William Bartram's Florida

Material Information

William Bartram's Florida a naturalist's vision : the teacher's manual
Porter, Charlotte M., 1948-
Florida State Museum
Place of Publication:
Florida State Museum
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
vi, 24 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.


Subjects / Keywords:
Naturalists -- Travel -- Pennsylvania -- Florida ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- Florida ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )
individual biography ( marcgt )
Target Audience:


Statement of Responsibility:
Charlotte M. Porter.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
AAA5127 ( LTQF )
AHW7490 ( NOTIS )
025484110 ( AlephBibNum )
20744346 ( OCLC )

Full Text



William Bartram's Florida
A Naturalist's Vision

The Teacher's Manual

Charlotte M. Porter, Ph. D.
Florida State Museum
Gainesville, Florida

with a grant from the


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Florida's natural beauty its plants and its animals has attracted
many visitors. In the spring of 1774, a gentle naturalist named William
Bartram (1739-1823) traveled inland from the St. Johns River to the
Alachua Savanna, present-day Paynes Prairie State Preserve. This
prairie is a large wet meadow teeming with wildlife. Because Bartram
collected plants everywhere he went, the Indians called him "Puc
Puggy" or flower hunter.
In 1772, Bartram was commissioned by a British physician, Dr.
John Fothergill, to record the natural history of the Southeast for the
sum of 150 per annum. Having failed in 1766 to run an indigo
plantation outside St. Augustine, Bartram had not yet made a place
for himself in life. Now, at the age of thirty-five, he returned to
Florida to follow his favorite pursuit, the study of plants and animals.
In Florida, the fields seemed painted with the colors of wildflowers,
and Bartram drew many species: the flowering paw paw, pink bindweed,
the Magnolia grandiflora, and the lovely American lotus. Indeed, few
things escaped the notice of Bartram's sharp eye. The fragile celestial
lily he described near Lake Dexter was not found again for the next
150 years!
Nature's variety inspired Bartram, and his drawings and records
introduced readers on both sides of the Atlantic to Florida then an
unfamiliar place. Bartram described the region's natural history the
black vulture, gopher tortoise, and sandhill crane (which he drew
performing its distinctive mating dance). Although he wrote about
the alligator as a noisy dragon-like animal with a "horrifying roar,"
Bartram's observation of maternal care among alligators has been re-
cently reconfirmed by wildlife biologists at the Florida State Museum,
In Bartram's eyes, Florida's streams, its sandy banks, and ancient
trees formed a natural paradise, a place where the Lower Creek Indians
lived in harmony with nature. At the village of Cuscowilla, near the

present-day town of Micanopy, Bartram was greeted by chief Cow-
keeper in the spring of 1774. Like the present residents of this region,
Cowkeeper's people were primarily farmers, and Bartram was impressed
by the numbers of Spanish cattle and horses they raised in the Alachua
Savanna. He believed their herds rivaled those of the prosperous farms
outside the Philadelphia of his youth.
Bartram, a Quaker by religious persuasion, had arrived in Florida
as a peace-loving British subject. Three years later, he returned to
Philadelphia as a citizen of an emerging nation, the United States of
America. While he had been preoccupied with his 2400-mile trip
throughout the wilds of the Southeast, the thirteen British colonies
were waging a war of independence. Bartram never traveled again,
and with time, his memories of Florida were reshaped by national ideals.
Like many visitors to Florida, Bartram enjoyed watching the fish.
At Lake George, he observed the water was so clear that all fish, big
and small, have an equal chance. "Here," he said, "the trout swims
by the very nose of the alligator and laughs in his face, and the bream
swims by the trout." Bartram made scientific drawings of these fish,
but this spring also allowed him to describe nature in the terms of a
new democratic society.
Bartram carefully observed the native peoples of Florida, and his
book shows a unique portrait of a Seminole chief. Bartram urged his
readers and the federal government to understand the Indian "nations"
in order to avoid warfare. Specifically, he suggested that diplomats
sent to the Indians should know their languages. Unfortunately, as
the three Seminole Wars that characterized Florida's later history indi-
cate, Bartram's sensible advice was ignored.
Another important aspect of Bartram's writing was his popularization
of Florida for settlement. The bird painter, John James Audubon,
attributed a premature land boom in Florida to Bartram's "flowery
sayings." In 1873, Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's
Cabin, addressed this same theme in Palmetto-Leaves, a book devoted
to Florida. "We never pretended that Florida was the Kingdom of
Heaven," Mrs. Stowe wrote from Mandarin, but "it is a child's Eden."
Bartram's book was better read in Europe than in his own country.
Shortly after the work was published in Philadelphia, it was translated
into almost every major European language. The best remembered
sections described Florida. Poets William Wordsworth and Samuel

