Popular Science Monthly/Volume 52/March 1898/The Academy of Natural Science of St. Louis
|THE ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCE OF ST. LOUIS.|
By Prof. FREDERICK STARR.
IN 1837 St. Louis was scarcely more than a small frontier town, yet in that year there was organized, through the efforts of two young men of foreign birth, what was perhaps the first society for scientific research established west of the Alleghany Mountains. The prime movers were George Engelmann and Frederick Adolphus Wislizenus. The new society was called the Western Academy of Science. It was progressive and enterprising, and even as early as
|Dr. George Engelmann.||B. F. Shumard.|
1840 made an effort to establish a botanical garden at St. Louis—an effort that failed. Interruptions and discouragement came, and finally the pioneer society ceased to exist.
It was nearly twenty years later that the Academy of Science of St. Louis was born. Organization must have taken place and some things must have been done in 1856. In the list of organizers were the two names of Engelmann and Wislizenus. In January, 1857, the academy was incorporated. The list of incorporators reads: "George Engelmann, Hiram A. Prout, Nathaniel Holmes, Benjamin F. Shumard, Charles W. Stevens, James B. Eads, Moses M. Pallen, Adolphus Wislizenus, Charles A. Pope, Charles P. Chouteau, William F. McPheeters, and others."
The organization of the society, as shown by its standing committees, was sufficiently detailed and heavy to kill a modern society. There were standing committees in the following subjects: Ethnology, comparative anatomy, mammalogy, ornithology, herpetology and ichthyology, chemistry, geology and malacology, entomology, botany, paleontology and geology, mineralogy, chemistry, physics, embryology, and monstrosities. But the academy was incorporated to last, and it survived.
There had been preliminary meetings, but the first regular meeting was held March 10, 1856, in the hall of the Board of Public Schools. George Engelmann was elected president and Benjamin F. Shumard secretary. At the second meeting active work was begun. At that meeting the well-known name of Dr. Koch first appears. He then presented to the museum a plate of Koch's Missourium. The Missourium (truly Mastodon giganteus) played a lively part at one time in geological and archæological discussions in this country. Dr. Koch at this meeting offered to visit Mississippi for the academy, and investigate certain finds recently made of the remains of Zeuglodon—a gigantic fossil whale. This was probably the first investigation made at the expense of the new academy. Dr. Koch visited Mississippi, Charles P. Chouteau. made his investigations, and collected a lot of fossils from Tertiary and Cretaceous formations.
Among the original members was Mr. Charles P. Chouteau, one of two out of that list of incorporators who still lives. Mr. Chouteau, a man of business and means, never permitted his intelligent interest in the academy and its work to flag. Connected with the fur trade, his business took him or his representatives on frequent journeys into the far West. Such expeditions were enormous enterprises in those days. At that time even journeys to the East were no trifles. Mr. Chouteau—after recently making the trip from St. Louis to New York in twenty-four hours—narrates that on one occasion, when a young man, he was sent to New York to see Mr. Astor on important business. He made the journey in three weeks, a time so short that his statement was deemed almost incredible in Mr. Astor's office. One can only imagine, then, how great was the undertaking of a journey up the Missouri, across the plains, and through the mountains. From the start it was the policy of the academy to cultivate a museum. At that same second meeting when Koch offered to go zeuglodon-hunting, Mr. Chouteau generously offered to place the Bad Lands collection of fossils collected by Dr. F. V. Hayden—for that time a large and important collection—in the academy museum, donating his one-fourth interest in it to the society. Not long after he showed his cordial interest by "desiring the academy to name some naturalist to accompany him on his expedition to the upper Missouri this summer free of expense to the society." More than once afterward Mr. Chouteau took some naturalist or scientific man with him on similar expeditions into the far Northwest.
The old Western Academy of Science had done something toward securing property, and in 1856, at the meeting of August 4th, its library, collections, cases, and apparatus were transferred to the new society. A special meeting was held for receiving the transfer. Unfortunately, nothing of this donation remains to-day except the seal and the little book of old proceedings.
