Florida Museum of Natural History

Titian Ramsay Peale

... A Visit To Florida In The Early Part Of The Century - Part 2

The party sailed from Picolata down the river. On wednesday after coming to anchor at the mouth of Pottsburgh Creek, Mr Ord and Mr Peale ascended in the canoe several miles, stopping at a plantation and dining on Parakeets-which they saw in great numhers.29 Going up the creek Mr Peale shot an alligator in the head with a ball, cut its throat and laid it on its back on the hank-coming back in the evening it had so far recovered life as to turn itself, and run in the marsh some distance. He fired another ball into its head, and took it on board the vessel alive! It was 8 ft 4 inches long. At night they harpooned fish by fire light. They sailed early the next day, and long after dark came to anchor off St Johns Bluff, in the morning heard the roar of alligators for the first time and sailing again anchored near the mouth of the river, Mr Ord and Mr Peale spent the day in the canoe hunting Pelican.

The next day going off again at day break, they surprised at the great quantity of Medusae cast on the shore. It was indeed immense. They estimated that in one place for half a mile the ground was completely hidden by them.30

Mr McClure not wishing to go to sea again, concluded to go to Amelia island in a boat that was ready to go, & Mr Say accompanied him.

Mr. Peale sunk a barrel in the sand to shoot Pelican from, Mr Ord in the meantime was fishing and caught sixteen Sheep's Head of from seven to eight pounds each.31 The equinoctial storm coming, they were obliged to run up the river several miles for a harbor. When the storm abated they sailed down the Beach, saw but a few marine animals, and went in among the ponds in the interior of the sand hills hunting ducks. They amused themselves for some time with the Porpoises, their young at this season being about a foot and a half long, they carry them on their pectoral fins and are sometimes seen with them in their mouths. They frequently saw Porpoises with Medusa in their mouths, but whether they ate-or only played with them could not tell. In the evening they saw several flocks of Snowy Herons, flying north among them were a number of ashcolored Herons. After cruising about for several days, with great success, they crossed the bar and in a short time bade adieu to St John's river.32

Immediately after they crossed the bar the wind shifted to N.W. and g directly ahead, drove them out to sea and left them in a calm rolling sea, both becoming very sea sick and wishing they back in St John's river-but wishing was of no avail, for they drifted out of sight of land, and were benighted and becalmed the same time. The next day they came in sight of Amelia island, and the wind rising from N.E. soon ran in and came to anchor off Fernandina about ten 0 Clock-not finding Mr McClure and Say here-and learning they had gone to St Marys, sailed for that place at change of tide and arrived before night. Found Mr McClure and Say anxiously awaiting their arrival. Mr. Ord too, was getting uneasy about his business at home and took passage in a vessel that was to sail at twelve next day-the day after at sunrise the other gentlemen sailed in their sloop from St Mary's and came to anchor at the south end of Cumberland island. They visited the Shaw family-then sailed before noon, and reached little Cumberland island before night. They cruised among the islands, visiting those they had been at before, and making acquaintance with those they had passed in going up the Altamaha to Darien-making collections everywhere.

On arriving at Savannah they found a great change, whole rows of stores and houses were going up-some of the latter were built of "Tabby" a composition of oyster shells, lime & sand, cast in mould-the same as "Dunginnes" the residence of the Shaws on Cumberland island.33 They tried to get a pilot for the islands between Savannah and Charleston, but failed. Mr McClure decided to go in the steamboat, and the two other gentlemen by sea, in the Rambler, a sailing vessel. Both left early next morning and reach Charleston in the afternoon of the second day. They left Charleston 16 of April.

Florida being a new field gave great delight to the explorers- who with their small vessel thoroughly searched its streams, shores, and swamps, for products of their different branches of science-in all of which, they made large collections, and spent a most enjoyable and delightful winter.

L. Peale

Soon after they turned their faces towards the north, and arrived safely at home, enriched with abundant collections in their several departments and having enjoyed immensely their winter trip to Florida.

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