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A Wonderful Spring!

Thompson’s Bromine Arsenic Water Springs in Ashe County, N.C.

[This was an advertisement published in 1887 for what became known as Healing Springs, Crumpler, Ashe County, North Carolina].

Officers of the Company

George W. Palmer, Saltville, Va.; President
Chas. F. Palmer, Saltville, Va., Treasurer
William H. Wiley, Saltville, Va., Secretary
Lewis W. Burwell, Saltville, Va., General Manager

Nature’s Remedy

Thompson’s Bromine-Arsenic Springs Water is offered to the public as a gift of nature for the alleviation and cure of many of the ills to which the human family is subject. Wherever it is known it has the unqualified approval of physicians in the treatment of impurities in the blood. Its constituents.

Bromine and Arsenic commented it to the most favorable consideration of sufferers from Eczema, Srofula, Cancerous Affections, Primary and Secondary Syphillis, Ulcers, Tumors, Boils, Erysipelas, and Diseases of the Lungs, Kidneys, Womb and Bladder, and builds and repairs these organs and wasted tissues of the system. Through its action in purifying the blood it imparts health to the skin and gives clearness to the complexion.

Its analysis by Dr. H. Froehling (whose reputation as a chemist is second to no one in this country) is a sure guarantee of its correctness, and any educated physician will testify to the value of the ingredients which are so happily blended in this water. It is the only combination of the kind ever discovered in this or any other country, and is destined to become the most extensively used natural mineral water in the world.

It is put up in cases of one dozen half-gallon bottles each, and sold at $6.00.

Address all orders to
Lewis W. Burwell
General Manager, Saltville, Va.

Nature’s Remedy

It is estimated that many thousands of dollars are spent daily for (so-called) mineral waters, which contain but faint traces of curative component parts, many possessing not even a trace of healing virtue. Such folly will not longer be excusable, since the discovery of this appropriately styled, “Pool of Siloam.” For it is a well established fact that in drinking this water, each glass assists in rapidly purifying the blood, yea the whole human system. When a house is on fire no one hesitates to put it out if possible. Now, if your system needs a panacea, why procrastinate?

Order a case of the water and note the inevitable results. We have hundreds of testimonials from prominent persons in many States, but lack room to publish them. I have been interviewed by numbers of the most prominent physicians of our largest cities, who are amazed at the happy results of this water in such a large variety of Blood, Lung, Liver, Kidney and Stomach Troubles.

Our Summer Resorts

The Hotel will accommodate 75 guests, and will be kept by the Company. Open from May 1st to November 1st, 1888.

The Springs are situated 39 miles from Seven Mile Ford, Va., a station on the Norfolk and Western Railroad, 35 miles east of Bristol, Tenn. Hacks will leave the station for the Springs on Mondays and Thursdays of each week, after the arrival of the morning trains.

A Laundry in connection with Hotel. Price of board, $2 per day; $12 per week, and for four or more weeks, $10 per week.

Address: W. H. Wiley, Sec’y., Crumpler’s, N.C.

Thompson’s Bromine-Arsenic Springs – Ashe County, N.C.

These Springs were discovered in July, 1885. This water, by its merit alone, has become very popular, being pleasant and natural to the taste. It is almost free from organic matter. It has performed many cures, and some of them truly wonderful–some of which I will name: Erysipelas, Skin Eruptions, Eczema, Scrofula, Female Complaints, Nephritic Affections, Scald Head, General Debility, Nervousness, Nervous Headache, Throat Disease, Rheumatism, Sore Eyes, Loss of Appetite, Indigestion, Bright’s Disease, Dropsy, Inflammation in the Neck of Bladder, Brick Dust Deposits in Urine, Torpid Liver, Pain in Loins and Kidneys, Diabetes, Sick Headache from Nausea–it is a specific; Sores and Ulcers–some of long standing; Gravel, one Cancer for which I have the physicians certificate (J. R. Straw, M.D.), and many other cures not necessary to mention here.

The Springs are thirty-nine miles distant from Marion, Va., and thirty-five miles distant from Seven Mile Ford, the nearest point on a railroad. The water is sold in cases of twelve half-gallon bottles, free on board cars. It cannot be shipped in barrels.

