Little Houses on the Prairies

Panorama of Chesser Prairie. Cypress houses and hammocks on the horizon. Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, USA. October 24, 2020. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

AN EXCERPT FROM SUWANNEE RIVER, STRANGE GREEN LAND BY CECILE HULSE MATSCHAT, 1938.

“​The prairies – the swamp folk’s name for the open flooded marshes – are filled with a tropical luxuriance of water plants and resemble wide grassy meadows. They are dotted with wooded islets, commonly called ‘houses’ because they have enough dry land to furnish camp sites for the hunters of deer, bear, wildcats, raccoon, otter, and other small animals that live in the swamp. Maiden cane growls in dense green masses three or four feet high, and there rice rats and Florida water rats, together with the bittern, make their nests. Katydids sway on the green tips in the sunshine and dive from them into the cool water. Gators travel over the prairies from one pool to another, through acres of white and gold water lilies, beds of cream-white arrowheads and bluish pickerelweed. They are often the swamper’s trail blazers; the boatman finds easier poling down the lanes that the gators have opened through the thick reeds and water plants.”


Cecile Matschat’s work published in 1938 by the Literary Guild of America is full of colorful stories of the Swampers that lived in the Okefenokee, exciting folklore encounters with bear, boar and cannibal alligators, as well as scientific descriptions of the flora and fauna of the great swamp. It a worthwhile purchase if you come across a used copy of this collectible out-of-print treasure of Okefenokee literature.

Published by William Wise

Hi, I’m conservation photographer and nature writer William Wise. Nature journaling and wildlife photography has been a favorite pastime since the ‘90s. I graduated from University of Georgia Warnell Forestry School's wildlife program in 1996. I'm currently an animal shelter manager/photographer and reside in Athens, Georgia, USA with my wife and two teenage daughters. My website www.williamwisephoto.com is a wildlife and birding photo website documenting the beauty, design and wonder of creation. I have a deep love of the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. I became a devoted Christian in 1993 under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. I am also a guest author at Lee's Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. The theme of my blogging comes from The Message version of Psalms 104 -- "What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, You made earth overflow with your wonderful creations."

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