Welcome to the Wendish Research Exchange's WendBlogs section. Here you will read the musings and advice from one of several Wendish Blogmeisters whom have generously volunteered their time to participate. Please recognize that responses to your comments may or may not be forthcoming, but you are certainly encouraged to comment.


Background Information.

Tag Cloud





Latest Comments

Richard Gruetzner… (October 5, 1939. …): Thank you! An excellent and interesting article that adds a few small pieces to the family history p…
George Nielsen (2. Birkmann Lette…): I had not seen the letter before and it reinforces my envy of Birkmann’s memory. It also reminded …


XML: RSS Feed 
XML: Atom Feed 

« 4. A Brief History of… | Home | 2. Birkmann Letter to… »

3. Things I Enjoyed Collecting in Nature

Wednesday 05 October 2095 at 5:14 pm.

This article appeared in Worthy of Double Honor: The Rev G. Birkmnn, D. D. written by his grandson Ray Martens and published by Concordia University Press.


At first botany caught my interest. I had no books other than Wood's Class Book of Botany* and some elementary books on botany written by Eliza Youman*. From these I informed myself about the different shapes of leaves and blossoms and the like, and compared what I learned with plants which were around me. Later I searched with more zeal for plants and flowers, noting with enthusiasm every little flower as I walked and rode and always bringing something home to look up afterward in Wood's book. Naturally, much remained obscure to me because Wood did not pay special attention to the flora of Texas. But, in many cases, I did find, with the help of the "Keys" there, at least the genus, which by itself pleased me greatly. Later I obtained Coulter's Manual of the Phaenogams and Cryptogams of Western Texas*, where I found more plants which grow in Lee County, but still it was difficult because I had no systematic knowledge of botany. As long as I could identify only a part of what I found, I was satisfied and hoped with time to progress. My interest in botany was so great that I tried to become acquainted with all the weeds in our garden, not a few after a heavy rain. My dear wife was more than a little puzzled by a husband who sought so zealously after something about which she felt just the opposite.

But I collected only in order to look up the names in the book, afterward throwing everything out the window. I did not know how to preserve plants or to construct an herbarium, and still do not, even though for many years I did gather and press flowers often, especially in the spring. One has to have the knack of the collector and expend the necessary trouble and toil, even if you occupy yourself only with botany. I did make lists already in 1884, then again in 1896, which I still have, but they are not reliable because of lack of knowledge on my part.

Since I have been living in Giddings, my son Paul [full name and address included] visits now and then. He too is a friend of botany, and we drive off together and collect plants here around Giddings, but often neither of us can reach the point of knowledge we were hoping for by reading the books afterward. We now have Texas Wild Flowers by Ellen D. Schulz*, quite helpful, even though we often still do not find the names. We intend to send that author our plants for the sake of more accurate identification, if we gather more.

I fared somewhat better with insects because I could impale them on pins and keep them. First I used a small Coates Spool Thread cabinet with drawers, each lined with cork and covered with paper, able to hold a beginner's very modest collection. In the beginning I collected nothing but beetles and butterflies I encountered. Butterflies are surely more attractive than beetles, and I always enjoyed seeing them and reading about them, but I soon discovered that they were not practical for my purpose in that they took up a lot of room and had to be handled very carefully if the collection was to look good. None of this was the case with beetles. You could store a hundred beetles in one box without any particular trouble, just sticking one [on its pin] next to the other. I bought the volume on insects from Brehms Tierleben * and found longhorn beetles [Bockkäfer] so interestingly described and pictured that I ordered a whole collection of German Bockkäfer to be sent from Vienna in order to compare them with Brehm's writing. As I was groping along back and forth with my investigation, I learned something I had not realized: I had to limit myself to American insects. It took me a while to learn this.

Later I sent beetles up north to John D. Sherman, Jr., in New York* and to Henry Klages in Pennsylvania* and to others in order to have my specimens identified. [Here, with the first occurrence of the German word bestimmen, I acknowledge a problem as translator. The word can mean "identify," as though Birkmann is saying, "Please tell me what this is." It can also mean "confirm," as though, "Am I not right in calling this a ?." Furthermore, "identify" sometimes means recognizing a specimen as altogether new. Only context gives a clue as to the sense in which the word is intended.] My spool box was not at all adequate anymore, so I had a dozen or more insect boxes sent from a northern source, then several dozen more as I began to collect bees and wasps. Finally, I had about fifty (as these "dozens" multiplied) so that I could store thousands of specimens.

