INDIANS USED MINERAL SPRINGS.
[Springs Became Known as “Geuda Springs.”]
From Margaret Russell Stallard book, Remembering Geuda Springs...
Prior to July 29, 1871: Location known as “Remanto.” Since then it has popularly been called Salt City. This name was given to the town because of the fact that it was located near numerous salt springs, which are now proving a source of great profit.
The pioneers of all that section drew upon the brine of these springs for their supply of salt, which they obtained by boiling or evaporation.
Visits by Indians to Geuda Springs.
Page 50, Stallard Book.
“Long before the settlement of Kansas by the white man and while the Indian and the buffalo were the only occupants of the prairies along the southern border of the state, the medicinal virtues of these waters were known to the Osages and Poncas in whose territory they were located, and from the information that was transmitted to other tribes, who came in large companies from long distances to drink at the springs and be healed. In the Ponca tongue they were called Ge-u-da-ne, the first three syllables meaning healing, and the fourth and last meaning waters.
“At that time and in fact for many years after the first white settlers arrived, the different springs were not separated, but flowed in one common stream into a large circular pool, or as one of the ‘oldest’ describes it, mud hole, and while of course, in those primitive days no analysis had ever been made of the waters they were known to cure rheumatism and stomach trouble, both of which ailments of civilization were known to the aborigines. Exposure and dampness brought rheumatism and over-feeding, indigestion to the Indian of that period as surely as they do to his pale-face brother of the present, and the water was used for both drinking and bathing. The Osages, Sac and Fox, Kiowas, Comanches, Cheyennes, Arapahos, Cherokees, and Poncas were frequent visitors, each tribe having a different name in their own language for the springs, but all meaning the same thing, ‘healing’ or ‘curing.’
“The first whites to see these springs were a party of buffalo hunters who in March 1867 came upon a band of nearly five hundred Osage Indians camped near them and using the water in many ways, apparently for medicinal purposes. These hunters tried the waters themselves and discovered they had a different taste from most water and not altogether pleasant, and no further investigations were made at that time, although the location of the springs and their use by the Indians were reported by the party in many towns in the eastern part of the state. (This tradition has been accepted by most historians.)
“Being so far from the nearest settlements, they were, however, neglected, perhaps forgotten until in 1870, when W. J. Walpole, a civil engineer, finding several salt-beds and springs in addition to the mineral springs on the quarter section, filed upon the land and in July, 1872, proved up on it as a pre-emption. The Indians continued to camp at the springs to use the waters and get salt, but interpreters being scarce, little attention was paid and the land was sold several times and finally bought by Messrs. Hackney and McDonald, attorneys of Winfield, they paying $500.00 for them.
“Mr. McDonald, having been cured of a serious skin disease by the use of the water, was responsible for the purchase. Other patients having been treated beneficially, A. A. Newman and C. R. Mitchell, being convinced of its value, purchased the springs, paying $4,000 for them. Mr. Mitchell is still a resident of the town. The original town site was laid out and platted in 1872, half a mile south of the present town and was named Remanto after Earnest Reiman, who platted it.
“A short time after a company was formed to manufacture salt from the numerous springs just north of the lake in which a number of men were interested, among them Goff, Marshall, Taylor, and Mitchell, under the name of Goff & Company, Timothy McIntire being the manager. Wells were sunk and the solar process used, and one hundred and ten vats built, giving an output of twenty barrels per day of the article which was sold to the settlers and used by them for their stock. There being, however, a demand for table salt, McIntire procreated a coffee-mill; and with this primitive appliance, the crystals were ground to a fineness that made it suitable for table use. The new industry was considered of sufficient importance to rechristen the town, and accordingly it was replatted and called Salt City. Settlers attracted by the curative properties of the water, kept purchasing land and settling to the north of the original town, which had by this time three or four stores and a hotel, until in 1880 (1882) the land south of the lake was platted and the town named Geuda Springs.
“The first building on the new town was erected by an Indian woman of the Sac & Fox tribe and now forms a part of the Central Avenue house. Central Avenue running north and south is the dividing line between Sumner and Cowley counties, though all of the business portion of the place is located on the west side of the street and is consequently in Sumner County. Besides this, the portion on the west side is incorporated: has a mayor and city council, with good sidewalks, and other improvements, while that on the east is merely village.
