The Londonderry Lithia Spring was discovered in 1882 on a farm in south west Londonderry, New Hampshire. When the well on their local farm went dry the Avery family searched for a new source of water. Jeremiah Avery's son Frank tried dowsing and while walking the land fell into a hole that was a outlet for spring water from the granite hill above. It is said that before the water was used in their home it was tested and found to contain lithia. In another account a Nashua man became interested in bottling the water and presented a sample to some Nashua doctors. Testing the water they reported that the water had a large amount of lithia. This element was considered at the time to provide a cure for health problems that were caused by uric acid. Two of the doctors formed a stock company to bottle and market the water. Jeremiah Avery and his son Frank Avery were employed by the company to operate the spring and haul water to the Nashua bottling plant. There was a legend that Indians knew the magical properties of the water and held a dance each year around the spring to honor it.
The land was originally owned by Sanford Greeley, and is today identified as the land along Route 102, near High Range Road. Horace Greeley is featured in a September 1887 advertisement entitled "Great Men Beautiful Landscapes Wonderful Water". More recognizable icons featured are Daniel Webster, General John Stark and the Old Man of the Mountain profile. Records of Rockingham County show on April 27, 1886, show about thirty acres of land containing lithia springs was deeded to the Nashua stock company, Lithia Spring Water Company. The 1892 map shown here has the spring noted on it at the center of the image.
A major component of its success is the claimed medicinal qualities of Londonderry Lithia Water. One accounting of the product in 1896 indicates a book was published containing "hundreds of testimonials from the most eminent American physicians". The product was recorded to cure; rheumatic, Gravel, Dyspepsia, acid stomach, indigestion, heart disease, Bright's disease, Insomnia, Nervous Prostration, Insanity, Apoplexy, kidney disease, goneness and headache, a "natural remedy it is a remarkable one". A later ad could be a description of the tap water we use in Londonderry homes today. "The table water...with unusual purity and richness in alkaline properties. Highly recommended by physicians." (Clean water that is good for you but a bit hard) Eventually the United States Government determined that the amount of Lithia in the water was not enough to allow it to be promoted using the term " Lithia". This along with the advent of prohibition resulted in the ultimate failure of the company.
Three-gallon earthen jugs with the company name in a deep blue were used at the start of the process in 1882. After that glass was used in five-gallon, one gallon, half gallon, pints, splits and quart size green glass bottles. The one gallon and one quart size were often featured in advertisements for the company. Londonderry Litha Water was available in both "still" and "sparkling" versions. Great care was taken to seal the bottles and mark the corks with trademarks. The company warned of checking for these marks "lest some worthless imitation be substituted". Grocers, Druggists and Wine Merchants sold the water. It was always recommended for "cutting" spirits as a mixer. The company published a booklet entitled, "Cheers" being a collection of carefully prepared receipts for cheering concoctions, both temperance and otherwise. As the 20's were approached the cork stopper was dropped in favor of a modern crimped bottle cap, guaranteeing wholesomeness.
Through saturation advertising and marketing the Lithia Spring Water Company was able to distribute Londonderry Lithia Water throughout North America and Europe. The company provided marketing novelties to customers. They ranged from simple guides for the use of the water to a complex tin calendar shown here. The calendar shows a patented date of January 12, 1909, it has a complex 2 function control. The user would change the month and then put in the correct number of days as prompted by the month indicator. Corks were branded and if opening the still water you were reminded with the steel and hardwood corkscrew to drink Londonderry Lithia Water. From the beginning even the earliest stone jugs were branded providing a reminder on where the health water came from. In the middle of this century there were no large-scale distributors of bottled water. It has taken 100 years for the world to turn and today water is once again the high margin fastest growing "health" product on the market. Probation and the ability to use "Lithia" to market the product effected sales, but marketing the product stopped before 1920 causing the demise of the company.
Each year several Londonderry residents find themselves looking for water like Frank and Jeremiah did, when the well goes dry. Over 75% of Londonderry uses well water exclusively for drinking, bathing and washing. The town has placed such a urgency on protecting our waters we have begun to test multiple wells and open water sources yearly. The world believed that Londonderry Water was the best and doctors prescribed it for good health. Please care for and conserve our shared resource.
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