We will append a few certificates. The water only needs a fair trial to convince the most skeptical. It is unreasonable to expect one bottle of water to cure any disease, except it is sore eyes or any simple sore. The water is a blood purifier, and must be drank freely; at the same time bathe the affected parts often by applying coths wet with the water a little warm. For sick headache one glass generally stops the vomiting. I have yet to learn of one single instance of the water being vomited, although the patient may have been vomiting and nauseated for weeks.

For Catarrh use douche and drink freely.

For sickly or weakly adults or children, use the water freely, and you’ll have health and strength in a short time.

It is one of the best tonics known.

Thompson’s Bromine-Arsenic Springs Co., – Saltville, Va.,

The Discovery

I certify that myself and son discovered the Bromine-Arsenic Springs accidentally in July, 1885. What first attracted my attention to it was the remarkable rapidity with which it healed my hands and my son’s hands, which were full of sores. Others then tried it on different affections with the same effects. Thinking there was much good in the water, I commenced drinking it freely. I was in bad health–very weak and low in flesh–suffering with my breast and stomach. In one month I was well, hearty and strong. I had twin daughters, grown–both of them had consumption; one of them died a short time before the discovery of the Springs; the other one we put to using the water, and now she is well and strong, and looks as well as ever; her cheeks are rosy. This attracted the attention of many others, and now there are hundreds who can attest to the merits of this wonderful water. My house is in one-half mile of said spring, where I will be glad to answer any questions in regard to said spring. Anyone can write to me at Crumpler, Ashe county, N.C.

Eli Barker

Little Willie Barker’s Wonderful Discovery

Willie’s version of it in his own words: “Father sent me to look along the branch to find a spring. I went across the road and got in the branch and walked down it, stooping along under the bushes and grape vines until I felt cold water under my feet. I then commenced looking for and soon found the cold water running down the rock. I scratched around until I found a place large enough to get a cup of water for father. He sent me back for more water, and said it was the best he had ever drunk. My hand and arm were very sore; the next morning it was most well. We went back next day and father worked in the spring with his hands, and the next day his hands were nearly well, and my hand and arm were well. Then everybody got to using the water, and it has cured a power of folks. Sometimes three hundred come here in one day.”

Extract from a Letter Published in the “Industrial South,”August, 1886

But it is of the “Bromine-Arsenic Springs,” I sat down to write. The occasional newspaper accoutns we have seen of wonderful cures effected by these waters have not been exaggerated. I saw enough to convince me, and heard of much more. I met there a Mr. Culver, of Mitchell county, N.C., whose house I had often passed, eight miles from Cranberry, but never had met him before. He came to the Springs–or rather to a farm house near by-two months ago, with a malignant cancer on his left cheek, of ten years growth, that was rapidly eating toward his eye and dooming him to speedy death. His age is over sixty years. The cancer has healed over and disappeared, scarcely leaving a scar, except a spot as large as a silver half-dime, which is skinned over and painless, but shows raised edges still, that are daily going down. I rubbed my fingers over it and felt it like the other cheek. Two months ago it was a malignant ulcer, larger than a half-dollar. I met a cultivated lady there, whose name and residence I will not publish. Her husband, a Professor in a prominent Southern Female College, a married daughter and child, and another fifteen-year-old daughter, were at the Springs. The Professor told me that within recent years surgeons had removed first one and then the other of his wife’s breasts down to the chest walls. The mammary glands were entirely cut away on account of cancerous tumors. The wounds healed, but last spring the skin tightened over the chest–looked angry and inflamed–and severe lancinating pains kept the sufferer awake at night. The cancer was still at its deadly work. A few weeks ago he brought her and their daughters and a grand- child there, traveling more than 100 miles over mountains in a carriage. In two weeks, by keeping warm wet cloths to her chest, and drinking as much of the water as possible, every symptom has disappeared. This lady was my vis-a-vis at table, and I had much pleasant conversation with her. A more cheerful person I never met. Of course I did not talk to her about her case, but often with her husband, the Professor, and he told me they would soon go home confident in her cure.

