The Zachary Historical Association has been busy planning several upcoming events, including the William Bartram Trail celebration on the grounds of Plains Presbyterian Church.
The event is part of a larger celebration spearheaded by the Friends of LSU Hilltop Arboretum in cooperation with the Bartram Trail Conference, which will commemorate the 240th anniversary of Bartram’s visit to Louisiana with the dedication of five historical markers and a re-dedication of one originally placed in 1976.
Bartram (1739-1823) was an American naturalist and explorer commissioned to explore Southeastern colonies to collect and preserve unique specimens of plants.
“Bartram Trail historical markers have been erected to mark important places that he visited during his four-year journey from the Atlantic coast of the Carolinas to the Mississippi River through eight southern states including Louisiana,” said Betty Tucker, archivist and historian for the city of Zachary. “It was discovered in his travel diary that Zachary was visited.”
Each marker includes a quote from his book “Travels” that describes the natural, 18th-century environment he found in Louisiana.
Dedication ceremonies will be unique to each site and held in the sequence Bartram traveled them many years ago through the Greater Baton Rouge area, Tucker said.
The schedule for the dedications begins at LSU Hilltop Arboretum in Baton Rouge on Sept. 8; Burden Museum and Gardens, Baton Rouge, Sept. 9; Mississippi River levee path, Baton Rouge, Sept. 10; Plains Presbyterian Church, Zachary, Sept. 11; St. Francis Chapel, New Roads, Sept. 12; and the re-dedication of the original marker at the East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library on Goodwood Boulevard, Sept. 13.
Hilltop Arboretum Director Peggy Coates, Michele Deshotels, Pam Sulzer and Southern Garden History Society board member Randy Harelson, of New Roads, are on the committee.
Event partners include the East Baton Rouge Parish Library, Burden Horticulture Society, Beauregard Town Civic Association, Downtown Development District, Foundation for Historical Louisiana, Pointe Coupee Historical Society, Zachary Historical Association, Plains Presbyterian Church and St. Francis Chapel.
Bartram’s southern journey from March 1773 to January 1777 explored much of the territory that is now North and South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Tennessee, Tucker said.
“The Bartram Trail marker in Zachary signifies the most northern point he traveled in Louisiana and will be installed at no cost to the Zachary Historical Association or Plains church but is made possible thanks to an endowment by David and Marguerite Mills, of Zachary,” she said.
Harelson visited Tucker recently and the two met with a Plains church committee to finalize the details of the Bartram dedication.
Tucker gave Harelson a tour of the Historical Village, including the Annison House and Old Town Hall building, which maintains a significant collection of antique books, exhibits, photographs and archives of families that settled the Zachary area, as well as Spanish West Florida and town of Zachary records.
The Bartram Trail marker celebration will be held from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Plains Presbyterian, 22929 Old Scenic Highway. The Old Town Hall and train depot will open for tours from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Tucker said.