Saturday, June 24, 2017

Botany - Early New York Botanist Jane Colden Farquher 1724-66

A Proper Female Pursuit for "the fair daughters of Columbia" in a Patriarchal Society

Early botanist Jane Colden Farquher (1724-66) came from a traditional patriarchal family. Her physician father Cadwallader Colden (1688-1776) sailed to New York in 1710, He was Lt. Governor of New York from 1761 until his death & served as Surveyor General for New York. His scientific curiosity included a personal correspondence between 1749-1751 with Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778).

1748-52 John Wollaston (American colonial era painter, 1710-1775) Cadwallader Colden

Colden thought women should study botany because of "their natural curiosity & the pleasure they take in the beauty and variety of dress seems to fit them for it."  Moreover, he viewed such study as an ideal substitute for idleness among his female children, when he moved his family to the country in 1729.


He believed gardening & botany "an Amusement which may be made agreable for the Ladies who are often at a loss to fill their time."  He went so far as to recommend that perhaps from Jane's example "young ladies in a like situation may find an agreable way to fill up some part Of their time which otherwise might be heavy on their hand May amuse & please themselves & at the same time be usefull to others."


A letter of 1755 from Colden to Dutch botanist Jan Gronovius (1666-1762)
 "I have a daughter who has an inclination to reading and a curiosity for natural philosophy or natural History and a sufficient capacity for attaining a competent knowledge. I took the pains to explain to her Linnaeus' system and to put it in English for her to use by freeing it from the Technical Terms which was easily done by using two or three words in place of one. She is now grown very fond of the study and has made such progress in it as I believe would please you if you saw her performance. Tho' perhaps she could not have been persuaded to learn the terms at first she now understands to some degree Linnaeus' characters notwithstanding that she does not understand Latin."

Jane Colden far surpassed her father's amusement theory. She was the first scientist to describe the gardenia. Although she had to read the works of Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) in translation, she mastered the Linnaean system of plant classification perfectly. She catalogued, described, and sketched at least 400 plants. She actively collected seeds & specimens of New World flora & exchanged them with others on both sides of the Atlantic.

The South Carolina scientist Dr. Alexander Garden (1730-1791) wrote in a letter to John Ellis in 1755, that Jane Colden “is greatly master of the Linnaean method, and cultivates it with assiduity.”  

Peter Collinson (1694-1768) wrote about her to American plant collector John Bartram: "Our friend Colden's daughter has a scientifical manner. Sent over several sheets of plants very curiously anatomised after [Linnaeus'] Method. I believe she is the first Lady that has attempted any thing of this nature."  Collinson reported to Carolus Linnaeus, "Your system, I can tell you obtains much in America. Mr. Clayton and Dr. Colden at Albany of Hudson's River in New York are complete Professors....Even Dr. Colden's daughter was an enthusiast."   He later wrote to Linnaeus, that  Jane Colden “is perhaps the first lady that has so perfectly studied your system. She deserves to be celebrated.”  


Carolus Linnaeus also knew of her work.  He corresponded directly with her father; and in a 1758, letter to British naturalist John Ellis (1711-1778) tells Linnaeus that he will let Jane know "what civil things you say of her."  The only plant bearing the Colden’s surname is Coldenia, so named by Linnaeus, in reference to a relative of the Borage and Comfrey plants Coldenia procumbens.  Her work on plant classification was in a Scottish scientific journal in 1770, four years after her death.

Botany, Philadelphia, & The Poinsettia

America's First Poinsettia: Poinsettia's first public display was in 1829 at the PHS Flower Show - by Joel T. Fry - 12/12/2011


"It is a little known fact that the poinsettia was introduced to the gardening world from the Bartram Botanic Garden in 1829. This international symbol of winter cheer was first successfully grown outside its Mexican homeland by Robert and Ann Bartram Carr at the Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia.

"The plant now known as poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, is native to the pacific coast of Mexico and has an ancient history of human use. It was almost certainly seen by early European explorers and colonists, but somehow never entered cultivation in Europe. It was re-discovered or at least brought to the attention of the outside world in the 1820s by an American, Joel Roberts Poinsett (1778-1851).

