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A History of the Springs and Surrounding Area

by Raymond P. Boylston, Jr.


The story of the springs, from the first time it burst the ground’s surface thousands of years ago to the present. Prehistoric descriptions of the land, animals and the springs are provided to give the reader a picture of how the springs were formed. One of the first settlers in the area, Nathaniel Walker, learned about the springs from the Indians and purchased the springs. He was also the founder of what would become the Healing Springs Baptist Church. Over the next 300 years those living around the springs were involved in the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, the cotton economy, slavery, the railroad, the Civil War, Reconstruction, World War I and World War II. Each of these events had an impact on the people living around the springs and in Blackville. In 1944, Lute Boylston, cousin of the author and owner of Healing Springs, deeded the springs to the “Almighty God” for the use of all people forever. Carloads of people have been coming to the springs with the plastic bottles, believing in the water's healing power.

286 pages. 2005. ISBN 0-87844-175-1, Softcover $9.95

Healing Springs


From the Foreword:

Healing Springs existed long before the first humans arrived in North America. When the springs began to flow, the land along present-day South Edisto River was quite different from what it is now. The ocean had receded for the last time leaving the landscape high and dry. Tall grass covered rolling hills and waved in the gentle breezes. Animals of all types and description, many extinct today, wandered the countryside. The skies were filled with birds of every kind flying in large flocks in all directions.
     The spring water first began to flow more than a million years ago, after the Appalachian Mountains were thrust upward. Over time, mountain water accumulated, flowing under a solid layer of rock toward the ocean, increasing in pressure. A violent earthquake along present day South Edisto River likely cracked the underground rock layer, releasing the pressurized water to the surface. It did not take long for birds and animals to find the new clear, cool springs. Traveling from all directions, they created paths to the springs. Centuries later, these paths would become trails followed by the Indians. These same trails led immigrating Europeans to the springs, where they began putting down roots, building trading posts, log cabins, and barns.

    As more and more Europeans arrived and settled on farms, the native Americans grew concerned. Their hunting grounds were being taken away and they began dying by the thousands from white man's diseases. Finally they began to fight back, but it was too late. There were too many white people and the Indians were too weak. Over the centuries, they became involved in the white man's wars, fighting not only white men but other Indian tribes.
     Eventually, the early European settlers, mostly English, became colonists and sought their freedom from Mother England. The Patriots and the Tories fought near the springs, where wounded redcoats were healed by drinking and bathing in the spring water. There were many skirmishes between local citizens around the time of the Revolution, especially in the South Carolina Backcountry, resulting in the first civil war in America. Once the Patriots won their freedom, they began to build their country.
     South Carolina was a land of farmers, and farms surrounded the healing springs. As the population increased, there was more social contact and a need for churches. One of the first churches along the South Edisto River was Edisto Church, which later became Healing Springs Baptist Church. From that point forward, the church would be the focal point of community life. These were the years between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Farms had developed from a mere means of survival to a way of making profit. About the time life along the   South Edisto began to improve, all hell broke loose. South Carolina seceded from the Union and the Civil War began. Many local citizens fought for the Confederacy, some losing their lives. Near the end of the conflict, the war arrived at Healing Springs. Sherman's bummers, marching from Blackville toward Columbia, marched by Healing Springs and filled their canteens with the cool water. Maybe because of the soothing effect of the water, the Federals were not so destructive around the springs as in neighboring Blackville and Barnwell. Although they took all the animals and food for miles around, they did not burn the farmhouses and barns. Once the Yankees left, everyone began rebuilding their lives. However, it would be another three months before the war ended and the survivors returned home. Slowly, year by year, things improved. By 1900, life was almost back to normal-although it would take another seventy years for the South to equal, then surpass, the North economically. 

  In 1944 the owner of Healing Springs, Lute Boylston, deeded the springs to Almighty God for the use of all people for all time-as it should be! The springs have flowed steadily, except for a brief period during the drought of 2002. Some local citizens believe the increased use of farm irrigation wells in the area has reduced the Healing Springs water flow. Throughout thousands of years years animals and humans of all sizes and distinctions have drunk from the springs. This book tells the story of the springs and its inhabitants.          Raymond P. Boylston
About the Author:

Raymond Powell Boylston, Jr., is a South Carolina native, born January 28, 1930, in Aiken. Most of his early life was spent with his grandparents, Samuel and Olive Boylston of Springfield, South Carolina. Ray Boylston descended from the Boylstons and Reeds who settled in the Healing Springs area, along the South Edisto River just north of Blackville and drank from the cool springs.

In 1995, Boylston and his brother Sam, of Columbia, South Carolina, wrote the "Boylston Family History," which was the source of much information for this book. Ray Boylston is also the author of Butler's Brigade published in 2001, which describes the Confederate Cavalry Brigade in which his great-great uncles from Healing Springs served during the Civil War. He published in 2004 Edisto Rebels at Charleston, a book about two other great-great-uncles from Healing Springs who served in the Confederate Artillery on James Island near Charleston and in North Charleston.

Boylston graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1951, then served in the Army Chemical Corps during the Korean War. He was employed by the DuPont Company for twenty-two years in South Carolina, Delaware, and North Carolina. In 1973 he became Director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for North Carolina. Leaving OSHA in 1977, he served about two years as Safety Director for the American Textile Manufacturer's Institute. Thereafter, until his retirement in 1994, he served as vice president and president of ELB and Associates, Inc., of Chapel Hill, a safety and health consulting firm. During that period, he was an instructor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Boylston served on the Aiken County Historical Commission and authored a booklet on "The Battle of Aiken." An inscription by him about the battle is engraved on the battle monument in Aiken. He served as president of the American Society of Safety Engineers and is a fellow in that organization. Boylston is a member of the North Carolina Writers Network and the Raleigh Civil War Roundtable. He lives with his wife Bobbie in Raleigh, North Carolina. They have three children, seven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.


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