Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
William Bartram

William Bartram

Discussion
Ask a question about 'William Bartram'
Start a new discussion about 'William Bartram'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia


William Bartram was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 naturalist
Natural history
Natural history is the scientific research of plants or animals, leaning more towards observational rather than experimental methods of study, and encompasses more research published in magazines than in academic journals. Grouped among the natural sciences, natural history is the systematic study...

. The son of Ann (née Mendenhall) and John Bartram
John Bartram
*Hoffmann, Nancy E. and John C. Van Horne, eds., America’s Curious Botanist: A Tercentennial Reappraisal of John Bartram 1699-1777. Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 243. ....

, William Bartram and his twin sister Elizabeth were born in Kingsessing, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia is the largest city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the county seat of Philadelphia County, with which it is coterminous. The city is located in the Northeastern United States along the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. It is the fifth-most-populous city in the United States,...

. As a boy, he accompanied his father on many of his travels, to the Catskill Mountains
Catskill Mountains
The Catskill Mountains, an area in New York State northwest of New York City and southwest of Albany, are a mature dissected plateau, an uplifted region that was subsequently eroded into sharp relief. They are an eastward continuation, and the highest representation, of the Allegheny Plateau...

, the New Jersey Pine Barrens, New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...

, and Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

. From his mid-teens, Bartram was noted for the quality of his botanic and ornithological drawings. He also had an increasing role in the maintenance of his father's botanic garden
Bartram's Garden
Bartram's Garden which covers is the oldest surviving botanic garden in North America, including an historic botanical garden and arboretum , located on the west bank of the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park, near the intersection of 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

, and added many rare species to it.

In 1773, he embarked upon a four-year journey through eight southern colonies. Bartram made many drawings and took notes on the native flora
Flora
Flora is the plant life occurring in a particular region or time, generally the naturally occurring or indigenous—native plant life. The corresponding term for animals is fauna.-Etymology:...

 and fauna
Fauna
Fauna or faunæ is all of the animal life of any particular region or time. The corresponding term for plants is flora.Zoologists and paleontologists use fauna to refer to a typical collection of animals found in a specific time or place, e.g. the "Sonoran Desert fauna" or the "Burgess shale fauna"...

, and the native American Indians
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

. In 1774, he explored the St. Johns River, where he had memorable encounters with aggressive alligators which he recorded in one of his journals, Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, and also visited a principal Seminole
Seminole
The Seminole are a Native American people originally of Florida, who now reside primarily in that state and Oklahoma. The Seminole nation emerged in a process of ethnogenesis out of groups of Native Americans, most significantly Creeks from what is now Georgia and Alabama, who settled in Florida in...

 village at Cuscowilla, where his arrival was celebrated with a great feast. He met Ahaya the Cowkeeper
Cowkeeper
Cowkeeper, also known as Ahaya in Mikasuki , was the first recorded chief of the Alachua band of the Seminole tribe. This was the name which the English used, as he held a very large herd of cattle.-Early life and education:...

, chief of the Alachua band of the Seminole tribe. When Bartram explained to the Cowkeeper that he was interested in studying the local plants and animals, the chief was amused and began calling him Puc-puggee (the flower hunter). Bartram continued his explorations of the Alachua Savannah, or what is today Payne's Prairie.

Exploration of the Cherokee Nation


On April 22, 1776 Bartram left Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is the second largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. It was made the county seat of Charleston County in 1901 when Charleston County was founded. The city's original name was Charles Towne in 1670, and it moved to its present location from a location on the west bank of the...

 on horseback to explore the Cherokee
Cherokee
The Cherokee are a Native American people historically settled in the Southeastern United States . Linguistically, they are part of the Iroquoian language family...

 Nation. After passing through Augusta May 10, Dartmouth on May 15 (35.328003°N 82.874571°W), a few days later he left Fort Prince George and Keowee
Keowee
Keowee was a Cherokee town in the north of present-day South Carolina. It was settled in what is present day Oconee County, the westernmost county of South Carolina, at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just north of Clemson...

 (34.863616°N 82.901575°W) after not being able to procure a guide .

In addition to his botanizing, Bartram aptly described the journey:
"…all alone in a wild Indian country, a thousand miles from my native land, and a vast distance from any settlements of white people."

"It was now after noon; I approached a charming vale, amidst sublimely high forests, awful shades! Darkness gathers around, far distant thunder rolls over the trembling hills; the black clouds with august majesty and power, moves slowly forwards, shading regions of towering hills, and threatening all the destructions of a thunderstorm; all around is now still as death, not a whisper is heard, but a total inactivity and silence seems to pervade the earth; the birds afraid to utter a chirrup, and in low tremulous voices take leave of each other, seeking covert and safety; every insect is silenced, and nothing heard but the roaring of the approaching hurricane; the mighty cloud now expands its sable wings, extending from North to South, and is driven irresistibly on by the tumultuous winds, spreading his livid wings around the gloomy concave, armed with terrors of thunder and fiery shafts of lightning; now the lofty forests bend low beneath its fury, their limbs and wavy boughs are tossed about and catch hold of each other; the mountains tremble and seem to reel about, and the ancient hills to be shaken to their foundations: the furious storm sweeps along, smoaking through the vale and over the resounding hills; the face of the earth is obscured by the deluge descending from the firmament, and I am deafened by the din of thunder; the tempestuous scene damps my spirits, and my horse sinks under me at the tremendous peals, as I hasten for the plain."