Taylor Coleridge used imagery from Bartram's book to fuel the Roman-
tic Movement in literature, and classics like the "Rime of the Ancient
Mariner" or "Kubla Khan" owe much to the sights, sounds, and fra-
grances Bartram described in Florida on the eve of the American
Charlotte M. Porter
Assistant Curator
Florida State Museum
April 26, 1986






From 1773-77, William Bartram (1739-1823) explored the American
Southeast in order to record the region's plants, animals, and Indian
peoples. The published account of his Travels (1791) has become a
classic, in large part because of Bartram's fond descriptions of Florida.
Modem travelers are lucky, for Bartram's beloved Alachua Savanna
has been restored as Paynes Prairie State Preserve according to his
original notes and drawings. This manual is intended as a companion
for the less adventuresome "armchair" traveler who can share Bar-
tram's vision as a park visitor or as a viewer of "William Bartram's
Florida," a public television program funded by the Florida Endowment
for the Humanities and produced by the Florida State Museum with
WUFT- TV (Gainesville).


The Florida of Bartram's day was larger than the present state. In
fact, there were two Floridas, East and West Florida. In 1763, the
Treaty of Paris concluded the long struggle between Great Britain,
France, and Spain for control of North America. The French ceded
land east of the Mississippi River (excluding New Orleans) to Great
Britain, and western Louisiana to Spain. Spain, in turn, gave East
Florida to Britain in exchange for Cuba, "the Pearl of the Antilles."
The Floridas thus became the fourteenth and fifteenth British colonies
in North America.
Although this trade was criticized by those British who considered
Florida unfit for agriculture and devoid of natural wealth, it eliminated
Spanish foothold on the east coast. The old city of St. Augustine
continued to serve as a major population center and capital of East
Florida. The seat of government for British West Florida was Pen-
sacola, the best deep narrow harbor on the gulf coast. In contrast to
the Spaniards, many of Pensacola's French settlers transferred their
allegiance to the British king.


Britain now held jurisdiction over all land east of the Mississippi
(except New Orleans) and made plans to solidify control and establish
land policies. The Royal Proclamation Act of 1763 reserved the area
north of the 31st parallel and west of the Appalachian Mountains for
the Indians. The Board of Trade in London, however, soon realized
that there were white settlers already located in this restricted zone
and agreed to extend the northern boundary of British West Florida.
This decision did not completely satisfy colonists who had expected
land as a reward for their loyalty to the crown, and it contributed to
the deterioration of relations between the colonies and the mother
country prior to the Revolutionary War.

At this time, William Bartram's father John was appointed Royal
Botanist to King George III, and in 1765, he explored the Floridas
with his son "for the benefit of the new colony." John Bartram re-
corded soil types, animals, and other information for would-be settlers.

The Floridas to which William returned in 1774 were a different
place. American patriots from Georgia were making troublesome bor-
der raids. Indian groups still outnumbered whites and, in some places,
were becoming increasingly hostile toward travelers.

The Muscogulges, a group within the Creeks, inhabited a wide
area from eastern Georgia and north Florida to central Alabama; some-
times they farmed sites occupied by earlier Indians. Hunting parties
procured the deerskins and other pelts for the British trading posts on
the St. Johns River which Bartram visited.

At the time of Bartram's visit, some Seminoles were affiliated with
the Creeks in north central Florida. In the Alachua Savanna, (present-
day Paynes Prairie State Preserve) these Indians grazed large herds of
horses and cattle. Their chief was aptly called Cowkeeper. Lower
Creeks and Seminoles inhabited the areas of Gainesville and Tallahas-
see, as well as the panhandle.

