north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     Naturalists John and William Bartram lived in Philadelphia but had a kinsman in North Carolina. Their relative, also named William Bartram (1711-1770), was born in Carteret County shortly after his father moved there from Pennsylvania. The elder Bartram was killed by Indians during the Tuscarora War and the young Bartram and his mother were captured. Upon their release, they returned to Pennsylvania.

     Around 1734 Bartram returned to North Carolina and settled on the Cape Fear River. He purchased the land upon which he built a house known as “Ashwood” from John Baptista Ashe. That house, long since lost, was situated atop a high bluff, overlooking the river. Bartram was a planter, merchant, militia colonel, and member of the colonial assembly. He regularly corresponded with his half-brother, noted Philadelphia botanist John Bartram. In 1761 he urged his brother to send William Bartram (John’s son and William’s nephew) to “Ashwood” to go into the mercantile business. Young Bartram took up the offer and operated a store from 1761 to 1765.

     In 1765 John Bartram visited “Ashwood” and described the plantation and vicinity in the diary. When he left his son departed with him. However, the younger Bartram returned to “Ashwood” in the 1770s and offered his own description in his Travels, the now-classic volume on the natural history of the southeastern United States. The marker is a counterpart to one in western North Carolina which describes William Bartram’s meeting with Cherokee chief Attakullakulla in 1775.

William Bartram, Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida (1791)
John Bartram, Diary of a Journey through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida (reprint edition, 1942)
Edmund and Dorothy Berkeley, The Life and Travels of John Bartram (1982)
Charles D. Spornick, Alan R. Cattier, and Robert J. Greene, An Outdoor Guide to Bartram’s Travels (2003)

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north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources