Life’s Healing Elixir

Tom Poland

Posted 4/11/23

By Tom Poland
A Southern Writer

 They come from all over, as far away as Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tom Poland).


Sunday sojourn found me at Healing Springs near Blackville, South Carolina. There I stood on Gods Acre, property deeded to God. Palm Sunday it was, and processions came to be healed. Some came to slake a thirst driven by curiosity. All carried vessels. And the spring kept gushing. Nearby a young man peddled fresh produce. If only I had had some bread and Duke’s mayonnaise.

People have long made pilgrimages to this Barnwell County shrine to fill jugs, bottles, and whatever will hold water. It’s not for the taste. No, they come to take reputed healing powers back home, evidence that people put their faith in remedies beyond pills, needles, and the knife. Like most things religious, faith provides the key.

The water gushing up from Healing Springs has long been considered special. We have to go back to pre-European times when Indians considered the waters sacred. They bathed in the springs for restorative power when ailing or injured. The springs’ fame skyrocketed during the American Revolution. A historical marker chronicles the legend.

“By tradition, Healing Springs got its name during the Revolutionary War. In 1781 after a bloody battle at nearby Windy Hill Creek, four wounded Tories sent inland from Charleston by General Banastre Tarleton were left in the care of two comrades who had orders to bury them when they died. Instead, Indians found them and took them to their secret, sacred healing springs. Six months later the Charleston garrison was astonished by the reappearance of the six men. All were strong and healthy.”

Springs have long played a prominent role when it comes to our health. When modern medicine disappoints, many people turn to springs hoping to heal various ailments. Georgia residents flocked to Warm Springs and its 90-degree water in an effort to avoid Yellow Fever. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt swam in the warm water hoping it would help his paralytic illness, diagnosed as poliomyelitis later thought to be Guillain–Barré syndrome. I knew a woman who regularly made a 120-mile roundtrip to Blackville. Laden with plastic milk jugs she’d come home with the therapeutic water and swore by it.

I watched the people come and go Palm Sunday. I wish I could write that a woman in a wheelchair drank some water and rose from her chair or that a man as bald as an onion anointed his head with water and at once grew a dark, lustrous mane, but that, of course, didn’t happen.

The water surges out of the ground in three places where four-spigots make it convenient to collect. So much water flows that it runs into a small stream nearby. A young girl waded out into it much to the concern of her mother.

Folks come from all over. Some describe the springs as “a hidden gem in the middle of nowhere.” This hidden gem has ample parking and a picnic area. A sign urges people to revere God by keeping his property clean. You’ll see a beautiful cross just beyond that stream.

Blackville’s Healing Springs, known as God’s Acre Healing Springs, is indeed famous and it’s true that no one owns it. Lute Boylston deeded the springs to God in 1944. Up near the parking spaces sits a granite marker. Among its information is this: “The most precious piece of earth I have ever owned.”

Gallons gush forth every minute. Life’s healing elixir—I brought a gallon home myself as a hedge against some malady that might strike. The water tastes great. Get some jugs and hit the road.

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