In 1640, King Charles I granted the Smith family 640 acres of land, which included the Spring, in what is now around Main and Lowell Streets in Lynnfield heading into West Peabody. Joseph Franklin Smith established Pocahontas Spring Company in 1901 at the age of 21 and who was the grandson of a Revolutionary War veteran.
Joseph Franklin Smith was born in 1881 and was a Lynnfield selectman for several terms through the 1920s, while also serving numerous other positions in town.
One story that particulary stood out was Pocahontas Spring’s connection to the Salem Witch Trials. Another Smith ancestor, Lucy Smith, was arrested during the Salem witch hysteria of 1692 and escaped hanging only because of an order from the governor prohibiting any more witchcraft-related executions. Specifically, Lucy was accused of making the Pocahontas Spring boil.
Moving ahead several centuries, Joseph Franklin Smith sold water from the spring all over the North Shore in horse drawn water wagons in the early days of the 1900s. As told to us in a meeting in 2014 with John C. Smith, the son of Joseph, that his father brought Pocahontas water in horse-drawn wagons, loaded with water carboys during the Great Salem Fire in 1914. A daunting task as the streets of Salem were hot from the fire and it bothered the horses. The water deliveries were surely running 24 hours a day to keep residents with water
The fire destroyed 1,376 buildings, burned 253 acres and made over 18,000 people homeless or jobless in Salem. The fire encouraged the creation of the United States Employment Service. Pocahontas water was a precious needed resource in a civil emergency in one of the great industrial fires of this country.
The tradition of the Spring’s supply of water to vendors and customers continues today as the former owners claim this is one of the town’s oldest continuing running businesses and is vital to town history. To this day we know the value of a pure drinking water resource.
A separate historical note says that the spring was able to produce 100 gallons of water per minute, and that when Joseph F. Smith brought his first batch of Pocahontas water to try to sell in Salem, only the mayor was willing to part with 30 cents to buy some – most of the other residents apparently saw it as akin to paying for air. Over the years, many town residents have seen the stone structure that covers the spring. It was also noted that the adjoining Jonathan Smith family farmhouse, built in the 1840s, once had a direct link from the spring piping into its basement. Apparently a few years ago the town made sure that the link was closed off, although it had been for some time.
Town residents may also be interested to learn thatin 1928, Joseph Smith opened the Pocahontas Tavern to go with his spring, but it was reportedly doomed by a combination of the Great Depression and World War II gas rationing. There was also apparently a miniature golf course at the site.