The Town of El Dorado Springs


Picking research projects, sometimes for me, is an agonizing problem
that eventually turns into an enlightening experience; what was to be my
American Humanities research project was just such an experience. I had
preliminarily thought I\'d look into cultural myths. While researching myths, I
ran across El Dorado Springs, MO., under the category of geographical myths, in
the library computer. I thought how interesting while also wondering why. The
book listed had been published in 1887, with a question mark behind it, and was
housed in the rare book collection of the main library. Off I went to the main
library to see what the old book had to say. While looking through the small
book, what appeared to be possibly a promotional pamphlet for the town, I
thought perhaps the spring was why it was classified as a geographical myth.
While I read through this book, the librarian brought me another book she had
found in their collection about El Dorado Springs. This one was written and
published in 1962 by Paul Kemp titled The Wonder City. Interestingly, Kemp
started the book with a statement that really piqued my curiosity. "Indians who
once roamed the area had known that the spring had medicinal qualitites, but,
with characteristic reticence and secretiveness, they did not reveal this fact
to the white man. They held the secret in their hearts as they gave ground and
moved westward from the surging horde of white immigrants . . . " (1). To my
mind, this sounded like a fallacy; how did they know the Indians knew if they
never told anyone? Could I find out if the Indians considered the water
medicinal? Could I prove this statement false? Farther on in the book, I came
to the section titled "For Whites Only." "From the town\'s founding[,] no negros
have ever lived here." This in itself, to me, was phenomenal, but the last
sentence was what made me want to search farther. "El Dorado still has no negro
residents, but under today\'s Supreme Court rulings on civil rights, we have lost
face and mus t bow to the age of fading color lines (Kemp 30). Did the town,
after 1962, the published date of the book, ever allow negros to become
residents of the town? This town seemed to keep other cultures from entering
its borders, the perfect topic for my American Humanities paper. When I
submitted my topic, my teachers didn\'t match my enthusiasm for El Dorado Springs
and suggested I continue searching. I eventually found other material to write
about but El Dorado kept haunting my dreams. I knew nothing about this town,
but there was a tugging that pulled at the perimeters of my mind that could not
be ignored. Little things kept popping up about the town in conversations or in
things that I read. Being a strong believer in "there are no accidents," when
my English instructor mentioned a teacher she knew who lived there but taught in
Kansas City, I asked if I could tackle El Dorado Springs as the subject of my I
Search for English. When the answer was yes, I set out to find if I could
uncover the reason s for underlying feeling of my being pulled to this area.
What did I really want to know about this town? Could I find
information on the Native Americans that had inhabited the area, before the
white settlers, and whether or not they had put any importance on the area and
its water? Why was it important to disprove the statement in The Wonder City
about the Native Americans? Did it tie in with the discrimination of African
Americans the book alluded to? Would I find other instances of discrimination?
Why did I feel drawn to this area? Questions tumbled around in my head.
I felt the first step in my search should be to try to find out more
about the town. I had already exhausted the library\'s information and searching
the Internet turned up no information. It was time to contact the only
person\'s name I had that knew about the area, Susanna Swager, the teacher who
worked at the Blue Springs campus and lived in El Dorado Springs.
I called her and introduced myself.
"Ms. Swager, my name is Pamela Yeager, a student at Penn Valley
Community College; my English teacher gave me your name. I\'m doing an English
research paper on the town of El Dorado Springs and I was hoping you could give
me some