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Florida Diaries: Travelers' Accounts of their Visits: The Fountain of Youth

Drawing on the holdings of the P.K. Yonge Library of Florida History this website features excerpts from diaries and memoirs of visits to Florida, 1870-1930

The Famous Fountain

Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth

The Raymentons React to the Fountain of Youth

No less well-known is the famous fake known as Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth. Here the pop-eyed tourist is shown a well which, he is told, flows but twice a day. The water of this wonderful well, or spring, contains pure radium! By the side of this rejuvenating spring is a cross formed of stones, laid in the ground, fifteen in the shaft and thirteen in the cross arm, symbolizing the year it which it was discovered 1513. This was supposedly discovered in 1868 together with an earthen jar containing a silver urn containing the silver sword of Ponce de Leon.  The same named man also discovered, conveniently also on the own property, the remains of the first Catholic chapel in America . . .

By the side of the spring house is what is pretentiously called the Villa des Arts. Here we saw the egg-shaped urns (called here a casque) and the famous sword. The “casque” was said to contain a letter of Ponce de Leon written on Egyptian papyrus, the only kind of paper known four hundred years ago, according to our cicerone.

An Argument Over Art

The chief objects of interest here are the works of art (?) We were shown a piece of embroidery about two feet square which, we were solemnly told, was the last work of Mary, Queen of Scots, done on papyrus!! At one end of the room was a poor copy of some unknown Italian picture of late date. This was an “original Rembrandt.” At the other end of the room, appropriately draped in black, was a curious hodge podge of a painting in violent colors.

            “That,” said our guide, “is an original picture by Raphael, the only one in America.” Up jumped little Prich, bursting with information. “I think you are mistaken,” she ventured, “I know of at least two Madonnas.”

            With an eloquent wave of hand he silenced her. “Of course,” he said “there are thirty six Raphael Madonnas in existence but we can hardly count Madonnas as Raphaels.”  Here is some useful information on art!

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