“I would like to challenge you this year to keep your passion for Greater Greenville Master Gardeners alive! Our mission is to teach and educate within our community. Together we can accomplish great things.” –Anita Humphries
“Since ten years old, I had a great inclination to plants. I knew all that I observed by sight, though not by the proper names having no person or books to instruct me.” —John Bartram
I am returning to the Carolinas on February 2, 2013. I have been absent a very long time. I will appear at “Hortitopia” sponsored by the Greater Greenville Master Gardeners Association of Greenville South Carolina. My amanuensis, Kirk R. Brown will be presenting a secondary topic called, “Sustainability and the American Dream” during the afternoon of the same day.
Previously I found it convenient to visit the Carolinas because my half-brother, William, held title to a plantation named Ashwood on the Wilmington-Fayetteville Road. He was the younger son of my father, William, and his second wife Elizabeth.
The story is made more complicated by explaining that my father was murdered by Tuscarora Indians in a raid conducted on his farm near present-day Swansboro, North Carolina. My step mother and her two children were taken prisoner during the raid and remained captives until their escape or release nearly a year later.
Prior to my father’s precipitous and calamitous move to the south, I had been parceled out to my paternal grandmother and grandfather (another John Bartram) while my younger brother, James, lived with my mother’s family, the Marshalls.
I continue to carry with me the scars of my father’s tragic death. Throughout all of my subsequent dealings with Native Americans, I continue to mistrust their offers of help. I hesitate to believe their stories. I avoid direct contact–always suspect that I would misunderstand their actions, or words, or directions. I would sooner travel alone–especially if I am a familiar with the geography of the area.
Half-brother, William, returned to the Carolinas and became a successful landowner. His plantation, Ashwood, was located along the Wilmington-Fayetteville Road in the Cape Fear area of North Carolina. It was his position among the landed the gentry that gave me free access and rights of travel through all of my early years. He was a delegate to the Governor’s council in New Bern. It was through a bill of his own introduction that defined the town and township of Wilmington. You have William to thank for giving his name to the community and environs.
I have been to both the Carolinas numerous times over the years. I was free to travel with William’s assistance in providing me letters of credit. It was on one of the trips that started in Wilmington that took me south through the swamps and forest of Georgia where I discovered the copse of trees that history recognizes as the last found in the wild of Franklinia alatamaha.
My son, William, accompanied me on many of his trips. In later years, his travels in these colonies were noted more by the locals than by his own identification. His mother and I rarely knew where he was. He never wrote. But today, there are numerous nature walks that bear the Bartram name because of trails he blazed. We have a great family history in the south.
I’m looking forward to my return. It will be an exciting time!