“The Frisco, now known as the Kansas Southwestern, was built through the town in 1886, and located its depot at the site of the original town, one block west and half a mile south of the center of the business portion of the new Geuda. As a result, the street running north from the depot is built up with residences for nearly the entire distance and the school house is located on ‘the Hill’ about midway between the two. The mayor of Geuda Springs at the present time is W. C. Smith and the following are members of the city council: J. M. Nester, M. H. Nelson, H. C. Seanor, U. S. Bricker, Albert Arnold, C. C. Woodside, clerk, and J. H. Smith, treasurer. The business buildings that were originally put up in the old town (Salt City) near the depot, have all been moved up to the new business street or to other towns until now there are no stores in that locality, and the building originally used as a hotel is now occupied as a residence.
“The first bath house was built immediately after the purchase by Hackney and McDonald, a two-story frame building, which was later removed and is now used for the bottling works, and a fine new spring house built, two stories in height, with a basement of stone. The latter has a cement floor and here the springs are located, seven in number, all coming from the ground within a space of 20 x 30 feet and all entirely different and distinct, as their chemical analysis shows. In addition to the seven springs there is a salt spring only about sixty feet from the others and a short distance from this two new springs have recently been discovered, one sulphur and one iron.
Margaret Russell Stallard, Remembering Geuda Springs, Pages 23-25.
Stallard commented: “This story was given to me by several people. Like so many stories written about the early days, no date is mentioned.”
31 May 1883 - THE SUMNER COUNTY PRESS.
Among the wonders of Kansas, and I might add of the west, are the mineral springs of Geuda Springs—wonderful from the fact that in a place less than twenty feet square, there are no less than seven distinct waters. The difference in each spring being plainly perceptible to the taste. These waters have long had the reputation locally of possessing curative properties of a remarkable quality, and great is the faith of those who have tested them. I find here men and women from many different states, some of whom have visited the famous Arkansas Springs, who do not hesitate to pronounce Geuda superior in every respect.
While yet in a natural state, when the waters come seething up through a mess of mud, and before Cowley County had any settled white population, this was a camping place for various tribes of Indians. It being considered by all neutral grounds, as it was the home of the superior spirit. The waters found here were considered by these people relief from all diseases. Even now when farms and villages dot the land, when this fair and beautiful valley has changed owners, bands of Indians come back to these springs, bring their influential sick, and beneath the hill overlooking Salt Lake, near the fountain, sometimes may be seen the curious ceremonies of conjuring away, with the aid of Geuda Waters, the devil that racks the body of the sick man.
It was the good fortune of the TIMES representative to be present at one of these weird seances last night, and witness the entire ceremony. Late in the evening some thirty of these copper-colored friends appeared on the banks of the salt marsh and went into camp. As they grouped around their small fires, silent, yet restless, they presented a somewhat awe-inspiring spectacle. On the shore of the Salt Lake two tepees were erected, some distance apart. Toward these the eyes of the dusky groups seemed to focus.
A number of visitors from the village of Geuda had gathered on the bluff watching them, among whom might have been seen many patients, the unusual sight drawing all out. The Indians remained about their fires, stolid and motionless, apparently awaiting some important event. For more than two hours the villagers thronged the south bank of Salt Lake, when wearying of the monotony, they returned to hotels, cottages, and homes. The TIMES correspondent, however, was determined to see the finale of what he believed to be something more important than a mere camp; so, in company with two other gentlemen, he crossed the deep dark waters of the lake and was soon within camp.
Shortly a stir was noticeable and from one of the tepees appeared four men bearing a drawn up and apparently suffering person between them, carefully depositing the invalid, for such we afterward learned him to be, and they then returned to the fragile tent. A loud noise in the other tepee preceded a rush of eight fantastically dressed Indians, whom we soon discovered were either the wise men or doctors. They divided into two parties and commenced an apparently fierce struggle over the invalid, disputing for possession.
After a protracted effort which had proceeded with but little noise on the part of the actors, one party gained the victory and immediately they took the sick man down to the springs, where they silently seated themselves beside him. The defeated side seemed to accept the situation, and going to the water’s edge, filled cups and gourds with the medicinal agent, returned and dashed it over the sick man. Again and again was this repeated until he was completely drenched and presented a woeful appearance. Then they forced him to drink, drink, drink, until it seemed as though he could not contain another drop.
These doctors then united and formed a circle about the sick man, giving an incantation scene that might profitably be copied by Black Crook. They first moved with slow regular steps, swaying their bodies now to the right, then to the left and rear. Faster and faster they moved, wildly gesticulating, accompanying their grotesque motions with a monotonous song composed of monosyllables.
Wilder and more bewildering became their actions until even the famed endurance of the Indian was overtaxed and the sweat poured from them in streams, one finally falling apparently insensible. Gradually they moved slower and their voices sank in faint and husky whispers. One of the surrounding groups then arose and handed a vessel of the Geuda water to the leader, who sprinkled some upon the performers and poured more upon the invalid.
