Correspondence of Charles Mohr and G. W. Clinton
Edited by P. M. Eckel
Res Botanica
Missouri Botanical Garden
July 22, 2003
Return to home

The Correspondence of

Charles (Carl) Theodore Mohr (1824‑1901) and

George William Clinton (1807‑1885)





Vol. 7, no. 136 [E 95]

Mobile  January 12th  1871  


I thank you for your kind letter of 30th of last month and reciprocate most cordially your kind wishes to the commencement of the new year. I have ben on a hurried business visit to Donaldsonville La., where I picked up some Lichenes wich I have send yesterday to Miss Wilson. There added to the parcel a few good specimens of the beautiful and rare Riccia lutescens, as well as of another species wich I think is  not described in Gray; see what you or Miss Wilson can make of it; you will also a few fungi from this Locality.


I am glad indeed to have received the desired names of the Gramen & Cyperac. I wish you would be so kind to give me a little information about the geographical distribution of the Eragrostis oxylepis Torr. about wich you refer to Mercers report; this book being not accessible to me.


I am grieved to hear that you suffered in health lately, I hope and wisch sincerely that this greatest of the blessings in life will be bestowed upon you to the fullest extent during this and many more years to come.


My prospects for more extended botanical explorations are about as slim as they have ben last year; Still I hope that I will stumble upon object wich I might find worthy of yor intrest, and wish to transmit to you I shall never fail. ‑


Hoping to hear from you soon again I remain most sincerely Your

Chas. Mohr


P. S.

If you ever could arrange a vacation from your professional dutys to seek recreation in a more southern clime, please remember that my humble roof here would be ever ready to receive you, and that nothing could give me greater pleasure than to see you share its hospitality.



C. M.

Recd Jan. 19



Vol.7 no. 156 [E 75 & 74 ‑ two pieces of paper]

Mobile February 5th 1871 Most esteemed friend!


Your kind letters of 26th and 28th of l. month as well as the excellent pakage you sent to me pr. Express have reached me in due time; I sent to you by these lines my best thanks for the same.


I assure you that I feel highly pleased and gratifyed for this most intresting contribution to my herbarium.


I can scarcly tell what pleases and intrests me more, the intresting japanese plants showing such stricking points of affinity with our flora or the specimens from Arisona and the Indian territory; Amongst the later I found some old acquaintances wich I collected 21 years ago upon my trip across the plains to the newly discovered gold field in California; I recognised imediatly in the beautiful Gilia coccinea a plant wich attracted frequently my attention during that journy and wich to name at the time I failed with old Eaton in my hands. Did no California plants come in the distribution by Bolander during my stay in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in the valley of the Yuba I collected extensively made under great difficultys a find herbar of several thousands of specimens, wich I lost all on my return to the states during the transit of the Isthmus of Panama. Since that time I have never seen a California phanegamous plant, till I did come across a few in your pakage.


The Thuringian mosses I value also highly the fill up many a gap in my collection of german musci. ‑ I was never so fortunate to obtain a fertile specimen of a Riccia, so as to enable me to examine the peculiar fructification of that genus myself with the aid of the microscope. The R. lutescens seems to be constantly infertile; I should feel much gratifyed if you could help me to get a fructifying specimen; I always like to get for demonstrativ ad oculos a clear understanding of the generic character of a plant. ‑ I will send to you all I collected of the (probably) R. crystallina; I took it with Mr. Peck for the same species, by comparing it with the short diagnosis as furnished in Sprengels Sys. plant [L...] ‑ Perhaps by this Mr. Peck will be enabled to establish definitely its specific character, it is certainly not described in Sullivants Musci & ...


