THE LEGEND OF CULLEOKA

how OUR TOWN CAME TO BE CALLED CULLEOKA

Located in the middle of the Volunteer State adjacent to Columbia, “the dimple of the universe,” is a quiet farming community still holding to values of yesteryear: faith, family and hard work. Imagine a land with flowing natural spring waters, where wildlife abounded and that was once home to our brother, the American Indian. This is land where springs can still be found and an abundance of wildlife continues to roam our valleys and fields.

As a child, my grandfather often found Indian artifacts on the family farm, just off Graham Road. The arrowheads and other treasures unearthed while preparing the grounds for seasonal planting provided handheld testimony to the heritage of the land. Sadly, these collections have been sold, lost or pilfered over the years. And after decades of progress, many of the free-running springs are now buried under railroad ties and reshaped highways. Yet, in spite of the progress, history still holds claim to our community, even if it is in name only.

Legend tells of a mighty Indian warrior who was overcome in a violent clash with another tribe over territorial rights. He died on the field of battle. Shortly afterward, the love of his life, a beautiful young Indian princess, was found still and lifeless in one of the springs. It seems her will to love overcame her will to live. In memoriam, her father, the tribe chief, called the spring “Culle” - the Choctaw Indian word for good or sweet, and “Oka” - meaning water. From then on, the springs were called Culle-oka and tenderly referred to as “Sweetwater.” 

In this case, love never fails and has even prevailed - as our little village is known as Culleoka to this day.

Lacy wildflowers and a tree-lined "sweetwater" creek on a Culleoka, Tenn. farm.

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