The life and travels of John Bartram from Lake Ontario to the River St. John

Material Information

The life and travels of John Bartram from Lake Ontario to the River St. John
Berkeley, Edmund
Berkeley, Dorothy Smith
Place of Publication:
University Presses of Florida
Physical Description:
xv, 376 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Botanists -- Biography -- Pennsylvania ( lcsh )
Botany -- History -- United States ( lcsh )
Botany -- Biography ( mesh )
Botanistes -- Biographies -- Pennsylvanie ( rvm )
Botanique -- Histoire -- États-Unis ( rvm )
Biographie ( swd )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent) ( marcgt )
bibliography ( marcgt )
individual biography ( marcgt )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


Bibliography: p. 359-368.
General Note:
"A Florida State University book."
General Note:
Includes index.
Statement of Responsibility:
Edmund Berkeley and Dorothy Smith Berkeley.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
07464709 ( OCLC )
81004083 ( LCCN )
0813007003 ( ISBN )
QK31.B3 B47 ( lcc )
581/.092/4|B ( ddc )
CC6542 ( nlm )


This item has the following downloads:

Full Text
"t tz+i i~j '+I t ,I! i~r fir .... ;x [ i "1' ? i "''t""I : ~1 "; l'I ': T t.+l'+. 1Pi" ;k' :1';' ,"*;tI '' "+ r .$; ; I ';'t:~;; ) tt'''
--- .. I ~~. -I.-I .-% LfC l
i3 "3; ii f; .4f .3...I '. t t f -1
.1 :" I I t'l ., .1 ;" "i, I i ,. i |: .. -" I ." !' f l II "L 1 ,. I rt' ;'' L:: I L s ",

I .' V. ~
I- a T 4 I' ", .. ....',. .. 4 ,;1 ";, I 14f .. .. .. .. .. ... ... .. 4,
i A i I I L I ; a I i-i l It lI i~ti

...... ... .. .. -
I j'. ', ; ., ; ,; ,I .I ', ', ;I 'r L, ', ,' I, '. .. ; ... .. .... ."
'3 t I ..... ., .'I ..
j l i A I

3'3~33~ I- A 3,,.aI .I-
I: : 4 I: .: ., ,. .. : .,.' ,.a I .. .'," ."."q. ,"I' : I.

O. 11, I3 'k 1
.I ,,I. .... J '"L .. ....'.". ,. .3"" "",.", I" "
33I1 I II
" !1 ; : Z. j" I A ," L 4 : : L I : I : :1:1 'e :.-' ;" -' ;
-..: i I',1,', ," I L I ,'=. : ..I Iq, I 1 I'. I. f I I. ( ,I f ..! ..-
I I I I I 1. I 0 % I '. I I ,

:J,; ,T' I : : I :, ,'!,. .. ." i, 't 1 ; '

1,'.. L I; i I ;' I ,; :, I, 'r ". : ,,, I I.,,I ,, ; : .
: .. .. ,. ...: ,- ., ., '. .,. ;I,..

.:, ,. ., ;, ; :i;: ;,i, ;: ;:. .` ; .. i. i ` ;: ` ` : '.i : ; -` ,: !ij': : i' ,! i' i:!-" i J':;,.' ,', '
: :: ,.4 ". I t: -' ','.:', ,' ',. '., :, '. :: ". !- ,. 1. 1. I ,,o,.,,, ,,,,1.,..,,I :

... ...l .;.... I''"''' .'.... 1 ,'''':' 1?i,,!... ,L. ... ..... .I ,,. ... ,+ .. ,. : ... ... .
,, 1. 3!

,-3:,..'.',: L.. I
...." "." ,13; ., .,. .,3',
.. I I : i ii .I .... I : ..... L, ; '.1 I |- .!- ; I .. 1 4 4 : I, 1 i 1 | | | I .
i .. .. -. k ,' : 1.; ."" ... : i -'. '. r, ,; .: :; : ,' ;. ;; .."' ,-; ," -L .r, ]:' ,; t -,. I. ;
rii A ~ ; ,I .. I :; J;,I i i I I I I ; I ;I I -Ii I i '.. i, l .. .

1. F.3.
I,. I., : ', : :I,.,:':. : : ';!i "
: ::: : :: t ~ .: :: '. -,: :i:

: t : ',~ ~ ~ ~ ~~. i I "k, .. .: *. .,: ,," : : : : '. I. I. ; '. ',, .,. L, "; : : .
I I1 ., !3,

"I '1,I ", 3', ,' I. ,
A ,I -.. ... 3,. ,', .... .
.- : I I. : I I I I .: I.4 & ,, :",,, ,I. .,:. ...,

I. ,,I .... .....T.... ........ ; .. ,, ,
I ; : ", i ; :. ,, ; : : ', ,. :"; ", ... 7 ...... '..' ,
,'. .,. ,,, ,-".., ,I : ,,, ...." ; : : ". a: I" '. : :: '-,"I',

..I ? .. f. '.. ".".' '"-. .
I I I I !

L.. .. ( ,. .

. .. "" .. ... I + I : ; [ .' ; ,. .
+,.,..,,.t:,,,:t ,'.. .:.. ... .......;.. ,I, .;. L.I..... ::l I', II. :,, ;:r,,,.''., !';;,

,I ,,,,, r' ':,,:",.'',.i ,.. I. : .'+.i' i:;' .,',Ia'.q. '.. '. :i, I; 1, .I I i': F :,, ...;.:...;,., + ; .,4-. ,
I i 4 I I I .- i~.
Lli t i ii: I I .- I i ;

'i i .: I zt i .1 : 1 .. I .1 I :' I. !'. I 1. i '. 1 I ; I I I '

.. ,.I. ... .. : .. ..... .. ; I, ... .... ...... i..,
11 LI ( ,


1 3.I,,:........ .. ., ,,, .3, ,, ..*;:, 3 ', 3 .
'. 1 .. 1'.. 1",. ..I1 I' ,,, "-! -" .
I :, t ,4.. i. I L... ..I, ... ...' ." I .
.:: lic I I I I .i

: . I '., I. '. '. .
;I ,' 't".- .,,. .. I ... ..;'' ........... ..;... '...1 ...
I '.' *I t .,. I. ,,

I. : '. .' [ t :t,, ..,- : : : .. ... I.. ; ; ; ; + : : ; : '
!'1, I I : .I Ii." ,' 'T'k .. I ;
I I: 1",', ; ,. '." .'. .',," ...: o," 1 .'. ..1 +'' "'.'+.. ".'; .. '. '.;:;:
: ; I ,. -; ,; d' '. ; ". ? I .P 'I I 'I. ; ,, 1 ; I I : : : : f : : 1 x ; '
I +:.I.'I1, :I 1. : "- :. : : ; : : : "' :,; : ': I, I 1. I, I. ` t: ; ` ` ; ; `..; .' .
-J I '. I ; I i --: i : ,:;

- ,1 ; ', I :- :'f I ; .' .-' I. ,." ) I '. : : t ; : ; : t ,
I : ; .. .. ." '". I" ': ;: ,' ', I -. ., ,;. ,.: 'r ` ; ;;` : .. ,f ;.`f`'!.' ",; .. I ~: +
........... .... ....... ............... ... : .. .......... ,..... +....

I rllr C"r '~B~ss~--------"-""""L"- -a~u~---

~LI C~CC~I~- L ~----m-~~ I* --------~--





I~) I ';
I .I

'~" -


From Lake Ontario
to the River St. John

Edmund Berkeley
Dorothy Smith Berkeley

A Florida State University Book
University Presses of Florida



University Presses of Florida is the central agency for scholarly publishing of the
State of Florida's university system. Its offices are located at 15 NW 15th Street,
Gainesville, FL 32603. Works published by University Presses of Florida are
evaluated and selected for publication by a faculty editorial committee of any one of
Florida's nine public universities: Florida A&M (Tallahassee), Florida Atlantic
University (Boca Raton), Florida International University (Miami), Florida State
University (Tallahassee), University of Central Florida (Orlando), University of
Florida (Gainesville), University of North Florida (Jacksonville), University of
South Florida (Tampa), University of West Florida (Pensacola).

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Berkeley, Edmund.
The life and travels of John Bartram: from Lake
Ontario to the River St. John.

"A Florida State University book."
Bibliography: p.
Includes index.
1. Bartram, John, 1699-1777. 2. Botanists-
Pennsylvania-Biography. 3. Botany-United States-
History. I. Berkeley, Dorothy Smith. II. Title.
QK31.B3B47 581'.092'4 [B] 81-4083
ISBN 0-8130-0700-3 AACR2

Copyright 1982 by the Board of Regents of the State of Florida

Typography by Graphic Composition
Athens, Georgia

Printed in U.S.A.


THE beginning of our study of John Bartram is
difficult to pinpoint, but it certainly goes back
to the period when we were doing research toward a biography of
his friend John Clayton in the early 1960s. In the interim we have
been involved with two other friends of Bartram, Alexander Gar-
den and John Mitchell. During these years so many people have
generously assisted us that it is hazardous to attempt to thank
them all. We are deeply indebted to the manuscript librarians and
their assistants of a great many libraries, and we have tried to ex-
press our appreciation to them individually. It is, nonetheless, a
pleasure to thank them collectively for all that they do to make our
writing possible.
We have been extremely fortunate in our study of Bartram to
have been able to build on a foundation of years of hard work by
other people, whose writings, both published and unpublished,
have been of the greatest assistance to us. We feel particularly in-
debted to Carlotta Herring-Browne, William Darlington, Ernest
Earnest, Joseph Ewan, Francis Harper, Francis D. West, and Ed-
ward E. Wildman.
We were cordially encouraged to undertake a biography of
Bartram by Emily Read Cheston and Joseph B. Tbwnsend, Jr., of
the John Bartram Association, and we have made extensive use of
their valuable manuscript materials on deposit at the American
Philosophical Society. At the fine library of this brainchild of John
Bartram, Whitfield J. Bell, Jr., Murphy D. Smith, Carl F. Miller,
and other members of the staff have been remarkably patient and
cheerful over the years and have helped in innumerable ways.


It has always been a privilege to work in the splendid manu-
script collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Their
Bartram Papers have been indispensable to us in this study. The
manuscript collections and the fine rare book section of the Library
Company of Philadelphia were of special interest to us. We were
greatly helped by Edwin Wolf, II, Lillian 'Inkin, and Edward A.
Hughes, Jr. Ruth E. Brown and Martha T. Pilling of the Academy
of Natural Sciences gave thoughtful assistance. We also enjoyed a
visit to the Friends' Historical Library of Swarthmore College,
where the director, J. William Frost, and his staff were most gra-
Many pleasant hours were spent at the Chester County His-
torical Society, where Dorothy B. Lapp and Conrad Wilson, a Bar-
tram descendant, were very cordial and helpful. Among many
things discovered there, a small note made in 1917 concerning a
Common Place Book of William Bartram started us on a treasure
hunt of many months' correspondence which eventually led us to
the present owner, a Bartram descendant, Frances Kaighn Robin-
son. We are very much indebted to her and to her parents, Mr. and
Mrs. George S. Kaighn, for all their help and for making it possible
for us to examine this little-known book.
A visit to the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation of
Carnegie-Mellon University started inauspiciously when we were
snowbound on the Pennsylvania Turnpike for thirty-seven hours,
but it was worth it to have the pleasure of working there. We only
resented the curtailment of our research time. A great many people
did everything they could to compensate. We should like to thank
particularly Theodore W. Bossert, Bernadette G. Callery, Anita T.
Karg, Abby Levine, Mary Jo Lilly, Denise M. Pearson, and Merry
W. Ziegler.
George W White of the University of Illinois was generous
with good geological advice for nongeologists. He has not, however,
seen anything that we have written on the subject and must not be
blamed for any errors we may have made. Paul P. Hoffman of the
North Carolina Division of Archives and History went far beyond
the call of duty in assisting us with information concerning early
eighteenth-century Indian warfare in Carolina. Wanda S. Campbell
of the Bladen County North Carolina Historical Society was very
helpful with information concerning the North Carolina Bartrams.
So, too, was Mary Bartram Robeson Hunter, of Charlottesville, Vir-



ginia, a descendant of Colonel William Bartram of Ashwood. The
late E. Milby Burton, Charleston, South Carolina, generously sent
us information and a booklet.
Our research concerning Bartram and his friends has re-
quired three summers of work abroad, during which we have
worked in manuscript collections in England, Ireland, Scotland,
Wales, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden. We are greatly in-
debted to manuscript librarians in all of these countries for their
generous assistance. As she has done so often in the past, Phyllis I.
Edwards of the British Museum (Natural History) helped us time
and again. It is difficult to thank her adequately. We were also as-
sisted by Alwyne Wheeler of the Zoology Department of the mu-
seum, and we appreciate his help. The Curator-Librarian of the
Royal Society of Arts, D. G. C. Allan, has assisted us numerous
times, and we once more thank him.
Attempts to learn something of the Bartram family from Der-
byshire records involved many people. We are very much indebted
to Lesley J. Webster, Friends House Library, London; Joan Sinar,
County Archivist, Matlock, Derbyshire; Helen Forde, London; Mrs.
F. M. Wilkins-Jones and C. Weir, Nottinghamshire County Council;
Denis Stuart, University of Keele; Victor Burch, Clerk of the Staf-
fordshire Monthly Meeting; Norman W. Tildesley, Willenhall, West
It is a pleasure to recognize the great assistance of that
unique institution the Biohistorisch Instituut der Rijkuniversiteit
at Utrecht. We are deeply indebted to Miss H. de Vries and W. D.
Margadant of their staff for a great deal of important help. The li-
brarian of the manuscript department of the Royal Swedish Acad-
emy of Sciences, Christer Wijkstrom, was exceedingly gracious,
sending copies of several Bartram letters from their collection.
The staff of the Interlibrary Loan Section of the Alderman Li-
brary, University of Virginia, has made it possible for us to study
many materials which we should not have been able to see without
a great deal more travel than we were free to undertake. For all of
the work that they have done on our behalf we are very grateful.
Angelika S. Powell, of the Slavic Section of the library, very kindly
translated Russian letters for us, which we appreciated greatly. It
has also been a privilege to make extensive use of other divisions
of that fine library, especially the Rare Book and the Manuscript
departments, and it is a pleasure to express our thanks.



Space limitation does not permit us to detail the help given by
a number of other people but we must, at least, say thank you
again to: Elizabeth Alexander, University of Florida; Bernita L.
Anderson, Libraries of the Gray Herbarium and Arnold Arbore-
tum; G. E. Bentley, Princeton University Library; Dana G. Beyer,
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg;
Herbert Cahoon, The Pierpont Morgan Library; Ward J. Childs,
Department of Records, City of Philadelphia; Doris E. Cook, The
Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford; Ruth Corry, Georgia De-
partment of Archives and History, Atlanta; Alan R. Eager, Royal
Dublin Society; Carla M. Fass, Universiteits-Bibliotheek, Amster-
dam; Malcolm Freiberg, Massachusetts Historical Society; J. Gandy,
Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, London; Lawrence
Gardiner, The Catskill Quarterly; James Gregory, the New York
Historical Society; Marilyn S. Horbund, the Long Island Historical
Society, Brooklyn; Lisabeth M. Holloway, College of Physicians of
Philadelphia; E. L. Inabinett, University of South Carolina; Wil-
liam F. Johnstone, The Pennsylvania State University; William L.
Joyce, American Antiquarian Society; James Lawton, Boston Pub-
lic Library; Helmut T. Lehman, The Lutheran Theological Semi-
nary at Philadelphia; Kenneth A. Lohf, Butler Library, Columbia
University; Roy N. Lokken, East Carolina University; Helen Weir
McHenry, Gladwyne, Pennsylvania; Harriet McLoome, Huntington
Library and Art Gallery; Jean R. McNiece, The New York Public
Library; Charles W. Mann, The Pennsylvania State University;
Paul Maloney, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; Archie Motley, Chicago
Historical Society; Theodore O'Grady, Linnean Society of London;
A. Payne, Department of Manuscripts, The British Museum; Mrs.
Charles A. Potter, Essex Institute; Mary B. Prior, The South Caro-
lina Historical Society; Mary Wolcott Quereau, Philadelphia; E. W.
Quinn, The John Crear Library, Chicago; Lyman W. Riley, The
Charles Patterson van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania;
Mrs. Charles W Rita, Philadelphia; J. Albert Robbins, Indiana
University; N. H. Robinson, The Royal Society of London; George
C. Rogers, Jr., University of South Carolina; Virginia Rugheimer,
Charleston Library Society, South Carolina; Richard W. Ryan, Ohio
University Library, Athens; Martha Slotten, Dickinson College;
Alan Smith, Salford Public Libraries, Salford, England; Susan B.
Tate, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens; David R. Taylor,
Havelock, North Carolina; Frank Taylor, The John Rylands Uni-



versity Library of Manchester, England; Robert A. Tibbetts, The
Ohio State University, Columbus; Elizabeth B. Trittle, Haverford
College; and Carolyn A. Wallace, University of North Carolina Li-
brary, Chapel Hill.
We are grateful for the courtesy of all of the following who
have kindly given permission to quote from manuscripts in their
The Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia
The British Library, London
The Earl of Derby
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania
The New-York Historical Society
The Pierpont Morgan Library
The Royal Society of London
The Royal Society of Arts
The Trustees of the Boston Public Library
The Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History)
Universitetsbiblioteket Uppsala
Yale University Library
All maps, all line drawings of plants and people, and the
drawing of the governor's house in St. Augustine are by Dorothy
Smith Berkeley.
E. B.


This biography is respectfully dedicated to the
memory of Francis Harper, meticulous scholar,
whose long study of John and William Bartram
made him the recognized and respected authority
concerning them and set a high standard for others
to try to follow.