I wish to say something about beetles before I go on to my lovely hymenoptera aculeata. How happy the beetles made me when already in March I found lamellicornia with their thick bodies or longicornia with their long feelers on the blooming hawthorn [Crateagus], or when my boys and I peeled the bark off a fallen log and saw there a lively (sometimes sleeping) colony of very thin, flat little creatures. (Back then my children were very ready to help me, but later they were drawn individually in other directions, and I do not believe that now even one can be found who has a real interest in such searching.) If l opened my boxes of beetles, I was pleased to observe the well-ordered rows - I did introduce order after a time - a beetle collection very well displayed.

Certainly a collector adds a lot of enjoyment to what he does by adding fantasies and memories to the specific object of his search. He remembers, "You found this specimen altogether unexpectedly as you were going to ____ , and you wrapped it in your handkerchief because you had no jar with you," "My son found that pretty row of colorful beetles on some flowers," and so forth. Back then when I was still young (only thirty years old) and active in such collecting, I was so taken by it that at night I would sometimes dream that I was in a certain garden where there were so many beetles, especially horned leaf beetles [of which there are numerous varieties], that I kept seeing more and filling jar after jar. When I would wake up, I would wish I could be back at my boyhood home in the old vineyard which my stepfather owned, where actually I could have found an endless number. Brehm has a picture in his volume on insects in which, during a major flood, thousands of beetles saved themselves by clinging to a low bush -all the leaves covered with beetles in their natural color and size. This picture comes to mind at times. When once our creek in Fedor flooded, I thought of the picture and wished I could see something like it for real in nature.

I shared with you earlier already that a visit to Heiligbrodt (in Bastrop, Texas),* who collected, in addition to beetles and butterflies, especially hymenoptera aculeata [wasps], captured my interest in the latter. He gave me Cresson's Hymenoptera Texana* and Henri Saussure's Solitary Wasps of North America.* I read in both, and from there on my fate was determined. Everything else retreated to make room for this: I wanted to collect aculeata. And I did for thirty years. They cause so little trouble because you just need to spear them and arrange them in a box. But that is not what attracted me, although I found it useful. It was just a preference which came naturally - "it grows on a fellow" [written in English, and in quotation marks]. That is especially true as you gain your first experience with sending them out and when your specimens are identified [bestimmen again]. Mr. Fox from Philadelphia* did this for me in many cases; also Banks* and Swenk,* but chiefly Cockerell,* Rohwer,* and others; also Viereck,* to whom I sent my andrenidae [a family of bees], and Brues,* who took pains with my mutillidae ["velvet ants"]. Heinrich Friese* identified several for me.

Almost all of these described [beschreiben, not bestimmen] a smaller or larger number [of species] as new, attaching the species name birkmanni to some, fedorensis or something else to others. I have pretty much forgotten the details, and the publications in question are no longer in my possession. Banks* described an entire number of my wasps (hunting wasps). To be sure, I did not find only new varieties, but, as expected, mostly things already known and described. Even if I found only those [previously known], that was fine with me, as long as I did not overload my collection with such specimens.

I was always happy to get a name from my correspondents so as to become acquainted with a species or genus I had not previously known. It was remarkable how I learned over time to pay attention to small, even tiny, details. Rohwer* had a report in Entomological News* about a little collection of hunting wasps that he gathered in Colorado as he sat in a dry stream bed in which the sand below its surface was still damp. He studied the little wasps carefully, and, behold, he had captured a number, perhaps several dozen, which were altogether new and which he described in the journal. When later I went to my Yegua Creek or to another, I did the same thing and found many that I had not previously noted. Even though I was not able to describe them, I was happy to enrich my collection.

One hot day with my children I came to a tree which was "bleeding," oozing sap, and attracting innumerable wasps. The tree was covered with wasps of different kinds, and they were crawling back and forth on the ground below. In a short time, my jars were full. I was never able to repeat success like this. If you wish to understand thoroughly the insect world in a given region, then you must collect for decades, as I did. Then the right thing to do is to keep the collections together and to hand them over to a state institution [for safekeeping], though neither of these things ever happened with me. A professor from College Station, Texas, whose name I have forgotten, once wrote me, "A collection like yours ought to be at a state institution," but he made no offer to buy, nor did it even occur to me at the time to sell. I might have sold had I received an appropriate sum. But, as I said, I did not consider that at the time. I did send away duplicates (not in the interest of making trades; I collected only Texas hymenoptera) to people who wanted to buy my surplus. So it was that I sent many by mail to C. F. Baker,* first to Cuba, then to Brazil, and finally to California, where, if I remember correctly, he held a position at Pomona College in Claremont. I do not know whether Baker is still alive. He gave me a few cents for each specimen, and I provided quite a number of shipments. In the same (or similar) way, I also sold beetles.

