Keith Eddins Wilkerson
Before the days of the interstate highway
system, cross-country travel in this nation was conducted mostly
on the network of federal two-lane highways. A classic example,
US-11, meandered through
Stafford Springs came to be named after a
confederate veteran who settled near the town of
Edward W. Stafford
The Original Edward Stafford Home
Edward Stafford Home in later years of decay
One thing led to another and it wasnt
long before the white man had adopted the Indians belief in
the spring. It is reported that the water was sent out for
testing and a Congress of Medicine, held in
Thereafter, people began to travel from all
over the country to bathe and drink from the waters of life. Most
of them arrived by rail in the town of
It's obvious from this extremely rare 1902 leterhead that the Stafford Mineral Springs was considered to be located in Vossburg, MS. Somewhat later, it gained it's own identity and became the location now known as Stafford Springs, MS.
A very rare item, one of the original five-gallon carboys used to ship the mineral water. This one survived for many years beneath my grandmother's house and, nowadays, has become a flower vase.
of the smaller one-quart consumer jugs. I have managed to find
two of these with the paper labels still intact, despite the fact
that they are over one hundred-years old. One was located in
Stafford Mineral Springs Water was sold in
"Carboy, Bottle, or Jug," and always contained the
registered trade mark, a "RED HEART' and the word
BO-GO-HA-MA, printed upon it in White Letters upon a black
background". The half-gallon bottle was apparently
colorless with a single-part finish, for use with corks, and
paper label. On the label was printed STAFFORD/MINERAL
SPRINGS/WATER above the red heart with THE/BO-HO-GA-MA/(WATER OF
LIFE) OF THE INDIAN in an upward sweeping arc. On both
sides of the heart were claims for the water's curative
properties followed by finer print that is illegible in the
drawing in the booklet. The final lines stated Stafford
Mineral Springs & Hotel Co. (in script)/of
The Public Fountain housed in the Gazebo that was situated in front of the Hotel near US Hwy -11
The Old Hotel from a 1906 Promotional Booklet
Click here to see some enlarged details of this postcard
The original dirt and gravel US-11 looking north - C 1928
Young girls posing at the Stafford waystop on US-11 - C 1928
Young lady posing on the Stafford waystop bench on US-11. Hotel can be seen in the background. - C 1928
Couple posing at the Stafford waystop on US-11, looking south - C 1928
Quiet walkway leading to the hotel - C 1928
Dr. Schiffman and his partners owned stock
until 1918, when it was transferred to A.L. Staples of Mobile,
Alabama. In 1925 Staples and company sold the property to a group
Dr. Evan Moody Gavin with children Anita and Charles on the hotel grounds C. 1937
Anita and Charles Gavin C. 1937
With the advances seen in medicine during the 20th century came a loss in faith by the general public for the curative powers of mineral waters. Clients stopped coming and the resort fell victim to economic hardship and decay. The Great Depression certainly played a role in the reduced patronage. Sadly, the old hotel was torn down around 1956. I personally remember riding down to the site with my grandfather to purchase some of the used lumber. He used it in the construction of a house which, as of 2003, remains standing in Vossburg.
Parallel to the demise of the health resort,
new life was introduced into the property. In 1952, the site was
subdivided. The Gavins withheld their home site while selling the
hotel properties to a
Thanks to the popularity and affordability
of the automobile,
This facility was operated from around 1952 until Interstate I-59 replaced US-11 during 1967. Soon thereafter, the loss of passing traffic brought with it deep economic hardship.
In 1961, John L. and Dorothy Blanks assumed management of the Stafford Springs property. Mr. & Mrs. Blanks, seasoned Gulf Coast motel veterans, who had previously managed the Trade Winds Motor Court in Biloxi, orchestrated a major overhaul of the facility. In addition to the upgraded motor lodge, a Dude Ranch theme was added. Horses, trail rides, authentic Indians in costume [a Choctaw indian who went by the name of Cooley Jim. He also worked at the summer camps for children held at Lake Waukaway], chuck wagon meals, a stagecoach, and a horse drawn hearse (rumored to be the one used to transport Jesse James to his final resting place), were listed among the attractions. The Dude Ranch operated for a number of years, but there simply wasnt enough business to prevent the inevitable demise of the facility.
Thanks to Bill Eddins for these Dude Ranch Era Photos!
Concerning the water, in about 1958, I
remember my grandfather stopping at
For a while, the motel rooms were rented out as apartments and the restaurant was opened and closed by a few different owners. For a number of years,WilliamLittle Bill" Martin, of Vossburg, operated a gas station in the remains of the old stone sided water building, first built in 1886.
All known commercial activity ceased at Stafford Springs during the 1980s, somewhat short of a centennial celebration. Nowadays, the large roadside sign and a few of the abandoned motel buildings are all that remain. On the opposite side of the sparsely used US-11, a private residence stands near the original site of the resort motel. Despite all of this disruption, Bogohama continues to flow, just as it did when the Choctaw first discovered it.
The remains of the Motor Lodge Restaurant building with the Dude Ranch sign in the background
The remains of one motel room duplex
Home that now occupies the site of the old hotel. Concrete in foreground is the old curb that surrounds the reclaimed motor lodge swimming pool.
The remains of the public fountain and the spring. The once ornate gazebo has been replaced with this spartain version.
Click Here to View Vintage 1950's Stafford Springs Promotional Materials
Click Here to View Vintage Stafford Springs Post Cards Dating From 1900
Click Here to View Other Sites Within the Stafford Springs Community
Lockhart, Bill 2000 Bottles on the Border: The History and
Bottles of the Soft Drink Industry in
The following obituary, published in a
Obituary of R. D. Jennings
A Former LeRoy Citizen
D. Jennings was born December 25th, 1869 in
raised in the oil district of the East he early entered the
occupation of a driller and worked in both the
to a letter from Mrs. Jennings, from
Mrs. Jennings states that they have no definite plans at present. Her LeRoy friends expected that she and the children would come back to LeRoy soon as her business interests are here but she states that they will probably remain in the east with her own people until spring.
Jennings was a member of the Masonic lodge of
These pages are a work in progress. While
every attempt has been made to include accurate historical
information, some error may be included. I invite corrections,
additional information, additional photographs, and accounts of
personal experience. Please contact me at the supplied address.
Very little has been documented in regards to the dying towns and
landmarks of east-central
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