Discovered by accident, Travis (Trave) Million, a black farmer, is credited with the discovery of Siloam Spring’s medicinal value. According to historical records, the event happened in 1880 when the valley was still covered by a wheat field. Jas. L. Farris, an attorney from Richmond, with some friends, was camped near where Siloam Spring is located while hunting and fishing in the area.
Million lived upstream, near where the old Isley school building is located, with his family. One of his daughters suffered from a severe case of scrofula (a form of tuberculosis). Mellion visited the Farris camp where he told them of his daughter’s affliction and how he had tried the advice of a number of physicians without relief.
Farris had noticed that residents in the valley steered clear of the water which oozed out of the bank near the river because of the yellow rusty track it left in its path. Half jokingly, he insinuated to Million that “it ought to be good for something” and suggested that it would do no harm to try it.
A jug of water was taken to Million’s home, and his afflicted daughter, Opal, was given of it to drink. Some of the water was also heated and used for bathing. This was continued for several days and within the days there was marked improvement in Opal’s condition. Inside of a few weeks, she was completely cured.
A log-cabin farmer, Frederick Kugler, living on the hillside not far from the spring, began to treat his rheumatic knees and a running sore on his leg caused by an old Civil War gunshot wound. Again recovery occurred and word spread of the two incidents, thus Excelsior Springs as “America’s Haven of Health” was born.