The academy was fortunate in having in its membership from the start men who were interested in science and able to conduct independent investigation. Shumard, Swallow, and Eads were professional scientists; Engelmann, Prout, and Wislizenus, while busy professional men, were original investigators in more than one field. From the very beginning of the society's history, the idea of work, rather than play or recreation, was present; not only was a museum to be gathered, but papers read at the meetings were to be printed. We find, accordingly, by the end of the third year of the academy's life, that two numbers of Volume I of their Transactions had been printed. These had been widely used in exchange, and more than one hundred and eighty societies in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Chili, Asia, and Australia had entered into relations with the academy. The six volumes of the Transactions now in print are bulky tomes—the first containing 716 pages. That included many important papers. Geology naturally occupied a prominent place in a society where the Shumards, Swallow, and Prout were leading spirits, and in their publication many new species of fossils were described, and many papers regarding formations and the stratigraphical problems of Missouri, Kentucky, Kansas, and other Mississippi Valley and central States were presented. We have already stated that one quarter of the Hayden collection of Bad Lands fossils had been given to the academy by Mr. Chouteau. About the middle of 1857 the academy bought the one fourth which belonged to Mr. Vaughan. While all these things indicated that the academy was particularly favored in its early years, it would be a great mistake to think that it found only easy sailing. While its ideas were broad and its membership active, while its papers were of scientific value and its proceedings were eagerly sought in exchange, the financial problem was serious. Thus Prout says, in 1862: "Surrounded by difficulties and embarrassments, without means and without patronage, we have struggled on and struggled successfully. We had hoped that, ere the present moment, some friend or friends of science with enlarged and liberal ideas would have extended to us a helping hand, and placed us in a condition to give the world a more ample exhibition of the fruits of our labors. But for the generous liberality of one of our members we should not now have a place to hold our meetings or to garner up the treasures which have been so liberally contributed to our museum; and, again, those objects lose part of their interest for the want of appropriate casing in which they could be scientifically arranged and classified." In fact, the mere publishing of the Transactions was a heavy burden; the fees were not adequate to the task, and private gifts were solicited to continue the work. It was war time, and St. Louis particularly felt the disastrous effect of the strife. Men were too busy with political affairs, too anxious regarding what a day might bring forth, to contribute much for the encouragement of science. Even these circumstances, however, had some . An institution of learning—McDowell College—was changed into a war prison, Gratiot Street Prison. The military authorities transferred its collections to the academy, and we find the following resolutions in the minutes: "Resolved, that the thanks of the academy are due to Major-General Curtis, as also the members of the Western Sanitary Commission, for interest taken by them in the preservation of what remained of the McDowell Museum of Natural History when it fell under their control; and that Captain Curry, of the Tenth Missouri Cavalry, and the men under his command are entitled to our special acknowledgment for the zeal and fidelity with which the order of General Curtis for the removal of the collection to the halls of the academy was executed by them."
The first recognition of the academy, so far as we know, was by the Academy of Science of Philadelphia, which early—presumably before any publications had been made by the new organization—donated its Transactions and the second set of its journal. In 1866, when the St. Louis Academy had passed its first decade, we find her playing a similar magnanimous part to other institutions. At that time the Portland (Maine) Society of Natural History had just met serious loss from fire. It was therefore resolved that the academy should donate to the unfortunate society a full set of its Transactions, together with minerals and other museum specimens. The Chicago Academy of Science having suffered in a similar way at the same time, a like courtesy was extended to it.
It will be remembered that the first meeting was held in the rooms of the Board of Public Schools. Nearly or quite all the following meetings for a long time were held at the local Medical College, in O'Fallon Hall, through the courtesy of Dr. Pope at first, and later through that of his successor, Dr. Hodgen. Twelve years of the life of the academy passed thus, when an effort was finally made to secure new rooms in the building of the Polytechnic. A committee was appointed September 2, 1868, in this matter; the negotiations went on for some months. The museum of the academy was by this time distinctly creditable. Mammals of the Rocky Mountains were the result of Mr. Chouteau's interest. A fine meteorite from Nebraska had been secured; sections cut from it had been exchanged for similar pieces from other localities, until thirteen meteoric falls were represented. The chief importance of the museum, however, was in paleontology; the Hayden collection has already been mentioned; there were also important local collections; among foreign matter was a particularly fine complete skeleton of the cave bear. Just at the time when the museum's prospects were so good, May, 1869, fire broke out in the Medical College building, and the whole museum was swept out of existence. The only valuable specimens left uninjured were a skull of Bos cavifrons, some mastodon vertebræ, and several meteoric specimens, including the original piece from Nebraska. Fortunately, the library was saved, and the greater part of the Transactions, though some of these were injured by water.