"Poinsett, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, held various diplomatic and political positions through his life, but always continued a strong interest in natural science and horticulture. He first served as a special envoy to Mexico in 1822-1823, and when the new Mexican Republic was recognized in 1824, Poinsett was first U. S. Minister Plenipotentiary. He resided in Mexico from 1825 to early 1830. During this period, perhaps in the winter of 1827-1828 Poinsett encountered the unnamed plant that now bears his name.

"As part of his mission to expand cooperation between the two countries, Poinsett shipped plants and seeds between Mexico and the United States. At present there is evidence that four different collections of seeds and plants were sent from Mexico to Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia in the period 1828-1829. Poinsett was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia in early 1827, and this seems to have cemented his connection with the Philadelphia scientific community and with Bartram’s Garden .In early 1828, William Maclure, a longtime friend of Poinsett, and Thomas Say, a Bartram nephew, travelled to Mexico, visiting Vera Cruz and Mexico City. William Keating, a geologist from the University of Pennsylvania also traveled to Mexico in 1828 to prospect for American mining interests. Poinsett, Maclure, Say, and Keating all arranged for Mexican seeds of plants to be sent to Bartram’s Garden.

"Thomas Say sent over a hundred varieties of seeds from Mexico, “of my own collecting” in a letter to Robert Carr dated July 23, 1828. This list is in large part made up of fruits and vegetables offered in the markets in Mexico, but some trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants from the wild were included, notably several forms of cactus. William Maclure returned briefly to Philadelphia in the fall of 1828, and he brought yet more Mexican seeds and plants with him. This is the most likely route for plants of the poinsettia to Bartram’s Garden.

"Robert Buist, a Philadelphia nurseryman, remembered seeing the first poinsettia roots unpacked at Bartram’s Garden in 1828: “On my arrival in this country from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, in 1828, I paid a visit to the famed “Bartram Botanic Garden,” and there saw two cases of plants which had just arrived from Mexico. Among the contents were the stumps of a strange-looking Euphorbia, which, after a few months’ growth, showed some very brilliant crimson bracts.” (The young Buist soon built a very successful career on the new scarlet plant, and as a result he was credited with the introduction of the poinsettia to Europe in 1834.)

"The paper trail of the poinsettia next appears at “The first semi-annual Exhibition of fruits, flowers and plants, of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society,” held June 6, 1829. This was the first public show of the PHS, a tradition continued today as the Philadelphia Flower Show. One of the noteworthy exhibits was “A new Euphorbia with bright scarlet bracteas or floral leaves, presented to the Bartram collection by Mr. Poinsett, United States Minister to Mexico.” There can be no doubt that this was the poinsettia, now known as Euphorbia pulcherrima. The plant on display, apparently the original sent from Mexico, was still colorful in early June. And while we now take for granted the connection of poinsettias and Christmas, it would take a while for nurserymen to reliably flower the new scarlet plant in time for the early winter holidays.

"A year later, in July 1830 a committee of the PHS, “For visiting the Nurseries and Gardens in the vicinity of Philadelphia,” made particular note of the “Euphorbia heterophylla, with its large scarlet flowers,” as well as “some curious species of Cactus, lately received from Mexico” at the Bartram Botanic Garden. At this early stage, the appropriate scientific name for the poinsettia was still in doubt. Poinsettia resembled a known North American native, Euphorbia heterophylla and so for a time it was referred to under that name. Philadelphia nurserymen also used the name “Poinsett’s euphorbia” and around 1832, Robert Buist began using “Euphorbia poinsettia” for the new plant. Between 1833 and 1836 the poinsettia went through a rapid series of scientific names as it was described and published in the US and Europe—first Pleuradena coccinea, then Poinsettia pulcherima, and finally Euphorbia pulcherima. (Although there is still some debate whether some North American Euphorbia species should be split off into a new genus Poinsettia.)

"In the summer of 1833, the botanist Constantine Rafinesque published the first scientific description of the poinsettia in Philadelphia, for his Atlantic Journal. Rafinesque recorded the brief history of the plant in Philadelphia to date: “The Botanical Garden of Bartram received some years ago from Mr. Poinsett our ambassador in Mexico, a fine new green-house shrub, akin to Euphorbia, with splendid scarlet blossoms, or rather bracts. It has since been spread in our gardens near Philadelphia, and is know in some as the Euphorbia Poinseti; but appears to me to form a peculiar genus or S. G. at least”

"In the early 1830s Robert Buist began sending plants or cuttings of poinsettia to Europe, and particularly to his friend James McNab at the Edinburgh Botanic Garden. Buist had trained at the Edinburgh garden, and he returned to Scotland in 1831 to acquire stock for his new nursery business. James McNab also visited Philadelphia, and Bartram’s Garden in the summer of 1834, and probably took the first successful poinsettia plants back with him to Edinburgh in the fall.

