Exhibit brings to life travels of famed American naturalist

February 21, 2011 

William Bartram was born in 1739 in Philadelphia. He was an American naturalist, who traveled the Southeastern United States and recorded each region's plants, animals and peoples. His discoveries and writings have had a major impact on the study of American natural science.

After spending the winter of 1774 in Charleston, Bartram left in the spring of 1775 to explore the Cherokee nation. His route followed what became U.S. 17 through Jasper County -- and, I like to think, Bluffton on his way north. He discovered the gopher tortoise that is celebrated each year at The Gopher Hill Festival in Ridgeland.

The Bartram Trail Conference was established in 1976 to locate and mark Bartram's route through the eight Southern states. What a wonderful legacy he left in his writings, "Travels."

The Telfair Museum in Savannah has a marvelous exhibit now in place, "Philip Juras: The Southern Frontier, Landscapes Inspired by Bartram's Travels." Juras is a modern artist who discovered Bartram's writings while a teenager and became as captivated as Alice when she was confronted by the white rabbit.

The exhibit showcases more than 60 landscape paintings that offer Juras' vision of that pre-settlement era. The motive for his paintings is to share his passion for preservation and conservation. This is a beautiful collection of paintings that has captured how our landscape might have appeared long ago.

The museum is at 121 Barnard St., in Savannah and it is open to the public. Details: 912-790-8800

  • This year has four unusual dates: 1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11. If you were born before 2000 try this: Take the last two numbers of the year you were born and add the age you will be this year and it should equal 111. Now maybe we should all go buy a lottery ticket.

  • The Jasper Jamboree Professional Kennel Club Raccoon Hunt is my kind of sport. The three-day field trial competition is sponsored by the Jasper County Chamber of Commerce and has about 160 dogs registered to hunt each night. Hunters from near and far are drawn to the fun event because of the beautiful properties where the hunts are held. The hounds are set free to seek out raccoons -- which climb up a tree, so basically no creature is harmed. Details: 843-726-8126

  • "If I had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter." This quote is attributed to Ernest Hemingway -- no matter who wrote this, I love it.

    Babbie Guscio is the social columnist for The Bluffton Packet. She can be reached at The Store on Calhoun Street.

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