Wislizenus's Tour of Northern Mexico: 1846
Though Wislizenus's was a private scientific tour undertaken at his own expense, and unexpectedly extended by his capture and confinement in Mexico, Congress published his report, to which George Engelmann contributed. Dr. Josiah Gregg accompanied the party as plant collector.
Frederick Adolphus Wislizenus (1810-1889) DAB
Born in Germany, the son of a pastor and orphaned at an early age, Wislizenus studied the natural sciences at Jena, Göttingen, and Tübingen. Having taken part in the student uprising at Frankfurt-am-Main in 1833, he fled to Switzerland, where he studied at Zurich, then at the Paris hospitals. In 1835 he emigrated to the United States, practiced medicine in Illinois, and in 1839 joined a fur-trading party bound for Ft. Hall. On his return he practiced in partnership with George Engelmann at St. Louis. His report on Northern Mexico was the most comprehensive then published.
See Engelmann's letter of 1848 in the Samuel George Morton Papers.
ANSP: Wislizenus's letters in John Torrey Letters (Coll. 364; copy at APS, Film no.628) refer to plants collected.
APS: See Engelmann's letters in the J.L. LeConte Papers concerning the plant collections.
Josiah Gregg (1806-1850) DAB
Born on a Missouri farm and largely self-educated, Gregg in his mid-twenties joined a caravan bound for Santa Fe and was active in the New Mexico trade between 1831 and 1840, when he gathered information for his celebrated book, Commerce of the Prairies (1844). He afterward practiced medicine in Saltillo, Mexico, and botanized in Mexico and California.
APS: J.L. LeConte Papers: In his letter of 27 March 1843, George Engelmann notes that Gregg collected birds, shells, and insects in Mexico in 1849, and that Gregg since having died, his brother John, of Shreveport, wished Engehnann to deposit the collection at the ANSP.
Owen's Survey of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota: 1848
David Dale Owen's assistants on this continuation of his survey of the Chippewa Land District of the previous year were J.G. Norwood (again), John Evans, B.F. Shumard, Charles Whittlesey, Henry Pratten, F.B. Meek, G.K. Warren, Richard Owen, and the St. Louis chemist Abram Litton (1814-1901; **APS, LCP).
In writing the report Owen had the assistance of Joseph Leidy and Charles C. Parry, and in determining specimens, that of John Torrey (New York Natural History Survey, 1836), W.S. Sullivant (United States Exploring Expedition, 1838), and Samuel B. Mead (1798-1880; **APS, ANSP).
See Owen's 1853 letter in Joseph Leidy Correspondence (Coll. 1) for his attempt to drum up scientific support for lobbying Congress to publish the report on the Bad Lands. In addition to those appearing below, J.G. Norwood (Owen's Survey of the Chippewa Land District of Wisconsin
, 1847) assisted in the field.
John Evans (1812-1861; ANSP 1850)
Born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the son of a judge of the state supreme court, Evans took a medical degree at St. Louis before joining the survey. His discovery on this expedition of a large deposit of extinct fossil bones, among them the omnivorous Oreodon, brought him international attention and greatly excited American paleontologists, not least James Hall, who in the spring of 1853 dispatched Meek and Hayden to the Bad Lands to make further collections. On arrival they found Evans's party already in the field, and news of the collision further excited Hall, entirely dissipating all collegial feelings for Evans, and for Evans's friend and collaborator, B.F. Shumard, as well. In his short life Evans participated in four of these expeditions and collected fossils for W. J. Hooker (APS H.S. Film no. 7).
In the Samuel George Morton Papers, see "Notice of Fossil remains of mammalia from the Bad Lands of the White River," by Evans, D. D. Owen, and Norwood; and Evans's 1850 letter to Morton.
ANSP: See Hall's letters in Joseph Leidy Correspondence (Coll. 1).