During this year, just before the fire, the president, Benjamin F. Shumard, died. He was born at Lancaster, Pennsylvania, November 24, 1820. His taste for science may have come to him from his mother's side; her father, a Mr. Getz, was an inventor and a maker of instruments of precision. When Benjamin was still young, his father removed to Cincinnati, and the boy was sent to Oxford for his college education. He returned to his native State to pursue his medical course, but had hardly well begun his work when his father removed to Louisville, Kentucky. The result was that the young man completed his studies in that city, graduating in 1846. His practice began in that State, first in the interior, later in Louisville. The young physician's leisure was devoted to the study of local paleontology and zoölogy. Making some reputation, he was appointed by David Dale Owen to an assistant's position upon the Geological Survey of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. In 1850 he was Dr. John Evans's assistant in a geological of Oregon, and spent the greater part of two years in the field. In 1852 he returned to Louisville to work out his report, and to assist his brother in preparing for publication the paleontological results of the Marcy Red River Expedition. In 1853 Dr. Shumard removed to St. Louis to serve as an assistant upon the State Geological Survey organized under Prof. G. C. Swallow. In 1856, appointed State Geologist of Texas, he made a study of the remarkably complete series of rocks occurring in the eastern and central part of that State. The war interfered with his work, which was never resumed. Returning to St. Louis, he died there, April 14, 1869.
Prof. George Clinton Swallow forms one of the striking features in the early history of American geology. On one occasion Prof. A. C. Ramsay, the eminent director of the Geological Survey of
|G. C. Swallow.||Prof. Charles V. Riley.|
Great Britain, said: "I will say that the names of Dana and Hall, and Hitchcock and Rogers and Silliman and Swallow, and your other scientific men, are as familiar in our mouths as household words." Born on a farm, at Buckfield, Maine, in 1817, George C. Swallow had no great opportunity for education. With ambition and purpose, however, he pushed his way, and in 1843 graduated from Bowdoin College. His interest was chiefly in chemistry in its practical application to agriculture. Immediately on graduation he was appointed lecturer in botany at Bowdoin, and gave the first courses in that subject at that institution. Shortly after, as principal of Hampden Academy, he had an opportunity long desired, and interested the State Legislature in experimental agriculture. The Legislature gave him a grant of land, and he at once organized a system of agricultural experimentation and a laboratory of agricultural chemistry. In 1850 he removed to Missouri, where he had been appointed to the chair of chemistry and geology in the State University. His influence in the State was at once felt. An address made by him, in 1852, led to the organization of the Agricultural and Mechanical Associations of Boone and St. Louis Counties. Such associations, for the benefit of farmers and interchange of ideas in agriculture, were then rapidly organized throughout the State. In 1853 Professor Swallow took charge of the State Geological Survey, which he conducted for seven years. The scientific results of this work were of the utmost value. The existence of Permian rocks in this country was demonstrated by it, and many other facts in stratigraphy and paleontology brought out. Nor were its practical results less striking. The twenty-seven thousand square miles of coal beds in Missouri were unknown before its time. The civil war brought the survey to an end. In 1865, appointed State Geologist of Kansas, Professor Swallow worked there for two years. In 1870, returning to Missouri, he was given the chair of agriculture and geology in the State University. Later he was made dean of the College of Agriculture. After many years of faithful work for Missouri, Dr. Swallow removed to Montana, where he has had much to do with the development of mining interests. He still lives, a happy and respected octogenarian, with an honorable career behind him.
Garland Carr Broadhead came of good English and English-Scotch ancestry. He was born in Albemarle County, Virginia, October 30, 1827. In September, 1836, his father moved to St. Charles County, Missouri. His early instruction was gained from his parents and from private tutors, but in 1850 he went to the State University at Columbia, where he first became interested in geology. With the intention of becoming a civil engineer, he then attended the Military Institute of Kentucky. There he met Colonel Richard Owen, brother of David Dale and Robert Dale Owen, and his interest in geology was greatly increased by this acquaintance. In 1852 he began professional work in railroad construction and map-making in Missouri. After four years on the railroad he accepted the appointment of assistant in the State Geological Survey, which he retained until the work was discontinued in 1861. From that time on until 1868 he was in railroad or national Government service. In that year lie resumed work in pure science as assistant on the Illinois State Geological Survey. On the reorganization of the Missouri State Geological Survey he was appointed assistant, and in 1873, as State geologist, took entire charge. The survey was discontinued in 1875. Mr. Broadhead has continued to contribute to geological science since that time as juror in expositions, expert in Government service, and otherwise. In 1887 he was appointed to the chair of mineralogy and geology at the State University at Columbia, S. C., which he still holds.