Three other Indian groups occupied the region between the Savan-
nah and the Mississippi rivers. They were organized as tribal con-
federacies or nations. The Cherokees occupied the mountain valleys
of the Carolinas, Tennessee and Georgia; the Choctaws controlled
from the Tombigbee to Mississippi rivers, and the Chickasaws lived
to the north of them.

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At the time of Columbus, an estimated 100,000 Indians lived in Florida. These Indians
succumbed to European diseases and enslavement, and by 1720, north Florida was deserted.
With the end of Spanish rule in 1763, remaining mission Indians went to Cuba. Other
Indian groups, primarily Lower Creeks, moved south from Georgia and Alabama. Bartram
wrote that by 1774 the Seminoles were rapidly becoming a separate language group.


Bartram enjoyed fishing in Florida and illustrated his "keepers." The "Great Yellow Bream"
was his favorite for eating.

Common Indian staples were melons, beans, squash and corn. Rice
was obtained from traders. Although Bartram carried a supply of dried
meat and cheese with him, he described with relish some favorite
dishes his Indian hosts offered him:
conte jelly made from smilax
live oak acorns
pilloe (rice boiled with raccoon, fowl, or fish)
"good" hot cakes (corn flour with conte jelly fried in bear oil)
trout stewed with oranges
Indian marmalade (cooked plums and honey)
corn pone (cornmeal mixed with the "milk" from hickory nuts)
wild fruits (strawberries, fox grapes, crabapples, persimmons)
honey drink (a refreshing Indian beverage of honey and water)
shellfish (the source of the Indian shell mounds)
beef tongue (greatly relished by the Indians)













Featuring descriptions of British Florida, Bartram's Travels was the first major
scientific work to be published in the newly organized United States.



of the Coast7

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l*('^AA'd vEAAJ~lAl

In 1766, William Bartram persuaded his father to finance a 500-acre indigo
plantation near St. Augustine. An unsuccessful farmer, he soon abandoned
the project, and in November, a letter reported he had survived a shipwreck,
referred to on the map by the notation "Wrecked here."


Bartram's Travels is divided into four parts. The first deals with the
preparations for his trip and describes his journey in 1773 from
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Georgia. Part two is devoted to Bar-
tram's travels in Florida in the year 1774. Part three describes his
investigations in the territories of the Cherokees and Choctaws, or
West Florida, Alabama, and the region west to the Mississippi River,
during the years 1775-1776. Part four contains Bartram's valuable ac-
counts of the lifeways of the Indians of the Southeast at the time of
the American Revolution.

WBartram in Florida: Arrival in East Florida, 1774.
William Bartram sailed from St. Simons Island, Georgia, to the
St. Johns River in March of 1774. He was bound for Spalding's
Lower Store where he had forwarded his study materials. James
Spalding of St. Simons Island was senior partner in the firm of
Spalding and Kelsell which traded with Indians for goods sent to
Savannah and eventually to Europe. Spalding's Lower Store was
managed by Charles McLatchy. The Upper Store was under the
direction of Job Wiggens and his Indian wife. The Lower Store
served as a distribution point for the Upper Store (at present-day
Astor) and the trading houses at Alachua and Talahasochte. Spal-
ding gave William Bartram letters to his agents instructing them
to furnish guides, horses and other assistance.

WAmelia Island. As Bartram's ship passed Cumberland Island,
it met a trading schooner returning from stores on the St. Johns
River. Passengers told of recent Indian raids, and Bartram's boat
turned back. Bartram prevailed upon the captain to put him ashore
on Cumberland Island. Except for Fort William this island was
uninhabited and provided the naturalist with little more than
"harsh treatment from thorny thickets and prickly vines." He pro-
ceeded on to Amelia Island.

&Fernandina Beach. Bartram landed on the north end of
Amelia Island and crossed Egan's Creek (now Clark's Creek) to
Lord Egmont's plantation, an estate of eight to nine thousand
acres with a town laid out in 1770. Bartram remained for several
days with Mr. Egan, the agent or manager. Having failed as a
planter, Bartram was impressed with the indigo growing in the
northeastern sector of present-day Fernandina Beach. Here Bar-
tram also observed four large Indian middens called the "Ogeeche
mounts." Remnants of one mound could still be seen in 1940 on
the grounds of Public School #1 on the north side of Atlantic
Avenue near 12th Street.

a Cowford Ferry. Bartram left the Egmont plantation by boat,
through Kingsley Creek and across Nassau Sound. His party prob-
ably camped on the north end of Talbot Island. Bartram reported
orange trees "in full bloom" and air filled with "fragrance." Before
proceeding by way of Sawpit and Sister creeks to the public ferry
in Cowford (present-day Jacksonville), Bartram procured a small
boat and fitted it with sails for his journey up the St. Johns River.
Leaving Cowford, he probably camped first in or near Ortega.