"The poinsettia flowered in Edinburgh for the first time in the spring of 1835, but imperfectly. When it flowered again in 1836 it was drawn for Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. The new euphorbia was re-named Poinsettia pulcherrima by Robert C. Graham, Regius Professor of Botany at Edinburgh, in an article prepared both for Curtis’s and the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal. The modern common name “poinsettia” arose from Graham’s description, and as the plant spread rapidly in cultivation in the UK and Europe it was known under the name poinsettia. Unfortunately for history, Graham relied on Buist’s own incorrect account of the introduction of the plant, and omitted any mention of the Carrs or Bartram’s Garden. (Graham’s new genus Poinsettia has since been returned to Euphorbia.)

"It has long been the story that Poinsett personally introduced the poinsettia first to Charleston, bringing the plant on his return from Mexico, and from there it was discovered or sent to the Carrs in Philadelphia. This is impossible for the poinsettia was shown to the Philadelphia public in June of 1829, over six months before Poinsett returned from Mexico. All available evidence suggests that the poinsettia was first sent to the Bartram Garden in Philadelphia in the fall of 1828. The successful transport of live plants from Mexico to Philadelphia in 1828 was almost certainly due to the fact that a number of friends of Bartram’s Garden were on the scene in Mexico. After the new scarlet euphorbia was introduced to the public in 1829, the plant was widely propagated, and became a popular mainstay of the Philadelphia florist trade. The young gardener, Robert Buist, returned to Europe in 1831 and found the scarlet flower was unknown. Buist was a great popularizer of the new plant, but has undeservedly received major credit for its introduction. When Poinsett began to grow his namesake plant in Charleston after his return, it probably returned to him via the Philadelphia nursery community."

 A little more to the tale...

Poinsettia plants are native to Central America, especially an area of southern Mexico known as 'Taxco del Alarcon,' where they flower during the winter. The ancient Aztecs called them 'cuetlaxochitl'. The Aztecs had many uses for them including using the flowers (actually special types of bright leaves known as bracts rather than flowers) to make a purple dye for clothes & cosmetics The milky white sap, latex, was made into a medicine to treat fevers. 

Poinsettias were cultivated by the Aztecs of Mexico long before the introduction of Christianity to the Western Hemisphere. These plants were highly prized by Kings Netzahualcyotl & Montezuma, but because of climatic restrictions could not be grown in their capital, which is now Mexico City.

Perhaps the 1st religious connotations were placed on poinsettias during the 17C. Because of its brilliant & convenient holiday blooming time, Franciscan priests, near Taxco, began to use the flower in the Fiesta of Santa Pesebre, a nativity procession.  The poinsettia may have remained a regional plant for many years to come had it not been for the efforts of Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779 – 1851). The son of a French physician, Poinsett was appointed as the first United States Ambassador to Mexico (1825-1829) by President James Madison. Poinsett had attended medical school himself, but was a dedicated, almost obsessive botany-lover.

A German botanist, Wilenow, named it Euphorbia pulcherrima (most beautiful) in 1833, the correct scientific name to this day.  The common name we use today was believed to have been coined around 1836.  Philadelphia nurseryman Robert Buist 1st sold the plant as Euphorbia poinsettia, although a German botanist had already given the plant the botanical name Euphorbia pulcherima.

The Poinsettias native to southern Mexico & Mesoamerica, unlike today’s commercial cultivars, grow into straight & tall trees. Often these trees can reach heights up to 10 feet tall. Through selection & breeding by growers, many cultivars have been developed in the United States & Europe. 