I must insert here that, because our house back then had no window screens, hundreds of beetles and the like would invade the house on sultry, rainy evenings and be in full view on the table and floor. That type of night, which annoyed others, made me happy. I could collect without any effort at all, gaining many insects old and new. I tried to dispose of the old along with other duplicates that one always gets. That is where my correspondents who bought beetles come in. Worthy of special mention is Dr. Nason of Algonquin, Illinois.* He was a fair-minded collector and connoisseur, and I received many dollars for my trouble. The other was W. E. Snyder,* who for years accepted many, and I received one cent for each specimen. I would send him several hundred beetles at a time in a jar with some alcohol, so it took no great effort on my part. In any case, he got many of the very same things, for I did not sort what I disposed of so cheaply. I need to set the record straight about my engaging in such transactions. My children did most of the collecting which had to be done for this purpose, and they also received the money for it.

In spite of our zeal for collecting, we did not eliminate entirely the beetles in Fedor. Certainly, I am aware that in the last years of my residence there the wealth of insects was not nearly what it had been in the early years, but one must attribute that to the fact that woods, where nature reigned freely, had been cleared to make way for fields and that the original flora, unsuspecting, had been eliminated. The animals disappeared with the plants, at least in many cases.

A committee of our Synod sent me an invitation to send a collection of insects to St. Louis for the 1904 World Fair, because our Synod wanted to have an exhibition there about our schools. I complied with the wish and looked for the best in my collection, but, since I had only hymenoptera [bees, wasps, hornets, ants, etc.] and coleoptera [beetles, weevils, etc.], I had insects of other classifications sent to me from Brooklyn, New York, and other places. A professor of our college in Concordia, Missouri, happened to see my collection at the exhibition and wanted to buy it for his college. He got it at a moderate price, enough to cover my cost, and the collection is still in Concordia today, whether in good condition I do not know. Ordinarily, such matters are neglected, and only with much attention can things like this be well preserved.

I myself have experienced how difficult it is to keep an insect collection in good condition in damp and changeable weather. Our local (Lee County) weather is dry for the most part, especially in summer, sadly often too dry for our farmers, but to maintain a good collection one must also have a dry winter. That we do not always have. At times the weather is wet for weeks, or at least cloudy and damp. That damages an insect collection easily. Sometimes I found mold on some or all of a box of insects, a problem for which I sought sound advice. I wrote to Dr. Cockerell,* who answered that he had no mold in his collections and did not know what could be done. I used drastic measures by getting something from the pharmacy and daubing my little creatures, but never at more than half strength. Many specimens were beyond recovery and had to be discarded. Naturally, I concentrated even more diligently at filling the voids as soon as possible. I also lost many good specimens because the pins I used were not always of the best quality, subject to be being ruined by corrosion (verdigris), and, if the pin broke when removing the specimen, that was another loss.

In the first years, out of ignorance I did not mount the place and date along with the insect on the pin. Only later did I find out this must be done. When I finally caught on, I went about my collecting with more enthusiasm, for now each specimen took on new worth for me because I knew it would more nearly serve the body of scientific knowledge.

In the last ten years of my ministry, 1912-22, I was deterred from tending to my collection. I stopped collecting and paid no more attention to it. Many years went by before it occurred to me to try to get rid of all that I had collected, and, when I examined the remnants, they were already greatly damaged. About half was still good, and I wrote to Dr. Banks* and later to Henshaw* and Wheeler,* who bought from me what was still in pretty good shape, and paid quite well for them. Henshaw seems to have thought that he had too little money for all my wasps and bees, and wrote me not to send any more. After another year or two, it occurred to me to throw away what was left, consisting now only of torsos. Wheeler wrote just then that he wanted them. I wrote him about the condition of things, but he wanted to take it all. So I sent the rest to him, including broken pieces, and he paid me well. I had a number of specimens of many species, with the result that the Cambridge Museum could make some good use of them if they put the torso on one pin and the abdomen on the other. Until that time they had to resort to paleontology if they wished to describe their fragments.

Of course, I read an assortment of books and periodicals, German and English, but mostly English after I realized that materials from Germany were not suited for use here in Texas. But I did gain a good introduction through Brehm's* volume on insects, in which Taschenberg,* who wrote that particular volume, provides clear descriptions and good illustrations. Soon I also read Packard's Guide to the Study of Insects,* though I was not attracted to his dry writing style. What I most enjoyed reading in those early times was Practical Entomologist,* from which a number of volumes [i.e., annual series] came into my hands. It was a monthly magazine, if I am not mistaken, written very simply for the ordinary person. It dealt with "economic entomology," but went into the lifestyle and behavior of insects, and, so, interested me.

