Early Story of the Fountain of Youth

ponce-de-leon
Ponce de Leon. Via American Gallery.

Florida is the land of wonders

Florida is the land of wonders, despite its wild morasses, its alligators, and its sterility in places. A recent and remarkable event there has raised the question, does Ponce de Lewis’ [sic] fountain of growth really exist? The circumstances, as brought out in a triple trial, are these: During the war, Fred. Halsemann, an old planter of Hillsboro county, fled at the approach of the Federal fleet, with his wife and child of five years. The wife got separated from the husband and child and wandered back home. Three years later, a man of about thirty, apparently, and a boy of five, came up to the house and joyfully greeted the lady, but were beaten and driven away. In the scuffle, however, a picture of the lady fell from the man’s pocket, and he explained that he was her husband, but that in his wanderings had fallen into a spring, and was at once changed from and old man to one of apparently thirty. He plunged his son in, but it merely seemed to check his growth.

early story fountain of youth. Florida is the land of wonders

After a few days the man reappeared, and reported that the child had died of fright and because of the beating he had received. Suit was at once instituted by the man for the recovery of his property, and three trials were had, the jury disagreeing each time. He rested his claim on the intimate knowledge of the history of the family, on the likeness of the child to the one taken away, and on his ability to point out the spring. He failed in the last item, – not remarkably, as few could surely locate points in a Florida wilderness. At the late election, the man was shot, thus ending the contest.

marsanneMarsanne Petty conducts historical research about 18th century southern United States and environmental history. To get more great updates and original history, sign up at The Southern Sage. To get her to help you with your own research project, email mapetty[at]gmail.com.

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