This week we take a look back in time, with an article from Cliff Lewis, "The Flowing Well". Mr. Lewis came by the Visitor Center at Hagerman NWR recently and shared his memories about the Hagerman area, including this information which he later wrote up for the history notebook at the Center.
The Flowing Well, by Cliff Lewis
There are many stories about this place. Like other folklore, some are true, some have been enhanced over the years as they have been passed down from person to person. The following is what I have been told and what I have read about THE Flowing Well.
Most, if not all people refer to the well as “flowing wells” – probably because it is in an area where there are many wells that do, or did, flow. Thus the term “wells” came about. In several articles written about the well, the term “big well” is used, and that refers to the “flowing well”.
The origin of the “big well” is a good story. A man was digging for coal when he hit water. That was the artesian well that came to be known and The Flowing Well, northwest of Pottsboro. The well was finished out with a 10-inch pipe about four feet high; water bubbled out at least three inches above the top of the pipe. The pipe was anchored in concrete, and it was said that the well flowed about 20 gallons of water every five seconds.
Many changes were made to the well over the years. To make it easier to get water, a wooden platform was built around the pipe, and a trough placed at the bottom of the well to catch the water, so the horse drawn wagons could be pulled up to fill barrels.
My great-grandfather, C. B. Starnes came to Texas in 1879. In 1884 he bought 138 acres of land that contained the “flowing well”. Some years later, my grandfather, G. M. Lewis, had the first store at the Big Well. It was southeast of the well, near the west bank of Big Mineral Creek. In fact, it was an overflow of the creek that flooded the store and Grandpa was out of business. In 1919 Mr. T. A. Anderson built a new store there, and it did well for some time.
There are newspaper articles about the 4th of July picnics that were held at the Big Well, and weekend camping by “city folks”. There is one story about a summer snowstorm that happened on July 4th. My older brother, sister and cousins tell how they liked to go down to the well when the city folk would come out. The ladies with their pretty dresses and high heel shoes, would step upon the wooden platform around the well – the platform would be wet and slick…they saw many a good fall, pretty dresses and all!
My older brother talked about having to haul water from the well for Grandma and Grandpa Lewis and other family members. This would be an all-day job. Many families in the area also hauled way this way. It has been said that about 150 families depended on water from that first well, which was checked by the state lab and called the “purest water in the world”. Folks would come from miles around to get a drink of the cool clear spring water flowing from about 250 feet below ground. The local gentry tell about how good the water was, some even said it is “mineral” water, as are other wells in the area. My older sister would go to one of the wells near old Hagerman and get her mineral water.
Photo - Flowing Well, from Refuge files
Our thanks to Mr.Lewis and others who have shared information about the history of the area. For additional history, see the "Refuge Page" on the Friends of Hagerman website.