A perfect quiet now followed, nothing being heard except the occasional neighing of the hobbled ponies nearby. A red hot stone was brought from one of the fires and laid beside the sick man and a blanket spread over both. Over this stone was poured the Geuda water, while the invalid, covered from head to foot, was compelled to endure the steam. Three times the stone was changed and three times was the spring water turned into steam.
The leader, after making a few passes over the covered man, drew off the blanket, while the others poured showers of the cold spring water over him, while the witnesses bowed their heads to the ground, apparently in great expectation of something to follow. Five times was this, to me a now monotonous scene, repeated, not a single portion of the ceremonies being omitted. Being determined to see the end, I patiently waited and watched. It was my surprise, near 4 o’clock in the morning, to see the man arise to his feet and walk down to the spring and drink freely. Then it seemed as though pandemonium had broken loose, and the entire party surrounded the late patient, wildly dancing and howling, until it seemed as though a tribe of devils had broken loose. Half an hour was this kept up, when the tepees were struck and the party prepared to move.
After speaking to several of them, I found one who talked English fairly and from him I learned that the sick man was one of their chiefs who had long been afflicted, and who knowing of old of the curative properties of these waters, concluded to visit them and have the devil who had been racking his body with pain exorcized. In former years they had often come here, but they seldom visited the “Grand Waters” now. The chief obtained the relief he so confidently expected and now was ready to return to the territory.
Slowly they fell into line, and sitting silently there where had been such a weird scene extending through long hours, and watching them until they disappeared in the early morning light over the hills to the south, I then wearily sought my room, feeling amply repaid for the sleepless night just passed.
Such was the faith of these wild people in Geuda Springs. Seeing the many sick and afflicted people gathered here from the various western states, I began to believe that the faith extends to the conquering race. Having witnessed what I believe to be a wonderful cure, and seeing the many who claim a like result, I am inclined to adopt this faith and say with the hundreds here, “Great are Geuda Springs and Kansas shall rejoice!” These waters are certainly wonderful in the effects upon those who are afflicted, and give a remarkable healthful appearance to those who have suffered for years.
FROM THE NEWSPAPERS & STALLARD.
Real Estate Transfers.
Winfield Courier, February 28, 1878.
R. L. Walker to David J. Bright, sw 6, 34, 3, 160 acres, $585.
Winfield Courier, March 7, 1878.
David Bright and wife to Hackney & McDonald, sw. 6, 34, 3; 159½ acres, $290.
Margaret Russell Stallard, Remembering Geuda Springs, page 13.
11 May 1876 - W. J. Walpole, by H. O. Meigs, attorney in fact, sold mortgage to David J. Bright of Cowley County, Kansas. Consideration: $516.37.
(Beulah Peters Brewer said in her family sketch that David Bright bought the land the springs were on in Geuda and the Indians would not stay off it so he sold it.)
In 1878 there was a Sheriff’s Sale and David J. Bright was the highest bidder. (He had not paid the full amount. This was a common practice.) David J. Bright sold to W. P. Hackney and J. Wade McDonald for $290.00. Mr. Hackney and Mr. McDonald were the first to start improvements on the springs.
C. M. Scott met Whistler...
Arkansas City Traveler, August 14, 1878.
[Article by C. M. Scott, Traveler Editor.]
About three miles west of the Sac Agency, we saw the brick house of Keokuk, the grandson of the old chief by that name, and for whom one of the largest towns of Iowa was called. The Sac and Fox Agency buildings are substantially built of red brick, with shrubbery and trees surrounding them. At this place we met our friend, Gen. McNeil, and were introduced to Agent Woodard and sons, whom we found pleasant, agreeable gentlemen.
As we stopped to leave our wagon at a store, we were informed that the house was that of Mister Whistler’s. That name excited our curiosity at once. We had heard of Whistler, and Whistler’s ranch so long and often that we wanted to see him. Instead of the half breed we heard he was, we found him a white man, possessed of that easy grace common to ranchmen, and attired in civilized clothing. His style and stature suited our fancy of a border man, although his ways and dress were far from what we expected. We should not have imagined there was a drop of Indian blood in his veins if he had not informed us. He told us his ranch was on the Cimarron, and on our return we “took it in.”
Arkansas City Traveler, June 28, 1882.
John Whistler, of Sac & Fox Agency, is stopping at Geuda Springs for the benefit of his eyes.
Arkansas City Traveler, July 26, 1882.
