History

By on July 23, 2016

The Chronological Story of Peoria Mineral Springs


1818 – Land Grant

President James Monroe, issued several 160-acre land grants in Peoria, Illinois, to men who served in the US military. Augustus O. Garret was granted a parchment deed for the land containing the Peoria Mineral Springs, for his service in the war of 1812.

Stephen Stillman

1833 – Public Water

An agreement made between the Peoria County Commissioners, and Stephen Stillman, a man of some enterprise, provided the exclusive rights to bring water from a natural spring in the West Bluff to the Peoria public square.

1834 – Original Reservoir Constructed

A vaulted brick reservoir was constructed, concealed in the gentle slope of the Bluff’s hillside. Wooden pipes were laid to supply drinking water to nearly 40 homes and the city’s original courthouse, where the Lincoln Douglas Debates were later held. This was Peoria’s first utility, referred to as the “Peoria Water Works.”

William S. Moss

1840 – Land Deeded to Moss Family

In 1840 Augustus O. Garnett (owner of the Peoria Hotel) deeded the land dubbed Spring Hill, to Captain William S. Moss, son of Captain Zeally Moss a revolutionary war hero, and local farmer on the West Bluff’s hillside.

William S Moss Family

Supply & Demand

1843 – Improved Reservoir

William S Moss was granted a charter to establish a freshwater supply to the growing city of Peoria. At this time improvements were made to the existing Peoria Water Works, including the addition of a 140 ft deep brick reservoir in the hillside of the historic West Bluff. The original brick reservoir built in 1834 was no longer sufficient to supply city.

Inside the Peoria Mineral Springs Reservior

Lydia Moss Bradley

1847 – Bradley Estate Water Supply

Lydia Moss Bradley, founder of Bradley University and daughter of Zeally Moss, and her husband, Tobias Bradley, purchased land in Peoria from William S. Moss, Lydia’s brother. A single pipe from the spring’s brick reservoir on the West bluff was maintained to supply the new “Bradley Estate” with water. Several years later, Tobias Bradley purchased additional land just south of the West Bluff. This land was dubbed the Bradley Additions No.1, No.2, and No.3.

Lydia Moss Bradley Peoria Mineral Springs

Lydia Moss Bradley – Courtesy of Bradley.edu

Ransom Hickey

1856 – Bottling Begins

In 1856 Tobias Bradley deeded the land to Ransom Hickey. Ransom was the first person to monetize the mineral spring water. He founded the R. Hickey Bottling Works on Seventh St (now 701 Dr Martin Luther King Dr), across from the reservoir.

The firm operated in a long, red building at the foot of Union Hill. Peach Cider, Lithia Seltzer, and Rose Malt were some of the beverages Hickey marketed.

Ransom Hickey Peoria Mineral Springs

1872 – Deed Returned to Bradley Family

Four years after the death of Ransom Hickey, the executor of his will returned the land to Lydia Moss Bradley.

Preston Clark

1892 – Birth of Peoria Mineral Springs

Lydia Moss Bradley sold the land south of the bluff (containing the mineral spring) to Preston Clark. Preston Clark is responsible for the patented name ‘Peoria Mineral Springs.’ Clark ran a successful bottling business here for many years to come. Clark sold the area’s best whiskey, beer, malt beverages, seltzer water, and many other drinks. Peoria eventually went on to be known as the “Whiskey Capital of the World.”

preston clark peoria mineral springsPreston Clark’s Peoria Mineral Spring Soda

1969 – Homestead Property

Charles and Joy Traynor were looking for a house for their new family. While driving home after a showing with realtor June Grayeb, Charles asked her to stop so he could look at the house. It was scheduled for demolishing and had been vandalized (all windows and the furnace were missing). He had always admired the federal house as a child. Right then he knew it was where he wanted to live with his new wife and young daughter Tiffany Traynor. Since it was scheduled to be demolished so they homesteaded and soon after was able to purchase it from the Universalist Unitarian Church which was willed from the Adel Gerber Estate. For the next few years they worked on restoration of the federal house.

1973 – Gravel Removal

In 1973 the Traynor family acquired the mineral springs property.  The spring entrance had been filled in with gravel. Charles Traynor and his father Charles Sr. removed all the gravel with buckets and made a door to secure the entrance of the spring. He connected water pipes again to the spring.

1976 –  Peoria Mineral Springs Inc. Founded

In 1976 the Traynor family formed Peoria Mineral Springs Inc. They bottled the water in the original bottling room on the first floor of the house and bought an Oldsmobile station wagon to deliver water to clients. Also, had a filling station on the side of the house where people could come and fill their own bottles and would leave donations through a little slot in a door.

The Traynor family opened Peoria Mineral Springs to the public as a Bicentennial event

1982 – National Register of Historic Places

Peoria Mineral Springs was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and still claims that status today.

1993 – Licensing Agreement

For a year, Peoria Mineral Springs provided water to Koala, a water bottling company owned by Beecham Pharmaceuticals. At this time demand for spring water was so high, Koala invested $80,000 to run a pipe from the spring, under Dr Martin Luther King Jr, to a well and pump house built to fill additional distribution tankers. This water well more than double the available volume.

2011 – Wall Collapse

Peoria Mineral Springs suffered significant damage to it’s over-flow system.  This caused the water table to rise substantially and one of the entrance walls to collapse! It is estimated that $50,000 – $70,000 in repairs are required to restore and preserve the springs reservoir.

Traynor Family

2013 to Present  – Restoration

Tobias Traynor and his father Charles initiated the restoration of the Peoria Mineral Springs reservoir. Tobias first used a shovel to remove as much debris as possible. Using a 100 ft siphon, Tobias was able to reduce the spring’s water levels to a comfortable and workable environment. Harnessing the power of the siphon he engineered, Tobias successfully removed layers upon layers of dirt, clay, rocks, and debris which covered the bricks.

Tobias has since removed over 1000 bricks by hand from within the reservoir. The original bricks are to be salvaged and used in the rebuilding phase.

Work Completed As Of July 2016

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