Tonica and Rock Water Once Called Cure-Alls
by Jack Repass

Article with picture printed in the October 25, 1961 edition of The Manchester Evening Herald,
a crumbling copy of which was given to webmaster Susan Barlow, who has transcribed the article.

"Absolutely the finest and best table water in the world" that was said of the Highland Rock Water in 1870.

"Nature's remedy for Bright's Disease, diabetes, dyspepsia, indigestion and all forms of malaria and female weaknesses." That was how Highland Tonica Water was advertised back in the post Civil War days.

Neither of the two is on the market today, but like every product, they had their day.

The Tonica Springs Co. of Highland Park, Conn., U.S.A., proprietors of the Highland Springs � Highland "Tonica" and Highland "Rock" waters � was founded by Alfred Wells Case and Albert Willard Case.

The two Case brothers, who founded paper mills in 1861 in South Manchester, bought the Highland Springs land in 1864, a year when the spring water was first brought to their mills for drinking purposes, a year that Case mill workers were washing cotton waste for the manufacturers of guncotton, similar to gun powder, for use by the Union Army in the Civil War.

The drinking water was sent to Hartford and Boston in huge containers, where expert bottlers bottled it.

Like Human Blood

An analysis of the water content revealed that it contained elements identical with those in human blood � a pure water solution having potassium, sodium, lime, magnesium, iron and phosphoric acid. Pure human blood contains seven-eighths pure water and one-eighth of the above elements.

The water was analyzed by Lewis M. Norton of the Massachusetts Institute of technology in Boston on Sept. 12, 1885, and as a result of the analysis the spring water was placed ahead of all other remedies as a tonic and blood purifier.

About 5,000 bottles of the water were given away during the fall of 1885 � and testimonials began coming into Messrs. Case Brothers which brought them to publish the Highland News, a bi-monthly paper devoted to good health.

The paper sold for 25 cents a year, and the slogan on its masthead read "and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock" as in the Biblical saying of Moses.

The bottled water was later sold � Tonica Water in cases of 50 quarts (sparkling) for $8 and cases of 100 pints for $11 � Rock Water in cases of 50 quarts (sparkling), $6; 100 pint case, $8; five gallons in Demijohn for $2.50; forty-gallon barrel at $6. Demijohn and barrel returns had a $1.25 and $1 rebate.

J.O. Bacon of Putnam wrote a testimonial letter dated Dec. 21, 1885, which stated: "Gentlemen, I have tried your Tonica Water for malaria and know that it has done me a great deal of good. I cheerfully recommend it to any with like trouble."

Tourist Attraction

In a testimonial letter printed in the "News" and dated June 15, 1886, the following was printed:

My Dear Eveline,

At last we are settled in our new Highland home, and I am very anxious to have you come and enjoy with me the beauties of nature; the lovely green hills and vales and the glad sunshine. Then, too, I wish you to partake of that fountain of immortality, Tonica Water! It is a positive cure for all ailments! Now you will come? Write me as soon as you receive this that you will come and spend a month with Your Devoted "Amy."

Another from Mrs. A.B. Clark of Chaplin, dated April 9, 1887, says, "Gentlemen � for thirteen years I have been troubled with inflammatory rheumatism, and at times have been unable to rise from my bed for weeks. Have also been troubled with a kidney disorder. I have tried many remedies, and can truly say I think your Tonica Water has helped me more than anything I have ever used."

The Talcott, Frisbie & Co. of Hartford in 1890 ordered, at once, 50 cases quarts Tonica, ten case pints Tonica. "We find this water sells better, by far, than any other medicinal water we have ever sold, and the trade is constant and increasing," they said.

Hundreds of testimonials continued to come to Messrs. Case Bros. telling them of cures being performed by the water. For many years the business thrived and each issue of the :highland News" was filled with letters telling of cured ailments � such as dyspepsia, eczema, deafness, liver trouble, headaches.

Pure drinking water is still available at a fountain off Spring St., but the cure-all tonic waters no longer are available for personal consumption.

[Webmaster's Note: The rest of the article is on paper that crumbled away and has been lost, but the gist of the last paragraphs is that Frank J. Crowley visits the Spring St. pipe regularly, and that he and his wife drink a lot of the water, which they find superior to their "regular faucet water."]

THAT SAID: With the inclusion of Manchester Herald newspapers online, the full article is now available on this website, accessible by clicking here (upper left of page 15).

Note: For additional information on the Tonica Springs Company in this website, please click here to go directly to the Therapeutic Water section of the "Highland Park Visit" article.