Correspondence of Rhoda Waterbury and G. W. Clinton
Edited by P. M. Eckel
Res Botanica
Missouri Botanical Garden
May 10, 2006
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Correspondence of

Rhoda Waterbury and G. W. Clinton

1865 - 1867


Edited by P. M. P.O. Box 299, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 63166‑0299; and Research Associate, Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, New York, 14204. Email:


November 1865


Vol. 2. No. 46 [D 187]


Schoharie, Nov. 11th, 1865


My dear Mentor,


It is so long since you have sent me word that I fear you are sick and as I have some news to tell you I can wait no longer. Mr. Austin has decided that my new Riccia is no Riccia at all but Grimaldia barbifrons, so my laurels have all withered and I am trying very hard to find something. My last packet to Mr. Peck contained Hypnum splendens, Hypnum Crista Castrensis, Hypnum laetum. I see you have them all by your list so I cannot have the pleasure of sending them. I find the mosses in fine condition in these days but they need to be handled with gloves it is so cold I wonder how they can grow so, but I am glad they do for what fun it is to study Botany in winter. I wish I had saved ever so many more that I thought I did not need, for now in stormy weather I really learn more of them than I did when the weather invited so strongly for a constant ramble. I am not sure but I shall progress faster in winter. But really I wonder what has happened that you have not written. I thought perhaps you was engaged more than usual about the time of election, but that has passed off so well I begin to think you must be sick, but I was so anxious to tell you about that Riccia affair that I could wait no longer. And I want to tell you though it is not botanical that my brother in the army is to be home Thanksgiving. We have not seen him since the day he first turned his face south two years since, he had just left college and would go; and we are almost wild with delight that he is coming home unharmed we hope. I know you have just the heart to sympathize with us and will pardon my giving you thus much of home life. I do hope that you are not sick but only busy, and I do know it is not reasonable for me to expect you to devote so much time to me and I will not be so selfish, but that in time I shall hear that a kind Providence has kept you safe is the hope

of your disciple,


    Rhoda Waterbury


Hon. G. W. Clinton


Recd. Nov. 15 & ansd.


Up to this date, the letters between Rhoda and Clinton averaged about one every two weeks.


There is a specimen in the Clinton Herbarium (BUF): Grimaldia barbifrons Bischoff USA New York Schoharie Co., Schoharie. Ex Coll. G. W. Clinton, Buffalo, New York.


Miss Rhoda Waterbury s.n. 1860’s Herbarium number: 41899; see introduction above.


The “Riccia affair” may refer to a note made by Sayre (1987) in her biographic essay on Coe Finch Austin, that “By 1864 Austin was examining some of Sullivant’s Riccia, three of which he tentatively identified as new species ...”.  Sullivant was, in 1865, the foremost American bryologist with probably the best collection of named bryophytes in North America in his home in Columbus, Ohio. Far from considering Austin to be substandard in any way, Sullivant was so impressed during Austin’s visit to him in 1868 that he gave him “a large part of Sullivant’s hepatic herbarium” constituting some 220 named specimens and his hepaticological library (Sayre 1987).


The election may refer to a state bi-election as Andrew Johnson was the new President of the United States, succeeding Abraham Lincoln. Congress appears to have been in recess until December of this year.


Hypnum splendens Hedwig is Hylocomium splendens (Hedw.) B. S. G.; , Hypnum


Crista Castrensis L. ex Hedwig is Ptilium crista-castrensis (Hedw.) De Notaris; Hypnum laetum Sull. is Brachythecium stereopoma (Spruce ex Mitt.) Jaeg.