Later I had several of Comstock's books, his Introduction and much later his Manual,* both of which were intended for the person who sought his first introduction to the study of insects. Also the agricultural reports of our government in Washington, over forty of which I obtained very cheaply, contained many useful articles and illustrations about insects. I enjoyed reading these articles, at least in part, because they were easy to understand, and I had neither much else nor anything better. I also purchased a number of agricultural reports from Illinois and Minnesota, because in these the various orders of insects were treated clearly and interestingly as the volumes [annual series] followed one another. These reports were often more attractive and useful to me than the so-called manuals or guides. It is a shame that Texas had no such publications (apart from little bulletins from A & M College, of which I have some, but they are not like the reports named earlier, which introduce the ordinary man to the field of entomology).

In this connection I am reminded of how regrettable it is that our schools offer so little or nothing at all in the field of natural history. Here in Giddings there is no instruction in botany or natural history, nor any interest on the part of the adults, much less the elderly. There is almost no one here whom one could engage in conversation about botany or zoology. Take, for example, Mr. Singley,* a man who hunts shells. He is laughed at, at least not understood or appreciated. As in the town of Giddings, so also in the county, and not only Lee County, but probably also in the other counties of our state. Maybe other states too. It is different in Europe, at least in Germany. I have examined personally books written for German school children, which present botany, zoology, and mineralogy quite thoroughly. These subjects are taught in German elementary schools.

Back to what I read to improve my understanding of nature, how I searched for any printed material dealing with Texas! A Dr. Linecum* more than fifty years ago wrote about agricultural ants and about those which cut foliage from trees and carry it to their nests. He wrote a number of pages about such topics several times in a northern publication. A Dr. S. B. Buckley* in Austin already in the 1860's wrote a number of things about Texas plants and about geology. (I had his report about Texas geology.) His botanical information was based on Gray* at Harvard, and once I read (I do not know where) that Gray reprimanded poor Buckley [for plagiarism?]. Still, Linecum and Buckley were deserving individuals, for they gave what they had, and I enjoyed their unassuming writings. A Dr. H. C. McCook,* a preacher from Philadelphia, stopped in Austin one summer and there engaged in excavations to investigate the way of life of agricultural ants in Texas. He wrote a somewhat disorganized book about it, of which I read some, but never finished making my way through the whole of it. The same man wrote other books, including some meant to be popular. I had one, which I loaned to Mr. Singley and which his wife, so she said, enjoyed reading. It was not as appealing to me, somewhat too childish, like a Mother Goose story.

For my beetles I had Laconte & Horn, Classification of Coleoptera,* and Henshaw's List of Coleoptera of America North of Mexico.* Classification provided only the characteristics of genera, not of species. But I prevailed upon people up north to identify my specimens, and did the same with my hymenoptera, about which I could glean a little from Cresson's Classification of Hymenoptera and his List of Hymenoptera.* I could not procure the many monographs which described the categories, although little by little I did gain possession of a number of these, even getting some of them as a gift from the friendly authors. Especially Cockerell* provided generously for me. All correspondents who had gone to print with something about the insects I sent would provide me with their printed articles - Swenk,* Crawford,* Viereck,* Banks,* and more. Also Melander,* who, with Brues,* had been working under Wm. Wheeler* in Austin and who later went to the state of Washington, sent me a number of things. Brues and Melander had obtained a couple hundred specimens of my mutillidae to work with while they still were studying under Wheeler in Austin. Brues and Wheeler soon thereafter, in about 1902 or 1903, went to Harvard University, and from there Brues returned my mutillidae. He had identified a number of new species, among them one he named birkmanni. I point out as more important that he saw in my collection up to thirty [new species], all, without exception, from the Fedor area.

It is remarkable how many cow killers there are in this area. [I discovered that "cow killer" is an informal name for some of the larger mutillidae, something that Birkmann did not have to point out for Dr. Geiser.] Again and again, I found a new variety, and, had I been able to continue to collecting, I would have found forty or more. The territory still has not been fully investigated, also with regard to hymenoptera. The longer I collected, the clearer that became to me. Whoever might wish to collect there in systematic fashion now - he would have to live there, as I did for so long - if he were to use every free day profitably during the warm part of the year, would find something new on the flowers, in the woods, on the ground, and who knows where. That is still virgin territory so far as entomology and botany are concerned.

What I say is valid not only for Lee County, but for adjoining counties too: Bastrop, Burleson, Washington, or Fayette. It may also be valid for Dallas County or other more densely populated places like Tarrant, Bexar, and others. A casual collector such as I surely achieves only a fraction of what is achieved by one who is a collector by profession, who searches systematically and who is always up and about with nothing escaping [his attention] easily. Singley* is a person like that in collecting snails and shells. One can see that a person such as he is fully informed and investigates everything. That was not the case with me. As the days went by, often I had no time for collecting.