I have taken due notice of your remarks about P. Maria Wilsonii & Acridium Peckii and altered the labels accordingly. I am much obliged for the determination of the Fungi and the species you had the kindness to send in your letter. ‑ The comon name [smutgrass?]. ‑ This fungus I have never found to invest any other graminen but the above named it excited my attention years ago, but I always did regard it as a Puccinia. My progress

in a clear comprehension of the generic characters of this plants is extremely slow, I have not found the right path yet, my former efforts with the scanty aid of the antiquated IV. Volume of Sprengl. Spec: plant. have proofed futile to lead me to a correct understanding of generic differences; I hope that with the book I received a few days ago, Berkeleys outlines of brittish fungologie I will be able to make better progress; I am not a little dissappointed in these otherwise excellent work, as it gives descriptions of only the larger species of fungi, more than half of the pages being devoted to the large agarics omitting all characters whoes recognition requires more than the aid of an ordinary pocket lens; Consequently the generic description of the fungi of the lower orders are very defficient and the species are only nominally mentioned; forming for the same nothing more than a systematic catalogue. I send you enclosed a smal bit of a very peculiar and intresting hyphomycetous fungus; whoes station amongst that large group I must leave to you to determine; The cellular threads are compacted to a variously branched


[second sheet]  stem, strong and rigid, whose branches terminate in extremely fine tufts of hyaline sporiferous fibrilla, forming a most beautiful object under the microscope. ‑ I yet have observed amongst mosses of this fibrilla several times a few larger uniseptate free spores; but I can not tell if the [sic] belong to the plant or not. It grows upon the smaler limbs and branches of our apple trees growing rapidly around the invested [?] branch, wich after being completely encircled by the fungus suddenly dies. It is certainly the cause of the blight so destructive to our apple trees in this latitude. I am anxious to learn from you the place assigned to this Fungus in the system; You will oblige me by giving me at the same time the detailed specific character of the same. 


I look forward with much anxiety to the publication of Tuckermanns Generas [sic] of Lichens. I hope the work will be obtainable by the ordinary channels of the book trade. ‑


I am very thankful for the naming of the plants by Dr. Torry; through my correspondent Mr. Ths. Meehan in Phi'd or Torrey has a fascicle of mexican Cyperacea & Gramini of mine since the last 3 years in hand. whenever they come bak to me, I shall make up a set of duplicates for your Academy.


I have not heard from our estimable friend Profess. Lesquereux for a long time; anxious as I am to hear from him I am somewhat reluctant to trouble him with my letters, knowing that the affliction wich impaired his sight in such a deplorable degree almost forbids him to read and to write.


It is very sad to know him to suffer so much and to be compelled to persist in a state of inactivity wich to his active mind must be a sore trial. ‑


I send to you in the course of this week a full set of my american musci & hepatici. I selected the same with great care sending the best and most characteristic specimens, so as to facilitate the work of determination as much as possible; This set is intended to remain with a few exceptions in the hands of the investigator; Should there be amongst the units some species new, or otherwise of a particular interest to the same I beg they might be retained. ‑ I feel sure that most of this mosses are already described as Deppe [sp.?] & Schiede and Lieber have collected in the same localities i.e. in the mountains of the Orizzava [sic] and the adjacent plains. The mosses of the first collectors have been years ago described in the 'flora' and the later [sic] by Carl Mueller. After I have received the name I shall make up as perfect and good sets for you and Miss Wilson as my material left will permitt [sic]. ‑ Having devoted more time and attention to mosses than to any other cryptogams I hope to avoid the danger of confusion in identifying with the authenticated species and give you correct names. ‑ I hope that you will be enabled for many years to continue your fruitfull labors in the field of botanical science from wich in the course of time you saw retire so many a devoted and enthusiastic colaborer [sic]. Where is the younger generation to take their places? 