**APS, HSP, ANSP
Benjamin Franklin Shumard (1820-1869; APS 1867, ANSP 1848)
The son of a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, merchant, Shumard took an M.D. at the University of Louisville and opened a practice there, devoting his leisure to the study of fossils and shells. He remained with the survey through 1856. Appointed state geologist of Texas in 1858, Shumard participated in nine surveys and explorations. He published many geological papers and sent his collection of fishes and reptiles to the Smithsonian.[29
In Aaron Young, Jr., Papers, see Shumard's two letters of 1847.
HSP: The few Whittlesey letters in the Simon Gratz and the Dreer Collections have no bearing on the survey.
Henry Pratten (d. 1857; ANSP 1854)
A native of Illinois, sometime resident at New Harmony and close friend of, and collaborator with, Joseph Norwood, Pratten also served on the Illinois Geological Survey
ANSP: Dispatching "the lower jaw of some animal," Pratten, like many another field man, begged Leidy for identification. Joseph Leidy Correspondence (Coll. 1).
Fielding Bradford Meek (1817-1876; APS 1867, ANSP 1856) DAB
Born in Madison, Wisconsin, Meek early took an interest in the fossil bones of the area. After failing in business, he joined the survey and made paleontology his specialty. Meek participated in fourteen expeditions and surveys and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Puzzled by some of the paleontological aspects of the survey, Meek (and F.V. Hayden) asked for Leidy's aid. Joseph Leidy Correspondence (Coll. 1-B). In the Samuel S. Haldeman Papers, see Meek's long letter of 1866 in response to Haldeman's criticism of his paleontology.
**APS, HSP, ANSP
Gouverneur Kemble Warren (1830-1882; APS 1867, ANSP 1857) DAB
A second lieutenant in the Topographical Engineers when he joined the survey, Warren was born in Cold Spring, New York, and graduated at West Point in 1850. He participated in four of these explorations, on which he wrote voluminous reports. He also wrote on engineering and scientific subjects. Warren was a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
**APS, HSP, ANSP
LCP: In the Samuel George Morton Papers, see Owen's letter of 1850.
Of the many Leidy letters in various collections, few bear on this survey, but see "The Joseph Leidy Letters -- A Comprehensive Index and Summary, compiled by James A. Poupard and Richard B. Thompson," a 500-page list of letters with their locations.
ANSP: Examination of the large Joseph Leidy Correspondence (Colls. 1, 1-A, 1-B) and Leidy letters scattered in other collections may prove rewarding.
Charles Christopber Parry (1823-1890; ANSP 1877) DAB
Another botanizing friend of George Engelmann, Parry was born in England, came to the United States with his family at the age of nine, graduated at Union College, and then took an M.D. at Columbia, where he studied with John Torrey. He practiced medicine in Davenport, Iowa, for a time but, fascinated with botany, Joined Owen's survey and later spent three years with the Mexican Boundary Survey
(1848). He became the first botanist appointed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and joined the staff of the Smithsonian, where he organized the plant collections, describing many new species, particularly those from California.
United States and Mexican Boundary Survey: 1848
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo stipulated the survey, which from 1848 to 1853 was directed by three commissioners: Robert B. Campbell (ca. 1788-1862; **APS, HSP) of South Carolina, friend of Vice-President Fillmore; Col. James D. Graham; and John R. Bartlett. There was mismanagement and disorganization, and W.H. Emory, nominally astronomer to the party, was appointed commissioner in 1854. He completed the survey in 1855.
The five official plant collectors -- Parry, Schott, Wright, Thurber, and Bigelow -- all worked under the general supervision of John Torrey. They were joined by freelance collectors of plant and other specimens, who, as army exploration moved into less familiar regions, seized the opportunity to collect in relative comfort-if that be the word-and safety. Freelancers here were Berlandier, Lindheimer, Couch, August Fendler (Abert's Examination of New Mexico, 1846), William Rich (United States Exploring Expedition (1838), and, evidently too, Capt. Stewart Van Vliet (1815-1901; **HSP).