After the fire and Shumard's death, it is no wonder that signs of discouragement showed themselves; no wonder that in his annual address—the fifteenth—Dr. Engelmann mourned the condition of affairs. The membership of the society was reduced. "Some are dead, others have removed from here, and few remain to help the work, and this is the greatest difficulty we labor under; scarcely any have come to St. Louis to step into their places and work, no new generation grows up to take the work when the pioneers of the academy have departed." There had at this time been no publication since 1868, hardly anything since 1866; on the whole, it was the darkest hour of the institution's history. New life and new energy were to come. The school board, with whom they had been so long negotiating for new quarters, acted with promptness after the fire, and meetings were held in their rooms, and later in the Polytechnic Institute; in November, 1871, the school board voted five hundred dollars for cases in the institute; in January following the St. Louis Public-School Library offered to pay for the bindings of the unbound books. In January, 1872, there began negotiations looking toward a permanent home. At that time, James H. Lucas proposed to present a plot of ground to the Missouri Historical Society for a building. President Johnson, of the academy, secured permission for the institution to co-operate in the building. On June 8th Mr. Lucas presented a lot of fifty by one hundred and nine feet, on condition that the two societies should put up a joint building. Both of the organizations took up the matter; committees were appointed, various plans and schemes were suggested or attempted; fifty thousand dollars was the sum to be secured. The subscription did not go well; plan after plan was tried; appeal after appeal was made in the presidential reports. Local pride was prodded by reference to a sister institution: "Davenport, Iowa, is about to dedicate a building to the service of science, and the funds to erect it were obtained almost wholly by the persistent efforts of a single lady." The original gift was conditioned upon the building being begun within five years after the donation; at the request of the society this condition was modified. Finally, after seven years had passed, in 1869 Dr. Engelmaim advised giving up or selling their share in the lot and purchasing the Mary Institute—the female branch of the Washington University—for the purposes of the academy. Twenty-five thousand dollars would buy the building, of which five thousand was already promised; twenty-five thousand dollars more would be needed for equipment. In 1882, when the society had reached the age of twenty-five years, it was still without a home; it had just moved, however, into the Washington University, where it had a, meeting room and space for its small museum and library free of rent. In 1893 the plan for building was revived, but failed, and to-day (1897), when forty-one years have passed, the society is still homeless. Its interest in the Lucas lot was long since converted into cash, and forms part of its present fund. The Historical Society has become the owner of a well-located building, and the academy occupies quarters at present in it. A meeting room is situated on the ground floor; it is supplied with oil portraits of the presidents and prominent past members of the academy. In upper rooms, not particularly easy of access and not at all adapted to their use, are a reading room and the library. Here, too, is stored away the supply of Transactions held for distribution. No attempt has been made for some years to secure museum collections, and what few specimens the academy owns are either stored away or displayed in some other institution.
Although the publication of the Transactions had at one time been almost discontinued, three volumes had appeared, crowded with important papers. The appearance of the fourth volume is connected with one of the most serious blows received by the academy. This volume was published by Dr. George J. Engelmann as a memorial volume to his father. George Engelmann, who had been with the academy from its start, one of the founders of the old Western Academy in 1836, died in February, 1884.
George Engelmann is a name which will live long in the annals of American science. A native of Germany, he was born at Frankfort-on-the-Main, February 2, 1809, and was the oldest of a family of thirteen children. In 1827 he held a scholarship at Heidelberg; in 1830 he was at the University of Berlin, and in 1831 he graduated, an M. D., at Würzburg. His dissertation was upon Plant Teratology; it possessed unusual merit, and attracted wide attention among the masters in the subject. In 1832 he was at Paris for medical study, but in the fall of that year sailed for this country to serve as agent for friends looking to investment in America. At that time the Mississippi Valley was truly frontier. Dr. Engelmann tarried for a time in Illinois, then traveled in Arkansas and adjacent districts, but finally, in 1835, settled at St. Louis to practice medicine After four years he left his practice with Dr. Wislizerms, and went to Germany to marry Miss Dora Horstmann, to whom he had been engaged for ten years. The following year, in 1840, Dr. and Mrs. Engelmann came to St. Louis. We have already mentioned Dr. Engelmann's interest in the Western Academy of Science in 1836-'37. It was in 1835 that he began the remarkable series of meteorological investigations and records which were kept up continuously for nearly fifty years. In 1842 he published his important monograph upon American Cuscutinæ in the American Journal of Science and Art. The paper caused a true sensation in botanical circles. In 1848 he prepared the report upon the Cactaceæ of Doniphan's Rio Grande and Mexican trip, and later the important reports upon the Cacti of the Pacific Railroad survey and the Mexican boundary. These papers, the standard authority upon this interesting and important family of plants, are a monument of accurate and careful work. Dr. Engelmann was a considerable traveler. He made many journeys to the West and South, and to Europe, always to the profit of botanical science. There existed between him and Asa