There are two springs in the hollow where Montwell Commons is located, and they played important roles in the development of Lewisburg. Many people know about the Andrew Lewis spring which is across the street from the log building. Undoubtedly, it provided water for Fort Savannah which is thought to have been located nearby. It also provided water for the Withrow tannery that operated from around 1807 until 1900.
The other spring, Beirne Spring, is located on the other side of the hollow at the base of the hill going up to Lee St. Based on descriptions in several deeds, it must have been very reliable and discharged a lot f water. The Beirne spring served as a public water source, provided water for the Simpkins tannery, the Donnally glove factory, the Greenbrier Creamery, and the Greenbrier Canning Company. It probably also supplied the Worsham stables and families in the area. Today the flow is very low, perhaps because there was excavation right next to the spring when a sewer main was built running from Lee St. down to the PSD pumping station. The excavation might have disrupted the underground channels carrying water to the spring.
Excerpts of several 19th century deeds referencing the Beirne Spring are presented below. The original deeds are on file in the County Clerk's office at the Greenbrier County Courthouse.
March 26, 1833 Deed 12-600
John Simpkins purchased Lot #19 from William McClung and Robert Mennis for $1200. The lot is known as the “Spring Lot” and is one of several that were laid out by John G. McClenachan. The lot is essentially the land extending from Lafayette St. to Chestnut St. and up the hill to Lee St.
January 5, 1836 Deed 13-596
John Simpkins sold part of Lot 19 which is known as the Spring Lot to Patrick Beirne for $3000. It includes the Spring, but Simpkins reserves the right to use the surplus water in his tanyard. From that time on, the spring is known as the “Beirne Spring” and is referenced in several deeds for nearby lots.
April 29, 1872 Deed 27-143
James Withrow sold H.W. Donnally “. . . all their rights and title to a certain house and lot . . . near what is known as the Beirne Spring . . . the house being the same originally erected by one John Simpkins for a tannery bounded as follows . . . the same now in the possession of the said Donnally upon which is situated his Glove factory . . . and it is hereby understood that said Withrow and wife hereby convey to the said Donnally all the water privileges to which they may have been entitled in the said lot except that the said Donnally, nor any other person claiming under him, shall not have the privilege of conveying onto under or through the said lot for the purpose of tanning leather such as is now manufactured by the said Withrow in his Tanyard until after the expiration of twenty five years from the date of this deed. . . “
August 22, 1872 Deed 28-301
James Withrow sold to Patrick Beirne “. . . a certain piece of land situated in the town of Lewisburg joining the said P. Beirne's spring . . . and on the street leading from Donnally's Glove Factory towards Thomas Pare's residence . . . The same being a small part of the the property conveyed by Withrow & wife & Trustee to James Withrow and joining a lot of ground used by the town authorities for some years as a public watering place, but since returned to said Withrow and now in his possession . . . “
December 28, 1888 Deed 40-97
Cox and Hudson sold the abutting creamery building and lot to the Greenbrier Creamery Co. “. . . We also convey the right to said Creamery Company to lay the necessary piping to carry water from the spring or from a tank to be erected at the end of the water trough to the Creamery building for use at said Creamery and we hereby grant unto the said Creamery Company a sufficient amount of the waste water running from the spring to supply said Creamery . . .”
March 26, 1896 Greenbrier Independent vol 30 no. 44
Notice. If not sold privately, before that time, we will sell, on Thursday, the 2nd day of April, 1896, the following articles , of the Greenbrier Canning Co.: “. . . 1 Pump and Piping and 14 years water rights . . .”