John Whistler, a wealthy merchant at the Sac & Fox Agency, has bought the Geuda House and is moving it to the next lot. He will build a large hotel on the three lots adjoining Dr. Cutler’s drug store, making a front of seventy-five feet. Press.
Whistler soon departed to take care of his cattle interests in Indian Territory.
Arkansas City Traveler, September 14, 1881.
Geuda Springs. The Geuda mineral springs, which are just coming into prominent notoriety, are situated in the southwestern part of Cowley County, near Salt City. They were known by the Osage and other Indians, and used by them as a medicine before any white people had settled there, and their traditions are that big medicines, or in common parlance, their pow-wows, were held there every third moon far back in the dim past. They take their name from the Indian word Ge-u-da, which means healing. There are seven of the springs, all very near together, and each of them appear to have a different taste.
They were not known by white people as mineral springs until about 1870, when by accident, they were tried by Robert Mills, who was cured of scrofula and rheumatism. There being but few settlers in that section at the time, no particular attention was called to it for some time afterward.
The water being very bright and sparkling, however, and a road passing close by, many persons, of course, took a drink of them, and pronounced them almost invariably, unfit to drink, as the taste was not agreeable, and they had the effect of a cathartic.
Hackney and McDonald, of our town, purchased the land in 1878. The springs were soon afterward tried by many persons for skin diseases, and we believe invariably with success. They were soon after purchased by Newman & Mitchell, of Arkansas City, Kansas, who paid $4,000 for them, and in the spring of 1881 built a large bath house, and they have since been tried for all the diseases imaginable, almost, and prove to have remarkable effects in most uterine troubles, liver, kidney, and skin diseases as well as rheumatism. Up to the present time only a qualitative analysis of the waters has been made.
Since March, 1881, the bath house has been crowded, and there being but meager hotel accommodations, many who would have tried the waters could not be accommodated there. They have, however, gained an excellent reputation for curative properties. Several persons of our town have been benefitted by use of the waters, notably T. H. Stivers, L. B. Thomas, J. E. Searle, and Judge J. Wade McDonald, and we now understand Jacob Kearsh, who formerly was a baker for Mr. Dever here and whom everybody thought was going to die with dropsy, is improving very rapidly by use of the waters.
C. R. Mitchell has lately bought out the interest of A. A. Newman, and is now making arrangements to build a sanitarium. A gentleman from Illinois is in Chicago purchasing the material for ten cottages; other parties are making arrangements to put up a good hotel, and several parties in Winfield and Arkansas City have engaged to put up summer residences at the Springs.
Parties going to the Springs now and intending to stay any length of time should go prepared with tents as the houses are full most of the time, but it is expected that good accommodations will be made for all within the next sixty days. Kansas never furnishes anything by halves, and we believe we have the best mineral springs in existence.
Winfield Daily Telegram.
Stumbling Bear, a Kiowa Indian, gets treatment at Geuda Springs for his eyes...
Caldwell Journal, September 27, 1883.
Last week the city was full of noble red men, and among those conspicuous by their appearance and evident authority, were Stumbling Bear and Big Tree, chiefs of the Kiowa tribe. Both had passed up the road the week previous, on their way to Olathe, where they expected to meet Inspector Haworth, and confer with him relative to matters concerning their tribe. They met Mr. Haworth in Kansas City, on his return from the West, and had a conference with him, but, owing to the fact that there was no interpreter along, they failed in completing the object of their mission. Consequently, they returned, Big Tree going back to the reservation, while Stumbling Bear waited until his son arrived from the Carlisle school, and then went over to Geuda Springs to try the effects of their waters upon his eyes. Stumbling Bear is a large, fine-looking man of about sixty years of age. He was one of the chiefs that signed the treaty made at Wichita in 1865, and since that time has strictly kept its stipulations, refusing to go off on any raids, and has always been a friend of the whites.
Margaret Russell Stallard, Remembering Geuda Springs, page 22.
Mrs. Stallard had an article written in May 25, 1882, from the Sumner County Press.
Following this article she had the following comments:
“Fifty years after this article was written, it was not unusual to have strangers in Geuda Springs spending time at the edge of the lake soaking their feet in the mud; some even took buckets of mud home with them.
“About 1932, an Indian woman from Wichita came down every week-end, rented a room from Mrs. Rennolds across the street from our house, and would go to the lake and sit in the mud for hours. I remember her most as she brought her grandsons with her. One was my age and one was Jane’s age.”
NOTE FROM MAW: I was amazed how very little I could find relative to Indians going to Geuda Springs for treatment! For some reason, the newspapers failed to mention this. It was extremely hard to give a proper date sequence to items I found. I scoured the Stallard book and found more items in it than I did in the newspapers.