|SKETCH OF WILLIAM STARLING SULLIVANT.|
"IN him we lose the most accomplished bryologist which this country has produced, and it can hardly be said that he leaves behind anywhere a superior." This is high praise, and its value is enhanced by its coming from Prof. Asa Gray, who certainly knew whereof he spoke.
William Starling Sullivant was born January 15, 1803, at the little village of Franklinton, then a frontier settlement in the midst of primitive forest, near the site of the present city of Columbus. He was the eldest of the four children of Lucas Sullivant, a Virginian, and Sarah (Starling), his wife. His father had been commissioned by the Government to survey a district in the Northwestern Territory lying in the center of what is now the State of Ohio, where he early purchased a large tract of land, bordering on the Scioto River, and near by, if not including, the site afterward chosen for the capital of the State.
The early life of William Sullivant was therefore that of the frontier, with its mixture of hardships and opportunities. At a time when the hominy mortar and the hand grater served to furnish coarse meal for bread, and grist mills were few and far apart, young William, mounted astride of a bag of wheat on one horse and leading another on which also was strapped a well-filled bag, was often sent on a journey along the blazed bridle-path through the forest to procure flour for the family. These expeditions frequently occupied two or three days' waiting for the grist, and necessitated sleeping in the mill wrapped in a blanket, where he was fortunate who had a pile of corn or wheat for his couch instead of the hard floor. But all this, together with the athletic sports of the frontier settlement, served to give him the fine physical development which was often remarked in his adult years. He was also one of the party on some of his father's shorter surveying expeditions, thus gaining knowledge that he was soon destined to put in practice.
He was sent to a private school in Kentucky, and, entering the Ohio University when that institution opened, received there the rudiments of a collegiate education. He was then transferred to Yale College, from which he was graduated in 1823. His father dying in the same year, he was obliged to give up the idea of studying a profession in order to take charge of the large family estate. The property consisted of lands, mills, etc., and demanded much and varied attention. The care of it required him to become a surveyor and a practical engineer, and to be much engaged in business for the greater part of his life. He became a member of the Ohio Stage Company, whose operations covered a wide field.