Spring Water

Several months ago-when I first started thinking about the old springs around my mountain holler-I went to see my Uncle Henry. He lives closest to the old home place where he and Pap grew up.

Pap's Sketch With Star

Pap drew me this map-showing the way things looked back then-with the house and the various outbuildings. The star shows the tree, a huge old oak, which grew beside their spring.

uncle henry at spring

This photo shows Uncle Henry looking back-looking back to a time when the landscape looked like the map. Now the view looks like this: No signs of the old home place-just a cow pasture with a paved road running beside it.

cleaning out the old spring

I started cleaning out the spring or so I thought until Uncle Henry pointed out I was cleaning out the wrong one. There are 2 really close together.

uncle henry cleaning out the spring

This is the spring they used-Uncle Henry cleaned it out for me with a little help from his dog Buster. Henry told me the story behind the wire fence-his Uncle Wayne came up with a master plan to raise hogs to sell. Wayne decided it would be easier to raise the hogs out in the country-at someone else’s house. The fence was to keep the hogs out of the spring. Henry said it never worked-the hogs kept getting out until Wayne gave up his plan. Wayne has been feeble as long as I can remember-hard for me to imagine him making big profit producing plans. Great Uncle Wayne-has never ever remembered who I was-my entire life. Every time I see him he says the same thing “now sister whats your name and whose your Daddy?” Wayne spends his days in a nursing home near Asheville now-he calls Pap almost everyday.

henry's spring

The arrow shows where the water is freely flowing from the spring after he cleaned it out. Uncle Henry remembers:

  • 2 buckets of water sat on a shelf on the porch of their house.
  • The house was a dog trot style house-the kitchen connected to the other rooms of the house by a little porch-so you had to go outside across the porch to go to the kitchen.
  • Being the youngest child-it seemed he was always being sent to the spring for something.
  • He remembered a huge old oak tree that grew by the spring.

old oak tree by spring

This is whats left of the oak tree-just a shell about head high-you can see where it was cut. After the tree died Papaw cut it for fire wood.

Pap’s memories about the spring:

  • It was a full time job to keep water at the house-filling the buckets kept on the porch in addition to the reservoir on the side of the wood cook stove.
  • There was a spring house built at the spring. It was about 3X4, had a door, and had shelves inside along the walls. The house sat directly in the water-so if any critters got in they had to go under water to get inside the spring house. Pap recalls only frogs and snakes making their way in. The butter sat on the shelf closest to the water-and the milk sat right in the cold water.
  • His Mother would take their clothes to the spring to do her washing there.

The old mill pond

Hard to imagine the house and out buildings from Pap’s map being in the cow pasture. Not long after Pap was discharged from the Marines the house was lost in a fire. The fire started during the night-they were all at home. It started in the kitchen part of the house but spread fast. They managed to get some of their items out but not everything-the house burnt to the ground along with Pap’s Marine Uniform and his medals. I’ve always figured the fire is the reason so few photos from Pap’s childhood exist.

Hope you enjoyed reading about the spring of Pap and Uncle Henry’s youth-leave me a comment about it if you did. Many of you have shared your memories of old springs-do you have any about spring houses?


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  • Reply
    November 16, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    When I read your posts certain words remind me of visiting my Grandparents in Arkansas many years ago. Feeble is one of them. I really miss those days. I only got to see them once a year since I was born and raised in California. I do remember the well porch and drawing water. It was so cold and good. Never could get use to the outhouse though. They had 20 acres next to my Aunts 20 acres and I had such a good time cutting through the fields and going into the woods. I never saw a snake or thought about them. I was a city girl and they probably knew it.
    Those are some precious memories.

  • Reply
    April 22, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    What is it that draws us so strongly back to our anecester’s days? I have the sweetest memories of my childhood. I have always loved the stories my mother told of her childhood. Loved the drawings of where the old home place was.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 21, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Tipper, it is very generous of you to share your family and family history with us. I just love hearing you as you reconstruct the world for us. Makes me wish I could sit and talk to my grandmother or mother again.

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    April 21, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    This is one of your most interesting posts. Yes, I remember the spring at Granddaddy Ledford’s house. The water was ice cold, crystal clear and no pollution. I’ve never since my childhood tasted any better water. Your post is great.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2009 at 3:32 am

    I’m enjoying the stories, Tipper. I wish my mother-in-law were still alive so I could ask her about the spring house they had in Kentucky where she grew up. I remember it being mentioned. My husband has vague memories of it from when the family drove there from Texas to visit family when he was a child. He said they also stored some of their perishables in a cave near their house.

