William Bartram Trail Dedication
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On September 8-13, 2015 the Friends of LSU Hilltop Arboretum in cooperation with the Bartram Trail Conference will commemorate the 240th anniversary of naturalist William Bartram’s visit to Louisiana with the dedication of five historical markers and a rededication of one originally placed in 1976.
The culmination of this community-wide event will be a lecture by British author Andrea Wulf on her award-winning book “Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation” on Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 5:30pm at the EBRP Main Library on Goodwood Blvd. “Founding Gardeners” was on the New York Times Best Seller List and praised as ‘illuminating and engrossing.’
LSU Hilltop Arboretum spearheaded the event in cooperation with the Bartram Trail Conference. Hilltop Director Peggy Coates, Michele Deshotels, Pam Sulzer, and Southern Garden History Society board member Randy Harelson comprise the committee. Event partners include the EBRP Public Library, Burden Horticulture Society, Beauregard Town Civic Association, Downtown Development District, Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Pointe Coupee Historical Society, Zachary Historical Archives, Plains Presbyterian Church and St. Francis Chapel.
DEDICATION EVENTS – William Bartram was America’s first native-born naturalist artist and the first author in the modern genre of writers who portrayed nature through personal experience and scientific observation. Each marker includes a quote from Bartram’s book “Travels” that describes the natural, eighteenth century environment he found in Louisiana (See Marker Quotes). Dedication ceremonies will be unique to each site and held in the sequence in which Bartram traveled through the Greater Baton Rouge area.
The schedule for the dedications begins at LSU Hilltop Arboretum (11855 Highland Road, BR 70810) on Sept 8th, followed by Burden Museum and Gardens (4560 Essen Lane, BR 70809) on Sept 9th, Mississippi River Levee Path (South Blvd. Trailhead in downtown Baton Rouge) on Sept 10th, Plains Presbyterian Church (22929 Old Scenic Hwy, Zachary 70791) on September 11th, St. Francis Chapel (348 West Main Street, New Roads 70760) on September 12th, and finally, the rededication of the original marker at the EBRP Main Library (7711 Goodwood Boulevard, BR 70806) on Sept 13th with a reception and talk by Andrea Wulf.
BARTRAM HISTORY -
William Bartram, America’s first native-born naturalist artist, made a four year journey from the Atlantic coast of the Carolinas to the Mississippi River. Setting out in 1773, he recorded his observations of native people, plants, and animals in his journal, writing and drawing along the way. He reached Louisiana in 1775, a year before the American Declaration of Independence, 28 years before the Louisiana Purchase, and 37 years before Louisiana became the 18th state in the Union. He spent only a few months in Louisiana, reaching his westernmost point of exploration when he crossed the Mississippi to “Point Coupe”, present day Pointe Coupee. From this place he reversed his path, arriving back home in Philadelphia in early 1777. Bartram later organized and drew from his journal to publish “Travels” in 1791. The book found a significant readership in America and Europe and is still in print today. It inspired works by Samuel Coleridge and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow among others.
Andrea Wulf was born in India and moved to Germany as a child. Today she lives in Britain where she trained as a design historian at the Royal College of Art. She is the author of “The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire and the Birth of an Obsession” and a co-author of “This Other Eden: Seven Great Gardens and 300 Years of English History”. Her book “Founding Gardeners: The Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation” was published to great acclaim in Spring 2011.
She has lectured widely to large audiences at the Royal Geographical Society and Royal Society in London, the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, Monticello and the Chicago Botanic Garden among many others. She is a three-time Fellow of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and the Eccles British Library Writer in Residence 2013.
The “Brother Gardeners” was long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2008, the most prestigious non-fiction award in the UK and won the American Horticultural Society 2010 Book Award as well as the CBHL 2010 Annual Literature Award. “Founding Gardeners” was on the New York Times Best Seller List and praised as ‘illuminating and engrossing’.
QUOTES ON BARTRAM MARKERS -
LSU Hilltop Arboretum
In 1775, Bartram saw near this site “a grand forest; the trees of the first order in magnitude and beauty.”
Burden Museum and Gardens
In 1775, Bartram noted an “arborescent aromatic vine” and “a new and beautiful species of verbena” growing near here.
Downtown Baton Rouge
Baton Rouge 1775: Arriving by boat, Bartram was a guest here at “a very delightful villa, with extensive plantations.”
In 1775, Bartram made a special trip by horseback to “White plains” noting “grassy fields of many miles extent.”
In 1775, Bartram crossed the Mississippi to visit Pointe Coupee, the westernmost point reached in his travels.