Tubal Cain Owen (1843–1913) marketed murky healing waters from his well in Ypsilanti under the 'Atlantis' and 'Paragon' names until the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act required an accurate listing of ingredients.

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Tubal Cain Owen was not a man to do anything by half-measures. When he drilled for water and struck a vein of smelly reddish-brown liquid of questionable ingestibility, did he drill elsewhere? No! He marketed the heck out of it! Owen sold his water across the nation as a life-giving elixir--even as a cancer cure. It was Ypsilanti's golden age of dubious curative water, just shy of the turn of the century.

Tubal Cain Owen (1843–1913) was named for the Biblical character in Genesis 4:22 who was a pioneer in metallurgy. Perhaps these high expectations were the motivation that led him to try his hand at several business enterprises (including attempting to build a flying machine) before pursuing the marketing of mineral water. Often described as “flamboyant,” “cocky,” and even a “bit peculiar,” he married Anna Foote, the daughter of Normal College music professor E.M. Foote. He bought property on West Forest Avenue where he built a pagoda-shaped house, and later would drop a well.

  • John Knott and Keith Taylor, ed., The Huron River, Voices From the Watershed, (Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 2000).
  • Harvey C. Colburn, The Story of Ypsilanti, (Ypsilanti, MI: Ypsilanti Bicentennial Commission, 1976). Knott and Taylor.