John Fothergill, the sponsor of William
Bartram's trip to the Southeast, was
/7/ t" primarily interested in wild plants, but
asked Bartram also to draw turtles on
s .half sheets.

The next day, he re-crossed the river and visited the Marshall
plantation known to him from earlier travels with his father. Mar-
shall, a slave owner, presented Bartram with a sample of fine indigo
blue (dye) "of his own manufacture." At the next plantation, a
hospitable host assured him that the Indian trouble was over and
to proceed without fear.

W Up the St. Johns River to Palatka. Bartram continued
south and landed at the old Spanish fort at Picolata. In 1767 he
had attended the congress called there by Governor Grant with
the Lower Creeks. The rice plantation William attempted in 1766
was probably located in the swamplands near this fort. Traveling
up river, Bartram was impressed by "incredible numbers of small
flying insects" a number "greater than the whole race of mankind."
His next camp was near the mouth of Clark's Creek, Clay County.
Recording large "floating islands" of water lettuce and "majestic"
cypress trees, Bartram followed the west or Indian shore of the St.
Johns River. This part of Bartram's account inspired a passage in
the French novel Atala (1801) by Rend de Chateaubriand which
described "floating islands" and added whimsically "young crocodiles
take passage on these floral vessels."

After "doubling a long point of land" (Forrester's Point), Bartram
proceeded to an Indian settlement (Palatka). Youths were fishing
and shooting frogs with bows and arrows, as women hoed corn.
There was a large, carefully tended orange grove at one end of the
Indian village, "with several hundred acres cleared" for corn,
beans, batatass" (potatoes), "pompions" (pumpkins), squashes,
melons, and tobacco. By 1875, Palatka, a resort for consumptives,
was the terminus of the steamer line from Charleston, South

tStokes Landing, the Lower Store. Bartram stopped be-
tween East Palatka and San Mateo at Rollestown, an experimental
community founded by Denys Rolle in 1764 with British vagrants,
debtors and social outcasts. Ten years later, only the overseer,
blacksmith, and their families remained. Bartram described the
"beautiful shrub" paw paw at this site, now the location of a
generating plant of Florida Power and Light. Having secured direc-
tions to Murphy's Island where the trading party had secured goods

"The extensive Alachua is a level green plain, above fifteen miles over, fifty miles
in circumference, and scarcely a tree or bush of any kind to be seen on it. It is
encircled with high, sloping hills, covered with waving forests and fragrant Orange
groves, rising from an exuberantly fertile soil. The towering Magnolia grandiflora and trans-
cendent Palm stand conspicuous among them . Herds of sprightly deer, squadrons
of the beautiful fleet Siminole horse, flocks of turkeys, civilized communities of the
sonorous watchful crane, mix together, appearing happy and contented in the enjoy-
ment of peace, till disturbed and affrighted by the warrior man."
Using Bartram's drawings and descriptions, the state of Florida has restored the savanna as
Paynes Prairie State Preserve. The Preserve is open to the public as a campground, beach,
hiking trail, and visitor's center with exhibits about Bartram. The entrance is north of
Micanopy on U.S. 441.


and his gear, Bartram continued on to the Lower Store, which is
said to have stood in the grove of live oak trees west of Stokes
Landing (a popular fish camp).

