THE OKEFINOKE SWAMP IN 1890 –Louis Pendleton 1918-03-18 1913-03-13

A century ago, Louis Pendleton of Philadelphia, formerly of Valdosta, published a newspaper story about the Ouaquaphenogan with a version of the ‘daughters of the sun’ legend and references to William Bartram.

Vickie Ledbetter Everitte posted this newspaper page image on March 13, 2024, in the Valdosta Heritage Foundation facebook group. She transcribed the date as March 13, 1913, but on closer inspection those look much more like eights than threes.

She has since clarified, “The date is 1913 – My print at home is much clearer. Sorry for any confusion.”

[THE OKEFINOKE SWAMP IN 1890 --Louis Pendleton 1918-03-18]
THE OKEFINOKE SWAMP IN 1890 –Louis Pendleton 1918-03-18

Here is a transcription of the article.



Col. Ebenezer Wakely, of Chicago, has been saving up old copies of The Valdosta Times for many years and occasionally he sends a copy to this office containing some matter of interest. This week we received a copy of the edition of April 5, 1890, containing an article from Mr. Louis Pendleton, which was written for the Atlanta Constitution in regard to the Okefinokee swamps. The article is of interest at the present time and is reproduced here. It is as follows:

“Editor Constitution: Among those who have recently discussed the Okefinokee swamp, looking toward its sale by the State to the highest bidder, there are perhaps some who do not know that the great morass was the subject of history as long ago as a hundred years, and the subject of legend at a still earlier period.

“Not long since, in a Philadelphia library, I came across a crumbling old volume (printed just ninety-nine years ago) descriptive of travels in the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida in which the swamp is mentioned in a way highly interesting to the lover of traditionary lore. The author of this quaint old book was William Bartram, whose name is well known as that of the first learned botanist of this country. In his preface he speaks of himself as ‘son of John Bartram, botanist to the King of Great Britaln and fellow of the royal society.’

“But to the point. Bartram refers in this volume to the Okefinokee as a vast ‘drowned swamp&rsquo, a ‘mother of rivers’, called by the Indians ‘Ouaquaphenogan’. There can be no question whatever as to the identity of this Ouaquaphenogan with the Okefinokee for the author mentions the. St Mary’s river (by name), as rising in it and flowing thence to the ocean, besides making other statements which place the matter beyond doubt; and it is clear enough that his Ouaquaphenogan, the Ecunfinoean of White’s ‘Statistics of Georgia” (published forty or fifty years later) and the present Okefinokee—lsquo;quivering earth’—are but varying transcriptions of the same Indian name.

“In the ‘Travels’ Bartram mentions two stories as current among the Indians, relating to the great morass, One was that the swamp had been the refuge of a remnant of the anclent Yamases, who fled thither before the invading and conquering Creeks, which may safely be regarded as history, for a number of large Indian mounds seen by Mr. C. R. Pendleton on the little Cowhouse (island) would seem to place the question of some such early occupancy of the swamp beyond doubt. The other story, which more properly belongs to the domain of pure legend, was to the effect that the remote interlor of the Okefinokee was one of the most blissful spots of the whole earth, inhabited by a peculiar race of Indiaas whose women were incomparably. beautiful. This place had been seen by hunters from thelr tribe, who, lost in the interminable bays and jungles, would have perished had not a company of beautiful women suddenly presented themselves and accomplished thelr rescue. These mysterious creatures, called by the Creek hunters ‘daughters of the sun’, provided oranges, dates, and corn-cakes for the sufferers, afterwards urging them to fly for safety to their own country, because their husbands were mighty warriors, fierce and cruel to strangers. The Creek adventurers also reported that they had got a glimpse of the settlements of these people situated on an elevated island, but all thelr efforts to approach were fruitless. Involved in constant labyrinths, they struggled forward only to see the beautiful spot disappearing, reappearing, and, as it were, flying from before them. After hearing theae reports the young warriors of the Creek nation were inflamed with the longings to penetrate to so charming a region, but they never yet had succeeded in so doing.

“It may be of interest to add thet this William Bartram, who visited and wrote of the Southern States so long ago, was a famous collector of exotics as well as a learned botanist and traveler. An old stone mansion formerly owned and occupied by him may still be seen on the Schuylkill river, a few miles from Philadelphia. The grounds include several acres and still contain many rare trees brought from widely distant parts of the world. It is now five or six years since I visited the place, at present known as ‘Eastwick’s Place’, but I remember a gigantic cypress, brought long ago from the South; a large ‘Cedar of Lebanon’, from Palestine, and a thorn-shrub from the same region, believed to be of the species from which was made the Crown of Thorns.

‘In this connection it is worthy of note that the author of the ‘Travels’ writes glowingly of the orange tree, the magnolia, grandiflora and the live-oak to be found in the regions adjacent to our Okefinokee.

“Philadelphia, March 18, 1890.”

Catherine Pendleton, Pendleton Genealogy Post, September 9, 2011, The Pendleton Family Curse,

I mentioned in a previous post about my father telling me once that writing was referred to as the Pendleton family curse. It was called the curse because no one in the family ever made much money writing, yet they were compelled to write….

My second great uncle Louis Beauregard Pendleton (one of my great grandfather Alexander Shaw Pendleton’s younger brothers) was a late nineteenth-early twentieth century novelist. The Who’s Who in the World, 1910-1911 says he was a journalist, too[1]. His father was a newspaper editor and several of his brothers were journalists and/or newspaper editors (the curse was rampant in this family).

[Louis Beauregard Pendleton]
Louis Beauregard Pendleton

She includes much more information about Louis Pendleton, which added up makes it clear that he is the one who wrote the newspaper article.

He also wrote novels, including In the Okefenokee: A Story of War Time and the Great Georgia Swamp.

[In the Okefenokee, Louis Pendleton]
In the Okefenokee, Louis Pendleton

It is available in a 2022 reprint in softcover or hardcover through Abebooks or Amazon. There is also a 2015 War College Series papaerback. The Internet Archive has it available to borrow in a 1972 edition.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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