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HOW SPRING STREET WAS NAMED

April 16, 2013

HOW SPRING  STREET  WAS NAMED

By: Judge John L. Kiener

     (Editor’s Note:  Following is how the Mill Spring became the name-sake of Spring Street in  Jonesborough according to the following poem about the Mill and Brook Spring  given by Sarah Kate Whitaker to  George Campbell with a  written note  stating:  “This was given to me 20 years ago after  I read the Rev. J. B. Herndon’s  poem.” A legend connected with the poem says that “he who drinks out of  the Mill-Brook Spring will return to Jonesborough.”)

   By George Robert Campbell

     The Mill Spring, the  name-sake of what is now called Spring Street in Jonesborough, flows from the  east side of the old Jim Beckett store.  The spring, before Spring Street was widened, was quite a grand  sight.  It had limestone steps  leading down into the cool water.

     This (the widening of  the street) is what prompted the Rev. J. B. Herndon, pastor of the Jonesborough  Presbyterian Church, to write “The Legend of the Mill-Brook Spring.” I think it  was in the 1950s that the Town of Jonesborough decided to widen Spring Street.  The spring was a bottleneck.  They instructed H. H. “Spoolie” Campbell to cover half the top of the spring.  “Spoolie” covered part of the spring by  first placing railroad rails across the spring. He then covered the rails  pouring cement over them. 

     I can remember the  blacksmith shop on the town side of the Beckett Store at the corner of where Woodrow  Avenue  joined Spring Street.  As mentioned  in the poem, “the musical blows of the anvils ring from the sooty smithy nigh.” It really makes me sad to see the Mill Spring forgotten as it  is.

                                                     THE MILL-BROOK SPRING

                                                          By  Rev. J. B. Herndon

     Have you ever seen the  Mill-Brook Spring that flows in the ancient town?

     Have you ever drunk  from its limpid depths the magical waters down?

     Hard by the railway  flows the Spring, and many a traveler stops to drink,

     And catches a glimpse  of a Heaven below, as he pauses over the brink.

     The Mill whirls on in  endless song, as the days and weeks go by,

     And the musical blows  of the anvils ring, from the sooty smithy nigh.

     And the brook flows down thru the  quiet town, and makes the meadows green,

     All along its sides  the snow drops hide with buttercups between.

                                                               (Repeat # 1 Verse)

     There are wonderful  tales the townsmen tell, with never a doubt of the truth,

      For they verily  believe these waters have a power o’er age and youth.

     And a legend they add  to all their tales, an ever confident refrain,

     Whoever drinks from  the Mill-Brook Spring, is sure to come back again.

     A child drank here and  wandered afar, till all had forgotten his name.

     But an old gray man in  the after years, back to the village came.

     And begged a place to  lay him and die, when he drank of the Spring once more,

     And they laid him to  rest on the warm earth’s breast, where he sleeps till time is  o’er.

     And lovers many have  wandered here, to the parting of the ways,

     And gazing the magical  waters, dreamed, they would meet in other days.

     A youth left home for  the great wide world, that lay o’er the valley rim,

     And his mother led him  to the Mill-Brook Spring, and looked to the future dim.

     A soldier brave in his  Southern Gray, marched away with never a fear,

     For the Mill-Brook  waters assured the wife, he was sure to come back to her.

     And men, they say,  have been known to go across the wave-tossed main,

     And brave the storm,  and famine, and death, and yet come back again.

     And the young and old  who have tasted here, the sweetest waters God has made,

     Have found its magical  powers true for man or woman, boy or maid.

                                                          (Repeat # 1 Verse)

     I went to the  Mill-Brook Spring one day, and drank of its waters cold,

     A warm wind blew from  the Southern climes, and the meadows were all in gold.

     A subtle something  filled my soul, that made me dream of bliss,

     It may have been the  April sun, or a fairy’s enchanting kiss.

     And she who walked by  my side that day, was full of laughter and song,

     And the flow of beauty  that flushed her face, was full and fair and strong.

    “You’ll come back now, I  know,” she said, ‘For you’ve drunk of the Mill-Brook Spring,”

     And it seemed so glad  a thing to her, that future days might bring.

     And about my heart a  secret string, today draws me back to the place,

     It may be the charm of  the Mill-Brook Spring, but it may be the charm of her face.

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