After its introduction in Philadelphia, the poinsettia was shipped around the country during the 1800's, usually as an outdoor plant for warm climates.  Around 1920 in southern California, a horticulturist named Paul Ecke became the next key person to promote the poinsettia.  He felt this shrub growing wild along roadsides would make a perfect Christmas flower, so set about producing these in fields in what is now Hollywood.  A few years later, due to the commercial & arts development in Hollywood, he was forced to move south to Encinitas where the Paul Ecke Ranch continues to produce poinsettias today.  Through the marketing efforts of Paul Ecke and his sons, the poinsettia has become symbolic with Christmas in the United States.  An Act of Congress has even set December 12, the death of Joel Poinsett, as National Poinsettia Day to commemorate a man and his plant.

Notes: Joel T. Fry  (B.A., Anthropology, Univ. of Penn. M.A., American Civ./Historical Archaeology, Univ. of Penn.) has served as curator for Bartram’s Garden, the home of John and William Bartram in Philadelphia, from 1992. (Bartram’s Garden, 54th Street & Lindbergh Blvd., Philadelphia, PA 19143)  

Some other publications include: 
“America’s ‘Ancient Garden’: The Bartram Botanic Garden, 1728-1850” in Amy R. W. Meyers, ed., Knowing Nature: Art and Science in Philadelphia, 1740-1840. Yale University Press, New Haven, 2011;

“William Bartram’s ‘Commonplace Book’ and ‘On Gardening’ in the volume, William Bartram, The Search for Nature’s Design: Selected Art, Letters, and Unpublished Writings. Thomas Hallock, and Nancy E. Hoffmann, eds., University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA, 2010;

“William Bartram’s Oenothera grandiflora: ‘The Most Pompous and Brilliant Herbaceous Plant yet Known to Exist,’” in Fields of Vision: Essays on the Travels of William Bartram, Kathryn E. Holland Braund and Charlotte M. Porter, eds. The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa, 2010; 

“Historic American Landscapes Survey, John Bartram House and Garden (Bartram’s Garden), HALS No. PA-1, History Report,” U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Washington, DC, 2004.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Botany - A Proper Female Pursuit for "the fair daughters of Columbia" in a British American Patriarchal Society

Early British American colonial botanist Jane Colden Farquher (1724-66) came from a traditional patriarchal family. Her physician father Cadwallader Colden (1688-1776) sailed to New York in 1710, He was Lt. Governor of New York from 1761, until his death & served as Surveyor General for New York. His scientific curiosity included a personal correspondence between 1749-1751 with Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778).
1748-52 John Wollaston (American colonial era painter, 1710-1775) Cadwallader Colden
Colden thought women should study botany because of "their natural curiosity & the pleasure they take in the beauty and variety of dress seems to fit them for it."  Moreover, he viewed such study as an ideal substitute for idleness among his female children, when he moved his family to the country in 1729. He believed gardening & botany "an Amusement which may be made agreable for the Ladies who are often at a loss to fill their time."  He went so far as to recommend that perhaps from Jane's example "young ladies in a like situation may find an agreable way to fill up some part Of their time which otherwise might be heavy on their hand May amuse & please themselves & at the same time be usefull to others."  Jane Colden far surpassed her father's amusement theory. 
The Fair Florist. British Museum

In South Carolina, Eliza Pinckney (1722-1793), who was responsible for profitably changing the economy of South Carolina by introducing indigo agriculture, wrote in 1760, “I love a garden & a book; & they are all my amusement.”

The Rev. Mr. John Bennet (1714–1759), a Methodist English clergyman interested in the appropriate behavior (especially the conduct of women) for a moral society whose 1803 Letters to a young lady...calculated to improve the heart, to form the manners and to enlighten the understanding circulated throughout Great Britain & the United States, wrote"Attention to a garden is A truly feminine amusement. If you mix it with a taste for botany, and a knowledge of plants and flowers, you will never be in want of an excellent restorative."


Irish immigrant gardener, seed dealer, & writer Bernard M'Mahon (1775-1816), noted nearly the exact sentiments as father Colden in his 1806 Phildadelphia book The American Gardener's Calendar"The innocent, healthful, and pleasing amusement that Botanical studies might afford to the fair daughters of Columbia, who have leisure time to devote to such, is also a very important object, as in that way, many happy and enchanting hours might be delightfully spent to useful and salubrious purposes, which othecwise would hang heavily or be trifled away perhaps to disadvantage."


Rosalie Stier Calvert (1778–1821), who lived near Washington D. C. just when it was becoming both a political & social capital, thought women should hold themselves above an discussion of politics, especially during the mud-slinging surrounding Thomas Jefferson's personal life & loves. She called gardening her “greatest diversion.”