Specialists reporting on the collections were James Hall on geology and paleontology; T.A. Conrad on fossils; John Torrey, Chester Dewey (Zoological and Botanical Survey of Massachusetts, 1837), D.C. Eaton (Vermont Geological Survey, 1844), and George Engelmann on botany; Spencer F. Baird on mammals, birds, and (with Robert Kennicott) reptiles; and Charles Girard on fish.
See John L. LeConte's observations on the survey in the John F. Frazer Papers, and C.C. Parry's of 1853 in the J.L. LeConte Papers. The latter is the most useful of the Philadelphia collections on the survey.
ANSP: Perhaps LeConte attached himself to the survey as a freelancer, for in 1849 he wrote his friend Haldeman that, with but limited means and no pay, he was leaving for California: "I am going out for science alone. . ." In 1850 he described his experiences there and in 1851 the collections he had made: Samuel S. Haldeman Correspondence. In the same collection see Joseph Henry's 1849 letter thanking Haldeman for his suggestions on the conduct of the survey.
James Duncan Graham
In Archives, see Graham's letters announcing donation of maps, charts, and reports to the Society. The John F. Frazer Papers has several relevant Graham letters.
HSP: In the Simon Gratz Collection, see Graham's letters about publication of the report; in the David M. Stauffer Collection, his 1847 letter to William Bond about rating the chronometers, presumably for this expedition. The Buchanan Papers contains an excerpt from Graham's report. The Dreer Collection has a Graham letter to Henry A.S. Dearborn that is revealing of the Graham character.
John Russell Bartlett (1805-1886; ANSP 1850) DAB
A native of Providence, Bartlett gave up a mercantile career to operate a bookshop of distinction in New York City. He was a founder of the American Ethnological Society, benefactor and cataloguer of the John Carter Brown Library, and author of many volumes on history, ethnology, and the American language.
In the Samuel George Morton Papers, see Bartlett's amusing and informative letters of 1850-1851 concerning his appointment and the imperative need to appoint men of science to the survey.
William H. Emory
See his letters in J.L. LeConte Papers; in the Linnaean Society of London (H.S. Film no. 6) his informative letter of 25 September 1851 to Elias Durand. The J.P. Lesley papers have Emory letters concerning maps and other publications of the survey.
HSP: The Buchanan Papers have several Emory letters of 1848 in which he outlines his plans for the survey and speculates on the commissioners to be appointed.
Charles C. Parry
See Owen's Survey of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota
(1848). Parry was botanist, geologist, naturalist, and physician to the survey until its reorganization, when Caleb B.R. Kennerly took over as physician and naturalist. Parry reported on geology and botany.
ANSP: See in John Torrey, Letters (Coll-364; copy at APS, Film no.628), Parry's informative letter of 1852 on the natural history observed, and W.H. Harvey's of 1851 on Parry's plants.
Arthur Carl Victor Schott (1814-1875)
Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Schott apprenticed for a year at the Royal Gardens of Stuttgart, studied at the Institute of Agriculture at Hohenheim, and for the next ten years superintended a mining property in Hungary, studying botany, geology, and zoology. After travel in Europe and the Near East, he came to the United States in 1850 and was employed in Washington by the Topographical Engineers. Torrey recommended Schott's appointment to the survey, on which he headed one of the surveying parties, and made large botanical collections and the sketches of landscapes that accompanied Michler's report. Schott also served on Michler's Survey of the Isthmus of Darien
(1857) and did survey work in Yucatan in 1864-1866. He was later employed by the Topographical Bureau of the War Department and by the Coast Survey. He reported on geology.[30
APS: See Schott's 1854 letter and also Spencer F. Baird's of 1852 in J.L. LeConte Papers.
Charles Wright (1811-1885) DAB
Like Augustus Fendler a wandering bachelor and one of the great plant collectors of the century, Wright was born in Wethersfield, Connecticut, graduated from Yale, then went to Texas in 1837, where he taught school for a time and collected plants for Asa Gray. In the first assistance it offered to botanical exploration, the Smithsonian made $150 available to Wright. He joined the Rodgers-Ringgold Expedition to the North Pacific
(1853) to collect at the Cape of Good Hope, Hong Kong, Loo Choo Islands, and Japan, and wrote its report on botany. He afterward examined the botany of Cuba.[31
See his 1853 letter to Torrey in John Torrey, Letters (Coll. 364; copy at APS, Film no.628).
