Possumhaw: Living like pioneers



Shannon Bardwell



"My name is Janet Hamill Carraway and I am a descendent of Robert Hamill. Lee Hamill is my uncle and I am so thankful he had the foresight to preserve this place. We get water from the spring often." 


Posted by Janet Carraway at deludeddiva.com (2014) 




"I would like to do something this afternoon and it involves water." I suspected this would arouse Sam's interest. 


"That spring, the one down Highway 25 South, I'd like to see if we can find it and maybe collect some spring water." 


While Sam searched the internet for directions, I searched the kitchen for containers. My container selection was small since I had minimized the kitchen as well as my closets. Also, I'm ridding myself of plastics and would need to find appropriate glass containers. I found three glass carafes and secured the tops with rubber bands. An empty mayonnaise jar and a glass beverage dispenser would hold two gallons -- sufficient for a trial run. 


From Columbus we took Highway 82 to Highway 25 South toward Louisville for about 16 miles. At Morgantown Road we turned right, then left on Hamill Hill Road, winding ourselves around until we found the spring. We would have missed the spring had there not been a family already collecting water. A more direct route would be the one we took on the way back. From Highway 25, continue past Morgantown Road to the sign for Antioch Church on the right and a historical marker for Hamill Springs, turn right. There was no road marker. Keep right about two miles to the spring on the left. 


The women collecting water must have had 30 containers. The grandmother said they had collected water for years. The children, numbering seven, only drank spring water she said. The daughter, mother of the seven, was down in the waterhole filling the containers and passing them up to the grandmother while the 4-year old child helped put them in the car where a baby was sleeping. Sam and I waited in a clearing with two wooden benches, a sign about the Hamill family, and a deep carving of a heart on a pine tree.  


Here's the scoop on the Hamill Spring. Robert Hamill, of Irish immigrant parents, bought 160 acres in 1841 and discovered the spring on the property. The spring has been pumping clear, clean water ever since. The spring was said to have supported settlers (1800-1930) during seasons of drought and supplied water for boilers at the Gus Boyd sawmill. The spring pumps 500 gallons an hour, explaining why the family filling the 30-odd containers did so quickly. It was Lee Hamill, a descendant of Robert, who installed the pipe and offered the spring water to the public for free.  


While waiting, we watched a chameleon change colors on a tree and admired the way the land fell away into deep valleys covered in hardwood and pines, all the while watching a 4-year-old fetch water. How amazing in this day and time, a modern child collected spring water. The mother quoted her sister who lived in big-city Florida: "Y'all live like pioneers," she said.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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