What a pity that circumstances will not permitt us to join together in a grand tour of exploration of South florida. Mobile would be a first rate starting point. This always longings in that directions, but have now given up the hope, to see the same ever satisfyed. ‑ [sic]


I shall not fail to send you few specimens of the [Hydrochloa?] with the mosses. I feel very sorry that I am not able to make new contributions, so as to help you to deminish the number of desideratas on your checklist. We have delightful spring weather, the sward is assuming its green velvet, plums and peaches begin to show their blossoms if the weather continues this way vegetation will push rapidly forward; I am afraid that a visit of Feb. first will nip the precocious vegetation before this month is to end. I did send you in one of my pakages a plant named Gardoquia [sp.?] Hookerii I found since that it is the Calamintha coccinea Nutt.


If there is a new edition of Manns Catalogue printed I would like to see the few plants added wich I have observed here and wich are not yet mentioned in any of our floras. ‑ Is there ever a prospect of seeing the since years abandoned work of Torrey & Gray "flora of North america," taken up again? ‑


With the best wishes for your happiness and welfare I remain

very truly



Chas Mohr


The fungus mentioned will come in the pakage with the mosses. Recd Feb. 11  wrote [29th & before?]


[Mohr is referring here to his disastrous gold mining venture to California in 1849 with around 50 young men from Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked "in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in the valley of the Yuba."]


[There is a Puccinia Mariae‑Wilsoni described by Clinton and an Aecidium Mariae‑Wilsoni by Peck. The Thomas Meehan of Philadelphia may be the Thomas Meehan (1826‑1901) mentioned in the Index Herbariorum "Collectors 'M'" who collected in western North America in the 1880's, Greenland, around 1894, Pennsylvania from 1850's and Colorado in the 1870s "with I. C. Martindale"]. This Martindale, of Philadelphia,  was a correspondent of Clinton's.]


[In the Index Herbariorum "Collectors 'M'", there is a Ferdinand Deppe (? ‑ 1828 who collected in Guatemala and Mexico, together with Christian Julius Wilhelm Schiede (1798‑1836, collecting in Mexico.]


[Miles Joseph Berkeley (1803‑89) was a distinguished British

mycologist. The Outlines of British Fungology was published in 1860. Mohr had a chance to study this book when confined to bed and disliked it intensely (see October ii, 1871 below)."]



[Leo Lesquereux wrote the following letter:]

"Columbus [O] Feby 22d [18]71 G. W. Clinton


My dear friend,


Your favor of the 14th is recd here just now. I came home on Monday night, recalled by a bad case of sickness in my family. Had a very pleasant time at Cambridge, was in fine health &c, &c. but the best things of this world have an end. I can not write much; only will say that Mohr's Mexican mosses are here at Sullivant's after having passed through my hands (not my eyes). What you have got are probably duplicates; dear friend Mohr despairing of ever seeing his specimens named here. I can do nothing; my sight is good enough for doing nothing but that is all. Mr. Sullivant will examine Mohr's mosses some times when he is out of the 2d vol. of his Icones. Besides there is nobody in the U.S. capable of determining even approximately Mexican species of mosses which are most of them difficult or new. It was Mohr who authorised me to give them to Sullivant. Tell him that you will send them to him (Sullivant) or to me and you will see what he says."]



Vol.7 no. 180 [E 47]

Mobile, March 4th, 1871 Most esteemed friend!


I have received your kind favor of 25th ultima. The answer you received from our esteemed friend Prof. Lesquereux to your inquiry about the determination of my mexican mosses, is just exactly as I did expect it.


If you recollect I mentioned to you on a former occasion that I left a set of this mosses with him as far back as the year 1866, and that he handed the same to Mr. Sullivant, as his pressing labors at that time would not permit him the necessary time for the work.  The last time I heard from him about the matter about 4 or 5 months ago he tells me that Mr. Sullivant is in such way engrossed by his business affairs that he had to put the microscope almost entirely aside; After this intelligence I invoked Miss Wilson and your aid to find some one interested to take the matter in hand.


I see from his reply to you, that our friend still does hold out the hope, that Mr. Sullivant might yet at some time examine the mosses; if I had had any idea of such a prospect I certainly would have waited patiently for that time coming.


