Correspondence of Elizabeth Atwater and G. W. Clinton
Edited by P. M. Eckel
Res Botanica
Missouri Botanical Garden
August 6, 2003
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The Correspondence of

Elizabeth Atwater (1812‑1878) and

George William Clinton (1807‑1885)


Edited by P. M. Eckel, P.O. Box 299, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, 63166‑0299; email:




Vol. 8, no. 142 [H 76]

Chicago, May 1st, 1872. Dear Sir,


Our Southern trip is accomplished, and we are safely moored in Chicago, poor humid city, it looks even more desolate by contrast with the beautiful cities we have visited, than at the period of our departure.


Mr. Atwater called with me upon your friend Dr. Mohr. He was not in ‑ But paid us the compliment of a visit in the evening ‑ with Gen'l J. H. Simpson and family. Dr. M. was very sorry that he could not have an opportunity of showing me his herbariums. He lives delightfully, with an extensive conservatory filled with rare exotics. His enquiries for yourself were most cordial ‑ desiring us to extend to you his expressions of sincere regard: His sister, her husband and daughter, Mr. & Mrs., and Miss Hirsch..uel, were in our company, on the following day, and at the request of the Dr., introduced themselve to us. They were en route for Germany, and thought it not impossible they might visit Buffalo, and pay you a visit ‑ also Miss Wilson, whom the Dr. was very desirous they should see.


Dr. M. told me he had supplied you with sp'ms of the Southern Flora, so that I cannot hope to send you anything which would prove of interest to you. I have preserved quite a number of plants for friends who have not the facilities for collecting them so far removed from them ‑ as also for myself, never having the pleasure before of plucking plants in the sunny South ‑ or possessing sp'ms therefrom. We left New Orleans on the 26th Feby, ere the luxurient vegetation of that section was in bloom especially as the season was from "four to six weeks backward"! This was the repeated declaration wherever we went. I however managed to snatch a few plants by the wayside and from an occasional swamp by the courtesy of rail road conductors ‑ with whom I invariably made friends at once.


When an opportunity occurs I shall venture to send you a fern from New Orleans ‑ plucked within a vacant tomb at the Firemens Cemetery. As it was "nothing but a weed" the custodian not only allowed me to possess it, but expressing himself as glad of its removal plucked it, roots and all ‑ greatly to my delight.


So far as my observation extended, ferns are, by no means, as accessible as with us. I notice the variety specified in Chapmans Southern Flora but I cannot imagine where they hide themselves. We left Florida when it almost broke my heart ‑ to take the last look. The spring flowers were coming forth rapidly. We visited St. Augustine, but had not time to go in the woods or on the plains for plants. In the immediate neighborhood of the City is nothing but sand, sand. The rail road passing through a flat, wet country, from Tocoi on the St. Johns River to St. Augustine, is prolific of plants. The cars being propelled by mules, do not move with such velocity as to blend objects in one indistinguishable chaos ‑ but unfortunately allow you an opportunity of viewing each beautiful plant separately. I say unfortunately for ones regret at not obtaining them is all the more intense. Several gentlemen were so kind as to jump off and snatch a few plants for me and I did the same thing ‑ most rashly once or twice. We went down the St. Johns river two hundred miles, to Enterprise. My husband said "what would Judge Clinton say of this half tropical scenery"! Little islands of plants were floating about most independently from one side of the river to the other. Allegators and Turtles enlivened the scene.


[side margin] we are homeless; are at present at a crowded Hotel on the west side quite estranged from old associations, but hope soon to better our condition. Twenty seven hotels having been burned, you can well imagine how we are restricted for quarters. Your pardon for this hasty rate, and believe me,



very respectfully


Elisabeth E. Atwater.


Please address simply care ... ... Atwater [her husband's initials?] Recd May 2.


[Tocoi, Florida, is in St. Johns County. A letter from Charles Mohr of Mobile, Alabama to George Clinton for March 1, 1872 states:


"The evening of 27th, ult. I had the pleasure to call at Mrs. Atwater and I can assure you I did spend a most agreable hour in the society of the Lady and her husband.


I was exceedingly sorry that the Lady did not find me at my place of business when she called there the same morning. A severe attake of my rheumatismus (the very bane of my life) had confined me to my room at that time, else no doubt would have had the pleasure to accompanie her on a little excursion in our imidiate neighborhood or show her some of our floral treasures in my herbarium; I learned only late in the evening before her departure from this place that she had called at the store. ‑ That fatal rhematism has robbed me of many a precious hour and many a cherished hope and pleasure in my life. ‑I feel very thankful to you for the introduction of such of your friends as happen to come to this place, such visits are indeed welcome to me they are like cheerful sunbeams to my existence here."]