I also met the wife of a well-known Virginia judge there. She boards in a farm-house a mile away, and walks to the Spring every afternoon. I don’t know what ailed her, but she told me she came there in a wretched condition, and was so much improved by a month’s use of the water that she believed that by September 1st she “would return home a well woman, a thing she had never expected when she came there.” I could fill pages with other cures; one of the most remarkable of which I was invited to investigate by going a few miles out of my way to see the lady. One more case I will mention. A child in Ashe had defied medical skill. Its disease was internal, and baffled one of the leading physicians of the county. At last he ordered it to be given as much of this water as possible. The first day it brought on vomiting, and lo! a tape worm was thrown up, itself barely alive. The water had nearly killed the worm. The child at once was relieved and is well, and the M.D. has the tape worm preserved in a bottle of alcohol.

The analysis of the water, is, in the language of one of the most eminent medical men in the entire South, “unique,” and contains in it bromides and chlorides of potash and sodium and arseniate of sodium, the most powerful alternatives known in the treatment of blood poisons.

So far as I can learn the water has never failed to cure, or greatly benefit, cases of cancer, old sores, scrofula, and all skin diseases or blood poisoning. Its effects upon the kidneys are immediate and remarkable. During Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I must have drank three gallons or more of the water with startling diuretic and appetizing effects.

This letter is no advertisement, but a simple statement of what I saw, and heard and did. I believe if the worst dyspeptic and most dilapidated man or woman in Richmond would come out to Marion, or Glade Spring or Abingdon, and do as I did, mount a horse and rough it across these mountains to Ashe county and drink this bromine, iodine, arsenic and lithia water, for it is all this, a fortnight or month, he or she will go back with a new lease of life. It is for such poor unfortunates, and not for Captain Thompson or the good, plain, honest farmer folk around him, I write.

[Editorial from Virginia Medical Monthly, January, 1887.]

Bromine-Arsenic Springs Water

It is seldom we allow ourselves to become enthusiasts over mineral waters newly sprung upon the market, but in the instance of the Bromine-Arsenic Springs Water such wonderful statements as to its remedial qualities have been made by parties capable of deliberate judgment, and such apparently wonderful results have come under our personal observation, that our commendation of it does not stand simply as an “editorial puff,” but it becomes an editorial duty to call special attention to its beneficial therapeutic effects in a large and a commonly met-with class of cases in general practice. We are of opinion that the advertisement statements as to the therapeutic value of this water (pages 14 and 15 before reading matter) do not over-estimate its rightful claims to careful professional attention and prescription. While for certain forms of nervous dyspepsia, due to too active mental pre-occupation, etc., and as a tonic sedative in cases of insomnia and like forms of neurasthenia, resulting from too great brain and general nervous activity and excitability, we scarcely think the advertisement is strongly enough worded to make that impression its merit justifies.

The fact of the late discovery of the medicinal values–tonic, alterative, sedative, etc.,–of this water is easily accounted for. The spring is thirty or more miles from any present railway, and is more or less remote from any of the main lines of public travel. It is in a mountainous section of country, and, until 1885 (when a small hotel was established nearby), it was perhaps a mile or so from even a mountain farm house. The water does not gush out boldly from the hill-side so as to attract the special attention of the passer-by, but rather oozes in trickling streams from the surface of the hill, and drains down a few feet, but in no distinct brook, into the streamlet a few yards off. Thus the water was not easily procurable until a basin was blasted in the rock, in which, by suitable drains, to collect it; and even now the supply is so limited as not to satisfy the rapidly growing demand.

Some two years ago, a farmer’s son, who had some skin eruptions on his hand or arm, incidentally, while passing by, washed his sores with some of the water, and they rapidly healed. The fact attracted the attention of the farmer’s family, who used the water with like good effect on some of their friends, and soon the curative qualities of this water became neighborhood talk. This attracted the attention of some scientists, who had an analysis made of the water, what the result recorded on advertising page 14. Now that its properties are becoming more and more widely known to the professional men of North Carolina and Virginia, the water is being used by all who can secure supplies. And while much is already known of its value, many of its virtues are yet to be studied, with a hopeful prospect of more valuable information.

Another Pool of Siloam

Thompson’s Bromine-Arsenic Spring in Ashe County, N.C., Creating a Sensation
[J. W. Hays in New York World, October 10, 1887]

Elizabeth[ton], Tenn.–I have recently visited the “poison spring,” discovered by little Willie Barker, in the mountains of North Carolina. The story of its discovery has frequently been told in the local papers how little Willie cleared leaves from a drain in the rocks to get water for his father working the corn near by, and next morning found that the “poison oak sores” on his arm had healed wherever the water had touched. “Go back,” said the old man, “and wash all over!” And next morning the eruption was gone.