I was not able to afford larger works, expensive as they were and seldom worth the price. I also could not go to libraries to visit and look things up. Nor could I observe large collections, apart from that of Heiligbrodt.* So I was limited in my study and progressed only slowly, but, yet, enough for my purpose. I gathered in summer; in winter I put it aside. There were exceptions, to be sure, times when during the winter I found beetles in the woods under some bark or wood. In fact, I found a specific variety of bees under the bark of a tree, apparently crawling out from hibernation in the wood. There were numerous specimens of a variety much like agapostemon [a genus of metallic green sweat bees].

What I always missed was a handbook specifically about our Texas insects. Nothing of the kind existed. Now that the population of our state exceeds five million, it would certainly seem to pay to write such a handbook. How profitable that would be for those who wish to study nature, and, if the book were well written and illustrated, how many people would be persuaded to pursue this study!

From among the periodicals which I liked to read, let me name especially Entomological News from Philadelphia.* It was established in 1890 and I received and read it until 1912, maybe a year later, when I could no longer find the time to devote myself to entomology. In that journal appeared a number of items from Rohwer* and Cockerell* and others about hymenoptera, and occasionally reports by collectors about trips they made and about what they found and how they managed and the like. Such reports always grabbed my attention. I learned a lot and tried to imitate what they did. I also enjoyed reading notices and reviews of new literature in the field of entomology. I also had a series of volumes of Canadian Entomologist, * and I obtained all seven volumes of Insect Life,* on old periodical for economic entomology. When the Nature Series from Doubleday, Page & Co. appeared, I bought the volumes on butterflies and moths, both by Holland,* and the volume on insects by L. Howard.* The first two of these were seldom used, though I paid dearly for them. A British explorer of nature, Phil. H. Gosse,* among other books wrote one with the title Letters from Alabama. That book was both interesting and instructive for me. In this little book he describes nature as he saw it in Alabama, a fine presentation which includes all the sunshine and colorful butterflies of the south.

Naturally, I did not limit myself to entomological subjects. I bought books about ornithology, Coues' Key,* Studer,* and Nehrling's Nordamerik. Vogelwelt* [North American World of Birds]. I was always glad to read about birds, but I did not succeed in studying birds by observing them out in the open. I was both not diligent enough and too short-sighted [double entendre?]. Reptiles always have laid a claim on me. I read the volume about reptiles in Brehm and later purchased and gladly read Reptiles of the US out of the Nature Series.* I also had a collection of snakes - dead - but I had to dispose of them because they dried out so badly.

Sometimes I went with Singley* in search of snails and shells. Recently we found on the banks of the West Yegua shells and snails and shark teeth from the eocene epoch [i.e., fossils]. I created a small collection from this find, as well as of current shells in Lee County. Singley gave me their names, and I could search farther in Tyson's Conchology.* I had a crate full of fossils from the Texas "chalk" [limestone] in Coryell County, and I had a book by Ferd. Roemer* about this chalk formation and its organic makeup, one that I bought from a dealer in Austin for five dollars, even though he had it listed for fifty.

* Following is information, to the extent that I have been able to locate any, about the correspondents, authors, and publications named in this report, listed in alphabetical order:

BAKER, CHARLES FULLER (1872-1929), was an entomologist and botanist, born in Michigan, who began his career of collecting and publishing at Colorado Agricultural College (now Colo. State Univ.) in the 1890's. At least from 1905 to 1908, he was in Cuba and in Brazil, then in 1913 back to Pomona College in Claremont, California, where he had served on the faculty briefly earlier. During the last years of his life, he served at the Univ. of Manila in the Philippines.

BANKS, NATHAN (1868-1953), was a specialist in hymenoptera, among several other orders of insects, who, after his graduation from Cornell, was employed by the United States Department of Agriculture until 1916, when he went to the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard. He authored more than 440 technical works, including the first comprehensive handbook of mites (acarina).

BREHM, ALFRED EDMUND (1829-84), was born in Thuringia, Germany, became a naturalist of some renown, and was for a time director of a zoo in Hamburg and an aquarium in Berlin. He is best known for editing the set of reference books on animals here named, first published in six volumes (1864-69), but then in the much more widely known and used ten volume edition first published 1876-79 (with many reprints and later editions to come). So popular was the work that characteristically the editor's name simply became a part of the title: Brehms Tierleben. Individual authors wrote the volume in their field of specialty.

BRUES, CHARLES THOMAS (1879-1955), received bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Texas at Austin (1901, 1902), but attained fame as an entomologist at Harvard University (1909-46). In 1915, with A. Melander, he published the definitive A Key to the Family of North American Insects. He edited the journal Psyche for many years and in 1929 be­ came president of the Entomological Society of America.

BUCKLEY, SAMUEL BOTSWORD (1809-84), was a New York-born geologist and naturalist, who after the Civil War moved to Texas and was the agricultural and scientific editor of the Austin State Gazette. He participated in a state geological survey, writing several reports (1866, 1874, 1876). Some contemporaries criticized his research as careless and claimed that he took false credit for some discoveries.

