Tales of Old Nansemond: Valuable Discovery – A New Mineral Spring (1855)

A colored man by the name of Ralph Nelson, who owns a small farm on the line of the Seaboard road, a few miles beyond Suffolk, in digging a well near his house some time since, of the depth of 13 ½ feet struck upon a spout of water, which commenced filling the well very rapidly—so much so that he was compelled to make a sudden exodus to avoid drowning. The water, after filling his well, ran over the sides, and soon inundated the premises all around. He was compelled to dig a ditch to turn the water off, and it has since continued to run.

He examined and tasted the water, and found, instead of the pure fluid he had expected to get, that the water was possessed of mineral properties. Having bottled some of it, he carried it down to Dr. Robert H. Webb, of Suffolk, and Dr. Webb, thinking it worthy of test, transmitted it to Messrs. M. A. Santos & Son, of our city, who are well known as experienced chemists.

These gentlemen have analyzed the specimen, and pronounce the water to be a fine chalybeate, containing alum. Its ingredients are: alum, potassa, iron, magnesia, phosphate, lime, and azotized organic matter.

They think the water valuable, and worthy of being brought into the market.

It is a remarkable fact that Professor Rogers, of the University of Virginia, stated some time since, that the mineral waters of the mountains would find an exit in the lower country. If this discovery, and that of the Jordon’s Spring this side of Suffolk, should prove a verification of so important a geological theory, it is still more remarkable that these two springs, only 15 miles apart, should possess respectively the properties of the White Sulphur water and the Alum water as distinctly as those famous springs in the mountains of the State maintain their different characteristics. Verily Suffolk is blessed; her right hand offers us the glory of Greenbrier, and her left the healing influences of Bath! No wonder we thought highly of our neighboring town when we were last there.” – Norfolk (Va.), Argus, 1855

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