George Thurber (1821-1890; ANSP 1858) DAB
A native of Providence, Rhode Island, and mostly self-educated, Thurber made his way from pharmacy into botany, winning the esteem, never lightly accorded, of Asa Gray. He discovered many new plant species on this survey. Thurber afterward edited the American Agriculturist, and in 1859 was appointed to the chair of botany at Michigan State University. His speciality was grasses.
The twelve Thurber letters in the Aaron Young, Jr., Papers may have references to the plants of the expedition.
ANSP: In John Torrey, Letters (Coll. 364; copy at APS, Film no.628), see the references to Thurber's plants in W.H. Harvey's 1851 letter.
John Milton Biqelow (1804-1878)
Born in Middlebury, Vermont, Bigelow moved west in 1815, took an M.D. at the Medical College of Ohio in 1832 and afterward practiced medicine in Lancaster, Ohio. He served as surgeon on this survey and as surgeon and botanist on the Pacific Railroad Surveys
(1853) under Lt. Whipple. In 1860 he moved to Detroit, where he was professor of medical botany at the medical college.
ANSP: In John Torrey, Letters (Coll. 364; copy at APS, Film no.628); see his 1852 letter to Torrey on outfitting and plant collecting.
Lt. Nathaniel Michler (1827-1881)
Born in Easton, Pennsylvania, Michler was assigned to the survey on graduation from West Point. Evidently he assisted in collecting specimens. He later led Michler's Survey of the Isthmus of Darien
APS: A Michler letter of 1857 in the J. P. Lesley Papers deals with publication of the survey report.
Jean Louis Berlandier (ca. 1805-1851)
A pupil of De Candolle, Berlandier left Europe in 1827 or 1828 to collect plants in Mexico for his mentor. There he was appointed botanist to a Mexican government survey of the border with the United States. After 1830 he practiced medicine and pharmacy at Matamoros until the Mexican War, during which he served as guide to American troops. An all-round naturalist and something of an historian as well, he was the first botanist to explore Nuevo Leon and made many discoveries both there and in Texas while with this survey. He drowned in a tributary of the Rio Grande.[32
The Samuel George Morton Papers has two of his letters of 1851 on the subject of Mexican dogs.
Ferdinand Lindheimer (1801-1879) DAB
Born the son of a well-to-do merchant in Frankfurt-am-Main, Lindheimer studied at the universities of Wiesbaden and Bonn. A free-thinker and revolutionary, he deserted Germany for the United States in 1834, traveled in Mexico, and joined the Texans in their revolution. George Engelmann, a friend of university days, persuaded him to collect botanical specimens, an exercise at which he proved to be sufficiently adept (in part owing to his care to maintain good relations with the Indians) to win the esteem of Asa Gray. Lindheimer supported the South in the Civil War and, living afterward in Texas, served as justice of the peace, superintendent of schools, and newspaper editor at New Braunfels.
ANSP: Lindheimer figures often in Engelmann's letters in John Torrey, Collector (APS Film no.628).
Lt. Darius Nash Couch (1822-1897; ANSP 1854) DAB
A native of South East, New York, Couch graduated at West Point in 1846, served in the Mexican War, collected plants in Mexico in 1853, and participated in the Pacific Railroad Surveys
(1853) and in the Civil War as a major general. Purchasing Bcrlandier's extensive collection from his widow, he presented both it and his own collections to the Smithsonian. Couch collected birds on this survey.
**APS, HSP, ANSP
Thomas H. Webb (1801-1866)
A physician of Providence, Rhode Island, and a close friend of Bartlett, Webb collected insects, fishes, and reptiles and served as secretary to the commission.
See his letter of 26 February 1854 in the J.L. LeConte Papers.