1804 Gilbert Stuart (American artist, 1755-1828) Rosalie Stier Calvert and their eldest daughter Carolina Maria  In 1807, she observed, "I see so many women making themselves ridiculous by discussing politics at random without understanding the subject that I am disgusted with all controversy except about flowers! Their culture absorbs me more every day, for as I go out rarely, it is my chief amusement."

Botany - Why should Ladies study Botany and Gardening in the 19C?

Published by Sayer and Bennett 1782 London

Seedsman Grant Thorburn (1773-1863) gave space in his 1832 seed catalog to an idea often touted in garden literature of the early 1800’s - the encouragement of botany and gardening as a desirable & suitable occupation for ladies. It was considered proper, if a woman could afford it, to stay at home. To occupy her time with botany and gardening was thought to be an edifying activity that would improve the health, well-being, & perhaps even the temperance of her family members by providing a beautiful and cultivated home, that would be preferable to a tavern. 
Thorburn provided instructions for making herbaria, with the remark that this would be a better use of ladies’ time than compiling sentimental scrapbooks. All the same, the last 4 pages of the Thorburn 1832 catalog translate the language of flowers, with which ladies could convey secret messages in their bouquets. Pressing flowers, flower drawing & botany infused with sentiment were popular hobbies of 19C middle-class ladies, & the catalog clearly addressed this market.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Botany - From Southern Belle to Socialist Botanist - Eliza Frances Andrews 1840-1931

Eliza Frances Andrews 1840-1931
What would turn a fashion-loving, privileged Southern Belle into a Socialist botany geek?  From her birth in 1840 to her death in 1931, the world she had known turned upside down.  Eliza Frances Andrews (1840-1931), was born at Haywood, her parents' plantation near Washington, Georgia, a thriving planting community in the northeastern part of the state.  She had the history to guarantee her a firm position in the highest social circles of the Old South. The 2nd daughter & 6th of 8 children of Garnett & Annulet (Ball) Andrews, she was descended from James Andrews, an Englishman who had settled in Virginia about 1670. Her father, a prominent lawyer & jurist, encouraged his children's literary & academic interests.  Fanny, as she was known, attended the Washington Seminary for Girls & in 1857 received an A.B. degree as a member of the 1st graduating class at the La Grange (Ga.) Female College.

Strong-willed, determined, & sophisticated, Fanny Andrews possessed a freedom & self-assuredness unusual for a woman of her time. But soon, the Civil War exploded & was easily the central event of her life.  Garnett Andrews, though himself the owner of 200 slaves, was a Unionist who deplored & worked against secession, while all his children were ardent Confederates, 3 sons serving in the Southern armies.  Their home was not directly in the battle area, but late in 1864, after General Sherman's "March to the Sea," Fanny & her younger sister were sent for safety to a brother-in-law's plantation near Albany, in southwest Georgia. 
Haywood House & Plantation, erected in 1794-95 by Judge Garnett Andrews, from a photograph taken in 1892, after 20 years of neglect & decay, just before it was torn down to make way for a roadway.

Petite, lively, auburn-haired, & not noticebly inhibited by her traditional Episcopal religion, Fanny Andrews here enjoyed frequent parties, dances, & flirtations.  She also bitterly recorded in a diary her reactions to the fall of the Confederacy & the beginning of Reconstruction.  In 1865, once more at Haywood, she vowed never to marry but to pursue "the career I have marked out or myself." She would become a writer. 

In July 1866, Godey's Lady's Book published her views on the difficulties of remaining fashionable in wartime; here, as later, she wrote under the pseudonym "Elzey Hay."  In 1865, Andrews published an article in the New York World about the theft of gold & jewelry that was stolen along with Confederate gold from a wagon convoy in Georgia, purportedly a Northern officer's lament over the evils of Reconstruction. 

In the 1870s, she wrote about Eli Whitney & his invention of the cotton gin, giving credit to Catharine Greene for helping Whitney to refine his gin design. It would be a long time before historians acknowledged Greene's role in Whitney's accomplishment.

