January 26, 1766
"Fine morning, warm and pleasant; observed a plum-tree in full blossom; here I saw many pine-trees, that had lately been cut down, and though 18 inches in diameter, they were the greatest part sap; I counted their years growth, and found some to be about 50, some 40, and others 30, but one large tree two foot in diameter, had only four inches of sap, and I counted 130 years growth or red circles; here was a well dug on declining ground, the water, which was sweet, rose to within 5 or 6 foot of the surface of the ground, at the distance of 100 yards from the river, and perhaps eight foot above it.
"We rowed four miles down the river to Dunn’s Island, which Lord Adam Gordon has petitioned for; it contains about 1500 acres more or less of good swamp, and some hammock. We then took the right-hand creek up to Dunn’s lake, observing much good swamp on both sides, the creek being generally 150 yards broad, and two fathom deep; on the west side there is two points of low land, which comes close to the creek: About noon we entered the lake, whose general course is N.W. and S.E. and about 15 miles long, the upper end turns towards the east: We encamped on the north side in a cypress-swamp, part of it marshy, its bank next the lake was a foot above the water, but back was lower until the pine-lands began within half a mile; this north side is generally a narrow cypress-swamp to the pines, widening a little in some branches."
Dunn's Island (today Murphy Island) was granted in 1766 to Lord Adam Gordon by the British Government. The "right hand creek" Bartram traversed can be seen upper left on this image; today it is still called Dunn's Creek. Crescent Lake can also be seen in the top portion of the photograph. Bartram called the Creek Dunn's Lake.
Pine logs on Crescent Lake, Courtesy of Florida Photographic Collection, Florida State Archives.
Bartram's comments on the flowering plum tree, pine trees that had been cut and the recently dug well, concerned the Lower Store, today Stokes Landing. Judging from the remarks on the previous day, buildings at Spalding's Lower Store may not have been as numerous or spacious as at the Upper Store. On this occasion, and those made during the upriver journey, Bartram mentions camping at the store, "opposite to a small rich island on the west side of the river." Dunn’s Island is now Murphy Island; the “right hand creek” is Dunn’s Creek; “Dunn’s lake” is now Crescent Lake. Location of the camp for Jan. 26 and 27 was perhaps at Shell Bluff Landing.
January 27, 1766
"Fine pleasant morning. Set out early, and landed on a small island of near 100 acres, part cypress-swamp, part marsh, and piney palmetto, a very rotten black soil, mixed with white sand: We landed on a low bluff of muscle and snail-shells, generally broken and powdered by the surges of the lake; here, as well as in most other places on any high dry bank on the river or its branches where the soil is good, are found fragments of old Indian pots and orange-trees, which clearly demonstrates, that the Florida Indians inhabited every fertile spot on St. John’s river, lakes, and branches; now the ash, maple, elm, and pavia, are all green, and shot out several inches, the cypress is in full bloom, the water-oak begins to look yellow, and the sweet-gum just casting its leaves: the north end of this island is pine and palmetto, then high swamp; the east end low. Leaving the island, we encamped where we did the night before, on a bed of long tree-moss, to preserve us from the very low damp ground, which is very unpleasant and dangerous."
The small island on Crescent Lake is now Bear Island, just off Buzzard Roost.