On a sweltering South Carolina afternoon in the rural town of Blackville, you can often find a small crowd of people, empty jugs in hand, gathered around a trio of spigots continuously pumping out cool, fresh water from deep underground.
Known as God’s Acre, but often referred to by locals simply as Healing Springs, this artesian well has been a local legend of sorts dating back to the Native Americans. Not only is the water cold and crisp, but it reportedly has healing properties for a variety of ailments. Although it has not been tested for magical properties, the water has been tested and found to contain a load of beneficial minerals. We have been told it’s all about having faith.
Over the course of a few visits, we have seen trunk loads of empty jugs being steadily filled by patient onlookers from down the street, the next town over, across the state, and even as far away as New York. We have seen everything from reused water bottles to 5-gallon carboys and all manner of containers in between. If it will hold water, it is fair game.
The Native Americans later sold the springs to a trader, named Nathaniel Walker. Walker later founded the church beside the springs, which is now known as Healing Springs Baptist Church.
Speaking to several locals gathering their supply, we have been told over and over that this is the only water they drink. Judging by the number of cars that steadily stream in and out of the lot and the number of jugs being filled, it is clear that many people have faith in the healing properties of this water that flows out of the ground in this small town. During our visits, we’ve heard stories of the water healing those with everything from diabetes to cancer and gout to skin conditions. All shared in a quiet, humble way that draws you into their unassuming confidence in this place.
Going back over two hundred years, legend has it that during the Revolutionary War, a group of four mortally wounded British soldiers were wandering in the forest waiting to meet their fate when they were found by local Native Americans. The tribe brought them to a secret, natural spring that they revered for its healing properties. Six months later, much to the shock of their comrades, the group rejoined their regiment after having miraculously recovered. It is said that along with help from the Native Americans, the group had consumed and bathed in the waters of the Healing Springs and thus mended their wounds.
The Native Americans later sold the springs to a trader, named Nathaniel Walker. Walker later founded the church beside the springs, which is now known as Healing Springs Baptist Church. After many years and many hands, the springs found its way into the considerate hands of Mr. L.P. Lute Boylston. In 1944, Mr. Boylston took an incredible step to protect the future of this natural wonder. He deeded the property to God Almighty to “be used by the sick and afflicted” according to the stone marker placed at the springs. This effectively ensures that the springs will be cared for to be enjoyed by future generations and that it cannot be monopolized for financial gain. The stone marker is also engraved with the following quote from Mr. Boylston, “the most precious piece of earth I have ever owned.”
Whether you are just passing through the area or looking for a quiet day trip to escape the craziness of the current times, God’s Acre makes a unique destination that is enjoyed by young and old alike. Thanks to the generosity of Mr. Boylston, it will remain a place of peace and beauty to be enjoyed by the young and old, the sick and well, the believers and skeptics for generations to come.
The springs can be found on Springs Court (State Highway S-6-358) in Blackville, SC.■