Being fully aware of the great difficulty, wich our friend finds in his way since the last two years as caused by the distressing malady of his eyes, I would not venture to press the matter upon him. ‑


Spring with all its beauty is now upon us. The flowering season of the plum and peach has already passed and strawberrys and peartrees are now in their glorious bloom. It is now a splendid time for the collector of cryptogams down here, the balmy airs and plentyful showers are most propitious to the development of the ... fungi, mosses et., et. [sic], but I am sorry to say that all this enticing advantages have to pass by me without being properly profited; On my way from my dwelling to the drugstore I found a beautiful Acidium upon the leaves of the Trifolium carol. of wich I send you herewith a few specimens. Did you see the four fungi I send you with the mosses? With my next I shall send you a few seeds of the desired Pennisetum ([?]Phyphoridium spicatum) you might sow the same in a rich warm border. It is certainly one of the noblest of the panicea [?], and will repay well for the trouble of its culture. 


I got latly by accident hold of a most intresting and comprehensive work, The History of the ...chlamydeous plants by Don [?]; It affords me a long missed and most effective assistance in the Study of the genera of most of the plants collected during my visit in Mexico, a great number of these plants of the ... orders included in the work I find accurately described, and my acquaintance with the botany of tropical America made in the years 1845 and 46 in Suriname is getting [considerably?] renewed:


Hoping to hear from you once again I remain

as ever yours et. et.


Chas. Mohr

Recd March 11



Vol.7 no. 214 [E 10]

Mobile May 2nd  1871 Most esteemed friend!


Two months have elapsed since I was in receipt of your kind letter wich continued the interesting notes of Dr. Peck about the Aecidium specimens. Since that time I suffered much with severe attacks of rheumatism wich deprived me as much of spirit as well as valuable time to discharge my duties towards my friends, or to devote myself after business hours to those pursuits we both delight in and wich always afford me the most agreeable recreation. ‑ In short I feel myself of no account, little fit for study. It is this the only excuse I can offer you for my seeming neglect. ‑ This spring was a most unpropitious to me so far, even the flowery month of May made no exception [to?] put on most unseasonable airs, prevailing, seldom that the leaden hue of the skies was dispersed ... the efforts of the sun to assume its rights.


I have to thank you for the honor to see myself elected a corresponding member to your Natural history society; I wish that I could succeed in doing honor to your kind recommendation. ‑ I have also received through the kindness of Mr. Lee the intresting report upon the Ornithologie of Florida to the Society; You will do me a favor if you will be kind enough to express to Mr. Lee my best thanks, and my pleasure in seeing myself friendly rembered by him. ‑


In accordence with your wishes I collected after the receipt of your letter quite a number of trifolium leaves with the pretty Acidium during a spell of sickness the whole lot got some way or other lost. ‑ About the middle of last month I wanted to make good my loss, but instead of the Acidium I found upon the leaves of newly formed stolons (the plants ... first inverted with the Acidium seemed to me almost completely died out) a Puccinia. The specimens of that lot, as bad luck would have it, shared the same fate except one specimen wich I had put away in the box of my microscope, and wich I send you by the present. ‑ I went today to the same spot again, the closest observation did not reveal a single Acidium but in abundance a Puccinia wich seem to differ from the last form collected about 4 weeks before upon the same species (I will by no means say specimens); The black soredii being much smaller and collected in dense more or less confined groups, whereas the spores of the specimen collected in April are collected in fuscous dots, larger and singly scattered over the plants. ‑ Now by this, my observations coincide with those of Dr. Peck, if we have in these instances a true case of abiogenesis before us, of course only a series of microscopical observations will proove, in seeing from the Acidium spore developed a Puccinia. ‑ This dimorphism moreover has been actually prooved by the researches of Tulasne about 8 or 10 years ago, finding by direct experiment, that the spores of the Acidium Berberidis upon the culm and leaves of the cereals, as Oats, Wheat et. et. develop the Puccinia graminis, and setting by that a controversy between the practical agriculturist and Botanist, wich was carried on over a half century; as the later would not admit the evil influence of the barberry shrub over neighboring grain fields. [lines marked out]. All the serious complaints brought forward from time to time by the farmer against the barberry as the cause of the ruin of its filds have been scorned by the scientific till consciencious research bore out triumphantly the practical experience of the unlearned.