List of Illustrations xiii
Introduction xv
One. From Derbyshire to Darby 1
Two. Peter Collinson and His Friends 18
Three. The Education of a Botanist 35
Four. New Travels, New Friends, and a Growing
Reputation 50
Five. Experimental Botany 61
Six. "For the Encouragement of Mr. John Bartram" 77
Seven. A Journey to the Headquarters of the Five
Indian Nations 91
Eight. Of Science and Philosophy 112
Nine. The International Scientific Circle 126
Ten. A Companion for His Travels 148
Eleven. Affairs of Family and of Conscience 167
Twelve. To the Carolinas at Last 186
Thirteen. To Carolina Again 202
Fourteen. "His Majesty's Botanist for North
America" 221
Fifteen. On to Florida 236
Sixteen. The River St. John 255


Seventeen. New Honors for a Scientist 272
Eighteen. "Like Newton, in Simple Facts he saw
Great Principles" 293
1. Will of Richard Bartram 305
2. Indian Physick, from Poor Richard's Almanac 306
3. The Salt-Marsh Muscle 306
4. List of Seeds in Bartram's Five-Guinea Box 308
5. "Our spring red maple" 310
6. Lists of Bartram's Customers 311
7. List of Some of Bartram's Geological Specimens 318
8. Observations on Geographical Distribution of
Plants 320
9. Letter of Disownment to Bartram 322
Notes 325
Literature Cited 359
Index 369


List of Illustrations

Map, from Lake Ontario to the River St. John xvi
Residence of John Bartram 12
"The botanist" 14
"The old corner cupboard" 16
Breintnall's leaf prints 20
Peter Collinson 23
Sir Hans Sloane 24
Illustrations from Mark Catesby, Natural History 27-31
Carolus Linnaeus 38
Map, trip to the Great Cedar Swamp in 1736 40
Illustration of cicada from Philosophical Transactions 42
Map, trip up the Schuylkill River 44
Map, trip to Maryland and Virginia in 1738 47
Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium L.) 52
Dr. John Fothergill 54
John Custis 56
Colonel William Byrd II 58
Sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua L.). 62
Campion (Lychnis) 64
Dr. Cadwallader Colden 67

List of Illustrations

Great laurel (Rhododendron maximum L.) 69
Shooting star (Dodecatheon media L.) 71
Bartramia 73
The Reverend George Whitefield 80
"Departure for New York" 84
Map, trip to Onondago and Oswego 93
Cucumber tree (Magnolia acuminata L.) 97
Bartram's drawing of the town of Oswego 102
Benjamin Franklin 116
Peter Kalm 132
Bartram's drawing of the Chesapeake Bay river
system 144-45
William Bartram 152
Illustration of ruffed grouse from Philosophical
Transactions 154
Jared Eliot 165
Moses Bartram 170
Bartram's drawing of his house and garden 181
Travels in the Carolinas 188
"Tipitiwichet sensitive" (Dionaea muscipula Ellis) 212
St. John de Crevecoeur 222
Travels in Georgia 239
Franklinia alatamaha, Marsh. 246
Governor's house, St. Augustine, Florida 251
Travels in East Florida 257
"The old chimney-corner" 286
Letter of disownment 323



AFULL and adequate biography of John Bar-
tram has long been a desideratum," wrote
Francis Harper in the introduction to his annotated edition of Bar-
tram's "Diary of a Journey Through the Carolinas, Georgia, and
Florida" in 1942. Since no one was so well qualified to undertake
one as Harper himself, many expected that he would ultimately do
so. Having long been involved with Bartram's friends, we were no
exception. With Dr. Harper's untimely death, we felt impelled to
undertake what we had expected he would do.
The limited group of North American botanists in the middle
third of the eighteenth century-John Clayton, Alexander Garden,
John Mitchell, and Cadwallader Colden-were all Bartram's per-
sonal friends. All had benefited from a more formal education than
Bartram had, but none left a more permanent record of influence
on the history of American and European botany. He was by far the
most colorful of them, and none of them exceeded him in scientific
acumen. Bartram's botanical explorations involved travel from
northern New York to Florida and west to Pittsburgh, a far wider
area than that covered by any of his contemporaries or predeces-
Much of what has been written about Bartram has been brief
or sketchy, and some of it is inaccurate. Surprisingly, among the
latter must be included the account of his son, William, whose
"Some Account of the Late Mr. John Bartram" in its first sentence
confuses John's grandfather, John, with his great-grandfather,
Richard, and in the second paragraph gives the botanist's father
the name John instead of William. We hope that we have not per-
petuated any similar errors.

.AKla dA'ATlN

From Lake Ontario to the River St. John


From Derbyshire
to Darby

O N COLD winter evenings, when the farm
chores had been completed, young John Bar-
tram and his brother James enjoyed sitting around the fireplace,
listening to their grandmother telling of her early life in England.
It was of Compton and Clifton, parts of the parish of Ashbourne, in
Derbyshire, that she spoke. Not only had she and their grand-
father, John, made their home at Compton, but so had the boys'
great-grandfather, Richard, a fellmonger, and his father before
him.1 Compton is in that mountainous part of Derbyshire known as
"The Peak." This is limestone country, and Mrs. Bartram spoke of
caves, sinkholes, springs, and waterfalls, of fine land for cultivation
in the valleys and of excellent pastures for cattle and sheep in the
uplands. At first the boys wondered why anyone would leave such
a country to undertake a long and hazardous voyage to a strange
land, to clear the virgin forest, and to build a new home. Their
grandmother explained that the reason for their migration was re-
lated to the peaceful Meetinghouse where they worshipped every
First Day. She reminded her grandsons that the Society of Friends
was still very young and that the Bartrams and many of their
neighbors had been closely associated with its beginnings.
Mrs. Bartram proudly told her grandsons that it had been in
Derbyshire that the first recorded meeting of the Society of Friends
was held, although the society had begun earlier in a few other
counties.2 It was in Derbyshire that the first active center of the
sect had become established in 1647. George Fox had been impris-
oned there for a year in 1650-51, and it was upon his release from
prison that his triumphal ministry began to gather momentum. In

2 The Life and Travels of John Bartram
these early days of the society there could be no established places
for worship so meetings were held in private homes. It took courage
to become a Friend, Mrs. Bartram told her grandsons, for many
were persecuted, placed in the stocks, thrown into ponds by mobs,
and even imprisoned. Members of the Bartram family were among
those who shared in the Derbyshire "sufferings," as they came to be
Meetings were held at the home of the boys' great-grand-
mother, Mary Bartram, until authorities stormed into her house
and broke up a meeting in 1663. In that same year her son, John,
the boys' grandfather, had been ordered to appear before the
bishop's court at Wirksworth and, in the following year, he had
been imprisoned.3 In 1668 both he and his mother were in difficul-
ties for "absence from the public worship."4 But they were not to
be intimidated. When Mary died in 1672, she left in her will ten
shillings for the relief of poor Friends in the county.' In 1675 her
son, "John Bartram of Compton, was prosecuted in the Ecclesiasti-
cal Court, at the Suit of Thomas Godread, Vicar there, for Tithes or
Easter-Offerings, and was committed to prison on a Significavit, by
Warrant from two Justices of the Peace."6 He was released this time
after twelve days.
John and James were impressed by their grandmother's ac-
count of the rapid increase of converts to the Society of Friends that
soon caused the "Children of Light" to become a serious problem
for the Church of England. A solution for both the church and the
society had been found when Charles II made a large grant of
North American land to William Penn, a Friend, in payment of a
debt owed to his father. Penn's offer of land in Pennsylvania, at
forty shillings per 100 acres, with the promise of religious freedom,
had been eagerly accepted by thousands of harassed and threat-
ened Quakers.
In the fall of 1681 a group of ships sailed from England for
Philadelphia, soon to be followed by many others. They were to
bring more people to Pennsylvania in three years than had reached
New York in fifty. Within two years some ninety ships brought over
7,000 people to Philadelphia.7 Among them were John and Eliza-
beth Bartram and their four children: John, Isaac, William (the
boys' father), and Mary.8 Mrs. Bartram shuddered as she described
to the boys that wretched voyage and the primitive conditions they

From Derbyshire to Darby 3
had found at Philadelphia. Makeshift housing there was so inade-
quate that some people were living in caves dug in the ground.
The Bartrams were not among those who had purchased land
from Penn before sailing. They joined a small group of eight fami-
lies, three of which, the Bonsalls, the Cartlidges, and the Hoods,
were also from Derbyshire. They settled in a community west of
Philadelphia, which was part of Chester County, and they gave it
the name of Darby in 1683.9 For Mrs. Bartram it had been a great
relief to find that this was no wilderness. Both Dutch and Swedish
settlers were already there, the latter having arrived as early as
1638. Land had been cleared and small farms developed. The
Swedes were cordial to the exhausted travelers, and even the Indi-
ans were friendly (the earlier settlers had purchased land from
them and had avoided antagonizing them). The Friends were able
to establish themselves comfortably sooner than they had expected.
Many of them had brought the tools of their trades with them from
England, including a complete sawmill.
A second daughter, the boys' Aunt Elizabeth, had been added
to the Bartram family in 1684.10 It was not until the following year
that they had been able to buy the three hundred acres on the west
side of Darby Creek on which they lived and which was now a pros-
perous farm.11 John Bartram had quickly established himself as
one of the leaders of the new community. He had been active in the
organization of Darby Meeting and the construction of a meeting-
house.12 He served on petty juries, grand juries, and coroner's in-
quests. He held office as supervisor of highways, as an appraiser of
estates, and as a constable.13 His interest in public affairs extended
beyond Darby as well, and he represented Chester County in the
thirty-four-member Pennsylvania Assembly in 1689.14
There were many changes in the Bartram family during the
next few years. The eldest son, John, died unmarried in 1692. Four
years later Mary married John Woods, whose family had arrived at
Darby with the Bartrams.15 Soon afterward William had become
engaged to Elizah, daughter of James and Elizabeth Chambers
Hunt. James Hunt had been a prosperous linen weaver in Kent. He
had come to Philadelphia in 1684 with a patent from Penn for
1,000 acres. He had acquired three tracts of land in the region that
the Swedish settlers had called Kingsessing (a name derived from
an Indian word meaning bog-meadow), southwest of Philadelphia

4 The Life and Travels of John Bartram
on the west bank of the Schuylkill River.16 William and Elizah
Hunt were married on the "3rd. mo. 22, 1696" at Darby Meeting-
house."7 William's father had conveyed to him 100 of his original
300 acres, and William had purchased an adjoining fifty from Dan-
iel Hibbet (Hibberd).'8 On the first of June of the following year
John Bartram had conveyed the remaining 200 acres of his farm to
his second son, Isaac, giving him his entire "estate both real and
personal to wit lands and plantation with buildings orchards and
all other appurtenances Chattles Cattles Depts Implements of
Household and Household Stuff of what kind quality or condition
they may be in."19 Bartram died three months later, on 1 September
John Bartram, the future botanist, was born to Elizah and
William on 23 May 1699.21 William, like his father, was active in
community affairs and is recorded as having served on coroners' in-
quests and grand juries and in other such public capacities.22 A sec-
ond son of the William Bartrams was born 6 October 1701 and was
named James for his maternal grandfather. Elizah failed to recover
from her confinement and died two weeks later.23 Thus, young John
and James had been left to the care of other members of the family,
particularly their grandmother Bartram.
John was a delicate child, often suffering from indigestion and
heartburn. For these ailments he was dosed with a mixture of
chalk, saccharin, cinnamon water, and the dregs of bentonite,
which usually helped him. He was inclined to be timid and was
particularly fearful of thunderstorms. Soon after a storm broke,
John was apt to be found sitting motionless in the house, praying
for protection. When the storm had passed he would say prayers of
thanksgiving. This "slavish fear" of lightning, as he later called it,
remained with him for much of his life even though he told himself
that very few people were killed by lightning. There were other
things of which he was afraid and, as an adult, he described himself
as having been "Naturaly one of the fearful Mortals from my In-
When John was old enough to attend school he did not have
far to walk. The schoolhouse was a short distance down the Spring-
field road, which crossed the Bartrams' land. It had been built on
land originally owned by John Bethel, whose farm adjoinedlthat of
the Bartrams. The Friends had established compulsory education
in 1692. The first schoolmaster appointed for Darby School was

From Derbyshire to Darby

Benjamin Clift, who served from 1692 until 1707. He received the
munificent salary of twelve pounds a year for twelve months' work,
with two weeks' vacation. There were probably additional compen-
sating factors, such as room and board, but they do not seem to
have been a matter of record. Clift taught John for three or four
years, but nothing is known of his qualifications or those of his suc-
Quaker schools, like other schools of that day, brooked no non-
sense in imparting knowledge to the children in their charge. Not
only was there a twelve-month session, but school met for an eight-
hour day, five days a week, and for four hours on Saturday. Little
information is available concerning the number of years of re-
quired attendance, but it is likely that children finished schooling
by their twelfth year. Even so, with such a concentrated program
their training was probably equivalent to that of the average high
school graduate today.26 The curriculum was eminently practical:
reading, writing, and "casting accounts." The textbooks usually in-
cluded George Fox's Primers and his Instruction for Right Spelling,
printed in Philadelphia in 1702. This last was not confined to or-
thography but covered reading and writing as well. Other books
that John may have studied were The Young Clerk's Tutor, A Short
Introduction to Grammar,'and Elements of Geometry. The school li-
brary was furnished exclusively with religious works. Bartram has
been generally regarded as a largely self-educated man. By Euro-
pean standards this is no doubt true, but by colonial ones he re-
ceived the average education of children whose parents were not
wealthy. He received the basic tools with which to work and then
his native intelligence took over.27 Even in childhood he had an in-
terest in scientific subjects. By the time he was twelve this interest
was strongly developed, but he was handicapped by having few sci-
ence books and no one who could instruct him.,'Physick" and sur-
gery were his favorites. Since medicine then !depended heavily on
plant drugs, he naturally developed a fascination with "Botanicks."
He may have received some elementary instruction in botany since
George Fox urged that all Quaker schools provide instruction con-
cerning plants. Penn, too, had stressed the importance of training
in natural history.28
On 5 September 1705 the boys' Aunt Elizabeth and John
Cartlidge declared to the Meeting their intention to marry and
received approval.29 At about the same time their father was con-


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

sidering a second marriage. He was courting Elizabeth, daughter
of the Bartrams' next-door neighbors, the William Smiths. The
Bartrams and the Smiths had both bought land from Thomas Bras-
sey on the same day in 1685. William Bartram and Elizabeth de-
clared their intentions of marriage on 3 September 1707 and were
married on 1 October.30 Although both families had been active in
the organization of Darby Meeting and its subsequent proceedings,
some difficulty arose concerning the marriage. William Smith was
declared "out of unity" with the Meeting on 2 February 1708 and
William Bartram was so declared on 2 June.31
William's standing with Darby Meeting did not prevent him
from being elected to represent Chester County in the Provincial
Assembly in 1708. His brother Isaac died on 7 March 1708, leaving
the family place to his mother for her lifetime and to his nephew
John upon her death. William was named as his brother's execu-
tor.32 It might be expected that he would now have become his
mother's sole support in running the family farm and that he would
have had little time for anything else. Instead, he left his mother,
eight-year-old John, six-year-old James, and his pregnant wife and
went to Carolina to look for land.
After a time William returned to Philadelphia, pleased with
the land that he had found. He informed his family that he in-
tended to move to Carolina to live. Two tracts of land on Bogue
Sound, near the mouth of the White Oak River, had been surveyed
for him on 22 December 1709. The land lay east of present-day
Swansboro, Carteret County, then Bath County. One tract con-
tained 500 acres and a second, adjoining it, 340.33 There had been
some Friends in this part of North Carolina since 1665. William
told his family of the conditions that he had found there among the
1,500 inhabitants of Bath County. The town of Bath had twelve
houses and a population of sixty. He may or may not have told his
family of the incessant jockeying for control of the government be-
tween the Friends and the adherents of the Church of England. He
probably did not dwell upon the very strained relations existing be-
tween the white settlers and the Indians. There had been good rea-
son for bitterness on the part of the latter. Their hunting grounds
were being overrun. Traders cheated them. Some of their land had
been purchased, but much had simply been taken. Still wbrse,
many Indians had been seized and sold as slaves. This practice had
become sufficiently prevalent to justify Pennsylvania's banning of


From Derbyshire to Darby 7
the importation of Indian slaves. To make this inflammable situa-
tion worse, the Indians were being sold both rum and weapons with
William was advised to make a will before leaving Philadel-
phia permanently. In it he wrote: "I William Bartram of Darby in
the County of Chester and provence of Pensilvania Yeoman, being
now about to remove myself, wife and youngest child from these
parts into Carolina there to dwell but calling to mind the many
dangers & difficulties too frequently attending Travelers as well as
the uncertainty of all things here & well knowing that it is ap-
pointed for all men to dye do make & ordain this my last will &
Testament my uncle Benj. Chambers & my father in law William
Smith & Joseph Harvey of Ridley ... to be executors thereof."35 The
youngest child to whom William referred was not James but the
boys' half-sister, Elizabeth, born 10 February 1709/10.36 William's
executors were directed to sell his land in Pennsylvania and pay
his debts whether he lived or died. Should he survive, he would
later direct them what to do with any remaining balance. Should
he die, it was to be equally divided between his sons, John and
James, who were left behind. William's land consisted of 450 acres,
and his principal debt was one of 37 owed to James Hunt, father
of his first wife.
John's father and stepmother arrived safely in Carolina, and
not long afterward a son, William, was born on 3 June 1711.37
Other settlers were arriving in the region. Some, like William,
were moving south from other colonies, but the majority were
Swiss and German immigrants brought over by Baron von Graffen-
reid.38 William's land lay twenty miles beyond that of most of the
other Friends, many of whom had advised him against settling that
far away.3s Eventually word reached Philadelplia of horrors in Ca-
rolina, but it was a long time before the Bartrams learned all of the
grim details. On 22 September 1711 Indians attacked throughout
the area. William was killed, and Elizabeth and her two small chil-
dren were taken prisoner.40 They were more fortunate than many.
Christopher Gale reported to the governor of South Carolina that
"Women were laid upon the house floor'and great stakes driven
through their bodies; from others, big with child, the infants were
ripped out and hung from trees."41
Elizabeth and her children were taken to "Hancock's Fort," so-
called from the name of the Tuscarora chief, west of New Bern.