But as life resumed a semblance of normality with the Civil War & Reconstruction fading into the background. her interests in authorship, not a particularly trade, seemed to fade, & for some years she resumed her privileged life at home.  In 1873, however, her father's death & the loss of his estate through the speculations of a "trusted" adviser brought her to the verge of poverty.
Eliza Frances Andrews 1840-1931
The secession & the Civil War destroyed the Southern family's aristocratic way of life. Andrews's mother & father died within 8 years after the South's defeat. Fanny Andrews & her siblings were forced to sell the family home & plantations.

Confronted at the age 33 with the problem of day-to-day survival, Fanny Andrews initially turned to school-teaching.  For one year, 1873-74, she attempted to serve as principal of the Girls' High School in Yazoo City, Miss., where a brother was practicing law. Working under a Negro superintendent of education, she seemed to experience the painful alteration in status common to many of her class throughout the South at this time.  Returning to Washington in 1874, Fanny opened the Select School for Girls with a cousin. In 1885, after 3 years of illness, she joined the faculty of the Wesleyan Female College at Macon, teaching literature & French & working in the library. 

Circumstances had likewise renewed her interest in writing, & throughout these years she appeared frequently in print, under both her own & her pen name.  During this time she also began work on her 1st novel, A Family Secret, a fictionalized account of her wartime journal. It was published in 1876 to much critical acclaim & enjoyed a wide readership. A Family Secret, published in Philadelphia by J. B. Lippincott & Company, was said to have been that firm's most successful offering for 1876. Two other novels followed: A Mere Adventurer in 1879 and Prince Hal: or The Romance of a Rich Young Man in 1882. 

Though romantically nostalgic, these novels revealed Fanny Andrews' abiding disdain for what she saw as the vulgar postwar plutocracy & her resentment of the limited sphere of action prescribed for women. She never seemed to rid herself of the bitterness felt when her antebellum lifestyle was lost & seemed to hold both greedy Yankee capitalists & African Americans responsible. She also published serial stories in various periodicals & briefly attempted lecturing on the Tennessee Chautauqua circuit.

Fanny Andrews' most memorable literary work, however, was her actual personal diary she had begun in December 1864 & which she continued during the remainder of the war & the months immediately following.  Forth years later she decided to publish it. The War-Time Journal of a Georgia Girl, issued in 1908, is a revealing record of experiences both major & trivial.  It has been compared by some historians with the diary of Mary Boykin Chestnut, & cited as offering "unexcelled" insight into "the minds & sentiments of many Southern women during wartime & early Reconstruction."

By 1900, Fanny returned again to Washington & began teaching in Washington's public high school Science. Turning serious attention to one of her lifelong interests, botany, she spent a summer immersed in research at Johns Hopkins University.  In 1903 her 1st textbook, Botany All the Year Round, was published. It was a simple, practical book especially useful in rural schools which seldom had laboratories or supplies. From 1898 to 1903 she taught botany in Washington's public high school.

Fanny Andrews had never been fully satisfied with merely sentimental or nostalgic justifications of the Civil War. Discussions with her Unionist father had forced her to seek a rational basis for her Confederate sympathies, & by the time she published her War-Time Journal she had found this, surprisingly, in Marxist socialism.  Economic determinism seemed to offer not only scientific confirmation of the Southern belief, that the moralistic Yankee crusade had masked economic purposes, but also the bittersweet knowledge that the rebellion had been "doomed from the first by a law as inexorable as the one pronounced by the fates against Troy." She also found satisfaction in the thought that although "wage slavery" had vanquished outmoded chattel slavery in 1865, the Yankee capitalists, in their turn, were soon to fall before socialism, her vision of the next evolutionary stage.  From 1899 to 1918 she listed herself in Who's Who in America as a Socialist, & she contributed at least one article to the International Socialist Review "Socialism in the Plant World," July 1916.
Eliza Frances Andrews 1840-1931
After her retirement from teaching, Fanny Andrews spent much of her time pursuing the study of botany, in which she had become interested as a young girl. Andrews became a strong proponent of conservation, writing articles to rail against turpentine distillers & developers for destroying woodlands.  She  was largely self-taught but ultimately achieved considerable competence in this area & produced 2 textbooks. Long an advocate of making botany a basic part of school curricula, she published high school textbooks, Botany All the Year Around, in 1903 &A Practical Course in Botany (1911).  