W The Alachua Savanna. In April, Bartram and a party set
out for the trading house near Lochloosa Creek (at the northwest-
ern comer of Orange Lake) and the River Styx. The Indians,
Bartram learned, had recently moved from their village at the edge
of the great Alachua Savanna to Lake Tuscawilla (near present-day
Micanopy), because of the "stench of putrid fish and reptiles" and
the "persecution of the mosquitoes." Bartram noted the gardens in
the new village of Cuscowilla were small since most of their plant-
ing was done on the rich lands bordering the savanna.
Again, the French novelist Chateaubriand borrowed this town
from Bartram's Travels for the Seminole "capital" in Atala, a story
of ill-fated Indian love. This part of Florida received national liter-
ary attention again in 1942 after Marjorie Kinan Rawlings pub-
lished Cross Creek and Cross Creek Cookery. Like Bartram, Rawl-
ings was a keen observer of the region's natural beauty: "There is
no such thing," she wrote, "as an ugly tree, but the Magnolia
grandiflora has a unique perfection."

&Conte. At this point in his Travels, Bartram described "conte,"
a food the Indians prepared from smilax root: "a small quantity of
this mixed with warm water and sweetened with honey, when cool
becomes a beautiful, delicious jelly, very nourishing and whole-
some." Today Seminole Indians use a different plant for this pur-
pose. Smilax is a common native briar, but honey was a trade
novelty since the honeybee was introduced by Europeans. At the
time of Bartram's trip, honeybees had not yet spread to West

WReturn to the Lower Store. The traders continued on to
the trading store near Chacala Pond, while Puc Puggy, or Flower
Hunter as Bartram was called by Cowkeeper's people, explored the
beautiful savanna. In early May, he rejoined the trading party on
their return to the Lower Store. They probably crossed the old
Spanish Highway about 1.5 miles south of Prairie Creek and con-
tinued northwest to Rochelle (an area where more bald eagles can

be seen today than any other region east of the Rocky Mountains).
Following the path of the present-day Atlantic Coast Line Railroad
to Lochloosa Creek, the party camped again at Cowpen Lake and
returned the next day to the Lower Store.

&Lake George. In mid May, the traders went ahead with goods
to the Upper Store. Bartram followed in his small boat, passing
Mount Hope, a large shell mound "named by my father" (now
demolished for road-fill). Bartram mentioned that the older orange
groves had been converted to a large indigo plantation. At Mount
Royal (Fruitland Cove) the party spent a night with a former "In-
dian trader," Mr. Kean. Sailing on Lake George, they camped on
the south end of Drayton's Island near remains of a large Indian
mound and "grand avenue." After crossing Lake George (15 miles
wide), they spent one night at Cedar Point (Zinder Point), where
the lake meets the St. Johns River. Here Bartram described lan-
tana, an orange hibiscus, and bears "immoderately fond" of
oranges. The following day they reached the Upper Store, where
Bartram remained only a few days.

Bartram's drawing of alligators shows them blowing smoke from their nostrils like Chinese


?&Lake Dexter. En route to a plantation 60 miles up river, Bar-
tram was accompanied by a young Indian who soon tired of his
labors and quit. Bartram's first camp was near Manhatten, some 3
miles from the Upper Store on the west side of the St. Johns River.
He traveled across Lake Dexter and camped at a shell mound, now
also demolished for road-fill. While he was fishing, he encountered
the alligators so vividly described as "crocodiles" in Chapter V of
his Travels:
"two very large ones attacked me closely, at the same instant, rushing
up with their heads and part of their bodies above the water, roaring
terribly and belching floods of water over me. They struck their jaws
together so close to my ears, as almost to stun me."
Bartram spent two or three days exploring this rich natural area
and observed the snake bird or anhinga for the first time.

W Yamassee Burial Ground. On the second night (at St.
Francis) Bartram found that after dark he had
"unwittingly taken up my lodging on the borders of an ancient burying
ground; sepulchres or tumuli of the Yamassees, who were here slain by
the Creeks in the last decisive battle .. there were near thirty of these
cemeteries of the dead, nearly of an equal size and form, they were
oblong, twenty feet in length, ten or twelve feet in width, and three or
four feet high."
This Yamassee burial place has been demolished for road-fill. In
Cuscowilla, Bartram observed that Cowkeeper was attended by
some Yamassee slaves who spoke Spanish and were presumed to be

t'New Smyrna. Having weathered a violent early June storm in
his little boat, Bartram reached his destination, the plantation
owned by Lord Beresford. About 30 miles from the Minorcan col-
ony of New Smyrna founded in 1767, this area has particularly rich
soil and for more than a century produced large quantities of sugar
and syrup, in addition to the esteemed "Indian River" citrus. Sugar
Mill Gardens (Daytona Beach) and the New Smyrna Sugar Mill
Historical Memorial (New Smyrna Beach) can be visited today. To
the south, the town of Eau Gallie (selected as the site for the
state's Agricultural College in the 1870s) became more famous

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-%idl. Tournm.