8 The Life and Travels of John Bartram
They and others captured would serve as hostages against a retal-
iatory attack by the whites. At the fort they found Baron von Graf-
fenreid, already a prisoner. He and John Lawson, the Proprietory's
surveyor, had been captured together. Lawson had been burned at
the stake, but von Graffenreid was being held for ransom. He was
later released and reported that some five hundred Indians had
been assembled for the attack. He had been forced to watch with
horror their preparations and the return of the warriors with cap-
tives and scalps.42
Elizabeth and her fellow captives were certain that an at-
tempt would be made to rescue them but feared what might happen
when the fort was attacked. They felt less certain when first weeks
and then months passed with no sign of help. It was not until six
months after their capture that rescue was attempted by a party of
whites and friendly Indians, led by Colonel John Barnwell of South
Carolina. Hancock's men went out of the fort to meet them but
were driven back. When the water supply gave out in the fort, the
Indians sent white women out to get it, threatening torture of their
children if they failed to return. When Barnwell continued the
siege, an eight-year-old girl was killed within hearing of the at-
tackers. A mother of five children was then sent to inform Barnwell
that unless he withdrew, all hostages would be killed and the Indi-
ans would fight to the last man. Barnwell was forced to negotiate a
truce but succeeded in rescuing the women and children.43
Elizabeth and her children returned to Philadelphia late in
1712. William's will was proved there on 17 January 1712/13.44 His
Carolina land was sold in March of the following year to Daniel
Richardson, Recorder of Bath County, for 5, William's title having
lapsed when he failed to complete payments.45 William's executors,
William Smith and Benjamin Chambers, discovered that the bur-
den which William had laid upon them was not light. Since there
were minor children involved, the administration of the estate
came under the jurisdiction of the Orphans' Court at Chester, and
settlement could not be made until John and James reached
twenty-one years of age. The executors had disposed of William's
Pennsylvania land as he had directed, selling 150 acres to William
Smith, Jr., on 24 November 1711 for 120 and the remaining 300
acres to Vincent Caldwell for 150. When the estate was finally
settled a number of the charges against it were for expenses in-
curred by the executors in traveling to meetings of the court.46

From Derbyshire to Darby

There had been difficulties over the auditing of their accounts in
1718, and new auditors had been appointed.47 John Bartram signed
his release of the executors in January 1720/21, receiving 35 as
did James upon his majority. Their stepmother received 71, half of
the estate.48
John, now "a tall thin Spare" young man, was courting young
Mary Maris of Chester Meeting. Mary was the daughter of Richard
and Elizabeth Hayes Maris. Her grandfather, George Maris, hav-
ing been both fined and imprisoned for holding meetings of Friends
in his home, had left Grafton Flyford, Worcestershire, for Philadel-
phia in 1683. He had settled in Springfield township, Chester
County, quickly assuming a position of leadership there as a county
justice, a member of the assembly, and a member of the Provincial
Council. He represented Chester County in the assembly from 1684
to 1688, being replaced in 1689 by John Bartram, the immigrant.49
On 6 February 1722/23 John Bartram formally proposed marriage
with Mary before Chester Meeting. The proposal was approved and
they were married there on 25 April.50
John's grandmother had been in failing health at the time of
his wedding and she died on, 14 July.51 He felt her loss acutely, for
he had been closely associated with her for far longer than he had
with either of his parents. Upon her death he received clear title to
the farm. For years "Widdow Bartram" had paid the taxes due on
the farm, but now they were paid by John; they varied between
seven and nine shillings per year. John and Mary lived very com-
fortably. He had inherited a two-hundred-acre farm, its buildings,
livestock, orchards, and equipment-no small legacy. He had lived
there all his life and was an excellent farmer. Furthermore, he had
inherited from the estates of his father and his maternal grand-
mother almost 100, a substantial sum at a time when cash was
often scarce.52
Richard, John and Mary's first child, was born on 24 March
1723/24, and a second son, Isaac, arrived nineteen months later, on
17 November. That same year John's brother, James, married
Mary's sister, Elizabeth. When Mary died in 1727, Elizabeth and
James named their daughter, born 12 November, for her. A second
tragic loss for John occurred with the death of Richard before his
fourth birthday.53
In September 1728 John Bartram purchased additional prop-
erty. Frederick Schopenhausen owed 50 to Christopher Lynmoyer


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

and, to settle the debt, a tract of 112.5 acres in Kingsessing town-
ship, on the west side of the Schuylkill, was sold to Bartram at a
sheriff's sale for 45.54 The land had once belonged to Peter Peter-
son Yocum, one of the early Swedish settlers arriving prior to
Penn's grant. On it stood a small two-story house with but one
room on each floor. It was large enough for John for a time, and he
had plans for enlarging it. There was a good apple orchard, and he
soon constructed a cider mill near the river behind the house. He
also built a story-and-a-half outbuilding of stone on the north side
of the house. This served a variety of purposes and later came to be
known as the "Seed House."55
Two years after Mary's death, John was again engaged to
marry. He and Ann Mendenhall declared their intentions before
several Concord Monthly Meetings in 1729.56 Ann was the daugh-
ter of Benjamin Mendenhall, a wheelwright who had come to Penn-
sylvania from Mildenhall, in Suffolk, about 1686.57 At the meeting
on 10 October, "John Bartram taking the said Ann Mendenhall by
the hand did in a solemn manner openly declare that he took her
... to be his wife promising with the Lord's assistance to be unto
her a loving and faithful husband. .. ." She made reciprocal vows,
and both signed the marriage certificate. It was a joyous occasion
with fifty-eight witnesses, including, in addition to the Bartrams
and the Mendenhalls, many of the Marshall family. Mary Hunt,
John's aunt, had married Abraham Marshall. John's brother, James,
was present, and so was his half-sister, Elizabeth, now nineteen.58
John wasted little time in enlarging the house at Kingsessing.
If he was not already an experienced stonemason, he soon became
one. He had to quarry the stone before any building could begin,
and before that he had to make or have made crowbars and wedges.
He found that the iron swept off the hearth and discarded by forge-
men at a nearby foundry was ideal for his purposes. It cost him
nothing and was tempered like steel. Both the quarrying operation
and the hauling and setting of the rock were strenuous and some-
times dangerous operations for a young man who had been a deli-
cate child.59 The Bartrams' home, still standing, solid and comfort-
able, is witness to John's methodical and careful workmanship. It
is built on a slope overlooking the Schuylkill. Bartram cut the gray
stone in long, smooth rectangles, which he laid one upon another
to form two stories. The front door he flanked by a single window
on the left and two on the right, with similar windows above. The


From Derbyshire to Darby

back of the house faced the 400-yard sweep of the river. For each
room on the first floor he made a door to the outside.60 Inside, the
great thickness of the stone yielded deep window sills. Virgin tim-
ber provided wide floorboards. In the living room, Bartram con-
structed a closet over the fireplace which he later used for drying
seeds. For the hearth he found interesting stones in which were
embedded fossils. The lintel above an attic window he inscribed in
Greek: "God Save'." Beneath it he engraved, "John Ann Bartram
1731?" A London correspondent wrote to him a few years later, "I
have heard of thy house, and thy great art and industry in building
it. It makes me long to see it, and the builder."61
Around the front and sides of the house and extending south-
east down the slope at the back, John gradually developed a large
garden which came, in time, to include about six acres.62 The devel-
opment and improvement of his garden and farm occupied much of
his time throughout the remainder of his life. The farm was ideally
located from a marketing standpoint,-having a good road nearby,
and it was close to a ferry over the river. John had definite ideas
about the care and improvement of land but was willing to experi-
ment. Ultimately, his fields yielded twenty-eight to thirty-six bush-
els of wheat to the acre, and oats, flax, and corn did equally well.
He credited this, in part, to his planting of red clover every fourth
year and in part to his system of fertilizing. He experimented with
lucerne or alfalfa (Medicago sativa). This did well if kept free of
weeds but otherwise dwindled away. Common red and white clover
could compete with weeds, thus requiring less labor, and hence
were more profitable. He piped water from a spring to a reservoir
into which he dumped horse manure and wood ashes. He used this
water to irrigate his meadows and also spread manure, barn fodder,
old hay, and straw on the land. As a result he harvested fine crops
of hay where little had grown formerly but cinquefoil and other
weeds. While his neighbors mowed but a short ton of hay per acre
he was able to produce more than twice that amount.63
When other chores failed to keep him busy, John set about
draining the swampy areas near the river. Dissatisfied with what
he was able to accomplish alone, he promoted a cooperative venture
with the owners of adjacent land. Exactly when this project began
is not known. Bartram and the others formed the "Company of the
Southern District of Kingsessing Meadows" and undertook the con-
struction of dikes, floodgates, and ditches for the reclamation of the


, /

L-. .--_]

<--L!, A', Z. ,i

Residence of John Bartram built by him in 1730 (reproduced from William Darlington's Memorials of John Bartram
and Humphry Marshall)

From Derbyshire to Darby

swamplands. This enterprise was later incorporated (1795) and has
been said to have been the "first incorporated drainage district in
America," resulting in the reclamation of several thousand acres.64
In traveling about, Bartram realized that the seemingly end-
less supply of timber in this new country was rapidly diminishing
as a result of the clearing of the land for fields and the need for
wood for buildings, fences, and fuel. As one of the earliest conser-
vationists, he advocated reforestation as an adjunct to farming.
Specifically, he urged the planting of red cedar and wrote an essay
on the subject which was published in 1749 as a preface to Benja-
min Franklin's Poor Richard Improved. Bartram was impressed by
the durability of cedar wood and by its many uses. It would grow
rapidly even on worn-out land. Seed for a nursery could be easily
obtained, and large numbers of trees could be grown along fence
rows and on land not otherwise useful. The farmer who could plant
100 trees per year would eventually be able to harvest 40's worth
of posts per year, "a fine yearly profit, considering we lose so little
ground from tillage, and the trouble and expense of raising them is
but little."
Wherever he went, Bartram was a keen observer of farming
practices and ready to adapt those that he considered valuable to
his own use. He was a great conservationist in land usage and was
impressed by the Indians' custom of fertilizing their fields with oys-
ter shells. He recognized the value of "green sand marls" (contain-
ing potassium) seventy years before Edmund Ruffin discovered it.
He was well aware of the proper reclamation methods for salt-
marsh lands. He observed that the bottomlands along the rivers
often lost their richness when cultivated. The river would wash
away the disturbed topsoil, depositing sand in its stead. He was
concerned when he discovered how rapidly erosion could take place
on hillside pastures. Interested in the ecological influence of soil on
plants, he determined that the baffling fertility of some lands was
entirely due to the presence of limestone. He was the "first in Penn-
sylvania to make what may be considered a soil survey."65
As might be expected of such an enthusiastic farmer, Bartram
soon found 112 acres to be insufficient and added to his Kingsessing
holdings. Apparently he leased the old family place at Darby, for
his half-brother William paid the taxes on it for at least two years,
1730-32.66 On 8 April 1738 John purchased 142 acres of land with
several buildings from Andrew Jonason for 283, some of which he


"The botanist," from Howard Pyle, "Bartram and his


' r'

t f


A v ,

From Derbyshire to Darby

paid for in cash and some in mortgage bonds. The tract had earlier
included a stone quarry, but this had been leased for 999 years to a
ship's carpenter, Humphrey Jones. Bartram, in turn, leased the
quarry from Jones.67 He bought additional land as well and sold
some. At about the same time as the Jonason purchase, he bought
sixty acres from Andrew Souplis for 175. He also sold thirty-three
acres to Nathan Gibson for 120. Part of that sold was Souplis land,
and part was the land he had bought earlier from the Yocum
family.68 Still later he purchased three lots in Philadelphia on the
west side of New Market Street and the south side of Margaretta
(now Produce) Street, on which he built houses.69 He even bought
some cedar swampland in Jersey.70 Thus, he not only inherited sub-
stantial property but added to it considerably.
John and Ann soon had need of the larger house. Five-year-
old Isaac was joined by a tribe of half-brothers and sisters. James
was born 25 June 1730, followed by Moses (13 August 1732), Eliza-
beth (27 October 1734, who died in infancy), Mary (21 November
1736), twins, Elizabeth and William (9 April 1739), Ann (24 Au-
gust 1741), John (24 October 1743), and Benjamin (6 September
1748).71 John, and probably Ann too, had rather precise ideas con-
cerning the proper rearing of children. Some were due to the
Quaker influence, but others were certainly his own. He objected to
babies being "swathed up not quite so tight as an Egyptian
mummy" soon after birth and cited the Indians with their fine phy-
siques produced without excessive clothing. He objected to too
much rich and spicy food and to forcing a child to overeat. He be-
lieved that this sort of thing led to catching colds, indigestion, and
nervous disorders. He disapproved of the bribing of children to en-
sure their good behavior or of "frightening them by telling them
that such and such big bear will catch them if they Dont Doe as
they Bod them" both of which practices he thought had long-range
effects on the child's personality. He thought that "parents by their
foolish proceedings looseth much of their authority over their chil-
dren and often their love too."72 /
His ideas were not all negative. On the contrary, he believed
that parents should not "let a good Deed pass without praise nor a
bad one without Rebuke" and that this policy should be applied
very early in infancy. By the age of four or five the child should be
informed "in a solid yet pleasant manner of the power, majesty &
mercy of God & ye Dependency we have upon him." This was a time


:! {,


"The old corner cupboard," from Howard Pyle, "Bartram
and his garden"


-Ill- ^ *^ :h"^ ;. 4e

1 ^ L^a' <1*?!77

From Derbyshire to Darby

to impress upon the child the "ill effects of Lying, Cheating, and
using bad words or Sausy Expressions" and "the benefit and advan-
tage of a pious life." He had found his method to be "much better
than all ye whiping thumping boxing and scolding & I know not
what that is commonly used by parents." He believed that parents
often earned the loss of affection and respect, and even the hatred,
of their children by letting them have their own way most of the
time and then suddenly trying to restrain them. If punishment
could not be avoided, then it should be adequatet to the fault com-
mitted" and should be rendered with a "Stearn Countenance which
hath more effect on some Children than either words or blows."
Also the children should be taught to respect each other as well as
their parents.73
By the time children reached the age of twelve or fourteen the
parents must "have a Continual watch over them; their minds then
begin to open, their understanding to expand." This was the time
to take them along as one went about one's business, that they
might meet their parents' friends and associates and learn about
public affairs, and a time for parents to avoid associates who might
lead them astray. "Between the ages of 16 and 20 is the time to
instruct him into NaturalPhylosophy & the Wisdom of God mani-
fest in the Creation." Children should "behave in moderation to
your servants," being neither condescending nor "Hail fellow well
met," but pleasant and dignified and earning their respect, "for the
good character of a young man or woman by a good servant is
taken a Pretty Deal of notice of,"74
Bartram's theories of child rearing are difficult to quarrel
with, and he had reason to believe that they were sound. He raised
a large family in an era of extremely high child mortality, losing
only two of eleven children. Of the nine who survived, all demon-
strated the principles of character that he had sought to instill.
Only one seems to have really troubled him from time to time, and
he ultimately reflected much credit upon his upbringing.



Peter Collinson and
His Friends

THE BUSY life that Bartram led as he devel-
oped his new farm and helped to raise his
growing family left little time for recreation or casual visits to the
city. He did occasionally go to Philadelphia for necessities, and
he made acquaintances there, some of whom were to become life-
long friends. Among them was Joseph Breintnall (d. 1746), whose
Quaker family had come to Philadelphia from Derbyshire. He was
a merchant and "a copyer of deeds for the scriveners, a good
natur'd, friendly, middle-ag'd man, a great lover of poetry, reading
all he could meet with, and writing some that was tolerable...."'
In 1733 he was absorbed in the fascinating hobby of making leaf
impressions, an ancient craft, dating back at least to Leonardo da
Vinci's time. Leaves of ferns, grasses, herbs, trees, and shrubs were
smeared with printer's ink and then pressed firmly on absorbent
paper, producing delicately beautiful and accurate reproductions.
Bartram provided considerable assistance to Breintnall when
the latter visited his farm to collect leaves, and he took Breintnall
specimens when he went to Philadelphia. In June 1733 Dr. Samuel
Chew (1693-1743), a Maryland physician who had moved to Phila-
delphia the previous year, brought the traveler M. Aubrey de la
Mottraye to call on Breintnall and -to see his impressions. The
Frenchman admired them greatly and was very much pleased to
receive a set of them. At about the same time Breintnall sent a set
to his London correspondent, Peter Collinson (1694-1768).2
Collinson was a woolen draper engaged in commerce with the
colonies. He was a Quaker and had a number of other correspon-
dents at Philadelphia. He was a rabidly enthusiastic gardener,

Peter Collinson and His Friends

with a passion for collecting plants from abroad that might thrive
in his garden at Peckham, in Surrey. The nature of his business put
him in frequent contact with ship captains and others in the mer-
cantile world, and he made the most of every connection to obtain
seeds, bulbs, or plants from abroad. He was an active leader of a
great movement of enthusiasm for gardening then gathering mo-
mentum in England. When William and Mary arrived in England
in 1689 they brought along the continental interest in exotic plants
such as those European merchants had been importing from dis-
tant places. Gardening had become popular and fashionable among
those in England who could afford such hobbies. Collinson had a
wide acquaintance among the nobility and gentry, especially those
who shared his botanic interests. He found botany a great social
asset and, being a cheerful extrovert and an excellent conversa-
tionalist, he was frequently invited by members of the nobility to
spend several days at their country estates. He thoroughly enjoyed
these social occasions and gave much advice on the planting of his
hosts' gardens.3
In spite of all his enthusiasm, Collinson had become increas-
ingly frustrated by the difficulties of obtaining any appreciable
number of the vast array of unknown plants that he felt sure could
be found in North America. Many people promised to look for them,
but distressingly few plants actually arrived. By 1733 he had be-
come convinced that it was useless to rely on the promises of
friends. He wanted to find someone in North America who would
act as a collector for him in a less casual manner, someone with
whom he could exchange favors and who would have something to
gain from helping him. He sought advice on the matter from Dr.
Chew, who unhesitatingly recommended John Bartram. In the
short time that Chew had known Bartram he had been impressed
by his great knowledge of the local flora and his interest in it. Some
years later Collinson commented that Chew had certainly been cor-
rect when he wrote that Bartram let nothing escape him.4
Seldom, if ever, has there been a more opportune introduction
of two individuals than that of Bartram and 11llinson. The associa-
tion then begun became a close working relationship profoundly in-
fluencing the lives of both men. They never met, since neither
would leave his native land, yet it is doubtful that either ever had
a more devoted friend. Their correspondence began in 1733, but the
earliest surviving letter was written by Bartram on 17 July 1734.



S. ; .. .. .

* *~

Joseph Breintnall's leaf prints. The one at the upper right is "From Jno.
Bartram 18th Aug. 1734-the most excellent Remedy for the Bite of a
Rattlesnake" (courtesy Library Company of Philadelphia).


Peter Collinson and His Friends

It described not a plant but the dissection of the mouth of a rattle-
snake that Bartram had killed near Germantown, concentrating
particularly on clusters of small teeth at the base of each poison
fang. Bartram correctly speculated that the function of these teeth
must be to replace the main fangs, if these were injured. Collinson
was so impressed by Bartram's account that he read it to his fellow
members of the Royal Society of London, and it was published in
their Philosophical Transactions. This was Bartram's first pub-
lished writing, and he was highly gratified.5
The Royal Society of London had been founded in 1660 and
had been granted a charter by Charles II in 1662. Its founding and
royal recognition proved to be a major landmark in the history of
science. The society was firmly committed from its inception to the
philosophy of Francis Bacon, a complete departure from the au-
thoritarian Aristotelian philosophy that had so long prevailed.
From its beginning the society concerned itself with a great range
of subjects. It sought to make itself widely known and to attract the
assistance and cooperation of people in other parts of the world.
One of its first acts had been to appoint a Committee for Foreign
Correspondence, emphasizing communication with British over-
seas colonies in particular. At the time Bartram's paper was read
the Royal Society had established itself as the world's foremost sci-
entific society, and its influence was worldwide.6
The president of the society in 1733 was Sir Hans Sloane
(1660-1753), a doctor who had spent some time in the West Indies.
Upon his return he had written the two-volume VoyagE to the Is-
lands, published in 1707 and 1725, dealing with the natural his-
tory of Jamaica and nearby islands.7 A greater impetus to English
curiosity had been the return home of Mark Catesby (1682?-1749).
He had spent seven years in Virginia and had later been sent to
Carolina and the Bahamas by a group of patrons for the specific
purpose of studying the natural history there. He had exhibited the
first part of his great Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the
Bahama Islands to the society in 1729. His beautiful illustrations
had done much to stimulate further interest in the plants and ani-
mals of North America.8
By January 1734/35 Collinson was writing lengthy letters at
frequent intervals in reply to equally lengthy ones from Bartram,
a practice which they continued with little interruption for thirty-
five years. Within two years they had progressed from "Friend John


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

Bartram" and "Mr. Collinson" to "John" and "Peter.:' In one of his
early letters Bartram sought Collinson's help in obtaining suitable
botany books from which he might study the science. He had not
had much success in Philadelphia but thought that there must be
good ones available in London. Collinson was frustrated too: "In-
deed I am at a loss which to recommend, for, as I have observed, a
complete history of plants is not to be found in any author. For the
present I am persuaded the gentlemen of the Library Company, at,
my request, will indulge thee the liberty, when thee comes to town,
to peruse their botanical books: there is Miller's Dictionary, and
some others."9
Bartram was disappointed not to be able to obtain a suitable
book, but the suggestion that he might be able to use those of the
Library Company was welcome. Breintnall was the secretary of the
company, which had its beginnings with Benjamin Franklin's
Junto, an informal discussion group. The members had first pooled
all the books that they could spare to form a common library. This
had proved inadequate so they had sold subscriptions, each sub-
scriber paying an annual fee.10 The money was sent to Collinson,
who not only purchased their books and had them shipped in 1732
but continued to do so for more than thirty years without charge to
them. He also made gifts to the library, one of which was Philip
Miller's Gardener's Dictionary, which he had mentioned to Bar-
tram. Miller (1691-1771) was in charge of the Chelsea Physic Gar-
den, the finest botanical garden in England. The members of the
Library Company were very glad to oblige Collinson by welcoming
Bartram to the library. This was not quite such a privilege as it
sounded as Bartram discovered when he wanted to borrow a book.
Breintnall told him he would have to make a deposit equal to the
book's value and pay sixpence a week rent."
Collinson's 20 January 1734/35 letter was a very long one and
typical of the many that were to follow. He discussed a number of
plants that Bartram had mentioned, indicating which ones he
would particularly like to have: "Please to remember those Solo-
mon's Seals, that escaped thee last year.... Pray send a root or two
of Joseph Breintnall's Snake-root." Breintnall had indicated com-
mon names for the leaf prints he had sent. Having mentioned at
least twenty plants that he would very much like to have, Collin-
son hastened to add: "I only barely mention these plants; not that
I expect thee to send them. I don't expect or desire them, but as