In 1911 Fanny’s 2nd, more advanced textbook was published. A culmination of 6 years of study in Alabama, the text was aimed at high school & college students.  She collected more than 3,000 plant specimens during summer travels throughout the American West, Mexico, & Europe. Having spent time at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute editing the text & working with other botanists, Fanny donated more than 3,000 plant specimens she had collected to the Alabama Department of Agriculture. Her 2nd textbook was translated for use in the schools of France.  She continued to write, mainly on botany, throughout the last years of her life in Rome, Ga.

The “Remarkable Behavior of a Veteran White Oak” was published in 1926. The royalties from her textbooks provided her with a comfortable income during her later years. In 1926, she was invited to become a member of the International Academy of Literature & Science, the only American woman so honored.

Dying in 1931 at the age of 90, she was buried in the family plot in Rest Haven Cemetery, Washington, Ga. "The exigencies of the times did away with many conventions," Fanny Andrews had written in 1908 of the impact of the Civil War upon Southern women (War-Time Journal, p. 21). Certainly its unsettled aftermath had opened the way for her own productive career.

See:
Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971
Georgia Women of Achievement  - Eliza Frances Andrews 1840-1931 
New Georgia Encyclopedia - Eliza Frances Andrews 1840-1931 

Monday, June 19, 2017

1898 The Conrad & Jones Co New Floral Guide from West Grove, PA

1898 The Conrad & Jones Co New Floral Guide from West Grove, PA
Alfred Fellenberg Conard (1835-1906) of West Grove, Pennsylvania–was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1835.  He descended from German Quakers who were part of William Penn’s Colony in 1683. He worked on his father’s farm and learned the nursery business from Thomas M. Harvey.  Conard formed the firm of Conard & Brother, but some time after 1862 he started a nursery business with Charles Dingee under the name Dingee & Conard. The business had 2 greenhouses, and the establishment was known as the Harmony Grove Nursery.  About 1867, the firm started propagating roses under a new system introduced by Antoine Wintzer.  Conard conceived the idea of disposing of their rose stock through the mail. Their first catalog offered bedding plants, shrubbery, bulbs, seeds, and roses. About 1892, Conard separated from Dingee and along with Antoine Wintzer joined with S. Morris Jones in 1897, to become Conard & Jones Co. The new company continued with the growing and distribution of roses and flowering plants. As another specialty, they worked on the improvement of the canna. Conard died on December 15, 1906.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Botany - Lucy Sheldon Beach 1788-1889 - Both Science & traditional Ornamental Studies in her Education

Lucy Sheldon Beach 1788-1889  by Anson Dickinson (1779-1852) 1831

Lucy Sheldon Beach, daughter of Daniel & Huldah Stone Sheldon of Litchfield, Connecticut, was born June 27, 1788. From 1801 until 1803, Lucy was educated at the Litchfield Female Academy. In 1832 she married Theron Beach (1785-1864), a physician, as his 2nd wife. None of their children survived. At some point in the mid-1800s, Elizbeth Prince Child, Lucy's first cousin once removed (Elizabeth was the granddaughter of Lucy's aunt Dothe Stone Cutler (1756-1805), moved in with her. She inherited her father's house on North Street (now called the Sheldon House) living there for her entire adult life. Lucy passed away on April 7, 1889 at the age of 100 years.
Lucy Sheldon Beach 1875

At the Litchfield Academy, founder Sarah Pierce experimented with innovative ways to unite the academic & ornamental subjects for girls. Botany & natural history lessons often were illustrated with watercolor drawings. Students drew & painted maps & made charts of historical events to reinforce geography & history lessons.  Students also illustrated poetry, literature, & mythological & biblical readings with elaborate embroideries & detailed watercolor paintings often emphsising garden & landscape design components. 

