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The Legend of Healing Springs Keeps Pilgrims Coming Back for More...Water

There’s a humble little piece of land in Blackville South Carolina. For generations, local families and travelers from across the country have been making the trek here to Healing Springs.

Historical records that date back to 1770, as well as Barnwell County locals, state that this land was once owned by the Edistos, Native Americans who revered the springs as sacred, and its waters a source of health and healing.

During the American Revolution, four British soldiers were gravely injured in battle in nearby Windy Creek. Under orders of General Banastre Tarleton of Charleston, the wounded men were left in the care of two other soldiers who were charged with burying the battle-ravaged men after they were expected to succumb to their injuries. But legend holds that the soldiers were told of the springs by the Edistos, and after drinking the water and using it to clean their wounds, all four injured men recovered, and returned to their Charleston garrison six months later, much to the astonishment of their fellow soldiers. 

And so began the quest for health and healing by many who heard the story. The land itself has changed hands several times since the American Revolution. But on July 1st, 1944, a man named L.P. “Lute” Boylston legally deeded Healing Springs to God, permanently freeing the property from being taxed, also compelling the government to be responsible for its upkeep, and water quality.

In order to better harness the flow of the artesian springs that naturally gush upward to the ground’s surface, several standpipes have been inserted into the springs, making it easier to fill the bottles and jugs that are brought by all who visit, and want to bring some of the legendary water back home with them.

James Davis of Denmark, South Carolina says he’s been coming to Healing Springs since his grandparents brought him when he was a small child. Now an adult, James says he’s been filling up jugs of the free-flowing water for at least the last 20 years. I asked James, what about this water keeps bringing him back. He said, “Well, it’s really good-tasting water. As far as I know, I’m healthy. That’s all I can say. I’m healthy. Every time I go to the doctor, I get a good bill of health, so, I guess it’s got to be the water. There’s got to be something in the water, because I’ve been drinking it for years.”

Peachie Banks lives about 10 miles from the springs in Denmark. It wasn’t until she met her husband had Peachie heard the stories of Healing Springs. For the last 8 years, the couple has been packing their vehicle with scores of empty jugs and making the trip to fill up at the springs. Peachie says she and her husband make the trek to Healing Springs several times a month. For her, the springs have given her great comfort in the face of a variety of ailments. Peachie not only drinks the water from the springs, but bathes with it as well, and credits the water to giving her relief. Peachie’s fandom of Healing Springs has spread throughout her family. Now, even her brother comes to the springs on the regular to get his fill.

Geoffrey Bernard comes down from Rock Hill. He was attracted to Healing Springs because he’s heard there are natural healing properties from spring water, and has been making the trip he says for about 9 years. I asked Geoffrey if he believes the health benefits he says he experiences are due to the quality of the water itself, or like other pilgrims to the springs, that the health benefits are perhaps of a more spiritual origin. Geoffrey says he thinks there’s really no disconnect between spiritual and the physical, saying that the water is a good example of that, calling the water “remarkable.”

For directions to Healing Springs, SC, follow the link: https://www.google.com/maps/place/God's+Acre+Healing+Springs/@33.3931952,-81.2750534,17z/data=!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x88f91bf345c44871:0x45d81a4fc951d6!2sSprings+Ct,+South+Carolina+29817!3b1!8m2!3d33.3931907!4d-81.2728647!3m4!1s0x0:0xb6eafe12b160e3e6!8m2!3d33.3919252!4d-81.2734933

Linda Núñez is a South Carolina native, born in Beaufort, then moved to Columbia. She began her broadcasting career as a journalism student at the University of South Carolina. She has worked at a number of radio stations along the East Coast, but is now happy to call South Carolina Public Radio "home." Linda has a passion for South Carolina history, literature, music, nature, and cooking. For that reason, she enjoys taking day trips across the state to learn more about our state’s culture and its people.