Near Lake Dexter, Florida, Bartram
described anhingas, birds he recognized
from Chinese screens, and the celestial
lily, an early .morning flower not seen
again until the 1930s.




through the writings of Zora Neale Hurston, the black folklorist,
whose 1935 Mules and Men reveals an aspect of Florida's plantation
culture about which Bartram is silent.

WBlue Springs. Mr. Bernard, the manager of the Beresford Plan-
tation, took Bartram to Blue Springs: "This tepid water," Bartram
reported, "has a most disagreeable taste, brassy and vitriolic, and
very offensive to the smell, much like bilge water or the washings
of a gun barrel, and is smelt at a great distance." Blue. Springs, the
southernmost point of his journey, is now a state park and manatee
sanctuary in Volusia County. A marker at the spring, the largest
in the St. Johns River Basin, quotes John Bartram at the time of
his visit on January 4, 1766.

&Arrival at the Upper Store. On his return journey, Bartram
observed many birds the "savanna" or sandhill crane, limpkin,
curlew, and wood stork. He camped again near St. Francis and
possibly at Spring Garden Creek, which enters Lake Dexter from
the east. He probably passed the following night at Orange Bluff
(Bluffton), 3 miles above the Upper Store.

W Second Trip to the Lower Store. Bartram spent one more
night on the east bank of the St. Johns River preparing his natural
history collections before his arrival at the Upper Store. There he
bid "adieu" to Job Wiggens and set out again for the Lower Store.
He again camped at Cedar Point and touched on a small island he
called "The Isle of Palms." Bartram also camped 2 miles south of
Silver Glen Springs (Bartram's Johnson Springs), a beautiful spot
now open to the public. Here, in the present-day Ocala National
Forest, wolves made off with fish hanging over Bartram's sleeping
head. He followed Six Mile Springs run (present-day Salt Springs)
to its source. Bartram continued northwest to Rocky Point of Lake
George and again visited Mr. Kean at Mount Royal before reaching
the Lower Store in early June 1774.

WReturn to the Alachua Savanna. Sometime in mid June,
Bartram set out for the "Little St. Juan" (Suwannee River). Al-
though he did not get as far south as the true Florida scrub, he
noted the "clamorous" Florida scrub jay, now an endangered species.
The first day's journey took the party about 25 miles to Cowpen

Bartram called the sandhill crane (Grus canadensis pratensis) by its Indian
name "Wattoola." He has shown the crane doing its characteristic mating dance.
Paynes Prairie State Preserve (Alachua County), is an important nesting place
for these birds.

Lake. Bartram recorded the Indian's interesting use of the teeth of
garfish to tip their arrows and provided the first scientific description
of the gopher tortoise. Near Cuscowilla, the party divided. Bar-
tram's group was greeted by Cowkeeper's people and offered the
"thin drink" of casual hospitality, in contrast to the potent ceremo-
nial "black drink."

'Lake Kanapaha. Live oaks Bartram described still stand at
Lake Kanapaha, and a trail marker notes his charming campsite at
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens. En route, the party observed wolves
feeding on the carcass of a horse. Although this area is part of the
historic range of the southern red wolf, Bartram described Florida
wolves as small and black. Archer Road (S.R. 24) approximates
the old trail, and the little lakes and sinkholes Bartram noted are
characteristic of the limestone geology on the way to present-day
Bronson, Levy County.

wManatee Springs. Having camped near the Big or Little
Waccasassa River, Bartram's group traveled to Long Pond, 2 miles
south of Chiefland. Their destination, the store at Talahasochte,
is usually identified with Ross Landing, a bluff 6 miles upstream
from Manatee Springs, today a state park. There, a walkway leads
to the "boil" of the spring that Bartram accurately recorded as
erupting every 34 seconds. At this place Bartram described seeing
the bones of manatees along the banks. The manatee, Florida's
official marine mammal, is an endangered species of less than 1000

WSuwannee River. Bartram described the Suwannee River as
the most beautiful river he had ever seen. His excursion apparently
followed a trading path for 1.5 miles. He turned west to the Califor-
nia Creek headwaters, then proceeded north 8 or 9 miles towards
present-day Oldtown, before returning to Talahasochte. Bartram's
party returned to the Lower Store by way of Cowpen Lake.

