Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/614

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

the Macon Telegraph, expressed the opinion that it had come out from Okefinokee by way of the swamps of the Suwannee and Withlacoochee rivers. At the time of our visit to the swamp our guide showed us on Bugaboo Island a fresh scar on a pine tree about five feet from the ground, where it had been gnawed or scratched by one of these animals. Other mammals reported from the swamp by the Constitution Expedition and Capt. Jackson, besides those already mentioned, are otters, 'coons, panthers and squirrels. In the line of birds we noticed especially a number of egrets (?), a water-turkey, and the nest of an eagle. Owls, ducks and geese were reported by the Constitution Expedition, white and blue herons and curlews were mentioned by Capt. Jackson, and Gannet Lake and Buzzard Lake, in the southern part of the swamp, probably indicate the occurrence of birds similarly named. The commonest reptiles are alligators, which sometimes attain a length of twelve feet, according to several authorities, but they are now much scarcer than formerly, owing to the depredations of hunters who seek their hides, and we saw only one live one. Snakes are not very numerous, and only one of them (a water-moccasin) was encountered in the two days we were in the swamp. "Yellow-belly terrapins" are also found there, it is said, and are sought after to some extent for their flesh. Fishes mentioned by Capt. Jackson are large-mouth black bass or "trout," weighing six to twelve pounds, and jackfish, up to ten pounds. A small specimen of the latter jumped into our boat one afternoon, and formed part of our next meal. The only insects which gave us any trouble were mosquitoes, and those only at night.

 

Inhabitants

The greater part of the Okefinokee is of course unsuitable for human habitation, but the islands are known to have supported a small if not permanent population. Bartram's fanciful account of the inhabitants must have had some foundation in fact, for it is pretty well established that Indians have lived in the swamp. Billy's Island takes its name from Billy Bowlegs, a Seminole chief, who lived on it early in the nineteenth century, and there made his last stand against the whites under Gen. Floyd. On several of the islands are found low hillocks of sand, which are believed to be Indian mounds, but have apparently never been opened. The occupation of parts of the swamp by deserters during the war has already been mentioned. At the present time a large family of white people is said to be living on one of the islands near the head of the Suwannee River.

The country around the Okefinokee is rather sparsely settled. The four counties in which the swamp lies, Charlton, Pierce, Ware and Clinch, averaged in 1900 10.2 inhabitants to the square mile, 66 per cent, of whom were white. The population increased 36 per cent, between 1890 and 1900. Deducting the city of Waycross, which contains