It is called a “poison spring” either because of its effect on this eruption or from the arsenic it contains.

After the lad’s experience with its healing properties was made known the mountain population flocked to it from miles around. On a Sunday it seemed a second Pool of Siloam, with so many scrofulous, cancerous and ulcerated people reclining along the banks–fat old women, bandy-legged men and artless mountain maidens dangling their shanks in the healing water. Horses and cattle were brought, and on these occasions there might sometimes by counted a hundred sore-back nags and galled steers waiting their turn.

It is wonderful how rapidly the curative properties act. In forty-eight hours, sometimes less, an angry sore is healed. In one instance a cancer was drawn out by the roots. The Sunday gatherings at the spring soon became a nuisance for the county. The mountain men brought “moonshine” and with drinking came fighting and cutting. It was in vain that the better- disposed tried to make it a religious gathering, the prayers at the spring were interrupted and services often ended in a free fight.

When an invalid from Saltville, Va., a Captain Thompson, moved up to the spring and camped near in a tent, he found this state of things insupportable, and bought the property in self-defense. It was enclosed and entrance gained only by special permission. Then came trouble. The mountain men declared that no one man should own that spring, and if Captain Thompson didn’t move out they would move in. A crowd of bullies armed and went down to execute the threat. The Captain heard of their approach, loaded his rifle and took a stand by the spring. “The first man who enters that gate” said he, when they came near–“the first man who enters that gate will be shot dead.”

They had mistaken their man. From that day he was unmolested.

“I was scared half to death.” said the Captain, “but I didn’t let them find it out.”

The water oozes up into a slight cavity blasted in the rock, and is caught and bottled as fast as it trickles out. The demand for it is very great, a large portion being used at the spring. To the taste the water is pure and very cold, its mineral property is not perceptible, but its effects are unusual and remarkable, as, indeed, is the analysis, for besides the “bromine and arsenic,” which give the water its name, it contains lithium, iodine, potash and a phosphate. It is a dead shot to dyspepsia and rheumatism.


We caution the public against newly sprung (but Old Springs) Bromine- Arsenic Waters, claiming same analysis, or similar! The are the same price (!), it is true. Secure the genuine, by asking for Thompson’s and see that my name is on the label.

Lewis W. Burwell
General Manager

[There are 12 pages of testimonials, which have been omitted from this version].

Thompson’s Bromine-Arsenic Spring Water

The composition of this Water is given on this page, see below. We ask the profession to examine it and say whether or not they know of any spring’s or well’s water that suggests so many important uses in medicine.

It is especially valuable in–
Cutaneous and Glandular Diseases
Such as Chronic Eczema, etc., and even what appeared to be
Malignant Ulcers and Sores
Have been cured by its free use.
It is distinctly and powerfully
Alterative and Tonic
As attested by many cases of cures for Gout, Chronic Rheumatism, General Debility, Etc.
No Water can show better results in Dyspepsia, in most of its forms; Chronic dysentery, and Diarrhea, as well as Torpid and Debilitated Conditions of the Bowels Generally; also Liver Complaints and Kidney Diseases, etc., etc.

For Nervous Prostration of Brain Workers, Business Men, etc., and for women broken down in general health, etc., it is particularly valuable. No water acts better in relieving cases of nervous insomnia, nervous excitability or irritability, nervous depression.

For Diseases Peculiar to Females–Such as Ovarian Irritation and Dysmenorrhoea, Amenorrhoea, menorrhoea, leucorrhoea of various forms, pudendal itching, etc.,


Total solids left on evaporation at 212 F, 5.45856 grains, consisting of:

Solid Amount
Sodium Carbonate 1.035722
Calcium .93133
Magnesium .62166
Lithium .02565
Copper trace
Zinc trace
Calcium Florida Trace
Potassium Sulphate .61933
Potassium Chloride .20644
Sodium .64866
Sodium Arsentiate .00641
Sodium Iodine .00599
Sodium Bromide .03615
Sodium Borate trace
Aluminum Phosphate .11838
Ferrous Sulphate .08047
Silica 1.07596
Organic Matter .03032

Henry Froehling