Canadian Entomology is the bimonthly scientific journal of the Entomological Society of Canada, published continuously since 1868.(Current office in Ottawa, Ontario.)

COCKERELL, THEODORE DRU ALISON (1866-1948), was an American zoologist born in England, who at the height of his career was a professor at the University of Colorado, with special expertise in the taxonomy of bees and scale insects. A remarkably prolific writer, he published descriptions of over 9,000 species and genera of insects alone.

COMSTOCK, JOHN HENRY (1849-1931), graduated from Cornell in 1874 and served as professor there beginning in 1882. Between 1879 and 1881 he became chief entomologist of the USDA in Washington. His two most prominent writings are Introduction to Entomology (1888, with the primary purpose of serving as a textbook) and A Manual for the Study of Insects ( 1895), both expertly illustrated by his wife, a fine artist and educator in her own right.

COUES, ELLIOTT (1842-1899), was a pioneer in the systematic study of ornithology in America, especially through his book, Key to North American Birds, first published in 1872, then revised and rewritten in 1884 and 1901. Actually, ornithology was not his exclusive or primary field of study. His early career was as a medical doctor in the army, before he began to serve as professor of anatomy at what is now George Washington University.

COULTER, JOHN MERLE (1851-1928), was at the height of his career a professor of botany at the University of Chicago. Especially during the 1880's, he wrote several definitive manuals on plant life of certain varieties or of certain areas. The phaenogamia and ciyptogamia to which this title refers are phylum names based on Greek words which distinguish "those which marry openly" from "those which marry in a hidden way," which is to say, plants with flowers (and seeds) and seedless plants which reproduce through spores: algae, lichens, mosses, and ferns.

CRAWFORD, J. C., was an entomologist who, in the first two decades of the twentieth century, was a frequent contributor to Canadian Entomologist (invariably on bees), and to the Proceedings of the United States National Museum and of the American Entomological Society of Washington (D.C.). He published an entire series of articles on NEW hymenoptera from 1907 to 1921.

CRESSON, EZRA TOWNSEND (1838-1926), wrote Hymenoptera Texana (published in 1872 by the American Entomological Society) after an earlier period (1859) of collecting in New Braunfels, Texas. (Heiligbrodt, see below, also contributed a small collection for study.) In addition to at least fifty papers, he also published several other books on hymenoptera, the insect group of which he had a significant collection.

Entomological News is the official journal of The American Entomological Society (headquartered in Philadelphia), published since 1890.

FOX, WILLIAM J ., was a man very prominent in the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and in the American Entomological Society, notably during the last decade of the nineteenth and first decade of the twentieth century. His writings display his expertise in the hymenoptera of North and South America. Because of the important role of this man in Birkmann's hobby, the writer counts it unfortunate not to have been able to find additional biographical information, not even through the organizations in which he was so prominent.

FRIESE, HEINRICH (1860-1948), was the son of an organ builder in Mecklenberg, Germany, who took academic degrees in several sciences, but whose research focus was entomology, particularly bees. His major publication was the six-volume Die Bienen Europas (1895-1901).

GEISER, SAMUEL WOOD (1890-1983), spent most of his four decades as an academician at Southern Methodist University (Dallas), where he came in 1924 after brief tenures elsewhere. The specialty of his doctoral studies (Johns Hopkins) and teaching was zoology, but his expertise extended to other scientific fields, as well as to classical literature, languages, and history. Writing biographical sketches about amateur and professional naturalists in the southwest was among his special contributions.

GOSSE, PHILIP HENRY (1810-1888), was an English-born naturalist who became one of the best known zoologists in Europe during the nineteenth century. A novelty in his life and career is that, after a time in Canada, he came to Alabama (1838) intending to collect shells, but actually agreed to serve as teacher of the children of plantation owners, a position he held for eight months. That stay led to his publication of Letters from Alabama (1859), a generally descriptive work of his experiences there, illustrated with engravings made from his own sketches and watercolors. He published his creationist views in his 1857 book Omphalus.

GRAY, ASA (1810-1888), was the man who in his time dominated American botany like no other. A professor at Harvard, his Manual of the Botany of the Northern United States (1867) became a standard as a field guide. Colleagues and biographers freely place him in the rank of scientists such as Charles Darwin, his contemporary and one with whom he corresponded.

HEILIGBRODT, LUDOLPH (1847-1911), as a young man employed as a clerk in a rural general store owned by Fedor Soder before Birkmann's time encountered the published works of Hermann Burmeister and determined to collect insects, which he did with remarkable success. He sent a collection to the agricultural museum of the USDA (1871), and during the same year to the Smithsonian Institution. Cresson's Hymenoptera Texana (1872) used his collection from Bastrop County, where he was a teacher for forty years. In 1883-84, his very extensive collection was in the Texas exhibit at the New Orleans Cotton Exposition.

