Did David’s Father Find Water?

My life in appalachia the creek is full

So many of you asked if David Templeton’s father found water when he blew up the well on New Year’s Eve-that David sent me the answer. (If you missed the explosion-go here)


Tipper, thank you for featuring my story on New Years Memories among your articles last week.

As you will recall, my story was about my Daddy’s attempt to dig a well by our house, his disappointments along the way and finally his response to that frustration. Several readers asked whether or not he ever did find good water.

Actually, he did find good water but we had to move on up the river valley to find it. At the house we left, there was no practical way to get through the bedrock on that hillside above the Holston River, even if he could have afforded someone to drill a well for us, which he couldn’t. His divining fork dowsing had found water on that hillside in our front yard but it was not an aquifer, just the underground runoff down the inner slope of the mountainside.

We moved away to an old farmstead that had the most wonderful water in a good spring with a springhouse built over it. Mom even had a hand pump right at her kitchen sink, as city water was several years away yet. I suspect only a few of your readers remember kitchen sinks that had a hand pump for “running water” but it sure beat having to carry water and getting my britchie legs soaked from the splashing out.

And, we never had to want for water again and Dad and Mom made us a good, happy home, beholding to nobody else’s whims, mendicants no more.



So it turns out there was a happy water ending to the story-even if it didn’t come from the well David’s father blew up. That’s how it goes-sometimes the best things in life come from events that didn’t turnout the way we intended them too.


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  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    January 12, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    When I was a baby and our family moved to the farm, we had no running water in the house. We had a good well though. My brothers pumped by hand all the water used in the house. They and my father rigged up an outside shower for them and they said the water that came out of that well was freezing. My sister and I were so little that Mother bathed us with water she heated on the stove. We were lucky! As soon as possible, Daddy built a new house with running water. We never had a pump in the kitchen, that I remember.

  • Reply
    January 10, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    I really enjoyed reading the blog post, “December 31, 2014
    Memories of New Years”.
    by David Templeton

  • Reply
    January 9, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    The only plumbing the farmhouse had when we moved in was a small red pump at the kitchen sink which we used for E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. I remember having to draw up galvanized buckets at it to heat on the stove so we could wash dishes, and we took baths in a larger galvanized tub in the middle of the kitchen, two kids at a time.
    We had a shack out back for the first year. Other than the odor, it wasn’t half bad in summer, but in winter, with the snow we got in NW PA, often above our heads back then, it was BRUTAL. Dad would shovel a long, high, narrow path to the shack for us to travel down when we needed to use the facilities. The seat was frigid, and we girls complained about that, so Dad wired an old toaster to stay down, took it out to the shack, and ran an orange electric line in to the utility room. You’d plug it in a few minutes before you were going to head out, and by the time you got there, it was “almost” bearable.
    If you can live through stuff like that, you can live through most anything.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    January 9, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    It’s good to know that David and
    his family got water even if they
    had to go on up the creek.
    When I was younger and living at
    home, and my parents were still
    alive, we had gravity water from a spring above the house. At night in the wintertime, after the wood cookstove was out, the
    running water would splatter
    and ice would be thick around
    the sink the next morning. But
    mama was a tough woman, and soon
    as she got a fire roaring for
    breakfast, the ice was all malted. I watched her take a
    caseknife and chop through it
    so it would melt faster. Our
    water ran all the time…Ken

  • Reply
    January 9, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    The first house I remember living in with my mama and daddy was called Side Pocket. A tiny house stuck on a mountainside in Tennessee. It had a living room, a bedroom and a kitchen built onto the back porch. We had a pump in the kitchen and the outhouse was up the holler. This was on my grandpa’s property. I can remember when my granny’s pump was still on the back porch. Her chickens ran loose in the yard and I let mine do that now.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    January 9, 2015 at 9:23 am

    I am so glad that David’s family found water. When one stumbling block stands in the way, and you can’t climb over it, go around it, or dig through it…or in this instance, blow it up…A new door opens eventually!
    Yes, I remember the pump by my Grandmothers large kitchen sink. I always thought that was the coolest thing, literally, the water that was pumped into those old timey thick barrel shaped glasses would freeze your lips when we drank it! After my grandfather died, my aunt put in a new smaller kitchen between the sitting room and old kitchen. She left the large cast iron stove, the sink with the pump, the long farm table, a couple of cabinets, Hoosier types in the big farm kitchen! I would slip and go back in there and take a peek every time we would visit. It was always the biggest kitchen I ever remember, even today!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Our water didn’t freeze yesterday, but the relay points on the holding tank pump, got a piece of grit in it and we just knew our water was froze…Our “well guy”, just charged us 85 bucks to “flick the grit” so to speak. He says that happens ever so often, bad switch, etc. or in this instance an earthquake…WHAT! He says, underground tremors that you can’t even feel sometimes knock off small pebbles, grit that fall and agitate the water, then a piece is carried up and feeds on 85 dollar service calls…LOL
    That’s his tale I sit on mine!
    I love my water, no matter, and it’s purer, cheaper and tastes better than any old city water!

  • Reply
    Lisa Snuggs
    January 9, 2015 at 9:15 am

    I bought an old farmhouse in Middle Tennessee in 1998. Nothing had been done to it since installing plumbing in the ’40s, and it was an as-is purchase. After a year or two in the house, on a day when I was washing lots of clothes, I noticed a soggy area in the side yard. It persisted and was especially soggy anytime I used an abundance of water. Long story short, the old man who grew up in the house let it slip that the septic tank was nothing more than the old root cellar. I could write a book about the five years that old house and I nursed each other.

  • Reply
    January 9, 2015 at 9:15 am

    That was a good story of ole. I remember my aunt and uncle had one of those pumps at their kitchen sink when I was a little girl. It was in Northern NJ; they had a chicken farm, but at that time, they also had other farm animals. My mom used to tell us the story of when the bull chased her up a tree when she was out gathering milk for her sister.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    January 9, 2015 at 8:28 am

    David: Your story brought back memories of Daddy’s well digging days when he was refusing to go on WELFARE to provide for his eleven children!
    I reckon the worse experience was the day Daddy was over come while blasting with dynamite. The folks yelling down into the well moved fast, when Daddy failed to answer back with his usual brave response. One strong fellow went down, pulled him out and laid him on the ground. When he finally came to, they brought him home and told Mama. She said “No MORE DIGGING WELLS” and he quit!
    I don’t know if I will ever get past that detail in my early childhood. If you can find a copy of “The Matheson Cove: In the Shadow of the Devil’s Post Office” you can read and believe our history of living in the Cove. It won the NCSociety Of Historians’ Award back in 2008. But I cried more than I wrote! That’crying’is a weakness and hold over from my childhood!
    Kindly, Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    Oak Ridge, TN

  • Reply
    Louise Grenell
    January 9, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Thanks for sharing the ending to the story. I kept wondering what they did for water. The new home place reminds me of my grandma’s house.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 9, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Truer words were never spoken, Tipper. I have found a lot of wonderful things in life on a side trail from my intended destination!

  • Reply
    January 9, 2015 at 7:32 am

    After several attempts at digging a well , my dad decided to convert one hole into a cistern. He plastered the sides and wasn’t satisfied with the slow drying of the plaster. He built a fire in the bottom which soon died out from lack of oxygen. He decided some gas would boost the fire and increase the drying time. He poured about three gallons in before the ignition in the bottom. This led to an explosion of all the vapors all the way to the top. I had to climb on top of the house to get his and a neighbor’s hats.

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