FAQs


Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question about the William Bartram Scenic & Historic Highway? Chances are we’ve covered it below. If not, please contact us for more information.

Who was William Bartram?
When did he live here?
Why did he come to Florida?
How can I help?

Who was William Bartram?
William Bartram (April 20, 1739 – July 22, 1823) was an American naturalist and author of the book popularly known as “Bartram’s Travels.” The son of naturalist John Bartram, William Bartram was born in Kingsessing, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia. As a boy, he accompanied his father on many of his travels, to the Catskill Mountains, the New Jersey Pine Barrens, New England, and Florida. 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, 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 and fauna, and the native American Indians. In 1774, he visited a principal Seminole village at Cuscowilla, where his arrival was celebrated with a great feast. He met Ahaya the Cowkeeper, 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….read more from Wikipedia.

When did he live here?
William Bartram himself was one of the first plantation owners in the scenic corridor. After venturing to the area with his father in 1765, he purchased a 500-acre plantation at Little Florence Cove. However, he returned north after less than a year on the plantation. Bartram twice visited the Francis Philip Fatio Plantation along the scenic highway–first in 1772 and again in 1774, when he explored the St. Johns River on his most famous expedition.

Why did he come to Florida?
Bartram first came to Florida as a young man with his father, John Bartram, who was himself a celebrated naturalist. William Bartram would briefly try his hand at plantation ownership in present-day St. Johns County, then return during his explorations as a naturalist in the first half of the 1770s. He sought to examine to the rich diversity of flora, fauna and native cultures found in Florida. His observations would reach a wide popular audience with the publication of his best-known work, “Travels.”

How can I help?
To sign up as a volunteer, go to our volunteer page and fill out the simple form—we’ll be in touch. Another simple way to stay in touch and learn of upcoming volunteer opportunities is to sign up for our e-newsletter. And you can always contact us if you have specific questions, ideas or skills you would like to share.