Gray and Charles C. Parry the kindest sympathy and deepest regard. On many of his journeys Mrs. Engelmann was his companion. Between the two there existed the most delightful companionship and love. Early in 1879 she died, and it might almost be said that he was never happy again. In vain his friends attempted to cheer him. A trip to the Pacific coast in company with C. S. Sargent and C. C. Parry was arranged, but it failed to relieve his depression or to cure his bodily ills. In the summer of 1883 he went again to Germany, but broke down upon the trip and died soon after his return home. It is significant of the man's interest in his work that, while he was ready to go, he longed to live just one year more, that he might finish out his half century of meteorological observations. During his later years, Dr. Engelmann was in the habit of preparing summaries of the observations for each year, making careful comparisons with the records of preceding years, computing averages, drawing diagrams, etc., for presentation at the academy. Dr. Engelmann's interest in the academy never flagged; one of its founders in 1856, he was rarely absent from any meeting if he was in the city; he served as president sixteen times. Though having many opportunities to publish his botanical notes, he loyally preferred the medium of the Transactions of the academy he so much loved and for which he did so much. The bulk of his literary production is scattered through its pages. There are his papers upon cacti, Rocky Mountain pines, North American j uncus, yucca, junipers, firs, agave, oaks, isoetes, the genus Pinus, etc.—papers that rank among the best in American botany. Yet all this work was done, not by a professional botanist, but in the leisure hours of a very busy physician's life. In these days, when there is some tendency to sneer at u amateur scientists," it is well to remember the work of men like George Engelmann.
To completely understand the work of the St. Louis Academy of Science to-day, something must be known of two other institutions—the Washington University and the Missouri Botanical Garden.The three institutions are closely related in their personnel and in their work. The reason for their mention at this point is that the garden is largely due to George Engelmann. Henry Shaw was a wealthy business man of St. Louis; he lived in the city, but had a country home and a great property in land outside of the then city limits. Mr. Shaw enjoyed country life and developed a garden, which even then was an attractive place of resort. A friend of Engelmann, the latter was able to direct the rich man's taste into profitable channels; the result was that Shaw's Garden was really a botanical garden. From it has grown an institution of the greatest importance and interest—the Missouri Botanical Garden. It is organized in accordance with the terms of Mr. Shaw's will. The garden proper consists of several acres, upon which stand the old country home now used as the residence of the director, and the former city house of Henry Shaw, which was in accordance with the terms of the will removed from its former site and rebuilt exactly, and which is now used as an office. In this latter building is the botanical library—one of the best in America; two particularly interesting sections of it are the pre-Linnæan and the Linnæan libraries. Here, too, is the Engelmann herbarium, containing rich series of important type specimens. This valuable donation to the garden was made by Dr. George J. Engelmann, son of the botanist. A graceful thing done by Mr. Shaw shortly after Engelmann's death was the republication, in one quarto volume of 508 pages and 103 full-page plates, of all of Dr. Engelmann's published botanical work. The garden also has now in its possession the Engelmann library and all the original notes and botanical sketches made by Dr. Engelmann. The mass of these notes is enormous. Dr. Trelease, to whose care they are intrusted, found twenty thousand slips which, bound up, composed sixty quarto volumes. The garden includes among its features an arboretum of the first grade, greenhouses where experimental work is conducted, experimental gardens for fruits and vegetables, and a Bible garden. This last, an idea carried out in Mr. Shaw's lifetime and still maintained, aims to illustrate the plants mentioned in the Bible. An excellent feature in the work of the garden is the training school for practical gardeners. Six young men are here on scholarships, following a definite course of study; they live upon the place and receive free tuition, rent, and board; their appointment is by competitive examination. Prof. William Trelease is the director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and has an able corps of scientific and office assistants and gardeners.
An important part of Mr. Shaw's plan was the establishment of a school of botany, the head of which was to hold the George Engelmann professorship. This school is organized in connection with Washington University; it is closely related to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the directorship of which is also held by the occupant of the chair. In the work of the school Professor Trelease has three assistants; seventeen different courses of instruction are offered by them. Under the direction of the school there are also offered at the garden important courses in elementary botany for children or for busy people.
Washington University is in close touch with the Academy of Science. From its faculty come some of the academy's most active workers and officers. Professors Woodward (mathematics and mechanics), Nipher (physics), Engler (mathematics), Pritchett (astronomy), Trelease (botany), and Hambach (geology) have been conspicuous in its work. To the Transactions of later years they have contributed numerous and important papers. At a time when the academy had no other home, the doors of the university were opened to it for its meetings and the housing of its library and the storing of its collection. The academy is fortunate, indeed, in having been so closely in sympathy with an institution of learning the interest of whose teaching force more than aught else kept it active during a critical period of its history.