Vol. 2. No. 58 [D 174]


    Schoharie. Saturday eve, Nov. 1865


My Dear Mentor,


I am sorry you do not enjoy cold weather but I do not wonder. I too long for the long summer days when one can be comfortable everywhere and happy in a sense of freedom to go where they please, yet I like to breathe the bracing air that makes the blood tingle to the tips of ones toes. I hope you will not be sick at all this winter for if you do not have such a world of work, as you almost always do, I shall impose myself upon you in the shape of an epistle frequently, for you see it is quite a necessity with me, old maid that I am, I am gathering in a great stack of mosses, my friends say to keep Betty the goat that does the churning (for we are farmers, that is Pa and I) but I intend them for quite another purpose. I am thinking of those blustering days when you cannot see the mountains it snows and blows so, then I shall be up here in my cozy den, as snug as can be with a huge pile of moss and my gem of a microscope. Oh dear! I am so glad Homer will not be in the army this winter, for last winter when it was such weather you do not know how I felt. Do you know now that it has passed I can hardly realize that the past fearful years have been anything but a terrible dream? It seems as if I had been holding my breath all this time that he has been in the army and hardly dare breathe now for fear he will not come safe, but last night his [horse?] equipage came by express, so he must be near. As Mr. Austin has sent me three very good specimens of Grimaldia barbifrons I shall send you one that you may compare his in fruit with mine sterile. I shall look after mine next spring. How glad I am that I can send you something Hypnum splendens I have only sterile too but I will send and try to find it in fruit. I think it was too early for it when I visited Delaware [County]. I send you Hypnum brevirostre, you sent me sterile and Mr. Peck says it is rare in fruit so I conclude you may not have it and Cylindrothecium cladorrhizon (what a long name) he also sends for as it is not plenty and I must send you some though I have not looked over your list to see if you have it. It grew on the old deserted house of my Grandfather and I have kept it very choice. I have been looking at the specimen of Seligeria recurvata that you sent me, and I did think I discovered a few stems about half as large. I would put them in the microscope but I cannot find them without my hand glass. (I wonder what kind of eyes Mr. Lesquereux has.) I am going to save them to study those stormy winter days it will be fun.


There now! thanks to my little instrument I have a list to send once more


Hypnum curvifolium


Hypnum tamariscinum


Hypnum brevirostre


Hypnum recurvans


Mnium punctatum


Cylindrotheium cladorrhizan


Weissia viridula




Jungermannia curvifolia


I have not one of your last unless it be Didymodon rubellus.


What a fine Indian summer week! I [have] enjoyed it knowing it was the last warm weather of the year. You will not fear that I do not dress warm in my rambles. When I tell you my eldest brother is proprietor of the Rensselaerville Woolen Mills, the cloths from which you may have seen in the market and in which I dress from before this time until settled warm weather next spring. By the way Rensselaerville is a grand place for mosses. I am quite crazy when I am there, twenty miles from here and we must visit it next summer. Please send me a stem of Leptodon trichomitrium in fruit if you have plenty, mine is sterile. I think you will become acquainted with my friends if I keep up these rambling epistles about everything, well! I believe you do not like a studied letter, and I do not like to write one. There is real pleasure in saying what I think, knowing you will not expect much from your disciple.


Rhoda Waterbury


I know you will excuse this girlish letter, please tell me is it

difficult to read my writing? I can write a plainer hand if I try.


This is very careless


R. W


Hon. G. W. Clinton


Recd Nov. 24. Wrote Dec. 9



Cylindrothecium cladorrhizans (Hedw.) B. S. G. is Entodon cladorrhizans (Hedw.) C. Mueller; Hypnum tamariscinum Hedwig is Thuidium tamariscinum (Hedw.) B. S. G.; Hypnum brevirostre (Bridel) Ehrh. is Hylocomium brevirostre (Brid.) Fleischer; Hypnum recurvans (Michx.) P. Beauv. is Brotherella recurvans (Michx.) Fleischer. Leptodon trichomitrius (Hedw.) Mohr is Forsstroemia trichomitria (Hedw.) Lindberg; Weisia viridula Hedw. ex Bridel is Weisia controversa Hedwig. Hypnum curvifolium Hedwig has survived, taxonomically, in its earlist generic placement.

French (1860) is silent on the establishment Rhoda’s brother manages in Rensselaerville. Grimaldia barbifrons is a liverwort (Hepatica) and is now Mannia fragrans (Balb.) Frye et L. Clarke (see introduction above).


Sullivant’s Plate 7