What did you or Dr. Peck make of the hyphomycetous fungous, so destructive of our apple trees? I am anxious to learn something about it. ‑ Please send to Dr. Peck the enclosed specimens, hoping to hear from you soon I remain verytruly your sincere friend


Carl Mohr

Please remember me to the esteemed Miss Wilson,

Yours. ‑

Recd June 5


[abiogenesis: the origination of living organisms from lifeless matter; spontaneous generation. Tulasne ([Edmond] Louis Rene, 1815‑85; and Charles, 1816‑84. "L. R. Tulasne, the 'reconstructor of mycology', was from 1842 in a position at the Paris Natural History Museum and in more than 50 papers he made additions to the knowledge of smuts, rusts, ergot, subterranean fungi (Fungi Hypogaei, 1851), Pyrenomycetes, lichens, and higher plants while Charles, who gave his brother much help, made the beautiful and detailed Icones for the Selecta Fungorum Carpologia (3 vols., 1861‑5, in Latin .... An important new idea in the Carpologia ... was that of pleomorphism in fungi." pp 417‑418, Ainsworth, G. C.,  1967. Ainsworth & Bisby's Dictionary of the Fungi. Commonwealth Mycological Institute, Kew, Surrey.]



Vol.8 no. 41 [H 184 & 183, two sheets of paper:]

Mobile October ii, 1871 ‑ Esteemed friend!


You have certainly a right to think that I have you neglected by delaying so long in answering your very kind last letter. ‑ I could not help to treat my other friends and correspondents in the same manner, as continued sickness has been pressing me sorely, and robbed me of time and chance to perform amongst others this always pleasant duty.


For the same reason I have done allmost nothing in regard to botanical matters yielding however reluctant, to my feelings and desires, to stern duty and necessity. ‑


During some of the weary hours confined to my bed I sought instruction by studying the Characters of Fungi as given in Berkeley, outlines of brittish fungologie, Trusting to this great author I find myself somewhat deceived; the descriptions I find very dry and barren, the terminologie often unexplained that I come to the conclusion, that I was but little benefitted and my outlay for the book a poor investment. ‑ The authors view must have been to write a popular work, but by doing so he certainly missed its aim and made it alike unpalatable for the begining dilettant as well the scientific student. ‑


I am anxious to learn from you the name of the beautiful red Polyporus I send you last May or June. ‑ Did you ever get the views of your esteemed friend Dr. Peck, about the alternation of generations taken place amongst some of the lower forms of fungi, wich He suspects going on amongst the Puccinias and wich has actually been proofed in the change of Puccinia graminis into a different plant developed from its spores upon the Berberis vulgaris, as I stated in one of my last letters. ‑ The matter has important bearings in biologie and it would be ... the trouble worth


[second sheet:] to find further proofs amongst our Puccinias, and give it a full investigation. How devotedly or I wish to posess the necessary time and ability for the prosecution of such studys. ‑


Is there any prospect for the determination of my mexican mosses? If the work of C. Mueller Synopsis muscorum frondosorum, wich I possess should help Dr. Peck in the examination of the same it would give me pleasure to lend it to him. ‑


Hoping that you will not pay me in the same coin I have served to you, and give me the pleasure to hear soon from you I remain as ever


Your sincerely

Carl Mohr

Recd Oct. 18  ansd Nov. 14



Vol.8 no. 69 [H 154]

Mobile  December 10th, 1871 My dear friend!