Among the most active members who came to recruit the force, which we have seen above from Dr. Engelmann's statement had been somewhat reduced by time, was that master worker in entomology, Dr. Charles Valentine Riley. Born in London, England, on September 18, 1843, he was schooled at Chelsea and Bayswater, at Dieppe, France, and at Bonn, Germany. In 1860 he came to this country, settling upon a farm in Illinois. Removing to Chicago, he began editorial work upon the Evening Journal and the Prairie Farmer. Near the close of the war, May, 1864, he joined the 134th Illinois Volunteers. When the war ended he resumed his editorial labors on the Prairie Farmer. In 1868 he was appointed State Entomologist of Missouri, a position which he ably filled until 1877, when he was made chief of the commission appointed by the United States Government to investigate the ravages and life history of the Rocky Mountain locust. The greater part of the reports of this commission was written by him. In 1881, when the commission was merged into the work of the Agricultural Department, Dr. Riley organized the entomological division of the department, and became its head. At the same time he became curator in entomology of the United States National Museum, to which he donated his magnificent private collection of insects, containing more than fifteen thousand specimens. Dr. Riley at different times lectured upon entomology at various institutions—Cornell University, Missouri State University, Washington University, etc. He was a diligent writer. A man of energy and decision, he was also of most amiable character, and was much loved by his friends and colleagues. The honorary degree of Ph. D. was granted to him in 1873 by Washington University. The French Government, in 1873, and the Edinburgh Forestry Exhibit, in 1884, conferred upon him gold medals in recognition of his work.
In 1835 there came to St. Clair County, Illinois, a talented German, Theodore Erasmus Hilgard. A lawyer by training, he there settled down to country life. He introduced the culture of the vine into Illinois. The town of West Belleville was laid out upon his property and under his direction. He delighted in himself conducting the education of his family, and his three sons, Julius Erasmus, Theodore Charles, and Eugene Waldemar, all attained prominence in American science. In 1851 he returned to his native land by invitation of the Bavarian Government to aid in recasting the national laws regarding mortgages. Although he again visited this country, he did not remain here, but finally settled at Heidelberg, where he died in 1873. He was a poet and a man of letters. His second son, Theodore Charles Hilgard, was prominent in the academy's work for many years. He was born in Zweibrücken, Germany, February 28, 1828. While a young man in his Illinois home he collected botanical specimens for George Engelmann. Later, he studied medicine in European schools—Heidelberg, Zurich, Vienna, Berlin—and settled down to practice in St. Louis. In 1854 he published his Experimental Observations on Taste and Smell. At various times he presented papers on botany—especially on Phyllotaxis and kindred subjects—before the academy. These were printed in the Transactions. Obliged on account of failing health to abandon medicine, his studies were turned to microscopic forms of life and to terrestrial magnetism; in the latter subject he assisted his brother Julius, to whom it was professional work. He died in New York, March 5, 1875.
For two years James Buchanan Eads was president of the academy, and was associated with it for a much longer period. No member of the academy has had a more conspicuous career. It was "he who devised and furnished our Government with its first and most useful armored steamboats, who built the St. Louis Bridge; who made one of the shallowest mouths of the Mississippi permanently navigable for ocean steamers." The story of his life reads like a romance. Born at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, May 23, 1820, he was even as a small child passionately fond of machinery. The family moved to Louisville when he was James B. Eads, LL. D. nine years old. At ten years he was busy making models of all sorts of machines—sawmills, fire engines, steamboats, and steam engines. Financial reverses forced him to take care of himself at the age of thirteen. At that time the family moved to St. Louis, and, curiously, the steamboat on which they were traveling burning, the boy found himself on shore, barefooted and coatless, upon the very spot where later he was to locate the abutements of the great and famous bridge. For a time he sold apples on the street. Then, securing a position in a mercantile house, he labored diligently, reading in his leisure hours books borrowed from the library of one of his employers. In 1839 he was purser on a river steamer. In 1842 he invented a diving-bell boat to recover cargoes from lost steamers, and later a boat to raise sunken steamers. In 1845 he sold out his interest in this business, and started a glass factory, which completely failed in two years. Helped by his creditors to a small capital, he returned to the work of raising wrecked steamers, and in ten years he was out of debt and had business interests worth five hundred thousand dollars. In 1861 there began those great public enterprises which rendered his name famous the world around. At the request of the Government he designed and constructed a squadron of ironclad river gunboats. The next year he built others, some of which bore turrets of novel pattern, in which the guns were worked by steam. In 1874 he completed the St. Louis Bridge, a marvel of engineering, in the building of which several new problems had to be solved. Later on, in the face of doubt and lack of confidence, he devised and carried on to successful completion the jetty system at the mouth of the Mississippi. Had his ideas with reference to the improvement of the river farther up been carried out, there would be fewer bursting levees to-day. The great engineer died March 8, 1887.