Peter Collinson and His Friends

they happen to be found accidentally: and what is not to be met
with one year, may be another." He begged Bartram "not to neglect
thy more material affairs to oblige me" but in the next sentence
suggested that a great many plants could be packed in a box two
feet square and stowed under a ship captain's bed!12
Collinson had already sent seeds to Bartram by an earlier
ship. Among these were hard-shelled almonds from his garden and
soft-shelled ones from Portugal. He now sent detailed instructions
for making a fine almond pie. He had also sent vine cuttings and
some of "the great Neapolitan Medlar" (Mespilus germanica), a
small tree with fruit resembling the crab apple.13 Clearly, this was
to be a fair exchange whereby each would have his garden enriched
by the choicest items the other could provide. Collinson's contribu-
tions to the exchange soon gave it a truly international character.
Not long after sending the medlars he sent some "Spanish Nuts,"
"a Lebanon Cone," and seed of the "China Aster." He described the
last as "the noblest and finest plant thee ever saw, of that tribe. It
was sent per the Jesuits from China to France; from thence to us:
it is an annual."14 A week later he wrote again, sending "sixty-nine
sorts of curious seeds" which he had obtained from Miller as well
as several sorts which he had collected.'5 All of these were soon fol-
lowed by green and brown cole (kale) from Germany.16 To these was
added the "double flowering China or India pink," sent from

N^\vv )-

/^33 /

Peter Collinson (1694-1768)


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

France. Collinson hoped that this great collection of seeds would
convince Bartram of his good intentions. He pointed out that the
English plants grew at scattered locations outside of London and
were not easy for him to obtain. "If I lived, as thou does, always in
the country, I should do more... ." He could not neglect his busi-
ness affairs to seek seeds for Bartam and Bartram must not neglect
his to serve him.17
It was Collinson's original proposal that Bartram should send
any seeds he could of common plants, giving both a number and a
common name. This Bartram did in 1733; some germinated in Col-
linson's garden in 1734, others lay dormant until sprouting in 1735,
and some never germinated. By 1735 Collinson had a new idea. He
sent two quires of brown paper and one of "whited-brown." These
were to be used in pressing herbarium specimens. Whenever Bar-
tram sent any seeds he was to send with them a good herbarium
specimen of the plant. Even better, he was to send two specimens.
Collinson would get them identified by the "most knowing bota-
nists" and then would return one to Bartram. He believed that this
would improve Bartram's botanical knowledge more than books
would."8 Living plants were being sent by Bartram as well as seeds
and herbarium specimens. A collection sent late in 1734 delighted
Collinson. In June of the following year he reported to Bartram
that he had six species of ferns, many quite different from the En-
glish varieties. There were both the true and false Solomon's seals,

Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753)

S\ '\' \ Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753)


Peter Collinson and His Friends

dittany (Cunila origanoides [L.] Britt.), goldenrod, skunk weed, In-
dian turnip (an Arisaema), honeysuckle, and many others.19
Very early in their correspondence Collinson made it plain to
Bartram that, while his principal interest was in plants, all aspects
of natural history appealed to him. Having received a box of insects
from Bartram in 1735, Collinson sent detailed instructions for the
catching and preserving of butterflies, a project for Bartram's little
boys, for which he promised to reward them. He did not intend to
engage Bartram in butterfly collection except as he might come
across them by chance.20 As Collinson received the various ship-
ments of butterflies he carefully preserved them between sheets of
glass, where they were much admired by his friends. Some were a
little torn, and he requested duplicates, urging Bartram always to
walk with a box or two in his pocket.21 Later Bartram sent cocoons
rather than the butterflies, which traveled with less damage but
were unpredictable. The suspense added to Collinson's pleasure but
perhaps not as much to his collection.22
The bright hues of North American birds contrasted with the
sober colors of English birds, so they and their nests were equally
acceptable to Collinson. One of his friends wanted the Bartram
children to send a pair of redbirds, which he hoped to acclimate and
eventually integrate into the English bird population.23 Unfortu-
nately, cardinals did not travel well unless there was someone to
feed them daily, and ship captains seldom had time for this. Bar-
tram sent a hummingbird's nest, complete with eggs. This proved
to be something of a mistake for Collinson's friends then wanted
them, and hummingbirds' nests were not easily found. To the re-
quest for birds' nests, Collinson added requests for those of wasps,
bees, and hornets. He also desired fossils, and Bartram sent him
some. He had found these marine specimens on a Pocono ridge
where there was a large deposit. Collinson was interested to learn
that they were found more than 100 miles from the sea. Later Bar-
tram found others in the Catskills at least, 150 miles from the
coast. Collinson wanted terrapins and shells 6f freshwater shellfish
and snails, telling his friend, "My inclination and fondness to natu-
ral productions of all kinds is agreeable to the old proverb: Like the
parson's barn,-refuses nothing."24
Bartram's first shipment of terrapins was unlucky, for those
that did not, die were stolen by the sailors. In August 1737 he sent


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

the eggs instead, for which Collinson thanked him: "I shall now tell
thee something which very much pleased me, and will surprise
thee. The box of turtle eggs (which was an ingenious thought of
thine to send) on the day I brought it from on board ship, being the
20th of October, I took off the lid, having a mind to see the eggs,
and on peeping about I saw a little head just above ground, and
while I was looking, I saw the ground move in a place or two more.
In short, in the space of three or four hours, eight tortoises were
hatched. It was very well worth observing, how artfully they dis-
engaged themselves from the shell, and then with their forefeet
scratched their eyes open. They have had many visitors, such a
thing never happening, I dare say, in England before."25
Requests for information from Collinson covered a wide
range. In January 1739 he referred Bartram to a dissertation on
the deer and moose of North America inr the Philosophical Trans-
actions of the Royal Society and asked for any information that
Bartram might be able to add to the account. He would like very
much to obtain the scalp and horns of a buck fallow deer if Bartram
could procure them.26 He inquired about another American animal
with which he had some personal acquaintance, which he called
the Monack. This was our groundhog or woodchuck (Marmota
monax). A friend had sent him one from Maryland, and he had
found it most attractive. He had given it to Sir Hans Sloane, in
Whose house it ran about as tamely as a cat.27 Perhaps Bartram put
it in the same category with another American varmint much ad-
mired by Collinson, the opossum. Collinson took Bartram sternly
to task for his unreasoning prejudice against this animal, which
was attracting a great deal of attention in England. Collinson had
handled and played with a female with three young and could find
nothing objectionable about them. English scientists had previ-
ously known only placental mammals and were fascinated by their
first marsupial.28
American snakes were exciting to English scientists and be-
came the subject of controversy. Not long after Bartram sent Col-
linson his description of the rattlesnake's mouth, Collinson sent
him a paper concerning the bite of the rattlesnake and asked his
opinion of it. He admired Bartram's courage in plant collecting in
the woods at the risk of being bitten, confessing that he would only
do so on horseback. Collinson, Sloane, and other friends were de-
bating the question of how the rattlesnake seized its prey. Sloane



From Mark Catesby, Natural History, vol. II, p. 115: "Magnolia flore alba,
folio major and "Formica villosa coccinea, Velvet ant": "Specimens
of this Tree were first sent me in the year 1736, by my worthy friend,
John Clayton, Esq; of Virginia, and from the only Tree known in that
Country; since which, Mr. Bartram of Pensylvania has discovered many
of them growing on the North branch of Susquehannah River; some of
them were above an hundred. feet in height. The wood has a fine grain,
very tough, and of an orange colour. The Indians make bowls of the


From Mark Catesby, Natural History, vol. II, p. 117: "Chamaerhodo-
dendrons, lauri-folio semper virens .. ": "Several of these young Trees
have been sent from Pensylvania by Mr. Bartram, who first discovered
them there; but they have not yet produced any blossoms here; and
though they have been planted some years, they make but slow prog-
ress in their growth, and seem to be one of those American plants that
do not affect our soil or climate.. ." "Chamaedaphne semper virens":
"This shrub is a native of Pensylvania, and produced its blossoms at
Peckham, in September 1743, and several succeeding years."







From Mark Catesby, Natural History, vol. II, p. 104: "Vespa ichneumon tri-
pilis" and "Rhus glabra, sumach": "This odd Fly was a native of Pensyl-
vania, and was sent from thence to Mr. Collinson, amongst many other re-
markable Insects, by Mr. John Bartram."







From Mark Catesby, Natural History, vol. II, p. 101: "Meadia" and "Uro-
gallus minor fuscus": "It flowered in Mr. Collinson's garden at Peckham, in
September 1744, from seeds sent him by Mr. Bartram, who gathered them
from beyond the Apalachian mountains, which lie parallel with Virginia.
The seeds were contained in a long membranous capsula, which opens into
four parts, and discharges its very small seeds."




From Mark Catesby, Natural History, vol. II, p. 72: "The Lady's Slipper of
Pensylvania, Cypripedium calceolus, L." and "Rana maxima Americana
acquatica": "This curious Helleborine was sent from Pensylvania, by Mr.
John Bartram, who, by his industry and inclination to the searches into
Nature, has discovered and sent over a great many new productions, both
animal and vegetable. This plant flowered in Mr. Collinson's garden, in
April, 1738."

The Life and Travels of John Bartram

believed that the snake struck first and then waited for the poison
to take effect before swallowing the animal. Breintnall and Dr.
Christopher Witt (1675-1763) of Philadelphia contended that the
snake charmed it victim into its mouth. Bartram was urged to
make observations to settle the debate. He had no difficulty in dis-
agreeing with Sloane for he knew of many cases in which a rattle-
snake had been interrupted in the process of swallowing a rodent
and the released animal had run away unharmed. He was less sure
about the ability of the snake to charm. Many people of his ac-
quaintance believed it, but he had no personal experience on which
to report. He promised to be alert for an opportunity to observe
rattlesnake behavior.29
While Collinson had long sought seeds from abroad, he had a
special reason for wanting them in quantity in 1734. No small or
casual collection would fill his needs. In 1731 the eighteen-year-old
Robert James, Baron Petre (1713-42), had been elected a Fellow
of the Royal Society. The young man was extremely interested in
horticulture. Botanically inclined members found him most conge-
nial, especially Peter Collinson, who became his devoted friend.
When Petre married in 1732 he took up residence at Thorndon
Hall, near Brentwood, in Essex. He had ambitious plans for exten-
sive changes at his new home, and he could well afford to carry
them out. He wanted new formal gardens, windbreaks of trees, res-
toration of the tree-lined drive, improvement of the park, and par-
ticularly forestation of the barren area around the park.30 Twenty-
four sixty-foot elms, two feet through the trunk, were moved from
his former home to extend the driveway planting at Thorndon
Hall.31 Tb carry out his plans further he would require a large num-
ber of trees, and he wanted as much diversity as possible. The first
thing he proposed was to establish forest nurseries and begin ac-
quiring tree seeds in quantity. It was in this connection that Petre
sought Collinson's assistance.
Bartram's first collecting for Collinson was purely to oblige a
fellow Quaker, with promise of a mutual exchange. When the latter
proposed that Bartram collect forest tree seeds in 1734, he told him
that he intended to share them with a friend and hoped to obtain a
present for John. He was as good as his word and in 1735 sent a
calico gown for Ann and cloth for a suit for Bartram as a joint gift
from his noble friend and himself. Always cautious where finances
were involved, he warned Bartram to tell no one how they obtained


Peter Collinson and His Friends

the clothing: "There may be some, with you, may think they de-
serve something of that nature."32 He then sent a very large order
for forest tree seeds for his friend the same year. Bartram was able
to collect them, and they reached England in the winter of
1735-36. The shipment was impressive, including sixteen species
in quantities such as 3,000 black walnuts, a peck and three-quar-
ters of dogwood berries, 3,200 swamp Spanish acorns, and two
pecks of red cedar berries. Collinson at last revealed the friend to
be Lord Petre. He took it upon himself to decide what Petre should
pay Bartram and credited John with 18:13s:3d.33
Bartram then proposed that he be paid a regular annual al-
lowance for traveling and collecting. This would make it easier for
him to devote the time required and to pay his expenses. Lord
Petre approved the suggestion enthusiastically and agreed to pay
ten guineas per year. Collinson thought that he could interest some
other people. He soon persuaded Charles Lennox, the second Duke
of Richmond (1701-50), to contribute five guineas and Philip Miller
to do the same.34 This put Bartram's seed collecting on a business-
like basis, but Collinson's cautions to Bartram about discussing
gifts were repeated with regard to subscriptions.
Collinson and Bartram had another mutual friend in Phila-
delphia, the above-mentioned Dr. Witt. He had been born in Wilt-
shire, England, coming to Philadelphia in 1704. He had settled at
Germantown, where he developed a very successful practice as both
a physician and a surgeon. He had a large garden in which he grew
native plants, and he was cordial and helpful to Bartram. Witt was
interested in such things as Rosicrucian philosophy and "the cast-
ing of nativities," which Bartram viewed with considerable skepti-
cism.35 He was frequently mentioned in the Bartram-Collinson cor-
respondence and often to their considerable amusement, although
both held him in affectionate regard. In 1738 Collinson asked Bar-
tram to visit Witt's garden and check on a curibus plant bearing a
pod shaped like an acorn which had baffled the doctor. Bartram
found it to be a common goldenrod with an "excresence which some
flying insect had darted & laid her egs thereinf which was hatched
when ye doctor made his superficial observation who had rather be-
lieve almost anything than be at ye pains of accurate examina-
tions."36 Collinson had arrived at a comparable conclusion and was
pleased to have his views vindicated.37
Once Collinson decided that the doctor was too cunning for


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

Bartram. Witt had talked Bartram out of some choice lady's slip-
pers, on the grounds that they were too dry to ship to Collinson. Tob
prevent such an accident in the future, Collinson suggested that
Bartram make use of a device that he employed. He should take
large ox bladders, cut off the necks, and fill them with plants. They
could then be watered, tied up, and hung from his saddle, and the
plants would keep fresh for days. Any modern plant collector will
recognize this as the eighteenth-century version of the plastic bag.
Collinson had no intention of being outwitted and hastened to ad-
vise Bartram not to let his favorite lady's slippers escape. He al-
ready had a yellow one thriving well in his garden but wanted the
other sorts.38
In the fall of 1735 Bartram heard of an unusual tree in Jersey
and rode there to procure seed of it. Collinson applauded his initia-
tive and willingness to go to so much trouble to oblige his English
friends. He did not know the plant, but when the seeds had germi-
nated the mystery was solved. It was a lotus, or nettle-leaved tree.39
Known today as the hackberry (Celtis occidentalis), it was thought
to have been introduced into England by the younger John Trades-
cant in the seventeenth century.40 Another journey took Bartram to
the mountains, where he found a great variety of plants, most of
which were quite different from those around Philadelphia. His ac-
count of 3 November of this expedition excited Collinson and whet-
ted his appetite for more travels by his American agent. He found
Bartram's suggestion that he search out the source of the Schuyl-
kill River an excellent idea.41 Bartram did not wait for his English
patrons' decision on this before traveling again, this time to the
Rattlesnake Mountains in the spring of 1736.42



The Education of
a Botanist

O N 19 June 1736 James Logan (1674-1751) for-
warded to Bartram a letter from Collinson
and volunteered to lend him a publication that Collinson had sent
to Logan earlier. He had meant to offer it when Bartram had vis-
ited him.' Logan, an able scientist, was Philadelphia's foremost
scholar and a very wealthy man. He had come to Pennsylvania as
Penn's secretary and had remained as his deputy when Penn re-
turned to England. In the years that followed, Logan had held
many important posts, including president of the Council and chief
justice. His estate, Stenton, was four miles from Philadelphia, a
handsome brick house surrounded by a beautiful park complete
with an orangery. Logan had been crippled by a fall in 1728, but in
spite of this handicap he had recently completed experiments dem-
onstrating the method of sexual reproduction in maize. His scien-
tific interests were not confined to botany, and his superb library
covered many fields.2
Although Logan had seen Bartram only twice he had found
him to be "a botanist by nature" who knew the name of every plant
that he encountered. To assist Bartram's studies, Logan gave him a
"microscope" and helped him to acquire a knowledge of Latin suffi-
cient for reading botanical books, whose plant descriptions were
customarily in that language. He lent Bartram William Salmon's
Botanologia, but this was of little use in identifying North Ameri-
can plants. Logan therefore asked Collinson to obtain a copy of the
herbal of John Parkinson (1567-1650), which did describe some.3
Collinson was properly impressed by Logan's generosity and took
care that John would be. He urged Bartram to call now and then to

The Life and Travels of John Bartram

inquire after Logan's health. Collinson was always concerned that
Bartram might fail to make a proper impression on people of im-
portance, an entirely unjustified concern and one that seems never
to have bothered his friend at all. In fact, Bartram commented that
"James Logan is possesed of learning & knowledge beyond any in
our province or perhaps our neibors yet he hath but a measure of it
& some times I can see as far into a milestone as he unless he puts
on his spectacles."'4
Collinson may have been unusually sensitive concerning Lo-
gan, for the latter, knowing nothing of the remuneration that Bar-
tram was receiving, had been sharply critical of Peter for exploit-
ing John:

Pray procure for me a good Parkinson's Herbal; and I shall
make a present of it to a person thou values, and who is wor-
thy of a heavier purse than fortune has hitherto allowed him;
and I cannot but admire that you who have them should be
so narrow to those you know well deserve to be considered, in
another manner. Bartram has a genius perfectly well turned
for botany and the productions of nature; but he has a family
that depend wholly on his daily labour, spent on a poor nar-
row spot of ground, that will scarce keep them above the
want of the necessaries of life. You, therefore, are robbing
them while you take up- one hour of his time without making
a proper compensation for it. Both thyself, at the head of so
much business, and thy noble friend, and friends, should
know this; no man in these parts is so capable of serving you,
and none can better deserve encouragement, or worse bear
the loss of his time without a consideration.