Although primarily interested in a strong academic curriculum, Sarah Pierce knew that teaching the ornamental subjects was critical to the success of her school. In the 18C, most wealthy parents were willing to invest in a son’s education, because it increased his chances of pursuing a profitable career. For young women the ability of their families to pay the high cost of an education became a symbol of wealth. The scientifically accurate plus decorative paintings & needlework made by the girls at female academies were hung in formal parlors as proof of family prosperity. Learning dancing, music, foreign languages, art & other ornamental subjects was also important for those students who wanted to become teachers or start their own academies, as no school for young women would be successful without them.
Hop Picking by Litchfield Student Lucy Sheldon Beach
Litchfield Student Rebecca Couch Mrs James C. Denison 1788-1863 Connecticut House
Litchfield Student Rebecca Couch Mrs James C. Denison 1788-1863  Flora 1803 Copying English prints gave the school's young girls an opportunity to explore a range of lifestyles.
The Sailor Boy by Litchfield Student Lucy Sheldon Beach
Litchfield Student Orra Sophronia Sears Mrs. Edwin Cooke (1798-1872) View of Earl of Burlington's House at Chiswick 1816
See:
"Beach, Lucy Sheldon (Mrs. Theron) 1802-1803 Journal" (Archives, Litchfield Historical Society).
1802 Litchfield Female Academy Catalog 
(Vanderpoel, Emily Noyes. Chronicles of A Pioneer School From 1792 To 1833. Cambridge, MA: The University Press, 1903).

Friday, June 16, 2017

Early American Botanist Jane Colden Farquher (1724-66)

A Proper Female Pursuit in an 18C Patriarchal Society

Early botanist Jane Colden Farquher (1724-66) came from a traditional patriarchal family. Her physician father Cadwallader Colden (1688-1776) sailed to New York in 1710, He was Lt. Governor of New York from 1761 until his death & served as Surveyor General for New York. His scientific curiosity included a personal correspondence between 1749-1751 with Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778).
1748-52 John Wollaston (American colonial era painter, 1710-1775) Cadwallader Colden

Colden thought women should study botany because of "their natural curiosity & the pleasure they take in the beauty and variety of dress seems to fit them for it."  Moreover, he viewed such study as an ideal substitute for idleness among his female children, when he moved his family to the country in 1729. 
He believed gardening & botany "an Amusement which may be made agreable for the Ladies who are often at a loss to fill their time."  He went so far as to recommend that perhaps from Jane's example "young ladies in a like situation may find an agreable way to fill up some part Of their time which otherwise might be heavy on their hand May amuse & please themselves & at the same time be usefull to others." A letter of 1755 from Colden to Dutch botanist Jan Gronovius (1666-1762) "I have a daughter who has an inclination to reading and a curiosity for natural philosophy or natural History and a sufficient capacity for attaining a competent knowledge. I took the pains to explain to her Linnaeus' system and to put it in English for her to use by freeing it from the Technical Terms which was easily done by using two or three words in place of one. She is now grown very fond of the study and has made such progress in it as I believe would please you if you saw her performance. Tho' perhaps she could not have been persuaded to learn the terms at first she now understands to some degree Linnaeus' characters notwithstanding that she does not understand Latin."

Jane Colden far surpassed her father's amusement theory. She was the first scientist to describe the gardenia. Although she had to read the works of Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) in translation, she mastered the Linnaean system of plant classification perfectly. She catalogued, described, and sketched at least 400 plants. She actively collected seeds & specimens of New World flora & exchanged them with others on both sides of the Atlantic.The South Carolina scientist Dr. Alexander Garden (1730-1791) wrote in a letter to John Ellis in 1755, that Jane Colden “is greatly master of the Linnaean method, and cultivates it with assiduity.”  

Peter Collinson (1694-1768) wrote about her to American plant collector John Bartram: "Our friend Colden's daughter has a scientifical manner. Sent over several sheets of plants very curiously anatomised after [Linnaeus'] Method. I believe she is the first Lady that has attempted any thing of this nature."  Collinson reported to Carolus Linnaeus, "Your system, I can tell you obtains much in America. Mr. Clayton and Dr. Colden at Albany of Hudson's River in New York are complete Professors....Even Dr. Colden's daughter was an enthusiast."   He later wrote to Linnaeus, that  Jane Colden “is perhaps the first lady that has so perfectly studied your system. She deserves to be celebrated.”  


Carolus Linnaeus also knew of her work.  He corresponded directly with her father; and in a 1758, letter to British naturalist John Ellis (1711-1778) tells Linnaeus that he will let Jane know "what civil things you say of her."  The only plant bearing the Colden’s surname is Coldenia, so named by Linnaeus, in reference to a relative of the Borage and Comfrey plants Coldenia procumbens.  Her work on plant classification was in a Scottish scientific journal in 1770, four years after her death.