Dr. Engelmann's meteorological investigations were of the utmost importance, and are fully recorded in the Transactions. He was not, however, the only worker along this line. Dr. Wislizenus was devoted to the same subject. Among his observations was an extended series upon atmospheric electricity. While his work did not lead to that practical application which he had hoped, the record of his experiments is interesting and valuable. Under Prof. Francis E. Nipher there was organized the Missouri State Weather Service, one of the most creditable State organizations ever established. As long as the direction of this service remained local, Professor Nipher was in charge. The scope of the service included the whole State, and the plan involved the appointment of one observer for each county. Work was begun in December, 1878. Some of the results of this State weather service were contributed to the academy and published in its Transactions. Thus, in 1888, there appeared a summary of the results of ten years of labor, including important rainfall maps. Even more important was the Magnetic Survey of the State undertaken by Professor Nipher, and carried on almost wholly A. Wislizenus. at his own expense. The annual reports of this survey regularly appeared in the Transactions.
Dr. Frederick Adolphus Wislizenus, whose name has so frequently been mentioned in this sketch, was born May, 1810, at Koenigsee, in Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt, the son of a Protestant minister who was perhaps of Polish descent. In 1828 young Wislizenus began the study of medicine at Jena, pursuing the work at Göttingen and Würzburg. On account of political difficulties he was obliged to go to Switzerland to finish his education, and in 1834 graduated from the University of Zurich. In 1835 he removed to New York to practice his profession. He was there at once a physician, political pamphleteer, and poet. In 1837, with certain friends who had been exiled from their own land, he removed to Illinois, practicing at Mascoutah for a time, but finally removed to St. Louis. In 1839 he went into the far Northwest on a fur-trading expedition. While there he spent some time among the Nez Percés Indians. In 1840 he began practice in St. Louis, where his influence among the German population, both politically and otherwise, was great. Some time later he joined a Mexican trading expedition, taking with him a good scientific equipment; he was, however, seized and imprisoned at Chihuahua, and was only liberated on the arrival of Colonel Doniphan's troops there in 1847. He remained with those forces in a professional capacity until they were disbanded in the summer of 1847, when he returned to St. Louis. The next year an official report of the scientific results of this journey appeared at Washington; it was entitled Memoir of a Tour to Northern Mexico, and contains geographical, geological, topographical, astronomical, and barometric observations. He brought home many plants, which were afterward worked out by Engelmann. While in Washington, Wislizenus met Miss Lucy Crane, sister-in-law of Hon. George P. Marsh. In 1849 a cholera epidemic raged at St. Louis, throughout which Dr. Wislizenus labored at his profession. Meantime Mr. Marsh had been appointed minister from the United States to Turkey. In 1850 Wislizenus went there, and at Constantinople was married to Miss Crane. They visited various parts of Europe, and on returning to this country, Dr. Wislizenus, leaving his wife in the East, went himself to Panama, with some idea of settling there. In 1852, however, he returned to this country, and settled permanently in St. Louis. He was one of the founders of the academy, and an honored member of various medical societies. His barometic observations and his collections in botany and mineralogy were of value. While Dr. Engelmann was absent in Europe, in 1858, Wislizenus took charge of his observations, becoming so interested that he afterward continued them for himself until 1881, when failing eyesight interfered with the work. He died September 22, 1889.
There are to-day few, indeed, of the original members of the academy alive. Mr. C. P. Chouteau and Nathaniel Holmes are all. Through a large part of its history Mr. Holmes was the secretary of the academy; not himself a professional scientist nor a large contributor to any definite line, he was a man of wide reading and varied interests. He carefully examined everything that came to the society's library through the long period of his secretaryship, and it was his practice to prepare careful papers upon what he read, papers which added much to the interest of the meetings, and often led to important discussions. While Mr. Holmes is not now a resident of St. Louis—living in the East—his interest in the academy continues. The only other member approaching these pioneers in the length of connection with the academy is Dr. Enno Sander. Dr. Sander's membership dates from the first year of its organization, 1856. For the past thirty-five years he has been the faithful treasurer of
|Nathaniel Holmes.||Dr. Enno Sander.|
the academy, and at a recent meeting his friends presented to the society an oil portrait of him in commemoration of the completion of so long and careful a service.