"I began to ascend the Jore Mountains, which I at length accomplished, and rested on the most elevated peak; from whence I beheld with rapture and astonishment, a sublimely awful scene of power and magnificence, a world of mountains piled upon mountains. Having contemplated this amazing prospect of grandeur, I descended the pinnacles…"(probably Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald
Wayah Bald is a high-altitude treeless open area in Nantahala National Forest, near Franklin, North Carolina. The Wayah Bald Observation Tower is located at the area's highest point ; the stone observation tower was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937 for fire detection.The...

 35.1803705°N 83.5604395°W)

Return to Philadelphia


Bartram returned to Philadelphia in January 1777, and assisted his brother John in all aspects of running Bartram's Garden
Bartram's Garden
Bartram's Garden which covers is the oldest surviving botanic garden in North America, including an historic botanical garden and arboretum , located on the west bank of the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park, near the intersection of 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

.

In the late 1780s, he completed the book for which he became most famous, Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, etc.
Bartram's Travels
Bartram's Travels is the short title of naturalist William Bartram's historically significant book describing his travels in the American South and encounters with American Indians between 1773 and 1777...

. It was considered at the time to be one of the foremost books on American natural history. Many of Bartram's accounts of historical sites were the earliest records, including the Georgia mound site of Ocmulgee
Ocmulgee National Monument
Ocmulgee National Monument preserves traces of over ten millennia of Southeastern Native American culture, including major earthworks built more than 1,000 years ago by Mississippian culture peoples: the Great Temple and other ceremonial mounds, a burial mound, and defensive trenches...

. In addition to his contributions to scientific knowledge, Travels is noted for its original descriptions of
Numerous places and sites are named in his honor:
  • The William Bartram Scenic & Historic Highway runs along the east side of the St. Johns River
    St. Johns River
    The St. Johns River is the longest river in the U.S. state of Florida and its most significant for commercial and recreational use. At long, it winds through or borders twelve counties, three of which are the state's largest. The drop in elevation from the headwaters to the mouth is less than ;...

     from Jacksonville
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Jacksonville is the largest city in the U.S. state of Florida in terms of both population and land area, and the largest city by area in the contiguous United States. It is the county seat of Duval County, with which the city government consolidated in 1968...

    , Florida
    Florida
    Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

     south in to northwestern St. Johns County on State Road 13.
  • Bartram Trail High School in Switzerland, Florida
    Switzerland, Florida
    Switzerland, Florida is an unincorporated community in St. Johns County, Florida, United States. It is adjacent to Fruit Cove. The approximate population of Switzerland is 18,063. Switzerland is situated on the eastern bank of the St...

     (just south of Jacksonville.)
  • The Bartram Trail
    Bartram Trail
    The Bartram Trail follows the approximate route of 18th-century naturalist William Bartram’s southern journey from March, 1773 to January, 1777. Bartram explored much of the territory which is now the states of North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and...

     is a hiking trail in North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina that commemorates his journeys through the area.
  • The Bartram Canoe Trail
    Bartram Canoe Trail
    The Bartram Canoe Trail is a system of canoe and kayak trails in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta and is named for explorer and naturalist William Bartram....

     system of canoe
    Canoe
    A canoe or Canadian canoe is a small narrow boat, typically human-powered, though it may also be powered by sails or small electric or gas motors. Canoes are usually pointed at both bow and stern and are normally open on top, but can be decked over A canoe (North American English) or Canadian...

     and kayak
    Kayak
    A kayak is a small, relatively narrow, human-powered boat primarily designed to be manually propelled by means of a double blade paddle.The traditional kayak has a covered deck and one or more cockpits, each seating one paddler...

     trails in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta
    Mobile Bay
    Mobile Bay is an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico, lying within the state of Alabama in the United States. Its mouth is formed by the Fort Morgan Peninsula on the eastern side and Dauphin Island, a barrier island on the western side. The Mobile River and Tensaw River empty into the northern end of the...

    , operated by the Alabama Department of Conservation
    Alabama
    Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

    .
  • The William Bartram Arboretum
    William Bartram Arboretum
    The William Bartram Arboretum is an arboretum located at 2521 Fort Toulouse Road, near Wetumpka, Alabama, in the United States.Operated by the Alabama Historical Commission, the "William Bartram Arboretum" is a part of the 165 acre Fort Toulouse-Jackson Park at the confluence of the Coosa and...

     is located within Fort Toulouse
    Fort Toulouse
    Fort Toulouse is a historic fort near the city of Wetumpka, Alabama, United States, that is now maintained by the Alabama Historical Commission. The French founded the fort in 1717, naming it for Louis-Alexandre de Bourbon, comte de Toulouse...

     Park, near Wetumpka, Alabama
    Wetumpka, Alabama
    Wetumpka is a city in Elmore County, Alabama, United States. At the 2000 census the population was 5,726.The city is the county seat of Elmore County, one of the fastest growing counties in the state....

    .
  • Bartram Hall on the University of Florida
    University of Florida
    The University of Florida is an American public land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant research university located on a campus in Gainesville, Florida. The university traces its historical origins to 1853, and has operated continuously on its present Gainesville campus since September 1906...

     campus in Gainesville, Florida
    Gainesville, Florida
    Gainesville is the largest city in, and the county seat of, Alachua County, Florida, United States as well as the principal city of the Gainesville, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area . The preliminary 2010 Census population count for Gainesville is 124,354. Gainesville is home to the sixth...

    .


Bartram passed away on July 22, 1823, at Bartram’s Garden
Bartram's Garden
Bartram's Garden which covers is the oldest surviving botanic garden in North America, including an historic botanical garden and arboretum , located on the west bank of the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park, near the intersection of 54th Street and Lindbergh Boulevard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

.

Additional information