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William Bartram

by Carey C. Giudici

In March 1774, noted Philadelphia botanist William Bartram travelled by horseback through coastal Georgia. While here he discovered a plant that he named Gordonia Altamaha that was never found growing naturally anywhere else in the nation.

Bartram also recorded his impression of St. Simons island in 1774:

"A very large part of this island had formerly been cleared and planted by the English, as appeared evidently to me, by vestiges of plantations, ruins of costly buildings, highways etc., but it is now overgrown with forests. Frederica was the first fort built by the English in Georgia, and was founded by General Ogelthorpe, who began and established the colony. The fortress was regular and beautiful, and was the largest, most regular, and perhaps most costly, of any in North America of British construction: it is now in ruins, yet occupied by a small garrison; the ruins also of the town only remain; peach trees, figs, pomegranates, and other shrubs, grow out of the ruinous walls of former spacious and expensive buildings, not only in the town, but a distance in various parts of the island; yet there are a few neat houses in good repair, and inhabited: it seems now recovering again, owing to the public and liberal spirit and exertions of J. Spalding, esq., who is president of this island, and engaged in very extensive mercantile concerns."

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