APS: See his many letters in J. P. Lesley Papers and John F. Frazer Papers. Those of 1856-1857 are pure Hall. Concerned with collections and publications, they also continue his feud with H.D. Rogers, pass judgment on colleagues in geology, and predict imminent physical collapse for himself His 1855 letters in J.L. LeConte Papers also concern the survey.
Timothy A. Conrad
ANSP: Timothy Abbott Conrad Papers has letters describing expedition fossils and new species of Cretaceous shells, many from Texas.
ANSP: John Torrey, Letters (Coll. 364; copy at APS, Film no.628), has Torrey's 1850 letter to Elias Durand on the survey's plants.
APS: In the J.L. LeConte Papers, see his enthusiastic letters about the plants collected.
Spencer F. Baird
Baird's letters in the J.L. LeConte Papers deal with the publications of this and other surveys with which LeConte was associated. (LeConte described the insect collections of this survey in society publications.) Baird expressed great pride in the Smithsonian's specimens gathered by the "various public and private enterprises" (29 June 1851). Also of interest in the same collection are Secretary of Interior Robert McClelland's 1854 letter on the matter of compensation and LeConte's attempt in 1858 to coflect from the government for his classification of the insects.
ANSP: Some of Baird's letters in the voluminous Joseph Leidy Correspondence (Colls. 1, 1-B) may bear on the survey.
Robert Kennicott (1835-1866) DAB
Serving as naturalist to this expedition, Kennicott reported on the reptiles of Warren's Explorations
(1856), became curator of Northwestern University's Museum of Natural History, explored in Alaska, and was leading the Western Union Telegraph Expedition in 1866 when he died.
Kennicott's several letters of 1856-1858 in the J.L. LeConte Papers seek advice on methods of collecting.
APS: See Girard's letters of 1853-1854 in the J.L. LeConte Papers.
Gilliss's U.S. Naval Astronomical Expedition: 1849
Lt. J.M. Gilliss took command of a four-year expedition authorized by Congress to establish a base in Chile for observing the planet Venus. Passed Midshipman S.L. Phelps assisted. No naturalists accompanied the expedition but its natural history collections, deposited with the Smithsonian for description, were nonetheless extensive. In addition to those listed below, the following reported on the collections: W.D. Brackenridge, John Cassin, Charles Girard (all of United States Exploring Expedition
, 1838), J.L. Smith (South Carolina Geological Survey
, 1824), A.A. Gould (Massachusetts Geological Survey
, 1830), and T.A. Conrad (New York Natural History Survey
James Melville Gilliss (1811-1865; APS 1848, ANSP 1848) DAB
A native and lifelong resident of the District of Columbia, Gilliss entered the navy at the age of fifteen, studied at the University of Virginia and at Paris, then took up astronomy when directed to conduct simultaneous observations while the United States Exploring Expedition (1838) was abroad. On its return he drew up plans for an astronomical observatory at Washington, purchased and installed the instruments and in 1861 was finally given charge of his creation, the Naval Observatory. One of perhaps three outstanding American astronomers of his time, Gilliss was an original member of the National Academy of Sciences.
See Gilliss's letters in Quetelet Selected Correspondence (H. S. Film no. 11 of originals at Bibliothèque royale de Belgique, Brussels), John F. Frazer Papers and Letters of Scientists. Archives has several Gilliss letters, some urging the Society to promote the proposed expedition, as does the John F. Frazer Papers.
**APS, HSP, ANSP
Seth Ledyard Phelps (1824-1885?)
An Ohioan, Phelps enlisted in the Navy in 1841 as midshipman and served with distinction in the Civil War. He resigned as Lt. Commander in 1864 and afterward served as minister to Peru.
The Samuel George Morton Papers have Phelps's letters of 1850 and 1851 touching on his experiences in Chile. And see his letters in the James Rush Papers.
Specialists reporting on the collections were:
Spencer F. Baird
APS: See the Baird letters in the John L. LeConte and the J.P. Lesley Papers.
