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Students uncover the past at Regent Spring site

Anthropology Professor Daniel Pierce and UMSL students

UMSL Anthropology Professor Daniel Pierce, far right, oversees students at Regent Park in 2016. Photo by Kevin Morgan

Members of the Friends of the Wells helped to sponsor and participate in two Archaeology Survey Training and Site Recordation events in 2012 and 2013. The program consisted of shovel testing at Native American sites and visitations to mineral water well sites. Coverage of the two-year-program was published in the Oct.-Dec. 2013 Missouri Archaeology Society Quarterly, “Results of the 2013 Survey Training Program”. Friends of the Wells members who took part in the survey training included Kevin and Sonya Morgan and Dennis Hartman. Daniel Pierce, working for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, was in attendance and would later become Anthropology Professor at the University of Saint Louis, Missouri. A friendship established between Kevin Morgan and Daniel Pierce set the stage for further investigation of mineral water sites in Excelsior Springs.

From 2015-2017, Pierce returned to Excelsior Springs to conduct his own archaeological excavation that explored the area around Regent Spring. The city-owned Regent Park honors the memory of the springs and their heyday in the late 1800s and first few decades or so of the 1900s. Friends of the Wells helped to secure access to the property and housing for the students. Morgan was on site each day to offer assistance and, on the day it rained, provided students with a tour of the Hall of Waters including Old Siloam, the spring upon which the city was founded.

“I really like the town and thought there was some great history here,“ said Pierce. “I just kept it in the back of my mind and when I became the director of the field program at UMSL, I thought this would be the best (student survey site).”

Pierce brought groups of eight to ten students, some students returning multiple years. During the three years, students were able to uncover some concrete steps, a retaining wall and low pillars that are the archaeological remains of Regent Spring.

From that experience, “America’s Haven of Health: Hydrotherapy and tourism at Excelsior Springs, Missouri, USA“ was authored by Pierce, Anthony P. Farace and Dana M. Lewis, published in 2021. It helps to provide a resource for Friends of the Wells continuing work. The work contains contributions by FOTW members Kevin Morgan, Sonya Morgan, and Kathy Duncan.

UMSL students tour the Hall of Waters

UMSL students take a tour of the Hall of Waters. Photo by Kevin Morgan.

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