The publications of the academy have not been wholly confined to the Transactions. On two occasions special works have appeared under its imprint. First of these is an archaeological report by W. D. Potter and Edward Evers. A party from the academy made considerable investigation of mounds in the neighborhood of New Madrid in the southeast corner of the State. The collections were divided for study into three groups. W. D. Potter was to study the pottery, G. J. Engelmann the other relics, chiefly of stone, while Dr. Evers was to report upon the human remains. A quarto volume of thirty pages with twenty-four fine plates, entitled Contributions to the Archæology of Missouri, by the Archæological Section of the St. Louis Academy of Science, was printed. It is devoted to description and illustration of the pottery. So far as we can find, Dr. Engelmann did nothing upon his part of the work. Dr. Evers began his report upon the twenty-seven crania which were found, but has never completed it. It is much to be regretted that this important work has not been finished. In 1889 the academy sent observers into the field to study the total eclipse of that year. The party consisted of Professors Pritchett, Nipher, Engler, Mr. Charoppin, and Signor Valle. Their report was entitled Total Eclipse of the Sun, January, 1889. A Report of Observations made by the Washington University Eclipse Party at Norman, California. The report was published by the academy, and is a quarto of thirty-nine pages, with six plates.
The present form of publication of the Transactions is convenient, and secures prompt dating of the papers read. Important papers are printed, soon after reading, as brochures in separate covers. When a sufficient number of these to form a volume has been issued the official minutes of meetings and an index are also issued, and the volume is closed. To give an adequate idea of the range and value of the recent papers printed by the academy would be impossible in this article. But few can even be mentioned. Pritchard, Engler, and Nipher have repeatedly printed articles of great importance in mathematics, astronomy, and physics. A series of most interesting papers upon the relations between plants and insects, and other botanical subjects, has emanated from Dr. Trelease's work in the Shaw School of Botany. The indefatigable librarian, Dr. G. Hambach, who probably knows more of the details of the academy's history than any other man now living, has contributed valuable papers, beautifully illustrated with his own drawings, upon fossil echinoderms. Among other papers by Dr. Woodward are some dealing with points of curious interest to the teacher and the anthropologist. In pure anthropology, Dr. W. T. Porter's three papers upon St. Louis school children—Physical Basis of Precocity and Dullness, Growth of St. Louis School Children, and Relations between Growth of Children and their Deviation from the Physical Type of their Sex and Age—are almost likely to be classical.
After this brief historical sketch it will be well, in closing, to summarily state the present condition of the academy. Two hundred and eight active members are at present on the list, paying annual dues of five dollars each. There are two hundred and four corresponding members. The library contains twelve thousand books and eight thousand pamphlets; it is open certain hours daily. Six volumes of Transactions aggregating 4,539 pages, and twelve brochures of Volume VII aggregating 298 pages, have been printed to date. Other publications as above specified have been issued. The exchange list includes 550 scientific institutions. The academy has six thousand dollars of permanent fund, one thousand of which came by bequest from Henry Shaw, one thousand from savings, and the balance from the Lucas lot. Regular meetings are held twice monthly. At present it has no displayed collections and no quarters of its own. Surely it should move toward securing these in the near future, as also toward making itself more directly and strongly felt in the life of the city at large.
- List of presidents and secretaries.
1856. George Engelmann. B. F. Shumard. 1857. B. F. Shumard. Nathaniel Holmes. 1858. F. A. Wislizenus "" 1859. "" "" 1860. Hiram A. Prout. "" 1861. George Engelmann "" 1862. "" "" 1863. "" "" 1864. "" "" 1865. "" "" 1866. "" B. F. Shumard. 1867. "" "" 1868. B. F. Shumard. Nathaniel Holmes; Charles E. Briggs. 1869. "" Charles E. Briggs. 1870. George Engelmann "" 1871. John B. Johnson Samuel Reber. 1872. James B. Eads William T. Harris. 1873. "" Nathaniel Holmes. 1874. William T. Harris "" 1875. "" "" 1876. Charles V. Riley "" 1877. "" "" 1878. George Engelmann "" 1879. "" "" 1880. "" 1881. "" "" 1882. "" "" 1883. "" Henry S. Pritchett. 1884. "" "" 1885. Francis E. Nipher E. Evers. 1886. "" "" 1887. "" "" 1888. "" "" 1889. "" "" 1890. "" "" 1891. "" E. A. Engler. 1892. Henry S. Pritchett Arthur Thatcher. 1893. "" "" 1894. "" A. W. Douglass. 1895. John Green W. Trelease. 1896. M. L. Gray "" 1897. "" ""