The Ancients

The Clovis culture is considered to be the ancestors of many of the indigenous tribes on the Great Plains. They are best known for their technology to construct a complex and more efficient projectile point, the Clovis Point. Such points have been found in the vicinity of the spring site, and suggest a culture that was at or near the site as many as 12,000 years ago. Folsom and Midland projectile points which are almost as old as the Clovis points have also been found nearby. A huge variety of other projectile points, spanning thousands of years of cultural classifications have been found at or around the spring, demonstrating that the site was an important hunting area for the ancient cultures inhabiting the area. 

The first documented culture inhabiting the spring area were the Jumano. This culture existed at least as far back as the year 1500, and were first described by Spanish explorers as a striped people because of the unique manner in which they tattooed their faces with horizontal lines or bars. Cabeza de Vaca described what is believed to be the Jumano as "The People of the Cows", obviously referring to the millions of buffalo they shared the prairie with. Nomadic Jumano, or those following the buffalo herds, built their homes in the classic plains teepee style, using buffalo skins as the walls. The Jumano who lived in more hospitable climates were more stationary and often built their villages out of reeds, sticks, and mud. It is most likely that the Jumano surrounding the spring were a nomadic people, following the buffalo as they migrated over western Texas. Since horses had still not been introduced by the Spanish, the Jumano culture used a wide variety of transportation methods to move their essentials from one location to another. Most notable was the use of a travois, or sled made of poles and skins. The travois was drug behind the members of the tribe, usually women or captives. The Jumano also used domesticated dogs to drag their travois, and in this manner they could transport heavier objects and cover 15 to 20 miles in one day.

Among the most notable traits of the Jumano was their unique abilities set up huge trade routes with neighboring cultures. The bows used for hunting and warfare were often made from timbers found only in eastern Texas. Pottery and vessels were strikingly similar to tribes of the Southwest, suggesting trade routes with those cultures. Some artifacts thought to be unique to the Jumano have been found as far south as Mexico City, and as far north as Ohio. When the first Spaniards arrived, the Jumano were quick to set up trade with them and became what some described as the "middlemen" between the Spaniards and many of the other tribes of Texas. The trade that they first established evolved even as the tribe began to disappear. Sometime between 1650 and 1700, the Jumano were gradually forced from their native homeland by more warlike tribes, primarily the Apache.

The Apache dominated the areas around the spring, occasionally feuding with Pawnee, Tonkawa and other tribes over the water source. At least two major battles between tribes are recorded at the spring site, one between Comanche and Pawnee, and the other between Comanche and Apache. In both cases, the Comanche proved victorious. As the Comanche entered West Texas they eventually drove the Apache beyond the Pecos River and into New Mexico and Arizona. Many of the original trade routes established from the spring site by the Jumano eventually became war and trade routes used by the Comanche. 

The Jumano, although no longer a force in the region, were memorialized as their trade culture was adopted by others and evolved into expansive trade between the loosely organized Comanchero traders of central and northern New Mexico and the Comanche and Kiowa of the Llano Estacado. The Comanchero often utilized carretas, or oxcarts, to carry their merchandise. When coming onto the Texas plains, cartographers and the military noted the many broad cart trails leading from key trading locations. Captain Marcy, upon finding the spring, noted a "beautiful road" adjacent to it. No doubt that the spring was a key trade location for the Comanchero. As the cattle industry began to develop, the Comanchero could not resist "borrowing" some cattle here and there and trading them off to their clients further west in New Mexico. By the 1890's, this trade practice became more and more of a problem. Local cattlemen, aided by the Texas Rangers and the United States Military eventually eliminated the trade of the Comanchero from the Texas plains.