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    April 20, 2009 at 11:58 pm

    What a magnificent story!! Finding that spring must have been like finding a buried treasure! What a riot about your Great Uncle Wayne, “sister what’s your name and who’s your daddy!” That’s a great line!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    April 20, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    In a world so confused, it is comforting to have these beautiful essays and stories you give us.
    I believe there is no other site as special, as soothing, as eagerly visited as is The Blind Pig and The Acorn.
    I don’t want to detract from your very special story here, but I do want, one day, to tell you about a return I made a few years ago to an old home site of ours. Your story reminded me of the surge of feelings that come when such places are found again.
    God Bless you and your world.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    I enjoyed that story. I have never known anyone to have a spring house. Very interesting.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I am enjoying the way you are telling the family history through this precious commodity. It’s just great.

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    April 20, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    It’s really interesting reading this. The map is so cool! We have some springs down in the woods below our house. Haven’t been to them since I was a kid, though.

  • Reply
    noble pig
    April 20, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Love the map and the stories. It’s so great you continue to learn about the past while you live in the present.

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    April 20, 2009 at 1:09 pm

    Tipper: Neat stories from a time gone by of the spring. The house I grew up in also was lost to fire and it is an empty field.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2009 at 11:46 am

    As I said before, we never were fortunate enough to have a spring on our land and we had to drill for our water. I think there might be a spring under our neighbor’s house, they have to have s sump pump under their house, that might be what keeps our side yard so wet all the time.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Tipper, another great family history. Thank you so much for sharing all of this.
    I giggled over the whole Uncle Wayne and the pig thing. Having raised pigs a time or two I can so understand about the enterprise not working so well. Nothing keeps a determined pig in or out! Definitely easier to “raise” pigs at somebody else’s place for sure! Well maybe not for the person who’s place it is! There are a lot of “Uncle Waynes” in the world don’t you suppose? I think Jesus told us there always would be and they are ours to care for, whether they are related or not. It is nice your father talks to his Uncle Wayne nearly every day.
    Tipper, have a great day!

  • Reply
    April 20, 2009 at 9:45 am

    I really have enjoyed reading about the spring.
    What a wonderful blessing to have your family close by and to hear their stories.
    I’m new to your blog, but I love to visit here!

  • Reply
    April 20, 2009 at 9:35 am

    Great post. I’d never heard of a Dog trot house. I’ve heard of Shotgun stle homes. I think of them as the antithesis of Feng Shui. From what I little I understand about Feng Shui I don’t think your front door and backdoor should be in alignment. Although now that I look at my house I think I could shoot a shotgun out the back door from the front door and my Shui is just fine…….
    Really enjoying the Spring stories.

  • Reply
    April 20, 2009 at 6:12 am

    There aren’t many photos of my m-in-law as a child, their cabin burnt out when their father was away working at a lumber camp. In northern Michigan a lot of the settlers worked in the lumber camps in the winter and farmed in the summer.
    I think a lot of places burnt out back then, especially remote ones.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    Brings back tons of memories. Thanks for sharing yours and those of your family. Pappy

  • Reply
    April 19, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    I really enjoyed this post. My house is over 100 years old with a large spring/cave system next to it. There is still the limestone foundation remaining from the original spring house.
    I also love dog trot style houses. We still have a few remaining in our county.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    Well Tipper I told you about our spring, and yes we did have a spring house, thats where Mom kept the milk and butter (we had a milk cow)and anything else that had to be kept cold. I was always scared to go in the springhouse, afraid of snakes. But I still had to go.

  • Reply
    April 19, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    These stories remind me of my dad’s life growing up in the Ozark mountains. I actually don’t know where they got their water, but it was not from a faucet. I’ll have to ask.
    You play the bass?

  • Reply
    April 19, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    Great story, and I bet it was fun finding those two springs! I feel like they’re so rare and unheard of these days. Of course they’re still there, same as always. I love how now that I listened to that video from your last post that I now ‘hear’ you reading your post to me in my head instead of my own voice. I hope you do try the yogurt – I bet your girls will love it, and it’s such a money saver!

  • Reply
    April 19, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    I love hearing the stories of days gone by. Thanks for sharing them.
    There is an old spring house near where my Grandma’s house is, I have a picture of it somewhere. I’ll try to find it if you would like to see it. But I don’t know the story behind it. If my Dad were still here, I’ll bet he could tell me something about it. And you can bet I’ll be back to tap my toes to the beat of your bass playing!

  • Reply
    April 19, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    It’s so wonderful that you live where your family history is, that you have someone to tell you about it and that you are recording it.

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