[Blind Nellie at the Austin Well]

Description

Colonel W. R. Austin came from Kentucky to Palo Pinto County about 1880, and settled on Staggs Prairie. When an infection in his eye responded to mineral water treatment, he established the Austin Well, later operated by his son-in-law, Tom Sims. Blind Nellie was a fixture of the Austin Well for years. She had an interesting history: A cowboy rode her into town one day, and auctioned her off to the highest bidder, J.H. Coleman, who bid a dollar and a half for her. Then Bob Kyle took Coleman's bargain off his hands, but Colonel Austin was the one who ...

Physical Description

1 photograph : b&w

Creation Information

Creator: Unknown. 1900?.

Context

This photograph is part of the collection entitled: A. F. Weaver Collection and was provided by Boyce Ditto Public Library to The Portal to Texas History, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries. It has been viewed 147 times . More information about this photograph can be viewed below.

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Boyce Ditto Public Library

The Boyce Ditto Public Library materials include local history from the A. F. Weaver Collection featuring resort souvenir guides and photos of Mineral Wells from its founding to the present. There is extensive coverage of the Hexagon House, the Baker Hotel, Camp/Fort Wolters and the many mineral wells that made the city a major resort in the first half of the 20th Century.

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Description

Colonel W. R. Austin came from Kentucky to Palo Pinto County about 1880, and settled on Staggs Prairie. When an infection in his eye responded to mineral water treatment, he established the Austin Well, later operated by his son-in-law, Tom Sims.
Blind Nellie was a fixture of the Austin Well for years. She had an interesting history: A cowboy rode her into town one day, and auctioned her off to the highest bidder, J.H. Coleman, who bid a dollar and a half for her. Then Bob Kyle took Coleman's bargain off his hands, but Colonel Austin was the one who profited most from her when he devised a method that used her to "pump" water from his well.
This unique method of bringing water to the surface was an added attraction at the Austin. Instead of drawing it up by hand or using a power pump, Blind Nellie was trained to walk around in circles, pulling the water up from below. She would pause long enough for the water to empty and, as if on a hidden cue, would go around again as the receptacle was lowered back into the well, repeating her performance accurately each time.
In later years, when she became confused in her ritual, she was allowed to retire. In retirement, however, Blind Nellie selected a place in her pasture, and during the working hours of the day she repeated the ritual of walking her circle in a size corresponding to the one she had walked for so many years at the Austin Well. She died in 1912.

Physical Description

1 photograph : b&w

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This photograph is part of the following collection of related materials.

A. F. Weaver Collection

This colorful panorama covers the founding of Mineral Wells through its mercurial growth as a resort center and army town up to the present. A. F. Weaver was a photographer and local historian, and the collection includes photographs that he took as well as photographs he copied from local families and established research sources.

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Creation Date

  • 1900?

Added to The Portal to Texas History

  • April 25, 2007, 8:16 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • May 19, 2014, 9:30 a.m.

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Yesterday: 1
Past 30 days: 1
Total Uses: 147

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Citations, Rights, Re-Use

[Blind Nellie at the Austin Well], photograph, 1900?; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24964/: accessed August 25, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Boyce Ditto Public Library.