Everything Bartram

Bartram Trail High School Seal, St. Johns County, FL.

What do these places have in common (besides sharing the location of Northwest St. Johns or Southwest Duval Counties)?

  • Bartram Academy
  • Bartram Apartments
  • Bartram Athletic Association
  • Bartram Baptist Church
  • Bartram Branch, SJC Library
  • Bartram Construction
  • Bartram Crossing Skilled Nursing
  • Bartram Family Dental Care
  • Bartram Fine Wine and Liquor
  • Bartram Inn
  • Bartram Market
  • Bartram Nails
  • Bartram Park
  • Bartram Park Dental
  • Bartram Pest Control
  • Bartram Plantation
  • Bartram Ranch
  • Bartram Springs
  • Bartram Trail Nursery
  • Bartram Trail Scenic Highway
  • Bartram Trail High School
  • Bartram Veterinary Hospital
  • Bartram Vision Care
  • Bartram Walk
  • The Promenade at Bartram Springs
  • Villages of Bartram Springs

What is a “Bartram”? Who was Bartram?’

For those readers that don’t know, William Bartram (1739-1823) has been described as “the father of American Botany” and “the first naturalist who penetrated the dense tropical forests of Florida”. His first trip to Florida was with his father John Bartram, the Royal Botanist for America under King George III, in 1765-66. Together, they traveled by boat on the St Johns River, a 500-mile journey that lasted almost two months. Though his father returned to Philadelphia shortly after completing their exploration of the St. Johns River, William stayed and established a 500-acre plantation on the banks of the St. Johns River at Little Florence Cove (just off present-day Highway 13 near the Shands Bridge).

Highway 13 along the east shoreline of the St. Johns River
Photo: Bartramscenichighway.com

William (or as we fondly call him, “Billy”) Bartram, was a Quaker, botanist, artist, naturalist, humanist, and author who spent from 1773-1777 exploring what is now the southeastern United States. It was during those travels, that he returned to Florida in 1774 and explored the area again, documenting the plants and animals he observed, particularly along the St. Johns River.

Throughout his travels, he documented his discoveries with renderings of various plants and animals and written descriptions of his encounters with frontiersmen, plantation owners and indigenous peoples. He is best known for his book The Travels of William Bartram. Billy Bartram established a very friendly relationship with the native Americans, who called him Puc-Puggy (Flower Hunter).

John and William Bartram wrote extensively about their explorations in Florida, and particularly, in present-day Putnam County. John Bartram wrote of excellent swamps, plentiful alligators, and the majestic stature of cypress trees. Billy Bartram wrote of a Palatka filled with Native American festivals, rattlesnake encounters, and watermelon feasts. He also wrote of week-long bacchanal along the St Johns River in Putnam County… “of rum tasting amongst the traders and Native Americans” that was later dubbed a ‘Frolic.’