Return to the Lower Store. Late in July 1774, Bartram
made one "little voyage" to visit Salt Springs, today a popular
camping and hiking site. On his return to the trading house, he
found "a very large party of Lower Creeks encamped in a grove."
Led by Long Warrior, whose portrait Bartram drew, these rowdy

warriors were going to fight their enemies, "the Chactaws [sic] of
West Florida." After they departed, Charles McClatchy, manager
of the Lower Store, invited Bartram to accompany him to the
Indian village at present-day Palatka for a feast of watermelons.

aDeparture from East Florida. Enjoying the elaborate hos-
pitality of the Indians, the party returned to the Lower Store as
the trading schooner was preparing to leave for St. Simons Island,
Georgia. Before the vessel sailed, Bartram crossed the river with a
party taking horses to range. Bartram's Travels refers to his depar-
ture in September, but other sources indicate he stayed on the St.
Johns River until early November 1774.

aPensacola, 1775. While waiting for a ship to take him west
from Mobile, Alabama to the Pearl River in 1775, Bartram decided
"to fill up this time." He embarked upon a boat destined for the
Perdido River "for the purpose of securing the remains of a wreck."
Although his subsequent arrival in Pensacola was "merely acciden-
tal and undesigned," the naturalist was soon introduced to Governor
Chester of West Florida who: "commended my pursuits, and invited
me to continue in West Florida in researches after subjects of
natural history, etc., nobly offering to bear my expenses [sic], and
a residence in his own family as long as I chose to continue in the
Bartram was already committed to collect specimens for the British
Quaker physician, John Fothergill, and he declined the governor's
offer to survey West Florida. Although Bartram's visit to Pensacola
was brief (less than 24 hours), he was evidently impressed by the
city and gave detailed descriptions in his Travels. In 1875, the Civil
War poet Sidney Lanier similarly praised West Florida for the
beauty of its coastal bays and "fine fish and oysters." (See his
Florida: Its Scenery, Climate and History.)

W'Return to Mobile. Anxious to continue his trip to the Missis-
sippi River, Bartram returned by boat to Mobile. During the next
century, there was talk of ceding the sparsely settled Florida
panhandle to Alabama.

WSpring and Summer, 1776. Bartram's Travels does not give
details for the spring and summer of 1776, and his field journals


from this period have been lost. While other colonists were con-
sumed by the events of the American RevOlution, Bartram revi-
sited "several districts of. . the East borders of Florida." Although
Bartram, a Quaker, was a pacifist, at this time he joined a re-
volutionary force in Georgia for the purpose of repelling a rumored
British invasion which never materialized.

& Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1777. Bartram returned to
Philadelphia in January of 1777. Shortly before his father's death
that same year, the Battle of Brandywine was waged dangerously
near the family estate in Kingsessing. William Bartram passed the
rest of his life quietly, working with his brother in their interna-
tional horticultural business. The house where he wrote the Travels
and the gardens have been opened to the public by the John
Bartram Society.

In Kingsessing (now a suburb of Philadelphia)
Bartram ran a nursery with his brother. A sales
catalog for 1783 lists many Florida trees and
shrubs including live oak, magnolia, andromeda,
azaleas, and for some reason, poison oak.

.An dirrntoe pulverulenta


Bartram named this beautiful flowering tree after his father's good friend, Benjamin Franklin.
Originally found near the banks of the Altamaha River in southeastern Georgia, this plant
is now extinct in the wild. Today, all Franklin Trees derive from the specimens cultivated in
Bartram's garden.



Political Influence

Like the founding fathers, Bartram admired classical literature. His
early teacher, Charles Thomson, was a classical scholar and the second
man to sign the Declaration of Independence. In 1783, Thomson and
another friend of Bartram's, the botanist William Barton, selected the
Great Seal of the United States. The seal appears on dollar bills.
Bartram's youngest student, Titian Ramsay Peale, used the national
bird, the bald eagle, in his designs for American coins.

