buckets, bottles and all manner of receptacles to carry it away, a sight to watch the people scramble about it to get a quaff from its overflowing spigots. People from far and near gather there on Sundays and evenings to drink the water and enjoy the river view, the cool breeze from the water and rest. Saturday last, a new air-pressure pump, with spigots for white and colored, was installed and the people are congratulating themselves they have won the long fight.
Whether it is true or not, one is told on every hand that there is great healing virtue in the water. So confident are the people that this is true that it is sure to inviegle one in heated argument if he dares to dispute the claim.

Physicians of the city who are taking an interest in the water say that there must be some virtue in it. While they will not readily admit that it has extra curative qualities, they now acquiesce so far as to agree that it is not impure.
However, they justify their change of opinion by pointing out the fact that the well was sunk more than 100 feet deeper after the health board condemned the water.

The stream now flows from a strata of white sand and physicians even admit that there is little chance for im-purities. There is considerable talk here of making Henderson a watering place for this entire section. A big hotel just overlooking Barret Park, on a site that gives a beautiful view of the river is being discussed.

Wise ones are saying little about the project, but it is understood that some monied men are seriously considering the project. It has been suggested that the site for the hotel would be what is known as the Burbank property, just up the river a little from the park, and near what is known as the Burbank salt well. This is one of the best salt pools in this section of the country. Men who know say it is almost too salty to use for baths, and that fresh water should be added. It is pointed out that a miniature French Lick is here and that it can be made a far greater health resort than even the famous Indiana resort.

Evansville Journal August 1, 1912

City Clerk Notes in reference to the well