Shivar Spring Company & Tom McConnell: A Shared Story

Water was coming in there that fast. It had a big vein to it.

—Tom McConnell interview, p. 16

Historical Timeline

Shivar Spring Company postcard number 1
Detail of Shivar Spring Company postcard, ca. 1914 (South Caroliniana Library Postcard Collection)
View Shivar Spring Company postcard, circa 1914 (reverse)

1904: Shivar Shoe Store featured in an illustrated history of Columbia, S.C., noting N. F. Shivar as head of the wholesale department.

1905: N. F. Shivar becomes ill in Shelton, S.C., and boards with widow Newbill while recuperating, upon whose property the spring resides. They later marry. Shivar’s physician recommends drinking substantial amounts of water from the “healing springs” of Broad River. Shivar is convinced the water has curative powers.

1906: N. F. Shivar is in traveling sales again and gives away bottles of mineral water from the spring.

1907: N. F. Shivar builds a brick plant at the lower spring site, which is adjacent to the railroad tracks along the Broad River, and begins producing ginger ale in addition to mineral water.

Shivar Spring Company chemical analysis
Detail of chemical analysis on Shivar Spring Company postcard, ca. 1908 (reverse) (South Caroliniana Library Postcard Collection)
View Shivar Spring Company postcard, circa 1908 (reverse)

1908: Shivar Spring Company creates postcards that include chemical analysis data.

1910: Shivar Spring Company produces a promotional booklet.

1915: Brick plant is destroyed in a fire and replaced by a wooden structure.

1917: William B. McDowell joins the company, leaves to serve in WWI, and returns.

Shivar Spring Company letterhead
Detail of letter from N. F. Shivar on Shivar Spring Company letterhead, April 21, 1921 (Private Collection)

1922: August 11—Newspaper notice of the company’s bankruptcy sale.
November 8—N. F. Shivar, age 58, dies at a hospital in Columbia, S.C. William B. McDowell becomes manager of Shivar Spring Company.

1926: Tom McConnell is born on May 7.

1940: At age 14, Tom McConnell begins working at Shivar Spring Company.

Shivar Spring Company branded envelope
Shivar Spring Company branded envelope (Private Collection)

1941: William B. McDowell becomes sole owner of Shivar Spring Company. Resolution of the case U.S. v. 39 Carboys of Shivar Spring Water.

1944: Newspaper advertisement depicts the sale of two types of ginger ale: pale dry and golden sweet.

1947: The News and Herald (Winnsboro, S.C.) writes a brief history of Shivar Spring Company and H. Grady Wright is noted as the current superintendent. Includes photographs of the cisterns and spring.

1955: Advertisement lists other flavored beverages being produced and sold by Shivar Spring Company: grape, root beer, orange, and lemon (“lemmy”), in addition to ginger ale.

1957: Another fire at the plant closes the business permanently, as noted in the book South Carolina Beverage Bottles, 1880–1980.

2011: Tom McConnell, the last known living employee of Shivar Spring Company, is interviewed about his recollections of the company and his life in Shelton, S.C.

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