This was pretty frank criticism, rather typical of Quakers of that
period, but apparently did not give offense. Logan hastened to add
that he had heard no complaints from Bartram and knew his cir-
cumstances only from what other people had told him.5 Bartram
later convinced him that his affairs were not quite so difficult as
Logan had pictured them.
The publication that Collinson had sent to Logan, and that
Logan lent to Bartram, was Linnaeus' Systema Naturae, which had
been published in December 1735. Bartram was among the first
botanists to try out the sexual system of Carolus Linnaeus (1707-78),


The Education of a Botanist

the great Swedish botanist. Logan explained it to Bartram as fol-
lows: "His method in the Vegetables is altogether new, for he takes
all of his distinctions from the stamina and the styles, the first of
which he calls husbands and the other wives. He ranges them,
therefore, under those of 1 husband, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 20,
and then of many husbands. He further distinguishes by the styles,
and has many heads, under which he reduces all known plants.
The performance is very curious and at this time worth thy
notice."'6 The system proposed by the youthful Linnaeus was a
highly artificial one, as he well knew, and it has not withstood the
test of time. It was, however, a relatively easy system for a begin-
ner in botanical studies to use since it involved primarily the
counting of stamens and styles.
Logan's assistance and patient tutoring of Bartram were not
entirely disinterested. Linnaeus had asked Logan to carry out stud-
ies of pollen structure for use in determining species. Although Lo-
gan had carried out his own corn experiments, he had little time
for such things and "little competency in Botany," so he turned to
Bartram to perform the studies requested by Linnaeus.7 Bartram
plugged away at floral anatomy whenever time permitted. Candle-
light and low magnification were no help when dissecting small
flowers and, before long, he asked Collinson if he could obtain a
microscope with greater magnifying power. Collinson replied that
Logan, who was well versed in optics, could explain to Bartram
why it was not possible to make a glass capable of magnifying as
much as he wanted.8
On 19 August 1737, a year after Logan had started Bartram
using the Linnean tables, his pupil sent him a report on the floral
anatomy of a variety of flowers: "Germander blew flowered hath
one forked stile & four apices which touch ye top of ye stile at ye
discharge of ye farina. Succory is a double flower compounded of
many single petals ye botom of which inclos~th 4 stamina & apices
which closely embraceth one forked stile which riseth higher than
ye apices." Bartram's descriptions were accompanied by rough
sketches of "the farina as it appeared magnified by ye fourth mag-
nifier." He added a brief note: "kind friend I here give thee some
account of ye farina as I observed it at ye time when ye Apices
opened & discharged it I observed all these flowers at several
states of perfection with what judgment & ingenuity I was capable
of I believe it is near right but if thee sees mistakes I hope thee


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

will consider that I am at ye best but A learning pray excuse my
freedom So in Consideration of thy many favours & ye kind in-
struction I remain thy sincere friend."9 Logan was pleased and im-
pressed by Bartram's progress and forwarded the results of the in-
vestigation to Linnaeus.
Collinson had reservations about Bartram's new interest, and
it was his turn to protest the distraction of Bartram from the seri-
ous business of earning a living. He wrote Bartram that he thought
it an interesting amusement for those who could afford the time
but not for Bartram and Collinson.10 Collinson's concern for Bar-
tram's well-being was doubtless genuine, but he was undoubtedly
concerned that his friend might be distracted from the collecting of
seeds and plants for shipment to England. This activity was begin-
ning to take Bartram further afield, and Collinson was excited by
the reports of these trips and already making plans for further ex-
ploration by his friend. English botanists at this time were debat-
ing the distinctions between American red cedars (Juniperus vir-
giniana L.) and white cedars (Chamaecyparis thyoides [L.] BSP),
and Collinson asked Bartram to send specimens of each." This
seemed a simple request but involved Bartram in a strenuous trip
and a great deal of work. There were plenty of red cedars on his
own land, but the nearest white cedars were in the Jersey swamps.

Carolus Linnaeus (1707-78)


The Education of a Botanist

Tob obtain specimens of these required a journey of perhaps 150
miles. He persuaded a man who owned some of this land to guide
him to a spot where the trees might be found.
In the late spring of 1736 the two men crossed the Delaware
River into Jersey and rode southeast. They left behind the settle-
ments along the river and eventually came to a region of great
sand dunes. Interspersed among these dunes, small streams had
created boggy areas congested with shrubs and difficult to pass
through. Bartram and his guide finally reached the great Cedar
Swamp near the source of the Egg Harbor River, a large acreage
with an almost pure stand of white cedar. Where the land was a
little drier "Silver Laurel or Bay Maple, Holly & Sarsifras" were to
be found and, on small ridges, some pines. Cedars, two inches in
diameter, might reach twenty feet in height, and others, two feet in
diameter, reached eighty to a hundred feet. Some of them stood
knee-deep in water, and their roots lent a reddish color to the water
(which was, however, sweet to drink). Great masses of ferns grew
at the bases of many of the trees. Since there were few limbs be-
neath the top canopy, Bartram found it necessary to cut down a tree
in order to obtain specimens. Collinson was always delighted to
make a contribution toward the settlement of any scientific ques-
tion and hastened to send the specimens to John Jacob Dillenius
(1687-1747), who held the chair of botany at Oxford. He told the
professor that he could now correct Ray and other botanists.12
There was a zoological question troubling Collinson as well,
and again he shared his problem with Bartram. He inquired
whether or not Bartram knew anything about a certain species of
locust that returned every fifteenth year. He had been informed of
one such in New England.13 Bartram was well ahead of him, as he
often was. He had heard of the reports made from New England by
Paul Dudley (1676-1751), and he had made careful observations of
his own. When he replied to Collinson he sent specimens and twigs
with eggs and an excellent account of the life cycle of the cicada,
more detailed than the accounts to be found in many present-day
zoology textbooks.14 /
Dudley had sent an "Account of the Locusts in New England"
and specimens to the Royal Society in 1733. He indicated that he
had begun his studies of the insect in 1716 but had decided to wait
for another seventeen years before reporting them to the society-
surely some sort of record for scientific persistence and restraint.


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

He had first observed the locusts in 1699 and thus could report his
observations for three seventeen-year periods. Like others before
him and since, he was confused by the use of the same common
names for different insects and thought our cicada (Magicicada sep-
temdecem) to be comparable, if not identical, to the locusts that had
plagued Egypt since biblical times (Locusta migratoria). Sloane
was not confused and promptly tried to set Dudley straight on this
point by sending him a specimen of an Italian cicada, but Dudley
still insisted that these were identical with the Egyptian locusts.
He admitted his mistake only when the society sent him an Egyp-
tian locust.15 Dudley's confusion on this point is easier to under-
stand than his insistence that the adult insect arose within min-
utes from the egg without metamorphosis. Bartram held no such

Trip to the Great Cedar Swamp near the source of Egg Harbor River in
1736 (adapted from map by Thomas Kitchin, 1777)


The Education of a Botanist

notion. He was not sure how the larvae reached the ground from
the trees, but he was fully aware that the insect underwent a long
period of growth deep in the ground before its final emergence to
molt in the open air. He had also observed that the adults, unlike
those of Egypt, seemed to eat little or nothing.
Collinson was delighted with Bartram's account of the cicada.
On 10 December 1737 he read it to the Fellows of the Royal Society,
who not only enjoyed it but were much impressed by how little es-
caped Bartram's notice.16 Collinson hoped that Bartram might
make further observations; still confused, he thought that the
winged cicada later became a grasshopper or a locust. This notion
of the cicada's metamorphosis into a grasshopper seems particu-
larly surprising in view of Sloane's clear understanding of the dis-
tinction between a locust and a cicada, for Collinson and Sir Hans
were close friends as well as associates in the Royal Society. Bar-
tram was gratified to learn how well his observations had been re-
ceived, writing Peter: "I am very thankful to thee, and the Royal
Society, for taking so much notice of my poor performances. It is a
great encouragement for me to continue my observations of natural
Bartram did continue his investigation of the life cycle of the
cicada and reported his findings from time to time. In 1749 he sent
Collinson another detailed account of daily observations as the in-
sects emerged from the ground, enlarging on his earlier account. To
this he added observations made by his son, Moses, on the deposit-
ing of eggs by the female in a stick held in his hands. This, too, was
read to the Royal Society.18 Finally, Collinson prepared an article
for the society entitled "Some Observations on the Cicada of North
America, Collected by Mr. Peter Collinson, F.R.S.," which appeared
in the Philosophical Transactions for 1764, with a very nice illus-
tration of specimens that Bartram had sent to him. The article
mentions Bartram only once, yet almost the entire essay is com-
posed of loosely paraphrased commentaries from his letters.19
While Bartram was on the subject of periodic appearances of
organisms in great numbers, he commented to Collinson on their
broad ecological implications. Certain caterpillars which seemed to
appear in hordes every twenty years attacked the oaks particularly.
They stripped the trees of every green leaf, often killing the trees.
There was a periodic abundance of bears near Philadelphia, which
Bartram thought might be caused by an acorn shortage in regions


pi/sT LD'A 4J.\. 5.

Illustration for Peter Collinson's article "Some Observations on the'Cicada
of North America," Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society 54

The Education of a Botanist

where the caterpillars had attacked the oak trees. This, in turn,
reminded him of the extraordinary numbers of passenger pigeons
that had appeared about ten years earlier. He again attributed the
numbers to probable scarcity of acorns. From all of these observa-
tions he drew some interesting conclusions:

I shall now beg leave to make some Remarks on these Ob-
servations, as first the wonderful order and Ballance that is
maintained between ye vegetable and Animal Oeconomy, that
the Animal should not be too numerous to be supported by
the Vegetable, nor the Vegetable Productions be lost for want
of gathering by the animal.
Secondly the surprising Instinct these Creatures are en-
dowed with, that leave their natural Habitations to travel
such a long way after their Food, and return back again to
breed. Thirdly it persuades me to think that there must be
very great Forests and a Fertil Country to the Westward,
that can maintain and support so many Millions of Pigeons
(besides other Animals). For it is observed the Pigeons al-
ways frequent the most fruitfull part of the Country: there
being the greatest variety of Vegetables produced for their

Bartram had a special interest in the behavior and reproduc-
tion of insects. He often sent Collinson and his friends specimens
not only of insects but of their nests and included interesting ac-
counts of his observations. In 1738 he wrote that he had been
studying beetles for the past two years but was not yet ready to
communicate his findings.21 He did comment on the presence of
parasites on the beetles. Again in November 1742 he remarked on
experiments he had made concerning the composition of hornets'
nests. He had noticed a difference between the material of the cells
and that of the outside of the nest. He was sure that the latter was
made from wood, and he found that it burned like paper. By con-
trast, the cell material, when burned, behaved like animal sub-
stances such as silk. He concluded that this material was produced
by the hornet as silk is by the worm.22
Both Collinson and Lord Petre considered themselves fortu-
nate to have found a dependable plant collector in Pennsylvania.
Lord Petre had not only approved Bartram's suggestion that he be


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

paid a regular annual sum, but he liked his idea of exploring the
watershed of the Schuylkill to its source. Collinson gave detailed
advice to Bartram on how he should equip himself for the expedi-
tion. Three horses would be required, one each for himself and a
servant and a third to serve as a packhorse. The servant's horse
and the packhorse should be furnished with large panniers covered
with waterproof skins for the protection of specimens. It was under-
stood that he might not be able to complete the exploration in a
month or two and might even require several expeditions over a

Trip up the Schuylkill River in 1736 (adapted from Thomas Kitchin's map
of the Seat of War in the Environs of Philadelphia, 1777). See A Book of
Old Maps, edited by Emerson D. Fite and Archibald Freeman, p. 264.


The Education of a Botanist

period of years. Collinson and Petre sent a compass complete with
a sundial to enable Bartram to tell the time. The compass would
enable him to observe and record the course of the river. Paper was
included for the preservation of specimens. They wanted him to
keep a daily journal of his trip and suggested what sorts of seeds
they wanted as well as some they did not.23
Bartram was much amused by Collinson's idea of a well-
equipped expedition. He was delighted to go, but one good horse for
himself was all that he required, and his saddlebags would have
to hold whatever he collected. In the early fall of 1736 he set out,
riding more or less northwestward, following the course of the
Schuylkill through present-day Norristown, Valley Forge, Potts-
town, and Reading to its source in the Blue Mountains near Tusca-
rora State Park. Little escaped his keen eyes along the way, and he
filled his plant press with specimens as he went: gentians, asters,
cardinal flowers, goldenrod, and birches. He found the abundance
of rhododendron impressive. Nowhere but on the banks of this river
had he seen this plant, although he had heard that it grew beyond
the Blue Mountains along the Delaware River. Here it grew five
feet tall, but as he went further the riverbanks grew drier, sandier,
and poorer, and the stunted plants stood but two feet high. He
found a cave and explored it briefly. He saw or heard a panther or
mountain lion and reflected on tales that he had heard of their fol-
lowing and attacking men on horseback, but he was not greatly
When he returned home he had ridden nearly 300 miles, and
his saddlebags were bulging with his collections. He completed his
journal and map and packed them with all of his specimens for
shipment to England. Lord Petre and Collinson pored over his jour-
nal, tracing his route on the map he had drawn, which they
thought "prettily done." In fact, they were so impressed that they
planned to show it to a London mapmaker to help him more accu-
rately depict the Schuylkill's course as well as the Blue Mountains,
since this was probably the first mapping of them.25 Bartram's
apologies for the roughness of his journal were brushed aside with
the comment that "It contains many Curious remarks and obser-
vations in nature, and very pertinently and well expressed; needs
no apology for the natural way of expressing thyself; is more ac-
ceptable, clear & intelligible than a fine set of words and phrases."26
Collinson and Petre did have some questions they would like


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

to have answered. They wanted to know the length of the Schuyl-
kill and more details about the cave that Bartram had explored.
They wondered if he had brought home living plants as well as
dried specimens of the rare plants that he had found. If not, they
hoped that he would do so in the future.27 Collinson collected live
plants when he traveled about England, and he t1ld Bartram his
method of keeping them alive until he got home. He took them up
with soil around the roots and wrapped them first in moss and then
in paper before putting them into his saddlebags. At night, he loos-
ened the branches and placed the moss and roots in a bowl of water.
He was able to keep them fresh for several weeks of traveling. Bar-
tram could plant them in his garden as a future source of seeds or
of further descriptions and could also take them up and ship them
later if desired. He added that Bartram's journey to the Blue Moun-
tains showed that he was not easily discouraged by the danger of
Indians.28 Among many plants and seeds which Bartram sent to
Collinson from this expedition were bulbs of a lily or martagonn"
(Lilium superbum L., or Turk's-cap lily). In July 1738 Collinson
wrote that it was near flowering, was five and a half feet high, and
would have fifteen flowers.29
In 1737 Collinson became irritated by Bartram's suggestion
that he was not adequately remunerated for his work. He felt that
the 21 sterling which Bartram was being paid would amount to
more than 40 in American currency and should be more than ade-
quate. If Bartram could not afford to do it for this amount, he had
only to say so and the arrangement would be given up.30 One might
have thought that this would be the end of their harmonious rela-
tionship but not at all. Bartram did not drop the subject but sup-
ported his position in a letter of May 1738:

In thy letter of December 20th, thee supposes me to spend
five or six weeks in collections for you, and that ten pounds
will defray all my annual expenses: but I assure thee, I spend
more than twice that time, annually; and ten pounds will
not, at a moderate expense, defray my charges abroad-be-
side my neglect of business at home, in fallowing, harvest
and seed time.
Indeed, I was more than two weeks' time in gathering the
small acorns of the Willow-leafed Oak, which are very scarce,
and falling with the leaves,-so that daily I had to rake up


The Education of a Botanist

the leaves and shake the acorns out, before they were de-
voured by the squirrels and hogs; and I reckoned it good luck
if I could gather twenty under one tree-and hardly one in
twenty bore any. Yet I don't begrudge my labour; but would
do anything reasonable to serve you. But by the sequel of thy
letter, you are not sensible of the fourth part of the pains I
take to oblige you.

He then turned to other matters but could not end his letter with-
out a further -note: "Now, my kind and generous friend, I shall re-
turn thee my hearty thanks for thy care and pains which thee hath
taken, and the many good offices thee hath done for me; and fur-
ther, if thee finds any expressions in my letter a little out of the
way, thee will not take it in the wrong sense. I assure thee, I bear
thee a great deal of good-will; or if thee thinks I am too short and

Trip to Virginia in 1738 (adapted from reproduction of map of Dr. John
Mitchell, 1755). See A Book of Old Maps, edited by Emerson D. Fite and
Archibald Freeman.


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

imperfect in explaining any subject, which I give thee any account
of, pray let me know, and I will satisfy thee according to the best of
my knowledge; for I love plain dealing."'3
Over the years one or the other would occasionally point out
to his friend that he had no idea how hard he worked to please him,
but it never became a matter of serious offense. Although Bartram
never thought that he was adequately paid for the work he did, he
was frequently slow to spend what he had earned. Collinson would
chide him for failing to write what to purchase, Most items re-
quested by Bartram, such as glass and nails, were easily obtain-
able. Occasionally, his requests were a real nuisance to Collinson.
The narrow binding that Bartram had ordered in 1736 was not to
be found, so Collinson had had it specially made. When he went to
pick it up, it was unsatisfactory, and he had to find another man to
make it. 2 Some items were not for personal or even family use.
Bartram frequently wanted things that he hoped to sell for a profit.
In February 1737/38 Collinson sent two pounds of sewing silk, less
than Bartram had ordered because he thought current silk prices
too high.33 Collinson thought to protect Bartram as much as pos-
sible in this respect and even exercised a sort of veto power over
Bartram's suggestions, which he considered to be too frivolous for
one in his station in life: "The magic lantern is a contrivance to
make sport with ignorant people. There is nothing extraordinary
in it; so not worth thy further inquiryy."4 When Bartram expressed
a wish for the Elemens de Botanique of Joseph Pitton de Tournefort
(1656-1708), Collinson reported that the three volumes were too
expensive, particularly since Bartram already had those of Miller
and Parkinson: "Remember Solomon's advice; in reading books,
there is no end."35 To which Bartram replied, "I take thy advice
about books very kindly,- although I love reading dearly: and I be-
lieve, if Solomon had loved women less, and books more, he would
have been a wiser and happier man than he was."36
At times Bartram had problems selling the goods that Collin-
son sent him and long delays in obtaining his money. It was diffi-
cult to determine which goods might be profitable. If he guessed
incorrectly, it resulted in his money being tied up in slow-selling
merchandise. In 1738 he suggested that Collinson send his pay-
ments in kegs of half-pence, which were double in value in this
country. If this could be done safely, Bartram thought that the
pence could be sent in "small parcels that ye law will not take


The Education of a Botanist

should of. "37 He thought that the prohibitions against export of
gold and silver from England might apply to copper, but Collinson
saw nothing wrong with it. In February 1738/39 he shipped 10
worth of half-pence, which arrived just in time to pay the interest
on Bartram's mortgage.38 The scheme was so successful that addi-
tional monies were transferred thus from time to time.
The armchair travelers in England were happy to encourage
Bartram to extend his travels. In the spring of 1737 he had gone to
Conestoga, where his aunt, Elizabeth Cornish (the widow Cart-
lidge), lived, and then on a short trip to the Jerseys and to Kent
County, Maryland.39 Now his patrons suggested that his next trip
should take him south through the three lower counties (now Dela-
ware). In characteristic fashion Collinson was able to suggest sev-
eral friends in the region who might prove helpful. He sent letters
of introduction to Colonel James Hollyday and George Robbins.40
When the crops had been harvested and Bartram thought seeds
should be ripe, he rode south along the Delaware to the Eastern
Shore of Maryland and Virginia, all the way to Cape Charles,
where he turned north along the Chesapeake Bay. His first visit
was to the Robbinses at Peach Blossom on the Choptank River.
From there he rode north to Readbourne, home of Colonel Hollyday
on the Chester River. Reaching home he was delighted to find that
he had discovered more new plants than he had on any previous
journey. Some seeds were immature, and Collinson suggested that,
in the future, Bartram should carry a plant press of two boards so
that he might at least bring back specimens even if the seeds were
unripe.41 In spite of the unripe seeds and some that he had lost in
Virginia, he was able to ship Collinson two boxes of seeds and two
of plants.42




