Legends of Silver Springs

One of the most beautiful of the many points of interest in Florida is Silver Springs, a magnificent body of water flowing into the Oklawaha River. These springs discharge from a basin eight hundred feet wide and thirty feet deep, a stream of water of such sparkling clearness that any object resting on the ground beneath is plainly distinguishable.

Many interesting legends are told of Silver Springs, the majority of them being of Indian origin. It is said that Desoto brought with him on his explorations, his beautiful bride, whom he worshiped. One day while Desoto and his train were pushing their way through an almost impenetrable forest, they came suddenly upon this stream. Desoto’s bride and her attendants headed the procession, mounted on large elephants. Deceived by the limpid water, they thought the springs were but a few feet deep and plunged boldly in. All were drowned and since that day many elephant tusks have been found in the basin of the springs to prove the truth of the story.

     Another legend is of the tragic fate of two young Indian lovers who lived in the forest near Silver Springs. Oklawaha was the son of the mighty chief Olaski ?, while  Winona was the only child of the no less powerful chief Suwanee.  The two old chieftains hated each other and never met except in bloodshed although their tribes were neighboring ones. One day while hunting, Oklawaha came upon Winona  as she gathered herbs in the forest and fell dearly in love with her. His affection was returned and the two spent many happy hours together in the great dim forest. They feared to tell the  old chieftains of their love, knowing that in telling of their story would bring about instant separation and possibly death. The lovers after several weeks of perilous happiness began to suspect that they were being watched and they at once planned to escape to the tribe of the Chattahoochee whom they hoped would grant them shelter. One night in response to a cry of a hoot-owl, Winona stole from her wigwam and joined Oklawaha in the shadow of their trysting oak. Silently they set forth on their fateful journey which would lead them to life or death. Suddenly a rifle shot rang out of the still night air of the forest and instantly the air resounded with hideous cries. Knowing their flight was discovered, Oklawaha and Winona made a desperate dash for freedom. Back and forth they doubled, successfully eluding their pursuers until at length they found themselves on a high bluff overlooking a glistening stream. As they stood there for an instant, the moon emerged from the dense clouds from which it had been veiled. Bathed in the silvery moonlight, the two motionless figures were clearly outlined against the sky. A yell of triumph told that they were discovered and their pursuers broke from the edge of the forest a few feet away. Turning, the lovers gazed deep into each other’s eyes for a moment. Then Oklawaha seizing Winona in his arms, leaped below. The union of Silver Springs and Oklawaha River typifies the union of the lovers in death and it is said that the green waving moss that grows in these streams is the lost Winona’s hair.

     Still another myth is told of Silver Springs. The young brave, Navarro, of the tribe of the Tequesta’s was deep enamored of a young maiden from the neighboring tribe of the Muscogee’s. The council talked long and wisely to Navarro about his folly, but although Tululah was beyond doubt a beautiful maiden, it was unforgivable that a Tequesta should so far forget himself as to love a Muscogee. Navarro remained unshaken in his determination to wed Tululah, however, and the old chief, Satouriana, decided that since fair means had failed he would try foul. Calling Navarro to him, he had him journey to the lands of Creeks who dwelt towards the north, and bring him news of their strengths and numbers. As a reward for the successful performance of this mission, Navarro would be allowed to wed the maiden of his choice. Early in the next day Navarro set out on his long journey, but not before a runner had left the camp, secretly dispatched by Satouriana.
     Three moons passed and Navarro had not returned. Tululah waited hopefully at first, but as time passed without bringing word of her lover, she grew silent and sad. She loved to go to the beautiful springs, where she and Navarro had spent so many happy hours, for there she seemed to feel his spirit near her. She never doubted that Navarro would have returned to her had he still lived. At last she grew so ill and weak she could no longer make the short journey to the springs, and when she felt herself dying, she begged her father to bury her in the clear waters. Shortly after, she died. The sorrowing old warrior rowed her body out into the middle of Silver Springs and there lowered it into the water. The rocks below slowly opened as the body sank and then as slowly, closed again. A few days after this, a haggard, starving Indian tottered into the camp of the Tequesta’s. The runner sent by Satouriana had done his work well. Navarro, on reaching the Creek’ had been seized as a captive and held a prisoner all those weary months. Satouriana had hoped that while Navarro was kept among the Creek’s, Tululah would belief him faithless and marry some brave from her own tribe. His plan, however, had miscarried. Navarro, had escaped from his captors and returned, only to find Tululah dead. When he had learned the place of her burial, Navarro took his canoe and rowed out into the middle of the springs, where he stopped the play of his paddle and let the boat drift as it would. Hearing a commotion of the waters, he looked down and saw the great rocks below slowly open. In a moment he saw the form of Tululah appear in the fissure, lovely as she had been in life. With a cry, Navarro leaped overboard and seized the body of Tululah in his arms. Once more the water gurgled and the rocks slowly closed upon the two lovers clasped in death.

Source: Ocala Evening Star: 6-12-1907 
Transcribed, Formatted and Submitted by Linda Flowers


This Page Created  October 16, 2013
by Linda Flowers    Updated; 3-7-2015
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