Tbomas Ewbank (1792-1870) DAB
Born in England, Ewbank came to New York about 1819 and set up as machinist, retiring in 1836 to devote himself to scientific pursuits and to writing. He was a founder of the American Ethnological Society, Commissioner of Patents in 1849-52, and a writer on the history and philosophy of invention. Ewbank reported on Indian antiquities.
APS: See Gray's many letters to W.J. Hooker in Royal Botanic Gardens (H.S. Film no. 7).
Jeffries Wyman (1814-1874; APS 1866, ANSP 1844) DAB
Born in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and graduated at Harvard in 1833, Wyman took a medical degree in 1837. He studied in Paris for a time and became professor of anatomy first at Hampden Sidney College, then at Harvard, where he organized the Museum of Comparative Anatomy and enriched its collections through his extensive travels in South America. At the time of his death Wyman was the country's leading physical anthropologist. He was an original member of the National Academy of Sciences.
Wyman corresponded with Leidy about fossils from a number of unspecified expeditions. See Joseph Leidy Correspondence (Coll. 1).
**APS, HSP, LCP, ANSP
Philip Lutley Sclater (1829-1913; APS 1873; ANSP 1856) APS
Born in Hampshire, England, to a wealthy family, Sclater studied geology at Oxford, taking a B.A. in 1849, then studied law and was called to the bar. Visiting the United States in 1856, he formed friendships with John Cassin, S.F. Baird, and Joseph Leidy and took a canoe trip down the Mississippi before returning to London, where he published an account of his travels. Sclater was active in ornithological research in England and was one of the founders of the British Ornithologists' Union. He collaborated with W.H. Hudson on Argentine Ornithology
**APS, HSP, ANSP
Stansbury's Exploration of the Salt Lake Valley: 1849
Captain Howard Stansbury and Lt. J.W. Gunnison surveyed and mapped the area in 1849 and 1850. Accompanied by no regular naturalist and with little in the way of apparatus, the party nonetheless made extensive natural history collections for description and classification by specialists back east, among whom, in addition to those appearing below, were John Torrey (New York Natural History Survey
, 1836) on plants, L.D. Gale (New York Natural History Survey
, 1836) on chemical analysis, T.R. Peale (Long Expedition
, 1819) on insect larvae, and John Cassin (United States Exploring Expedition
, 1838) on birds.
Howard Stansbury (1806-1863) DAB
Born in New York City, Stansbury early became a civil engineer, surveying canal, river, and railroad routes, improving harbors and erecting lighthouses; he then joined the Topographical Engineers. His narrative of the expedition (he reported on astronomy and meteorology as well) enjoyed great popularity.
In the Simon Gratz Collection, see J.H. Simpson's 1852 letter to R.H. Kern about this expedition.
LCP: Stansbury described his preparations in an 1849 letter in the Samuel George Morton Papers.
ANSP: In the Samuel S. Haldeman Correspondence, see Stansbury's graceful expression of appreciation for the assistance of the scientists of the party; and in John Torrey, Letters (Coll. 364; copy at APS, Film no.628), Stansbury's 1852 letter.
APS: The likeliest sources for Hall letters relevant to this survey are the J. P. Lesley, the J.L. LeConte, the John F. Frazer, and the Persifor Frazer Papers.
Samuel S. Haldeman
APS: See Haldeman letters in the John F. Frazers, John L. LeConte, and J.P. Lesley Papers.
APS: Some of Girard's letters in the John L. LeConte Papers may touch on natural history collections from this expedition.
Spencer F. Baird
Letters of Scientists and the J.P. Lesley Papers have relevant letters. The John L. LeConte Papers have Baird letters to John E. LeConte and to the latter's son (Baird's friend "Johnny") on the publications and insect collections of both this expedition and the Pacific Railroad Surveys
(1853). Baird, J.L. LeConte, and S.S. Haldeman ("Haldy") made a close-knit trio of naturalists.
ANSP: In Joseph Leidy Correspondence (Coll. 1-B), see Baird's 1852 letter on the expedition.