New Travels, New Friends,
and a Growing

B ARTRAM'S seed-collecting trips were, of ne-
cessity, made in the fall of the year, but he
managed to make expeditions at other times for plant collecting. In
late May of 1738 he crossed the Susquehannah River and spent
some time collecting on the southwest side with the assistance of a
guide familiar with the local terrain.' While looking for plants
along the river they found a large rattlesnake. Remembering Col-
linson's admonitions, Bartram stared long and hard at the snake's
eyes. He was unable to detect any emanations from them or any
effect whatever upon himself. Hoping to observe the snake's dis-
charge of venom, he poked it a number of times with a stick but
found it uncooperative. He objected strongly to unnecessary killing
of animals so left the snake in peace.
After one day with his guide Bartram continued alone, riding
southeast along the river. About midafternoon he arrived at the
house where he expected to spend the night. He turned his horse
loose in the pasture and walked toward the river, about two miles
away, to see what he could find before dark. It was a very hot after-
noon so he left his coat and jacket, but he carried the compass that
Collinson had sent him. This had now become his constant compan-
ion on trips. Preoccupied with searching for plants, he failed to no-
tice gathering clouds until thunder and lightning called his atten-
tion to the weather too late for him to turn back. He hastily sought
an overhanging rock for shelter but lost his footing and rolled to
the bottom of a steep slope. Here he was soon greeted by "unhospit-
able salutations & churlish compliments by way of ye north wind
blowing." In spite of his fear of lightning, he was soon more con-

Travels, Friends, and a Growing Reputation

cerned about the cold. He could think of but one solution as he
again sought shelter under the rock: "i puled off my trousers from
my breeches & put one arm in one leging & ye other arm in ye
other so ye back part of my trousers hung down my back & I kept
reasonably warm during ye shower; but if a Mohameton had spied
me there he might have taken me for a hermit or pagan."
From his eyrie high above the river Bartram had a fine view
of the stream. He was interested to see how much more rapidly it
flowed here among the rocks than it did upstream, where it was
much wider. He had been pleased to find nearly a hundred papaw
trees along the river but disappointed to find no fruit. He had pre-
viously sent papaw flowers to Mark Catesby and had promised to
send fruit later. A new plant which interested Bartram was a "dif-
ferent kind of sumach of prodigious sizes near 25 feet high & 8 to
10 inches diameter in two years shoots it will grow 15 foot high ye
first shoots is covered with down very much like a bucks horn while
it is tender." Both the staghorn sumac and the papaws were being
gradually crowded out by trees of more permanent growth: locust,
linden, mulberry, sycamore, and ash. Bartram recognized this eco-
logical phenomenon of natural succession and thought that it had
begun when Marylanders had driven the Indians from their cleared
fields along the river. The abandoned land had first produced pa-
paw and sumac, and these were later being replaced by other trees.
Bartram's most exciting discovery on this trip was not the
staghorn sumac but another plant that soon attracted attention in
scientific circles in several widely separated parts of the world. Dr.
John Kearsley (1684-1772), a wealthy Philadelphia physician, had
given him a drawing of a plant which he hoped Bartram might
find,2 and here along the Susquehannah he came across it, "ye gin-
sang exactly agreable according to ye best description & ye famous
root for ye cure of plurisie." Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium L.) had,
and still has today, something of an international reputation as a
panacea. An Asiatic species had long been extensively used in
Chinese medicine. Dr. Kearsley was skeptical concerning its me-
dicinal virtues but was curious to know whether or not there was
an American species. Bartram was a little surprised by the public-
ity given his discovery. Benjamin Franklin promptly announced in
the Pennsylvania Gazette of 27 July: "We have the pleasure of ac-
quainting the World, that the famous Chinese or Tartarian Plant,
called Gin seng, is now discovered in this Province near Susque-


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

hannah: From whence several whole Plants with a Quantity of the
Root, have been lately sent to Town, and it appears to agree most
exactly with the Description given of it in Chambers's Dictionary
and Pere du Halde's Account of China. The Virtues ascrib'd to this
Plant are wonderful... .3
Collinson, too, was excited when he received specimens of
these plants from Bartram. He promptly informed the Royal Soci-
ety: "The Ginseng, a Root so celebrated for its virtues in China that
it is exchanged for its weight in Gold, is this year discovered by
John Bartram, who has sent over these two specimens of their
Roots, Leaves and Seed Vessel of the North American Ginseng."4
Bartram included ginseng among some plant specimens that he
sent to Antoine de Jussieu (1686-1758), a botanist at the Jardin du
Roi at Paris. These were delivered personally by Dr. Thomas Bond
(1712-84), a Philadelphia physician. Jussieu told Bond that gin-
seng was now common in Paris, having been brought from Canada,
and was held in no esteem.5
Word of Bartram's discovery continued to spread. Dr. John
Frederick Gronovius (1690-1760), botanist of Leiden, wrote to Lin-
naeus in Sweden that the ginseng that had been found in Pennsyl-
vania was similar to that which Sloane had received from China.6
Collinson, meanwhile, conceived a great bonanza for Bartram. He
serit some ginseng roots to China. If they sold well, Bartram might
develop a profitable trade. In the meantime he should sow the seed
and establish a crop.7 One might expect that Bartram would have

Ginseng (Panax quinquefo-
lium L.)


Travels, Friends, and a Growing Reputation

eagerly pursued such glittering prospects. On the contrary, he said
that Collinson had a higher opinion of ginseng than it deserved.
More to the point, the few plants that Bartram had moved to his
garden had failed to thrive, and, if the plant were easily cultivated,
the Chinese would have done so long ago.8
Dr. Bond, who had delivered Bartram's plants to Jussieu, had
gone to Paris by way of London in September 1738. Bartram had
burdened the long-suffering young doctor with boxes of snake eggs,
turtle eggs, and insects for Collinson and jars of papaw flowers and
fruit for Catesby.9 Bond was soon adding to Bartram's reputation
abroad. Dr. John Fothergill (1712-80) of London wrote to Israel
Pemberton of Philadelphia thanking him for a box of seeds packed
by Bartram and delivered by Dr. Bond. Bond had described Bar-
tram as an "extraordinary Genius." Fothergill promised to mention
Bartram and his discovery of ginseng to the botany professor at the
University of Edinburgh, Dr. Charles Alston (1683-1760).10
When Bartram had returned from his seed-collecting trip to
Cape Charles the previous fall, he had planned that his expedition
in the autumn of 1738 should take him down the western shore of
Chesapeake Bay. Collinson and Lord Petre had readily agreed and
had started giving him advice well in advance of his going. Collin-
son sent some fine drugget cloth with explicit instructions: "One
thing I must desire of thee, and do insist that thee oblige me
therein: that thou make up that drugget clothes, to go to Virginia
in, and not appear to disgrace thyself or me; for though I should not
esteem thee the less, to come to me in what dress thou will,-yet
these Virginians are a very gentle, well-dressed people-and look,
perhaps, more at a man's outside than inside. For these and other
reasons, pray go very clean, neat, and hansomely dressed, to Vir-
ginia. Never mind thy clothes: I will send more another year.""
Collinson mentioned plants that he hoped Bartram might
find, including more ginseng and the "umbrella tree" (Magnolia
tripetala L.). Bartram had suggested that he go south along the bay,
through the more settled portions of Virginia, and return through
the Shenandoah Valley, west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Collin-
son agreed that he was more likely to find new plants in the west-
ern part of Virginia and would not have to carry them as great a
distance as if he went there first.12 He took the added precaution of
writing to the friends for whom he had given introductory letters
to Bartram, advising them of his friend's coming. A long letter to


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

John Custis (1678-1750) of Williamsburg urged him not to be star-
tled by Bartram's appearance, claiming that his conversation
would compensate for it. Such warning did not perturb Custis at
all. He replied that nothing suited him better than "down right
Since Bartram had planned to leave home on 25 September he
Adid not let the fact that it was raining change his plans.14 Had he
known that it would continue to pour for the next three days he
might well have delayed. He was fortunate in having comfortable
places to spend the night, thanks to Collinson's introductions, but
after hours of riding in the rain he fulfilled Collinson's worst fears
for his appearance. Nevertheless, he was cordially received at the
homes of Philip Thomas on West River,15 Richard Hall in Calvert
County,16 Dr. Alexander Hamilton at Annapolis, and William Mau-
dait near the north branch of the Potomac River. Having crossed
the Potomac four miles below the falls, he continued on to the Rap-
pahannock and Pianketank, finally reaching the home of John
Clayton at Gloucester Court House.
Visiting Clayton had been one of Bartram's prime objectives,
for no other man in America had more in common with him. Clay-
ton (1694-1773) had been born in England and educated there. He
had joined his father, attorney general of Virginia, some time prior
to 1720, in which year the younger Clayton became clerk of court
for Gloucester County. He had developed a great interest in the
plants of Virginia and had sought the help of Catesby, then in Lon-

SDr. John Fothergill (1712-80)


Travels, Friends, and a Growing Reputation

don, in identifying them. Catesby had been a family friend during
his seven years in Virginia but, being more an artist and zoologist
than a botanist, had introduced Clayton to Dr. Gronovius, to whom
Catesby forwarded Clayton's specimens. As early as 1735, Grono-
vius was receiving large numbers of plants from Clayton. These
were studied not only by Gronovius but by his friend Linnaeus dur-
ing the latter's three years in Holland. Shortly before Bartram's
visit, Clayton had compiled "A Catalogue of Plants, Fruits, and
Trees Native to Virginia" and had sent it to Gronovius in apprecia-
tion of his assistance in identifying a number of them."7
It was a bitter disappointment to Bartram to find that Clayton
was away from home. Clayton had gone to the mountains to inves-
tigate some land and was not expected back for some days. His
family persuaded Bartram to spend the night and showed him
Clayton's garden. Bartram found it very interesting, although it
lacked many of the English and continental plants commonly
found in Philadelphia gardens. He was more interested in the na-
tive plants and begged a root of Hercules'-club (Aralia spinosa L.)
before he left for Williamsburg. This plant grew so well in Bar-
tram's garden that he was able to send specimens to friends in En-
gland twenty years later."8 Throughout much of his long ride across
Maryland and Virginia, Bartram the conservationist was shocked
to see everywhere evidence of poor farming practices. Many of the
fields had been worn out by continuous planting of corn and tobacco
and had been largely abandoned. Pastures had miserably poor
grass, scarcely enough to keep the cattle alive. Here and there were
large estates where better farming practices were followed and the
labor of many slaves enabled the owners to live in considerable lux-
ury and style.19
Late in the afternoon Bartram arrived at the home of Custis
on Francis Street in Williamsburg. It was a fipe brick house, built
some twenty years previously, on a four-acre lot referred to as "Cus-
tis Square." Custis had planted holly and cedar trees around the
perimeter of his yard and developed an excellent garden.20 A native
Virginian educated in England, he was an extremely wealthy man,
owning some 15,000 acres of land. One of his plantations, Queen's
Creek, adjoined Williamsburg and encompassed 2,330 acres. He
had been a member of the council since 1727. Custis and Bartram,
having many interests in common, were instantly congenial de-
spite the differences in their ages and backgrounds. Custis found


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

Bartram the "most taking facetious man" that he had "ever met
with and never was so much delighted with A stranger" in his
whole life.21 Bartram felt that he had never received such "extraor-
dinary Civility & respect" from a stranger.
On the morning following his arrival Bartram called on Lieu-
tenant Governor William Gooch and presented a letter of introduc-
tion given to him by his own governor. Gooch received him warmly
and offered to recommend him to various people. They conversed
for an hour, and Gooch invited Bartram to dine with him the fol-
lowing day. During his visit Bartram met John Blair, president
of The College of William and Mary, and Dr. John Tennent
(c.1700-1748), to whom he had a letter of introduction from Lon-
don. Tennent was the author of Every Man His Own Doctor, which
Bartram had read and enjoyed. Franklin had published a Philadel-
phia edition, as well as extracts from Tennent's Essay on Pleurisy,
printed at Williamsburg in 1736.22 Tennent had just returned from
London, where he had hoped to obtain the endorsement of the
Royal Society for the virtues of Seneca snakeroot (Polygala senega
L.) as a cure for pleurisy and other lung infections. He was not in a
very kindly mood toward the society at the moment, for they had
not been impressed by his remedy. He still had hopes of convincing
them of its efficacy and planned a second trip to London.23 Bartram,
always interested in medicinal plants, queried the doctor not only
about snakeroot but also Indian physic (Gillenia), which Tennent

John Custis (1678-1750)


Travels, Friends, and a Growing Reputation

advocated strongly. He gave Bartram a liberal supply of it and ad-
vised the proper dosage.24 Bartram enjoyed discussing his London
correspondents with someone who had recently seen them.
Bartram spent two nights and a day with Custis, the only
break in travel that he had made since leaving home. Custis could
not show him his plantation since he had just "crawld out of the
grave," as he put it. Bartram rode out to Queen's Creek and did
some collecting as well as admiring the best agricultural methods
he had seen since leaving home. Custis raised cattle, sheep, hogs,
corn, wheat, and tobacco with the labor of seventy-seven slaves.
His fields were well fenced and ditched, and he alternated fine
stands of red clover with other crops. Custis was able to show Bar-
tram his garden, in which he took much pride and pleasure. It was
not at its best since it had been injured first by a severe winter and
then by a very dry summer. There were many English and Euro-
pean plants collected over a number of years: silver and gilded hol-
lies, fine yews, roses, Persian lilacs, Cornish cherries, Arabian jas-
mine, and many bulbs, all enclosed by an edging of Dutch boxwood.
Bartram was particularly interested in the young horse-chestnut
trees, grown from seed sent by Collinson. He had tried to raise
them from Collinson's seeds without success.25
Custis urged Bartram to linger for several days, but his guest
felt that he could not do so if he was to reach home approximately
when he had planned. He rode up the north side of the James River
to Westover, the home of Colonel William Byrd (1674-1744), who
had married Mrs. Custis's sister. Again Bartram found a man who
shared his intense interest in natural history. Byrd, a member of
the House of Burgesses, was, like Custis, a very wealthy man. He
had inherited 26,000 acres of land and two fine homes from his
father and had added to these holdings extensively. He had been
educated in England, where he spent fifteen years, and was ad-
mitted to the English bar. He was one of the fbw American Fellows
of the Royal Society of London, having been elected at the age of
twenty-two. He had both a personal acquaintance and a correspon-
dence with Sir Hans Sloane and other society members and had
presented them with both an opossum and a rattlesnake in 1697.26
Westover, often called a "Georgian masterpiece," was certainly
one of the most handsome houses in the colony. Byrd showed Bar-
tram his excellent library, comparable to that of Logan in Philadel-
phia. Next morning they inspected his fine garden. It was enclosed


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

by a brick wall, its entrance adorned with eagles and mono-
grammed gates. Inside there were brick walks connecting sections
of the garden: flower beds, vegetable plots, fruit trees, and grape
arbors. The beds were bordered with dwarf boxwood, accented by
clumps of larger boxwood at the corners. There was even a green-
house containing orange trees in fruit. The thirty-nine-year-old
Bartram and the sixty-four-year-old Byrd found other areas of
shared interest beside their gardens. Both were keenly interested
in medicine and frequently prescribed for neighbors, friends, and
servants. Byrd shared Tennent's enthusiasm for Seneca snakeroot
and had provided Tennent with an introduction to the Royal Soci-
ety. Byrd had sent Indian physic to England as early as 1707 and
was an ardent believer in the efficacy of ginseng. He had found the
latter valuable while serving as one of the commissioners ap-
pointed to survey and establish the dividing line between Virginia
and North Carolina. He reported that he had chewed a piece of gin-
seng root as he tramped along and that "This kept up my Spirits,
and made me trip away as nimbly in my half Jack Boots as younger
men cou'd in their Shoes." He had corresponded about the virtues
of ginseng with Catesby, Collinson, and Sloane. Byrd contended

Colonel William Byrd II


Travels, Friends, and a Growing Reputation 59
that the earth had never produced a finer plant for man's use, in-
sisting that it benefited man in all manner of ways without "those
naughty effects that might make Men troublesome and imperti-
nent to their poor wives."27
Byrd was still acquiring land and thought that Bartram
might help him to find buyers for some of it at Philadelphia. He
had, in the previous year, surveyed and begun to advertise lots in
"a town called Richmond," a few miles further up James River.28 In
addition, he had acquired title to 100,000 acres of land on the
Roanoke River which he hoped to sell, and he gave Bartram a sales
brochure describing it. Byrd was willing to sell land at 3 per acre
and had already interested some Swiss and German settlers. He
hoped that Bartram would circulate the brochure among friends at
Byrd gave Bartram a letter for his friend William Randolph'
(1681-1742) of Tuckahoe, where Bartram spent the next night. The
following day he continued up the James to Dungeness, west of
Byrd's proposed town of Richmond. This was the home of William
Randolph's relative Isham Randolph (1685-1742). Bartram had
been handed along from one wealthy Virginian to another. Isham
was a merchant as well as a farmer and represented Goochland
County in the assembly.30 He went well beyond the dictates of mere
courtesy in receiving Bartram. He insisted that Bartram rest his
horse and provided one of his own for his guest. He took time from
his own affairs to ride with Bartram the next day and showed him
a cave on the bank of the James and other local curiosities. Bar-
tram was curious about the cave and crawled through it for some
ninety feet. The two men later crossed the river to see some trees
that puzzled Randolph. They were new to Bartram, but he later
identified them as arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis L.) and recom-
mended them to both Byrd and Custis for their gardens. Near the
arborvitae trees Bartram found another new plant, which proved
to be a "Leather-bark or Mezeron" (Dirca palustris L.). Two such
discoveries made Bartram's day.
Randolph had enjoyed Bartram's company so much that he
rode with him twelve miles along his way and sent a servant, Cor-
nelius, to guide him. Bartram was touched by so much kindness,
finding Randolph "a man of great humanity."31 Cornelius and Bar-
tram had started late in the day, so they camped that night before
riding on to the home of Bartram's next host. The latter was never

The Life and Travels of John Bartram

identified, but his location and Bartram's few comments suggest
that he was Isham Randolph's son-in-law, Peter Jefferson. Bartram
rose early next morning and was abroad before daybreak. He
climbed the nearby small Southwest Mountain and watched a
beautiful sunrise illuminate the valley between it and the Blue
Ridge to the west. He returned in time for breakfast with his host
and then rode west toward the mountains. He crossed the Blue
Ridge at Wood's Gap and enjoyed the magnificent prospect both east
and west as he rested his horse on the mountaintop. He did not
expect such hospitality as he had enjoyed in eastern Virginia when
he left the mountain and felt almost sad to be saying "adieu to all
ye pleasant entertainment of Virginia and conversations."32
Bartram made his way down the mountain into the great
Shenandoah Valley and turned northward toward home. This being
limestone country, he found a considerable change in the flora and
many plants to investigate. He was deeply affected by the beauty
and unique qualities of the "Valley of Virginia" and determined to
come again with more time to collect. He continued northward to
the Potomac and the Susquehanna and reached home on 26 Octo-
ber. He had been away for five weeks and estimated that he had
ridden 1,100 miles. It had been a strenuous trip but a very satisfy-
ing one. He had seen a great deal of interest and felt sure that he
would return. He had made some new friends who had promised to
correspond with him and whose conversation had stimulated his
own thinking.