HENSHAW, SAMUEL (1852-1941), contributed primarily to the field of economic entomology from his post as director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, 1912-27. That he was sixty when he came into this post corresponds with the fact that he was twenty-­nine when he first enrolled at Harvard as an undergraduate. His best-known publication is List of Coleoptern of North America North of Mexico (1885).

HOLLAND, W. J., gained fame through his publication of The Butterfly Book (1898) and The Moth Book (1904), both while he served as director of the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. Each is a book of about five hundred pages, featuring many colored plates. His "Key to the Families of North American Hetercera" in the latter book was especially well received as helpful to readers.

HOWARD, LELAND OSSIAN (1857-1950), was prominent among entomologists of his time, especially because of his experiments in the biological control of harmful insects. He headed the Bureau of Entomology of the USDA from 1894 to 1927. A prolific writer and editor, he wrote the well-received The Insect Book in 1901. Late in life (1935) he wrote an autobiography, Fighting the Insects.

Insect Life was a periodical edited by L. 0. Howard, described above, and published by the USDA from 1888 until it was discontinued in favor of a series of bulletins in 1895. For some years, this journal published the minutes of the meetings of the Entomological Society of Washington (D.C.). No further information found.

KLAGES, HENRY, is a name known on the internet as a resident of Pennsylvania, but not the man in question here.

LeCONTE, J. L., and G. H. HORN are credited during the course of their late-nineteenth-century careers with the identification of about a fourth of all presently known beetle species. In addition to other work together, they collaborated in 1883 in the writing of Classification of the Coleoptera of North America. Their collections are housed in the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard.

LINECUM, GIDEON (1793-1874), came to Texas in 1835, after living among Indians in his youth in Georgia and Mississippi, and settled near the Mexican border, where he served as a "doctor," though he had never studied medicine. From 1848 until his death, he lived on property he had purchased in Washington County near Yegua Creek. Somewhat eccentric in attitude and behavior, he became a self-taught naturalist, corresponding with the top names in science at the time. Though he ultimately specialized in beetles, he wrote about geology and a variety of other topics. His in-depth study of ants had no parallel at its time.

McCOOK, HENRY CHRISTOPHER, in the summer of 1876 studied agricultural ants at Barton Creek near Austin. Based on the experience, he wrote The Natural History of the Agricultural Ants of Texas in 1879.

MELANDER, AXEL LEONARD (1878-1962), accumulated an outstanding library on diptera (flies) and gathered about 250,000 specimens in his collection. After his studies at the University of Texas, he was engaged as a professor at Washington State University. He collaborated with Brues (see above) in publishing A Key to the Family of North American Insects in 1915, even though the two lived on opposite coasts at the time.

NASON, W. A., from Algonquin, Illinois, is remembered in his home state as one who has several collections of note included in the Natural History Survey of that state.

NEHRLING, HENRY (1853-1929), was both an ornithologist and horticulturist who, after a tenure as custodian of the Public Museum in Milwaukee, developed a famous garden in Gotha, Florida - one that attracted many prominent people as visitors - followed later by something similar in Naples, Florida. In 1891 he published Die Nordamerikanisch Vogelwelt (apparently usually referred to in English as North American Songbirds; why the work was published in German is unclear). Other significant writings, not in German, followed.

PACKARD, ALPHEUS SPRING (1839-1903), was professor at Brown University, Providence, RI, from 1878 to his death. His Guide to the Study of Insects, published in 1869, was already in its third edition by 1872.

Practical Entomologist, The, was the monthly bulletin of the Entomological Society of Philadelphia from 1865 forward.

Reptiles of the U.S. was apparently of a kind with the books by Holland and Howard (see above), also said to be a part of The Nature Series, but I found no specific information.

ROEMER, FERDINAND VON (1818-1891), was a German paleontologist who came to Texas (with a Ph. D. achieved at the age of twenty-four in hand) from 1845 to 1848 and then went to be a professor at German universities until his death, a career in which he published 350 works. The Cretaceous Formations of Texas and Their 0rganic Inclusions was published in Bonn in 1852.

ROHWER, SIEVERT ALLEN (1887-1951), was an American entomologist who specialized in wasps. Much of his career was in service to the US Department of Agriculture, where he was senior taxonomist for more than two decades. While in Washington, D.C., he was also for more than twenty years an officer of the Entomological Society of Washington. His significant collection is held by the Smithsonian Institution.

SASSURE, LOUIS de (1829-1905), was a Swiss entomologist who studied in France, wrote in French, and specialized in hymenoptera (wasps, ants, bees) and orthoptera (crickets, grass­hoppers). His first published paper, in 1852, was on solitary wasps, followed by the more comprehensive Synopsis of American Wasps in 1875, translated by Edward Norton.

