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