Many thanks for your welcome and kind letter of the 14th of ...m; it has given me a great deal of pleasure, I must tell you it did me really good, in giving me the assurance of your welfare and contentment, and the hope that our mutual intercourse by the way of correspondence will be in future continued.


I congratulate you in having passed safly the ordeal of an election, and that the vox populi proofed itself truly as vox Dei; I must say that by looking at matters as they are going down here, my confidence in the old adage is sadly shaken, and I should tremble for the fait [sic] of any friend of mine whose destiny should depend upon the decision of that tribunal wich finds its expression in a popular election. ‑


I also have just passed a turning point of my life, towards wich I was steering through a really critical period, the cares of wich latly wheighed very heavily upon me. ‑ As I have come now to the firm conclusion that I shall (for years to come) remain in the path of life I here pursued during the last two decades; I have found again the wonted states of my mind and the cares wich disturbed me have left me. ‑ My hopes and aspirations for a independent and quiet life upon my farm on the Gulf coast (so much more in harmony with my feelings and tastes, and congenial to my health) have to yield to the present circumstances of the times; and the realisations of the same are to be defered to that future in wich my children will be able to work their own way through the world. My plans almost matured after much toil and sacrifices, shipwraked upon the same cliff, wich makes all enterprises in agriculture so extremely hazardous in the South, and particularly in the special locality, i.e. the great trouble in procuring labor and the utter unreliability of the same. Enthusiastic in my hopes in the agriculture resources, under the new era, of the South. I either could or would not (I do not know wich) realise the ful force of the above difficulty; but my latest experiences in that respect opened my eyes ["at once"? written above line] to the full dangers and to the risks I would expose my existence to; prevented me of taking the last steps, wich would have led me into new spere of life. ‑


About the mexican mosses I think it best to wait until Mr. Sullivant finds sufficient time to determine the same. He is allready in the possession of a full set of the same, transmitted to him in 1866 by our friend Mr. Lesquereux and it seems to me that according to his statement as quoted in your last, he still holds out the hope for us to undertake the task whenever he finds sufficient time. I have no doubt that after the publication of the supplement to his Icones, a copy of it will reach your hands. ‑ In that case please inform me, if some new species from this locality did find a place in the work. About 2 or 3 years ago I sent Mr. Sullivant by his request through Mr. Lesquereux also my mosses I had collected here as a small lot of specimens snet before excited his interest greatly discovering several new and interesting forms amongst the same, particular in regard to geographical distribution of Species. ‑ Since that time I have never heard of the matter. ‑


So your suggestion meets my views exactly and I request you to keep for the present the mosses in your hands. My best thanks for the fungi you had the kindness to send to me; In Sprengels Species plantarum I find both Polyporus cinnab. [sp.?] & sanguineus described. I am fully satisfied that my specimens belong to the later species; the very small sori distinguishes it sufficiently from the first. From the very interesting remarks of Dr. Peck upon you Tubercularia, as quoted in your last of Nov. 20th I learn anew, that the subject is one ful of difficulty and any conclusions arrived at must be taken with great caution; Dr. Peck seems to treat it wth a masterly hand; ‑ I am glad to state that a few days ago I received a letter from Mr. Lesqu. ‑


Please give my best regards to Miss Wilson,

I am most truly your

Chas. Mohr.


Recd. Dec. 17


[In 1870 the Superior Court Chief Judge Verplanck died and Clinton, himself a Superior Court Judge, had to stand an election to replace him as Chief Judge. Although Clinton won his election in Buffalo, New York, it does not appear to have been a pleasant ordeal.]




[On December 12, 1871, Leo Lesquereux wrote to George Clinton the following:]

"We can do nothing with dear Mohr's mosses till Muller's second edition (synopsis) is out. But the more he works the more new species are sent to him and there is no end of his work. Mexican mosses are as yet little known. I tried hard to determine Mohr's species but could do but little. We have few exotic species in our colections. I had lately a good letter of

him. He is better now and out of trouble with his farming hallucinations."