River Villas is a 55+ manufactured home community located ion the St John's River and just 30 miles to the Atlantic Ocean. This area of Florida offers a relaxed way of life, with all the advantage of a larger town just a few miles away. Our private marina offers direct access to the 300 mile St Johns River., where you can spend endless days exploring on your boat, canoe or kayak. On the boardwalk you can dock you boat, through in a fishing line, or just relax in the Florida sun.
The clubhouse is a destination place for social events and resident gatherings, bingo, games, cards and puzzles are a few of the things you can join in, or relax with a good book from our library. Whether you are laying in the sun or taking a cool refreshing swim, the heated pool is a favorite gathering spot.
The experience of following in the wake of the Bartrams is more than just knowing the routes taken and sites visited. Knowledge and appreciation of these important aspects of their visits can be enhanced by knowing the “who, when, why and how” that accompany the “where” of each site.
In 1763, the Treaty of Paris officially ended the French and Indian or Seven Years War. The terms of the Treaty resulted in France ceding all lands east of the Mississippi (excluding New Orleans) to Great Britain and Western Louisiana (including New Orleans) to Spain. The Spanish gave up East Florida to Great Brittan in exchange for Cuba. The trade of Spanish Florida for Cuba ("the Pearl of the Antilles") was not popular with the English citizenry who considered Florida unfit for agriculture and lacking any natural wealth (gold and silver) for which the French and Spanish had searched in vain. However, British diplomats considered the exchange a good one. Not only did it provide an impressive acquisition of new land on the map; it also eliminated the long-threatening Spanish foothold on the American east coast, once and for all. In order to solidify the claim to this new territory Great Brittan needed to attract settlers and to accomplish this, they needed to catalog and make known its many virtues. To this end, John Bartram, Botanist to the King, was commissioned to explore East Florida and draft a report of his findings.
John and his twenty-six year old son William, began their journey up the St. Johns River on December 19, 1765 and returned to their starting point on February 13, 1766. The entire trip was chronicled in the sixty-six year old John Bartram’s Journal and, as the Journal is a day-by-day account of that journey, a specific date is attached to each entry and site visited. The two month long journey extended 215 miles up the St. Johns before leaving the River into an easterly chain of lakes and then returning to the River and following it back to its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean.
The authors of the Florida History Online version of John Bartram’s Journal describe the vessel used for the Bartram’s 1765 journey up the St. Johns River as a large "dugout" canoe shaped from a cypress log. John Bartram however, described the vessel as a “battoe”. According to Joseph F. Meany Jr., Ph.D., Senior Historian at the New York State Museum, the batteau was a flat-bottom, double-ended, shallow-draft, all-purpose cargo boat and oars the primary means of propulsion. During the eighteenth century, Bateaux were the most common and most important cargo carrier found on the inland waters of colonial North America. The names, from the French batteau, "boat," and Bateaux, "boats," were commonly rendered in English as "battoe" and "battoes." Thousands of these crafts were constructed by British, French, and American forces operating in North America. While John Bartram may have used “battoe” as a generic term for a long, narrow and shallow draft vessel, such as a dugout canoe, it may be that he indeed had one of these common craft available for his journey. Regardless, his journal entries make it clear that whatever the material or construction, their vessel was sufficiently large to carry five individuals, in addition to their camping gear, scientific equipment and personal items. Propulsion was provided by oars and, according to John’s Journal entry for December 20, 1765, Mr. Davis’ “Negro was to row and cook for us all.” Estimates of their speed and distances traveled under various weather conditions should take all of information into consideration.
William Bartram returned to the St. Johns in mid-April of 1774 and concluded his second tour of the river in November of the same year. William’s journey too was commissioned, however instead of a government sponsor, his was private. Dr. John Fothergill, a wealthy Englishman commissioned the naturalist to explore the southeastern colonies and to catalog the flora and fauna and to collect and send back reports and samples for his examination and enjoyment. In exchange, he received a generous stipend.
William did not venture quite as far up the River during this second trip; proceeding only as far as present-day Lake Berresford 148 miles upstream then a bit farther overland to Blue Springs. However, during this period he made two shorter trips from about the mid-point of his journey at Spalding’s Lower Store, to its southern extent; the first in June and the second in August or September. He also ranged more widely departing from the River’s corridor to explore the country side.
William’s 1774 journey up the St. Johns River was made in a much smaller vessel than that used during the earlier trip. The authors of the Florida History Online version of John Bartram’s Journal describe the vessel used by William Bartram as a “small sailboat.” William too described the vessel as a “neat little sail-boat” in his Travels (“MR. Egan, after procuring a neat little sail-boat for me, at a large Indigo plantation near the ferry, and for which I paid three guineas, departed for St. Augustine, which is on the sea-coast about forty-five miles over land…My little vessel being furnished with a good sail, and having fishing tackle, a neat light fusee, powder and ball, I found myself well equipped, for my voyage, about one hundred miles to the trading house.” Bartram’s Travels Part II, Chapter III.) Later, in the same text, he applies yet another descriptor to his vessel, saying: “I RESOLVED upon another little voyage up the river; and after resting a few days and refitting my bark, I got on board the necessary stores, and furnishing myself with boxes to plant roots in, with my fuzee, amunition and fishing tackle, I sat sail, and in the evening arrived at Mount Royal.” (Chapter VIII, pg 252)
However in his report to John Fothergill, William described the vessel as a “canoe” fitted with a sail. (“I purchased a Canoe and alone continued my voyage up the River, having a Sail, some provisions, Gun and Ammunition. My undertaking was I confess somewhat hazardous at such a time: The River being very wide, & my vessel small, was obliged to coast close along shore, ..” William Bartram’s Georgia and Florida: Volume 1, p. 145. )
Again, regardless of its actual configuration, it was small, fitted with oars and a sail and though large enough to carry three people and their gear, was of shallow draft and small enough to be hauled up on shore by two individuals. (..so next day early in the morning, & having shipped a passenger, we had 3 hands, two to rowe, & I steered, this night we got to the Store near 40 Miles. William Bartram’s Georgia and Florida: Volume 1, p. 154.) Estimates of the distances traveled under the various conditions described by William during his journey should take these characteristics of his vessel into account. (Information provided from bartram.putnam-fl.com