SCHULZ, ELLEN DOROTHY (Mrs. Roy W. Quillin) (1892-1970), is fondly remembered in her home city of San Antonio as the one who gave civic leadership to the founding and then served as director of the Witte Museum in Brackenridge Park there from 1926 to 1960. This former high school teacher also served as a lecturer in natural history during many of her years at the museum. The named five-hundred-page book with its descriptive text and drawings was written in 1928.

SHERMAN, JOHN D., JR. (1872-1960), was an entomologist and dealer in entomological books from Mt. Vernon, NY. He was prominent in the New York Entomological Society and authored articles in their journal.

SINGLEY, JOHN ALLEN (1850-1908), was born in Pennsylvania, but moved to Texas in 1876 and to Giddings in 1884 (though he died in Mexico after leaving Giddings sometime in the early 1900's). He gathered and wrote reports on mollusks, snails, and birds both during and after his employment as assistant geologist for the Geological Survey of Texas from 1888 to 1894. (Birkmann must have known him and have gotten together with him occasionally during the two decades from 1884 forward.)

SNYDER, W. E., is named in a couple of books about local wildlife in Wisconsin, each describing him as a collector. Apparently, he had a bird collection available for study in 1921. One author expressed his skepticism about a Snyder report on the bat population in Beaver Dam. The man referenced by Birkmann was a Wisconsin naturalist, but specifics are not available. "Snyder" appears in the name of several current Beaver Dam businesses, perhaps descendants of this ingrate.

STUDER, JACOB HENRY (1840-1904), in 1881 published Popular Ornithology: The Birds of North America in two volumes (probably the book to which reference is made), presenting over seven hundred varieties of birds with high-quality color prints of paintings by Theodore Jasper.

SWENK, MYRON HARMON (1883-1941), was, from 1907 until he died, in the department of entomology at the University of Nebraska, and for twenty-two years the chairman of the department. His life's work was devoted in large part to the attempt to control insect enemies in the fields and orchards of his home state, but as a taxonomist of note he was interested primarily in bees. Ornithology was another interest and field of expertise.

TASCHENBERG, ERNST L. (1818-1898), at the peak of his career directed a zoological museum in Halle (Germany), where his son was his co-worker for twenty years, then his successor.

TYSON, PHILIP THOMAS (1799-1877), at the height of his career served as Maryland's state geologist and president of the Maryland Academy of Sciences. In 1849 he participated in a geological survey of California. Near the end of his life, his fossil collections were highly sought after by universities and museums. I found no information about his writings.

VIERECK, HENRY LORENZ (1881-1931), was a specialist in hymenoptera (ninety-two published papers), whose career was spent mostly in the Upper Atlantic states working for government agencies. His first determination to become a physician was never realized. He apparently had the temperament of a restive man, for he went with great frequency from position to position, state to state, even country to country, always chafing under any requirements or regulations imposed on him. His specialty among bees was the amdromidae. He never completed his intended monograph on the Andrena because of his untimely death, killed by a hit-and-run driver while collecting.

WHEELER, WILLIAM MORTON (1865-1937), was a highly productive taxonomist of whom a biographer said that he had an "endless list" of friends and associates. He blames consistently bad behavior in his youth in public school as the reason his parents sent him to the German-English Academy in Milwaukee, the hometown of his family. After earning his doctorate, he taught zoology at the University of Chicago (1892-99), then chaired the department of zoology at the University of Texas at Austin (1903-08). But the bulk of his career (1908-37) was at Harvard University, where typically he was identified as an entomologist. His 1928 book (among 467 titles), The Social Insects: Their Origin and Evolution, confirmed that he had become a leading authority on the behavior of social insects, notably ants.

WOOD, ALPHONSO A. M. (1810-1881), wrote the early standard work on botany, Class Book of Botany, first published in 1845 as a text for his students enrolled in that subject, but then published for sale at large in an 1861 edition of about one thousand pages of descriptive text and drawings, along with many subsequent editions.

YOUMANS, ELIZA ANN (1826-?), wrote a sequence of texts on botany, The First Book of Botany (1870, and to some extent intended for children), The Second Book of Botany (1873, and somewhat more thorough), and finally, incorporating these earlier works, A Practical Guide to the Classification of Plants (1885, and intended for more serious collectors), among other works. Her books have the advantage of being copiously illustrated.

No comments

(optional field)
(optional field)

Comment moderation is enabled on this site. This means that your comment will not be visible until it has been approved by an editor.

Remember personal info?
Small print: All html tags except <b> and <i> will be removed from your comment. You can make links by just typing the url or mail-address.