Experimental Botany

IN 1739 Bartram became an experimental bota-
nist. He became involved in a botanical debate
that had been going on for some time and made a small contribu-
tion toward its settlement. Rudolf Camerarius (1665-1721), profes-
sor of medicine at t'ibingen, had performed experiments in the
1690s demonstrating the functions of the stamens and pistils of
flowers; but his findings had not been fully accepted, and botanists
were still arguing the pros and cons of sexual reproduction in
plants in the eighteenth century. In 1717 Thomas Fairchild re-
ported in England that he had successfully crossed a carnation
with a pink. Both Paul Dudley and Cotton Mather in this country
had made observations on hybridization in Indian corn. When Bar-
tram began making studies of floral anatomy and plant pollen for
Logan and Linnaeus, he became familiar with Logan's demonstra-
tion of the necessity for pollination in the development of the fruit
(grain) in Indian corn. Logan had stressed that what he had found
to be true of maize did not necessarily hold true for other species of
Collinson had written to Bartram in Mayf1738 asking him to
collect flowers of sweet gum (Liquidambar).2 Gronovius had ur-
gently requested them for Linnaeus in a letter which Collinson had
forwarded to Logan. Bartram had seen this letter just before he left
for Williamsburg and promised to be diligent in his observation on
the flower.3 He was surprised to find that no one had studied it be-
fore but supposed that it was because the tree seldom flowered be-
fore it became quite tall. He was as good as his word, and by July
1740 Gronovius was able to inform Linnaeus that "that most accu-

The Life and Travels of John Bartram

rate observer of plants in Pennsylvania reported 'it hath male and
female distinct upon the same sprig: the male consists of a spike of
mossy buttons, being constituted of a cluster of Apices upon slender
stamina: the female is the lowermost upon a long footstalk."'"4
At about the same time that Bartram was studying these
trees with distinct male and female flowers on the same plant, his
attention was attracted to some plants that had male and female
flowers on separate plants. For several years he had been inter-
ested in some Lychnis (campion) plants in his garden which bore
"flesh-colored" (an eighteenth-century term for pale red) flowers,
although he had planted only seeds of white-flowered and red-flow-
ered Lychnis sent him from England. He suspected that the flesh-
colored plants were hybrids of the red and white and thought that
he might be able to prove it. He took advantage of an opportunity
to test his hypothesis and at the same time to confirm that of Ca-
merarius and others concerning the necessity of male pollen or fa-
rina. One plant of the white-flowered Lychnis, bearing female flow-
ers, bloomed two weeks ahead of the other plants. The only plant

Sweet gum (Liquid-
ambar styraciflua L.)


Experimental Botany

near it bearing male flowers was a red-flowered plant ten yards
away. Fruit capsules on the white-flowered plant filled with good
seed, and when they were ripe Bartram gathered them. He kept
them separate from capsules formed by the same plant after white-
flowered male plants were blooming. He gathered the late capsules
also and later planted seeds from both. He reasoned that seed from
the first capsules "must partake of ye nature & color of ye red one
or else we should be pusled to reconcile ye hypothesis of receiving
of male & female parts."
As he had expected, the first-formed seeds produced only
plants with flesh-colored flowers, intermediate between red and
white, while the seed from the later-formed capsules produced only
pure white flowers. Manifestly, the male flowers had contributed to
the formation of the plant embryo in the seeds. This was empha-
sized still further when Bartram gave a single female Lychnis
plant to Dr. Witt. This flowered well in his garden where no other
campions were growing. It produced fruit capsules, but they were
entirely lacking in seeds. From all these observations, Bartram
concluded that "it appears that ye male parts of Vegitables is really
necessary to vegitation."'5
In addition to reporting the results of his experiments to Col-
linson, Bartram wrote to William Byrd on the subject:

I have this spring made several microscopical observations
upon ye malle and femall parts in vegetables to oblige some
ingenius botanists in Leyden, who requested that favour of
mee which I hope I have performed to their satisfaction and
as a mechanical demonstration of ye certainty of this hy-
pothesis of ye different sex in all plants that hath come under
my notice. I can't find that any vegetable hath power to pro-
duce perfect seed able to propagate without ye conjunction of
malle seed any more than animals and by a good microscope
ye malle and femall organs is as plainly discovered. I have
made several Successful experiments of joyning several spe-
cies of ye same genus whereby I have obtained curious mixed
Colours in flowers never known before but this requires an
accurate observation and judgment to know ye precise time
when ye femall organs is disposed to receive ye masculin seed
and likewise when it is by ye masculin organs fully perfected
for ejection. I hope by these practical observations to open a


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

gate into a very large field of experimental knowledge which
if judiciously improved may be a considerable addition to ye
beauty of ye florists garden.6

Collinson wrote to Bartram in July 1740 thanking him for his
April letter concerning his "curious and entertaining" experiments
and telling him about Fairchild's hybrids.7 Whether or not Bartram
had previously known of these is not clear. Although his interest in
hybrids continued, Bartram's experimentation was sporadic. Many
years later, in 1760, he told Collinson, "I have now united double to
upright larkspur & they have produced not only a monstrous but a
gigantick monster of a flower upon ye top of ye central shoot it is
in form & magnitude like ye double Nigela Above 30 petals com-
pose ye lower part of ye flower & is blew & measures one inch &
half in diameter like ye double larkspur ye middle part is composed
of above 80 petals delicately striped purple & white spread horizon-
tally upon ye other ye other or uper course is composed of 40 pet-
als standing more upright & darker purple Another plant stood
just by it which had such a like flower but hanged perpendicular &
two common flowers growed out of ye opposite side of ye stalk. Both
these plants had many curious common flowers growing on several

Campion (Lychnis)


Experimental Botany

branches under them."'8 Bartram had produced double larkspur,
which Collinson was eager to have, but the plants produced no
In the summer of 1737 Bartram received a copy of Miller's
Dictionary as a gift from Dillenius, who had been identifying Bar-
tram's plants for Collinson and receiving some of Bartram's seeds.
Dillenius had sent the Dictionary, at Collinson's suggestion, to ex-
press his appreciation for the seeds.10 Bartram reciprocated by
sending in Collinson's care a quire of plants, and a direct correspon-
dence between Bartram and Dillenius was begun." The professor
desired information concerning a number of plants, and Bartram
answered his queries as best he could.12 Dillenius sent paper for
plant specimens, writing paper, and seeds of medicinal plants.13 He
also sent a plate of mosses which had been collected by William
Vernon in Maryland, hoping that Bartram would find the same spe-
cies in Pennsylvania.14 These were unfortunately sent back to En-
gland by mistake and returned to Philadelphia too late for Bartram
to collect the desired plants that year."5 He became increasingly in-
terested in mosses: "Before Doctor Dillenius gave me a hint of it, I
took no particular notice of mosses, but looked upon them as a cow
looks at a pair of new barn doors; yet now he is pleased to say, I
have made a good progress in that branch of botany, which really is
a very curious part of vegetation.""6
Previous to this period, Bartram had collected a few mosses
for Dillenius at Collinson's request, but now he concentrated on
such collecting and sent a great many. On 10 June 1740 Collinson
urged Bartram to special effort as Dillenius was deferring comple-
tion of his book until he should receive shipments from Bartram,
Clayton, and Dr. John Mitchell (1711-68), a Virginia physician.'7
Bartram had already sent a large collection which Dillenius de-
clared had outdone those of all his other correspondents.18 The book
mentioned was Dillenius' famous Historia Muscorum, which was
published in 1741. He sent Bartram one of the 250 copies printed,
wherein Bartram read: "Polytrichum acaulon capillaceum The
dwarf leaf'd Polytrichum with cylindrical heads from John Bar-
tram of Pennsylvania. Gathered on Jersey side at the Minisinks at
the upper Inhabitants on Delaware"19 Unfortunately, most of the
mosses that Bartram had sent were identified only as having come
from Pennsylvania.
Dillenius did not limit his interest in plants to the mosses. He


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

asked Bartram to inquire about the corneliann Chery with a big
leaf" when he went to Virginia. Bartram was unable to gather any
information concerning it and hazarded a guess that it might be
either a sour or a black gum.20 The other plant specimens that Bar-
tram sent to Dillenius bore notes, as did his mosses, concerning the
situation in which he had found them. There was the false helle-
bore (Veratrum viride Ait.), which grew "in moist places." He had
found a similar but rare plant in the mountains, but since it
bloomed in August he was always too busy on the farm to collect
the seed. A Lycopodium was usually dry but became "moist &
springy" in damp weather; the "Rein deer Moss" he had found
growing in sand in a Jersey desert; "Old Man Beard Moss" was
growing on a high oak in Virginia; "Porella permata" was found on
a tidal rock in Pennsylvania; a Lychenoides was discovered on a
laurel in the mountains "toward Susquehanna," and a package con-
taining a mixture of mosses and lichens he thought he remembered
gathering on the ground at the root of an old oak.21
When his plant lists arrived from Collinson in the summer of
1739, Bartram found the names abbreviated and many lacking, for
Dillenius had not been well enough to identify all of them.22 Bar-
tram, wondering if the professor was tired of this extra burden,
suggested that he might identify the plants himself if only Collin-
son would lend him the books.23 Instead, Collinson recruited Gro-
novius in Dillenius' place.24 Such an arrangement was far more sat-
isfactory, since Gronovius had been working with Clayton's Ameri-
can plants. He had just published Clayton's "Catalogue," without
the author's permission, as Flora Virginica, Part I, and immedi-
ately sent Bartram a copy. Nothing could have delighted him more
or could have been more useful. He wrote to Collinson, "I am cer-
tainly pleased with doctor gronovius present whereby I have been
informed what kind of plants my brother Claton hath discovered
& how far to ye northward Mountains he hath travailed as well as
my friends ingenious observations upon them & ye good order
which he hath digested them in pray return my hearty thanks to
him & desire him from me to use much freedom with me as to let
me know what he desires wherein I can oblige him... ." This ar-
rangement benefited not only Gronovius and Bartram but Collin-
son as well. The doctor returned the specimens mounted on "fine
white Paper" looking "as beautiful as so many pictures," in art for
which Collinson had neither the time nor the skill.25


Experimental Botany

In October 1740 Collinson excitedly informed Bartram, "I can
tell thee in the next edition of Virginia plants, thee will see Bartra-
mia."26 Collinson was determined that Bartram's work and discov-
eries should be commemorated by "a species of eternity" as his own
contributions to botany had been honored by the naming of Collin-
sonia and Clayton's by Claytonia. Collinson was disappointed to
find no genus Bartramia in Part II of the Flora Virginica when it
appeared in 1743. Early in the new year, Collinson approached Lin-
naeus, who had shared in many of the parcels of Bartram's seeds:
"For his great pains and industry pray find out a new genus, and
name it Bartramia." Collinson then wrote to Bartram that he had
urged both Gronovius and Linnaeus "not to forget the pains and
travel of indefatigable John Bartram,-but stick a feather in his
cap, who is as deserving as the rest." A year later, when there was
still no action from Sweden, Collinson attempted a more subtle ap-
proach. He wrote to Linnaeus that he was glad to know that he
was corresponding with Bartram and Dr. Cadwallader Colden
(1688-1776), surveyor-general of New York, adding that "Those
two gentlemen are much obliged to you for the honour that you in-
tend them." By August 1746 subtlety was dropped and Collinson
suggested outright that Linnaeus name the "new and rare plant,"
of which he was sending a specimen, Bartramia if a new genus.
This was the charming shooting star (Dodecatheon media L.),

Dr. Cadwallader Colden


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

which Bartram had found in Virginia.27 In the meantime, Grono-
vius wrote Bartram that indeed Linnaeus was naming two new
genera Bartramia and Coldenia.28 Bartram was unfamiliar with his
namesake, a plant native to Florida.29
A parcel of West Indian plants and seeds arrived in the spring
of 1739. It had been sent to Bartram by Dr. J. Slingsby Cressy of
Antigua, a friend of William Graham, an acquaintance of Bartram
who kept a tavern in Chester County. Bartram was "exceedingly
pleased" to have a correspondent with a taste for botany in the
American tropics. He and Cressy exchanged great numbers of
plants and seeds, but they found it frustrating. Those tropical
plants that did not mature seed within six months were useless in
Philadelphia. The "indian shot" (Canna indica L.) did perform in a
highly satisfactory manner for Bartram, growing to a height of four
feet and producing a fine scarlet flower, but it was one of the few
that prospered. Plants from the temperate zone failed in Antigua.
Both men were disappointed, and their correspondence and ex-
change were discontinued.30
Reports that Bartram's seeds and plants were being cultivated
successfully elsewhere cheered him. Many of his plants were now
flowering in Collinson's garden: an Atamasco lily, a spirea, a yellow
lady's slipper, two other kinds of lilies, a pale blue Lychnis, a dwarf
honeysuckle, and a fringed orchis.31 It was in this garden that
Catesby found many of his models for the handsome illustrations
in the second volume of his Natural History. Of the North Ameri-
can plants the majority had come from Bartram, and Catesby often
acknowledged his indebtedness to him. There was the skunk cab-
bage: "The introduction of this most curious Plant with innumera-
ble others, is owing to the indefatigable attachment of Mr. Collin-
son, who, in the year 1735, received it from Pensilvania, and in the
spring following it displayed itself in this manner at Peckham."
There was the yellow lady's slipper and another "sent from Pensyl-
vania, by Mr. John Bartram, who, by his industry and inclination
to the searches into Nature, has discovered and sent over a great
many new productions, both animal and vegetable. This plant flow-
ered in Mr. Collinson's garden, in April, 1738." There was the
mountain laurel, long known in England, where it had always been
a problem, for none of the plants flourished until Bartram sent
some from Pennsylvania, where the climate was similar. Collinson


Experimental Botany

gave Catesby some of the plants, which finally bloomed in his Ful-
ham garden in 1741.32
As Catesby proceeded with his monumental work many ques-
tions arose concerning both flora and fauna. After having pestered
Collinson to query Bartram on various points, he decided that a
direct correspondence would be far more satisfactory. He was en-
couraged in this when Bartram sent him three plants in one of Col-
linson's boxes, so he wrote to him on 29 November 1739 and pro-
posed an exchange. Bartram would send, with his shipments to
Collinson, as many as possible of the plants or animals requested
by Catesby. In return, Catesby would send him each year a part of
his Natural History, consisting of twenty plates with their descrip-
tions. He promised not to ask for too much, knowing how busy Bar-
tram was from reading his letters to Collinson.33 Catesby indicated
the types of plants he desired, but when a box arrived for him along
with the shipment to Collinson in February 1740/41 he was disap-
pointed that there was no letter from Bartram and that the plants
were not those he had mentioned. When he thanked Bartram he
sent a copy of his previous letter, afraid that the Spaniards might
have seized the ship on which it was sent. He also sent the first
part of his book, confessing that it was a smaller version of the one
that Bartram had seen at Thomas Penn's.34
Meantime, Catesby's original letter had finally reached Bar-
tram, and he replied enthusiastically on 22 March:

The reading of thy acceptable letter incited in me the differ-
ent passions of joy, in receiving a letter of friendship and re-

Great laurel
maximum L.)


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

quest from one so much esteemed, and sorrow in considering
what time we have lost when we might have obliged each
other. Its a pity thee had not wrote to me ten years ago. I
should by this time have furnished thee with many different
species of plants, and, perhaps some animals; but the time
past can't be recalled, therefore, pray, write often to me and
inform me in every particular what thee wishes of me, and
wherein I can oblige thee: for when I am traveling on the
mountains, or in the valleys, the most desolate, craggy dis-
mal places I can find, where no mortal ever trod, I chiefly
search out. Not that I naturally delight in such solitudes, but
entirely to observe the wonderful productions in nature. ... I
am exceedingly pleased with thy proposals, and shall do what
I can, conveniently, to comply with them. I have a great value
for thy books, and esteem them as an excellent performance,
and an ornament for the finest library in the world.35

Catesby wanted more details concerning the rhododendron
that Bartram had found on the banks of the Schuylkill in 1736.
Collinson had despaired of raising it from seed and in 1737 had
asked Bartram to transplant a lot of them to his garden and to ship
half a dozen at a time.36 This was done, and the following year Col-
linson was able to report that the plants promised well.37 They
grew but did not bloom, and in 1741 Catesby desired to paint the
rhododendron. However, he was at a loss for the exact figure,
shape, and color of the flowers. First Bartram had said they were a
pale red or blush color but later described them as being studded
with green spots. Bartram volunteered to draw or even paint the
flowers, and Collinson urged hinm to do so. One single flower would
be sufficient.38 So successfully did Bartram comply that Catesby
was able to draw a "tolerable figure of it."39 In November 1742 Bar-
tram shipped plants that Catesby wanted, but the latter still often
went to Peckham to paint flowers.40 When the shooting star, raised
from seed collected by Bartram in the Shenandoah Valley, bloomed
in September 1744, Catesby was there to paint it. There were also
lilies to be pictured, and another mountain laurel, and the ginseng,
which finally flowered and was drawn for posterity in 1746.41
Catesby inquired about numerous animals as well as plants.
He, too, was curious about the Monax or groundhog of Pennsylva-
nia. It is surprising that he had not seen this animal frequently in


Experimental Botany

Virginia and the Carolinas, but he may have thought that of Penn-
sylvania to be different. He had omitted describing the bird "that
at night calls Whipper Will, and sometimes, Whip Will's widow,"
and he wanted a specimen. He desired a house swallow and its
nest.42 Bartram sent a nest of the chimney swift but was unable to
send any whippoorwills in spite of hiring several persons to try to
shoot them.43 Catesby's specimens and description of this bird are
credited to Clayton. Both the latter and Bartram commented on
the resemblance between it and the nighthawk. Bartram wrote "if
thay be not ye same thing thay are much alike. I have often found
their nests which is a little concave on ye bare ground in which
they lay large speckled eggs." He even offered to paint a sketch of
them if Catesby would but send the colors."
Having now seen most of the Natural History, Bartram real-
ized that many birds of the northern colonies were quite different
and sent Catesby a list: gray and white owls, a large kite, both gray
and white herons, cormorants, woodcocks, pheasants, crows, ducks,
and a number of small birds.45 Planning a trip along the seacoast
in the summer of 1742, he thought that he might be able to collect


Shooting star (Dode-
catheon media L.)