Scientific Influence

William Bartram was probably the best-traveled field naturalist in
the United States. In the Southeast, he identified at least 358 plants,
150 of which were new to him. His efforts of 1774 are described in

In addition to the plates for his Travels, Bar-
S. ,"- tram illustrated the first botanical textbook
published in this country, Benjamin Smith Bar-
" "-"'' / ^ton's Elements of Botany, 1803. He dis-
covered the "oak-leaved hydrangea" in southern

Hydrangea guercifolia


Chapter V of his Travels. Hortus siccus is Latin for "dry garden" and
refers to Bartram's herbarium or collection of dried plant specimens.
"Having completed my Hortus Siccus, and made up my collections of seeds
and growing roots, the fruits of my late western tour, and sent them to
Charleston, to be forwarded to Europe, I spent the remaining part of this
season in botanical excursions."
Forty common species Bartram observed in Florida are:

water lotus
live oak
sweet bay
paw paw
Spanish needle
water lettuce
pickerel weed

timber rattlesnake
pigmy rattlesnake
water moccasin
coral snake
corn snake
brown water snake
green snake
scarlet snake

Florida duck
brown pelican
sandhill crane
snowy egret
great blue heron
black vulture
redshouldered hawk
little green heron
yellowshafted flicker

yellow bream
bigmouth bass
golden shiner

leopard frog
glass "snake"
softshelled turtle
gopher tortoise

On hearing the news of Bartram's death in 1823, Thomas Jefferson wrote Bartram's grieving
niece: "he is not gone . .he remains everywhere around you. When you wish to find him,
you have only to look in his garden, and in his work, and in his green world."


Literary Influence

The first printing of Bartram's Travels in 1791 was followed by six
European editions in different languages. These translations, all pi-
rated from the American text, did much to spread Bartram's name
and influence during the nineteenth century. European readers were
particularly fascinated by his picturesque descriptions of sub-tropical
America and its native Indians. Bartram's book is still in print on
both sides of the Atlantic.
Bartram has been called a poet in prose and the father of the
Romantic Movement in literature. William Wordsworth eagerly read
the Travels and used Bartram's words in his poetry. For example, his
poem "Ruth" describes "a youth from Georgia's shore" who attempts
to woo a maiden with flowery sayings derived from Bartram's botany.
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge relied upon the exoticism of the Travels for
parts of the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner," and "Kubla Khan" con-
tains images from passages about the Alachua Savanna.
Bartram's Travels established the importance of the American land-
scape for the world at large. Reading the Travels today, we must re-
member that it is not a strictly kept scientific journal, but a narrative
that uses literary images to create impressions. These impressions,
Bartram's remarkable memories of a disappearing Florida frontier, have
become his lasting contribution to the American intellectual tradition.

Native Medicines

When Bartram suffered a fever in Alabama in 1776, he sought a
"febrafuge" or plant tonic. The roots of Collinsonia anisata, the plant
he used on local advice, are a powerful emetic. Bartram's medical
colleagues were especially interested in the properties of "black root"
or pickerel weed, a common aquatic plant in Florida. Like his friend
and neighbor, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), Bartram was more curi-
ous about the medicines Indians made from plants. In the Southeast,

Indian herb doctors were consulted by pioneers. Indian tonics Bartram
mentioned in the Travels are:

iris root (chewed for colds, indigestion, and heartburn)
water lotus seeds (nutty flavored laxative)
acorn or cornmeal (molded into a poultice for wounds)
butterfly weed root (dusting powder)
turkey pea ("creme" rinse)
brown-eyed susan (eye wash)
fern rhizomes (for chills and rheumatism)
mud (wound plaster)

Special thanks to:
Cheryl Wilson
Michael Whittington
Stanley Blomeley
Stacey Fowler
Michael Falck
Walter Auffenberg
Samuel Proctor
Helen Ellerbe
Susan Tustison
Paynes Prairie State Preserve
American Philosophical Society
The John Bartram Society
Florida Endowment for the Humanities
The Bingham Environmental Center
Anona pygmea P. K. Yonge Laboratory School

This document was promulgated at a cost of $1634.73, or $1.63 per copy.
Permission to reproduce in part or in whole must be obtained from the Florida State
Museum, Gainesville, FL 32611.


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