December 24, 1765
"Cold morning, thermometer 50, wind N.W. Blowed pretty fresh, but ceased toward night; landed, and Mr. Davis shot a deer, and his Negro a turkey. I and my son walked in the woods to observe the soil and plants, with a man that went to fell some trees for honey: he felled one that contained only some yellow wasps, that had taken up their winter-quarters in a pine-tree; we then walked to another hollow tree, wherein was a swarm of bees and some honey; but both the white people and Indians often meet with such good success, as to find great quantities of honey and wax, even ten gallons, more or less, out of one tree; the Indians eat much of it with their venison and sour oranges, of which they cut off one end, then pour the honey into the pulp, and scoup both out as a relishing morsel. We then soon crossed the river to a point, where we lodged, and saw many rocks of congealed snail and muscle-shells; here was a patch of good swamp, but the pine-lands approached near the river, and generally a perch or more of palmetto-ground, gently rising between the swamp and pine-land."
Somewhere on this western shore of the St. Johns River in the vicinity of Palmetto Bluff, Bartram camped for the evening of December 24, 1765.
Deer Hunters, Courtesy of Florida Photographic Collection, Florida State Archives.
The location of the camp site on the west shore may have been today's Palmetto Bluff and Bluff Creek, across the river from Federal Point.
Turkey Hunters, Courtesy of Florida Photographic Collection, Florida State Archives.
The west shore between Palmetto Bluff and Bluff Creek may also have been the site William Bartram selected for a camp on his 1774 journey. He wrote that he made "a convenient and safe harbour, in a little lagoon, under an elevated bank, on the West shore of the river." Early the next morning "the cheering converse of turkey-cocks" waked him, but he was obliged to stay at this site much of the day because of high winds on the river. A tour of the site prompted him to write: "The Live Oaks are of an astonishing magnitude, and one tree contains a prodigious quantity of timber...." At one live oak, he "stepped above fifty paces, on a strait line, from the trunk of one of these trees, to the extremity of the limbs. It is evergreen, and the wood almost incorruptible, even in the open air. It bears a prodigious quantity of fruit; the acorn is small, but sweet and agreeable to the taste when roasted, and is food for almost all animals. The Indians obtain from it a sweet oil, which they use in the cooking of hommony, rice, &c.; and they also roast it in hot embers, eating it as we do chestnuts."
Wild Turkeys, Courtesy of Florida Photographic Collection, Florida State Archives.