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

some birds for Catesby "by the charms of sulphur, nitre and lead."46
Catesby was anxious to acquire any birds that Bartram could send
and advised him to dry them gradually in the oven and cover them
with tobacco dust to preserve them during shipment.47 There were
several kinds of snakes, fish, and turtles that Bartram had not seen
in the books, nor had Catesby pictured a six-inch red lizard.48 In
June 1743 Bartram sent a large blackbird similar to the purple
jackdaw that Catesby had drawn but with far finer colors.49 Two of
the insect specimens sent by Bartram appeared in the later num-
bers of the Natural History: a Sphex caerulea [L.] and an Ichneu-
mon "sent amongst other remarkable Insects, by Mr. John Bar-
tram."50 Catesby acknowledged his indebtedness by listing Bartram's
name as one of the "Encouragers of this work."51
Unfortunately, the correspondence which had begun so enthu-
siastically was doomed by the fortunes of war. The War of Jenkins'
Ear, which began in 1739, had broadened into the War of the Aus-
trian Succession. English and American ships were being sunk by
the French as well as by the Spaniards. Not only were the plants
that Catesby sent to Pennsylvania lost, but so were the 1744 and
1745 cargoes that Bartram had sent to him. Catesby did receive
several letters from Bartram and was able to keep up with his trav-
els through Collinson, but when he wrote in April 1746 he had to
confess that he was in Bartram's debt as far as letters went. He had
become discouraged by their ill luck and had failed to write for two
years. Now he asked Bartram to accept a bird book as a peace offer-
ing.52 Bartram received another letter from Catesby in October,53
but by then even Collinson was becoming cautious. In March 1747
he advised Bartram to send no unusual or rare plants until the war
was over.54
In July 1741 Bartram had initiated a correspondence with a
letter addressed to "Desired Friend, Sir Hans Sloane." He wrote,
"My good, faithful friend Peter Collinson, in his last letter to me,
that I received, acquainted me that thee desired I would send thee
some petrified representations of Sea Shells. Accordingly, I have
sent thee a few, which I gathered toward the northward. ... I hope
these few things may meet with thy acceptance, so as to introduce
a further correspondence; which if they do; pray be so kind to fa-
vour me with a letter containing instructions what kind of Particu-
lar Curiosities will be most agreeable."55
Sir Hans replied in January, thanking Bartram not only for


Experimental Botany

"Shells and Petrifactions" but also for a triangular arrowhead of
"white crystal, or spar; the like of which, in green jasper, I have
had from Tierra del Fuego, on the south side of the Straits of Ma-
gellan. The Indian instrument you sent, was the head of a hatchet,
made of a sort of jasper. This, fitted to a handle, was made use of by
the Indians of Jamaica, and several parts of the West Indies, for
making their canoes, before they were taught the use of iron and
steel." Sloane was so pleased that he asked Collinson what he
should send to Bartram. Collinson suggested that Sir Hans's A Voy-
age to the Islands would be a very welcome gift. Sir Hans sent it
along with the letter saying that he would be glad to have seeds
and samples of plants for his plant collections and asked how he
might best serve Bartram.56 Sloane was then eighty-three years old
but was still adding to his famous collections. Unfortunately, when
the ship that was bringing Sir Hans's letter and books finally
reached Philadelphia, it had "left the captain asleep in Neptune's
bosom: and now, such a mortal sickness is on board that she is or-
dered to ride quarantine below the town. No goods can be got off."
Bartram waited impatiently for the quarantine to be lifted.57
When Bartram replied to Sloane in November, he changed his
form of address to "Respected Friend" and expressed his deep ap-
preciation for the present of Sir Hans's book. His gratitude went
beyond words for he sent "first ... a quire of paper filled with dry
specimens of plants, numbered, so that if thee wants any more of
any sort there, or any more particular remarks on any of them,
please to mention it to each number. Secondly, I have sent thee a
box of insects, with thy name at large on ye box, numbered, and a
paper with my remarks to each number. Thirdly, I have sent thee a



The Life and Travels of John Bartram

collection of curious stones figured with Sea Shells, and some other
curiosities, which, if they should many of them prove new and ac-
ceptable, I shall be well pleased." Finally, he offered to send Sloane
"an Indian Tobacco Pipe of stone," which had been dug from an old
Indian grave, if he did not already have one.58
There were more than thirty insects in the collection Bartram
sent: bumblebees, wasps, borers, locusts, hornets, "tumble turds,"
and a louse from a female hawk. The notes that accompanied them
were most informative. Bartram described their feeding and breed-
ing habits. He enclosed samples of some of the nests and, in one
case, described the pollen placed in the cells for the larvae. He had
carefully examined it under a microscope and found that it came
from male squashes and gourds. He had burrowed in his cornfield,
attempting to dig up one type of bee, but the holes were too small
for him to follow. His sons had dug another species out of his stone
wall. He drew a small diagram of the three-inch preliminary nest
that hornets make before they "all forsake this little habitation &
pitcheth upon a suitable Branch of a tree or under ye roof of an out
house for to build A City." To the quire of specimens of flowering
plants that he sent Sir Hans, he added a collection of mosses.59
All of this correspondence passed through Collinson's hands,
and he thoroughly enjoyed the promotion of it. He even added a few
items that Bartram had sent to him which he thought would please
Sir Hans. From time to time he suggested to Bartram things that
he might send: "for Sir Hans, with thy account, will wonderfully
please him," or, he informed John, "I showed them to Sir Hans. He
was much pleased." Another time he wrote, "Today I breakfasted
with Sir Hans. He always inquires after thee." All of this was most
gratifying to Bartram. In May 1743 he told Collinson, "I am very
thankful to my good friend Sir Hans Sloane, for his fine present of
five guineas. Being he hath so generously bestowed it upon me, I
desire thee would send me a silver can, or cup, as big and good as
thee can get for that sum, which I or mine may keep to entertain
our friends withal, in remembrance of my noble benefactor."60
If either Collinson or Sloane was startled by this request they
did not say so but added to Bartram's pleasure in the gift by having
the large and handsome cup engraved "The Gift of S. Hans Sloane
Bart to his Frd John Bartram Anno 1742." In due course the cup
arrived, and Bartram, delighted by it, hastened to inform Sir Hans:
"I have received thy kind present of a silver cup, and am well


Experimental Botany

pleased that thy name is engraved upon it at large, so that when
my friends drink out of it, they may see who was my benefactor."61
The cup was a source of pride to him throughout his life. He contin-
ued to send anything that he thought might please Sir Hans and
promised him to "use all reasonable endeavours to oblige thee with
any curiosity that is in my power to procure. However, in the
meantime, thee hath fully engaged-by thy many favours and
kindnesses-the respect, with the hearty love and good will of thy
sincere friend, John Bartram."62
Sloane's largess did not stop with the cup. In April of 1743 he
asked Bartram for a catalogue of his botanical books, which the lat-
ter was more than happy to send:

Indeed it is soon done, I have so few of them on Natural His-
tory, which I love dearly to read. The first authors I read,
were SALMON, CULPEPPER, and TURNER. These James Logan
gave me to read. Doctor DILLENIUS sent me MILLER'S Diction-
ary, and his own book of Mosses. Lord Petre sent me MILLER'S
Second Part, and the second book of TURNER'S complete Her-
bal; and thee kindly obliged me with thy History of Jamaica.
Our friend PETER sent me them fine books of Nature Deline-
ated. Catesby sent me his books of Birds, and some books of
Physic and Surgery, which was my chief study in my youthful
years. I have heard of PETIVER'S fine collections of Plants and
Animals, which thee published; nay, I am well acquainted
with his nephew, Captain GLENTWORTH, who lived with his
Uncle PETIVER. He tells me he used to change, spread, and
dry his uncle's specimens, and carried many curiosities be-
tween thee and his uncle.63

Bartram's not-too-subtle hint paid off. Sloane wrote him that he
was sending "all Mr. Petiver's Works which are very Scarce and
may be useful to you and have added the Natural History of Ire-
land, Etmullen Abridged in English, Herman's Paradisus Batavus,
& Selius's account of the Timber Worms thit eats the Ships, which
I perceive you may have not and which may be Diverting & in-
structive to you who love such Things. ."64
Although Bartram's letter of thanks to Sloane for these wel-
come additions to his library does not seem to have survived, his
delight is not difficult to imagine. He did not always like the books


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

he received and, on at least one occasion, was frank enough to say
so. In March 1741/42 Collinson, who had once teased him about
loving books too much, sent him Robert Barclay's Apology (London,
1676), the undisputed textbook for the Quakers for many genera-
tions. Collinson added the comment that it was intended to "re-
plenish thy inward man."65 Tb which Bartram replied thanking him
but adding that "It answers thy advice much better than if thee
had sent me one of Natural History, or Botany, which I should have
spent ten times the hours in reading of, while I might have la-
boured for the maintenance of my family. Indeed, I have little re-
spect to apologies and disputes about the ceremonial parts of reli-
gion, which often introduce animosities, confusion, and disorders in
the mind... 66
When Bartram returned from Virginia in 1738 he thought
that he might attempt a long northern trip the following fall. In
July of the next year he was still making plans for such a trip when
he wrote to Dr. Alexander Colhoun, surgeon of the garrison at New
York, who had recently visited him. Bartram thought that he
might collect through the Jerseys, visit Colhoun at New York, and
continue on to Albany in late September. He asked Colhoun about
the distance from New York to Albany and the extent of settlement
in between. In the meantime he made a trip up the Delaware to
collect white pine seed beyond the Blue Mountains. Unfortunately,
his favorite mare was stolen and he had to rent a horse to ride
home. Soon afterward he cut his foot badly and was confined to bed
for a month. He was forced to forget long trips in 1739.67



"For the Encouragement
of Mr. John Bartram"

IN EARLY September 1740 Bartram saddled a
horse and rode northward toward the "lakie
Hills" beyond Reading. When he climbed them the next morning,
he was able to see all the way to the "great Blew or Paiqualian
mountains," across a lovely valley twenty to thirty miles wide. He
could see the western branch of the Delaware, the Lehigh River,
extending diagonally across the valley to the mountains forty miles
distant from the northeast branch. He crossed the western branch
and rode to within a few miles of the mountains and then followed
the valley to the northeast. He admired the fine land and was par-
ticularly interested to see the improvements being made on the
5,000-acre Whitefield tract.'
The Reverend George Whitefield (1714-70) had arrived in
Philadelphia about a year earlier. An Oxford graduate and a Meth-
odist minister, he had brought with him a vast array of goods do-
nated in England. These were to be sold for the support of the Geor-
gia orphanage and school, which he had established near Savannah
in 1738. While in Philadelphia he had preached to great crowds al-
most hypnotized by his eloquence despite the fact that he some-
times referred to his listeners as "half beasts and half devils."
Franklin had been tremendously impressed by the clergyman and
had tried to interest him in moving his orphanage to Philadelphia.
He contributed to the Georgia project and reported Whitefield's
travels and sermons in the Pennsylvania Gazette. Although he did
not succeed in persuading Whitefield to move the orphanage, the
minister did buy the 5,000-acre Pennsylvania tract for a Negro

The Life and Travels of John Bartram

Bartram did not share his friend's enthusiasm for Whitefield,
perhaps because he had been less exposed to Whitefield's eloquence.
Bartram had, however, heard enough about him and his ideas to
have strong views on the subject. When Collinson inquired what
Whitefield planned to do with his Pennsylvania land,3 Bartram re-

... he proposed to bring as many as would make a township
of his friends from England I suppose he designs them to be
such favorites as was elected before thay was born or begot or
before ye foundations of ye worlds was laid & then when thay
get up into heaven thay are to witness against us at ye great
day of Judgment when our bodies must rise again after they
have wonderfully disolved & transformed in elemental & veg-
itable & often animal species & some of thair bretherin talks
of being Judges: (I suppose then thay will send us reprobates
hundreds and thousands if not Millions to hell) nay one of
them tould his auditors he would sit at ye right hand of ye
father to Judge them (but surely first he must heave ye sun
out of his seat:-enough of this wish it were better) ye great
stone house that was begun but I know not when it will be
finished is to teach young negroes a year I know not what
then return them to thair masters if thay was elected so
long ago what need he to trouble his head about them if
thay was damned what signifieth his tutoring however this
we may be sure he will teach them to think themselves as
good or better than thair masters & too good for servants4

Bartram's account amused Collinson, who replied with equal
irreverence that Whitefield "has, for some time made no noise here;
which I presume is on account of a rich wife, he has lately got,-
which may spoil his spiritual exercises for the Creature must be
minded and gratified else his bedfellow may quote the Apostle paul
on Him and from the Scripture can bring cue that Husband should
give a Wife her due."'5
After viewing the Whitefield tract, Bartram followed a rough
Indian trail away from the valley toward the mountains. Neither
Indians-nor whites were to be seen. At the foot of the mountain he
found groves of pines and one of a spruce or fir, but when he
climbed several he found that they had shed their seed. The terrain


"For the Encouragement of Mr. Bartram"

became extremely rocky, and he was amazed to see both birches
and pines growing out of crevices which seemed too small for any-
thing but ferns. He made his way almost to the gap through which
the Delaware flowed through the mountains but did so with great
difficulty "by wandering passages between ye rocks so steep I could
hardly lead my mare up. this passage is about a mile of where ye
river runs thorow but there is no passing near ye river side." On the
north side of the water gap he descended into rich lowlands along
the Delaware, extending along both sides of the river. The lands
were well watered by creeks "tumbling down ye mountains in glis-
tening cascades."- He found the land to be settled for over forty
miles beyond the Blue Mountains. He swam his mare three times
across the stream where it was about 150 yards wide, in order to
explore both sides. Ten miles beyond the mountains he found
mostly good land on the Jersey side but very steep and barren land
on the Pennsylvania side, where there were "strange representa-
tions of snails & scalop shels with other curiosities." He collected
some of these fossils and was sure that he could have found many
more if he had had time. The rocks disintegrated in the winter cold,
and fossils were washed free by spring rains.
On /his return trip Bartram recrossed the mountains on the
Jersey side of the Delaware. As he descended he saw a great pile of
rock which he was told marked the grave of an Indian king. He was
sorely tempted to pull it apart "to search what antiquities I could
find laid with this royal body but was afraid of disturbing ye Indi-
ans nearby." Later he explored a cave, "ye mouth of which began
toward ye top of a limestone hill & descended down until I came to
a pond of clear water." He decided that he had dawdled long enough
and set out for home as fast as he could travel. Bartram sent Col-
linson a journal of his trip, a map of the region, a drawing of the
cave, and sundry seeds, nests, fossils, and other curiosities that he
had collected on this trip and several others to Jersey. He suggested
that if he were sent some watercolors, he could improve on his
drawings of plants by showing proper colors of flowers. Collinson
was so gratified that he promptly sent Bartram four volumes on
natural history, and Lord Petre sent him books by Tournefort.6
The winter of 1740-41 was one of the most severe ever known
at Philadelphia. Ice froze so thickly on the Schuylkill that it could
support the weight of horses. Ships could neither leave the port nor
enter it. Communications to and from Europe were delayed, and it


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

was not until the middle of May that Bartram received letters from
Collinson, dated from October to April.7 Collinson and Petre were
optimistic that Bartram might stay healthy and be able to make
the long-planned trip to New York this year. With this in mind,
Collinson sent a letter of introduction to a man Bartram must cer-
tainly meet, Dr. Cadwallader Colden. Collinson was sure that Col-
den could advise Bartram about many things, but particularly
about the location of the balm of gilead firs (Abies balsamea L.)
which Collinson coveted. As usual, he also wrote to Colden advis-
ing him to expect Bartram. Colden replied that he would be de-
lighted to offer any assistance he could.8 He was a Scot, although
born in Ireland. He had graduated from the University of Edin-
burgh and then studied medicine in London. His first American
practice had been in Philadelphia, where he had settled in 1710. In
1718 he had been persuaded by Robert Hunter, governor of New
York, to move there. He was appointed surveyor-general in 1720,
and the following year he became a member of the council on which
he served for twenty years. He had largely given up his medical
practice but maintained a keen interest in medical matters and in
science generally.9
On 20 May 1741 Bartram left home on his New York trip. His
first stop was at Trenton, across the Delaware in Jersey. Here he
called on Lewis Morris (1671-1746), a fellow Quaker.10 Morris had
large landholdings in New York and had rented a farm called
Kingsbury, near Trenton, when he became governor in 1738. Bar-
tram was warmly welcomed not only by Morris but by his son,

The Reverend George Whitefield


"For the Encouragement of Mr. Bartram"

Chief Justice Robert Hunter Morris (1700-1764), and a daughter.1"
All three had scientific interests and gave Bartram what assistance
they could. The daughter brought out some curious nuts which had
been sent to them from Oswego, New York. Robert Morris gave him
a letter to a New York friend who might be helpful. The governor
showed him his library, of which he was justifiably proud. Bartram
thought it the finest that he had seen "except for Col. Byrd's & but
little short of that." It was here that Bartram first saw Sloane's
Natural History of Jamaica. The governor did not give Bartram a
letter to a particular person but instead a general letter to magis-
trates and others in responsible positions, requesting that they as-
sist him in any way possible.
When Bartram left Trenton he headed for the "highlands."
Crossing these hills between the Delaware and Hudson rivers, he
found many small ponds and one five miles long. There, sixty miles
from the ocean, he found sea shells "in a sort of loam or rotten
stone," and among the foothills he found great caches of them. He
circled around the end of the Shongo Mountains, a continuation of
the Blue Mountains, and soon afterward he came to the home of
Peter Bayard, not very far from New York City. It was an imposing
country house, a quarter of a mile from the road. On one side lay a
wood and on the other fine vegetable and flower gardens. Locust
trees in full bloom perfumed the air along the walk. Bartram's host
supplied him with letters to Francis Salisbury at Catskill and other
friends along the way.12 Bartram's next stop was at Coldengham,
where he was disappointed to find that Colden had gone to New
England.'3 Bartram continued up the Hudson to Salisbury's home,
built in 1705 on land that his father had purchased from the Indi-
ans.14 Salisbury told him exactly where he could find the balm of
gilead firs.15 To get there would not be easy. Morris had warned Bar-
tram that the Catskills were a mile high. While Bartram thought
that they were considerably less than that, he conceded that they
were the highest mountains that he had seen. Naturally, the firs
that he wanted grew near the top of the mountains.
As he had been promised, Bartram found the climbing diffi-
cult. High rock walls frequently blocked his path and he had to de-
tour. Thick brush made progress difficult, but Bartram was an old
hand at this sort of thing and not easily discouraged. He finally
reached the top and found the trees that he wanted. They were fine
specimens, some as much as a foot in diameter and sixty feet high.


The Life and Travels of John Bartram

It was not the proper season for collecting seed, but he did fill some
bladders with the clear resin that formed "blisters" on the trunks
and branches. He was so busy examining other plants in the area
that he suddenly realized that it was nearing sunset. A little wor-
ried about getting off the mountain before dark, as he later wrote,
he "made what hast I could carefully down by running & slipping &
tumbling & yet it was so dark before I reached ye bottom that I
could hardly see ye branches or rocks before I run against them."
Near the foot of the mountain he found a man who agreed to gather
a bushel of the fir cones at the proper time and deliver them to Sal-
isbury. Bartram paid the man ten shillings for doing so and re-
turned to Salisbury's home for the night. His host promised that
when the cones were delivered he would see that they were shipped
to Derick Skiller's at Brunswick, in Jersey, who would forward
them to Philadelphia.16 Bartram was particularly concerned about
this, not only because of all the effort that had gone into the trip
but because he knew Collinson would question his having gone at
a season when seeds would not be ripe.
When Bartram left Salisbury's, he did not head south but con-
tinued to the Mohawk River, turning downstream. Coming to the
falls, he was so impressed he had to pause long enough to make a
drawing. At Albany he made the acquaintance of several of Bay-
ard's friends who shewedd much Civility" to him, but he did not
linger long. Before departing, he promised his hosts that he would
send them some curious seeds when he reached home."7 On his
homeward trip, a stream that he was fording proved much deeper
than he had expected. He, his horse, and his specimens were
soaked, and his notes were obliterated.8 At home, Bartram made
up parcels to send to those who had received him so hospitably. Tob
Bayard, he sent double and breeding tulips, hyacinths, and narcis-
As fall approached, Bartram worried about the fir cones for
which he had paid. They did not arrive, and he began to make in-
quiries. Eventually he learned that the man he had paid had failed
to deliver them. Salisbury, knowing how anxious Bartram was to
obtain them, had sent his own man to collect cones, but he returned
empty-handed, saying that birds had eaten all of the seeds. Bar-
tram was disgusted and decided he would have to plan a trip to
New England for the following year.20 He did not travel far again
until fall, for his family and his farm needed his attention. A new


Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
REPORT xmlns http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitss xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitssdaitssReport.xsd
INGEST IEID EAG9AZHE1_Y4BO00 INGEST_TIME 2013-08-15T23:48:49Z PACKAGE AA00010358_00001