Friday, March 25, 2016

Channel Cat Tales Stivers Springs

All of this week, a series of articles about  Stivers Springs has been published. Today we conclude the series.

Located about 1 1/2 miles southwest of Bridgeport, the Springs began to be less restful and took on a rowdier side as money flowed as free as oil, and oil field workers began to flood the area.  

July 23, 1907 
     “Tom Hewitt, of the Bridgeport oilfield, is lying in a serious condition at the Knapp sanitarium in Vincennes as a result of being stabbed while pleasuring at Stivers Springs Sunday afternoon. Hewitt’s injuries are such that he may die and yesterday afternoon he called for a Catholic priest. Tom Hewitt was stabbed by a man by the name of Black, who had been his friend for years.
      Both of the men were workers in the Bridgeport oilfield and had been spending the day at the Springs having a good time and it is said that both of them were drinking a great deal during the afternoon. When they got ready to start home, they quarreled over a black felt hat and Black was knocked down, but soon got up again and made a run for Hewitt and stabbed him three times. One cut was across the small of the back, another across the breast and a third in the stomach.
     Hewitt was taken to Bridgeport but as no physician could be located there, he was brought to the city on the train which arrived in Vincennes about 11:45. Gardner’s ambulance was called and took the wounded man to the office of Dr. Moore but the doctor did not have him taken from the vehicle until arrangements were made to place him in a room at the sanitarium. His wounds were found to be very serious and should complications set in, may prove serious. Black was placed under arrest and taken to Lawrenceville and locked up.”
Then on November 20, 1908 the news broke that George Ryan was sued for failing to pay for materials used in the erection of a building at Stivers Springs.

The Springs continued as a functioning resort well past the turn of the century. However, the book Lawrence County, An Illustrated History 1821-1996 states that after Ryan sold out, the resort gradually lost its polish. It continues that by the early 1920s guests’ preferred bootleg whiskey to mineral water. With the prohibition laws in 1920 the then current proprietors were eventually arrested for stockpiling something stronger than water on the resort grounds.

All traces of the resort have now passed from history but the glory that once was and the 'water that restored', shaped the lives of many Lawrence County residents.