The Singing River - a Legend
Tradition has it that the mile-and-a-half-wide river that flows
past Bradenton derived its name from the sea cow or manatee.
The Indians called these large docile mammals "Big Beavers."
This river was a favorite habitat for large schools of manatees,
especially during the breeding season.
There were two tribes of Indians living in the Manatee area
some three hundred and fifty years ago.
The Timucuan Indians lived on the north side of the Great River,
and the Calusa Indians, lived on the south side of the river.
The two tribes were friendly and
traded back and forth during various times of the moon.
In 1855 a one-armed Indian told Rev. E. F Gates, an early settler,
the following legend. How much of it is true, we can only
guess; but many of the facts are true. There were two tribes of Indians
here along the river, and the mystic music was heard by
some of the early settlers. The Indian Spring in Manataee County is real.
You decide for yourself how much is true and how much is legend.
Legend has it that a Calusa chief had a very beautiful
daughter who fell in love with the son of the Timucuan chief.
The Calusa chief refused to give his permission for the two to
marry, so they planned to secretly meet on the north side of the river.
At the next rising of the moon, the young maiden paddled
her canoe across the Great River and into the arms of her lover.
Suddenly, the air was filled with a great sound, and the young man
was afraid. The maiden explained that the mysterious music came
from the river on certain times of the moon, and he should not to be afraid.
The young couple married in the Timucuan village and
were very happy, but after awhile the bride became homesick.
She longed to see her father, and drink from the medicine-
spring and hear the mysterious music again.
By that time, the young warrior had become the chief of the
Timucuan tribe, so he returned to his father-in- law's
village to ask to be forgiven. The Calusa chief refused.
A battle ensued, and many lives on both sides were lost; but finally,
a peace truce was reached. The tribes united and the
couple lived happily ever after. They drank from the medicine
spring and heard the Mystic Music from the Great River.
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