Correspondence of Rhoda Waterbury and
G. W. Clinton
Rhoda Waterbury and G. W. Clinton
1865 - 1867
by P. M. P.O. Box 299,
Rhoda Waterbury, ca. 1865-1867
V3: 3: 9, 50, 52, 57, 81, 86, 105, 116, 123, 157.
Miss Waterbury's contribution to botanical history in the
But perhaps particularly Rhoda may shine in the
extraordinary letters she wrote to George W. Clinton between 1865 and 1867
and which comprise a series of documents in the archives of the Buffalo
Museum of Science. Of all the female character types known during the
American Victorian period, Rhoda seems to be rather special.
Among the contributors to Austin's 1870 exsiccat are G. W. Clinton, the Ohio bryologist and Swiss émigré Leo Lesquereux; T. P. James, a colleague of Leo Lesquereux'; John Macoun, the Canadian botanist; Charles H. Peck, soon to become a distinguished mycologist; Elihu Hall of Illinois, collector in the Rocky Mountains; S. T. Olney, H. Gilman, T. C. Porter of Pennsylvania; the southern botanist H. W. Ravenel; Dr. E. C. Howe of Fort Edward; W. S. Sullivant, the first American bryologist with whom Leo Lesquereux collaborated in Columbus, Ohio; Charles Wright, collecting in New Mexico; Mr. Wolf of Fulton Co., Illinois; Lyall (British Columbia); B. D. Greene (Boston, Mass.), Oakes (New England); and John Paine Jr. of New York (no. 401).
The label for
number 286 reads: "Climacium dendroides (Dill.) Web. et Mohr, "Hab.
No specimen by Rhoda occurs in the Supplement issued 8 years later in 1878.
Although I cannot claim to have experience in piecing together
genealogies, or in substantiating genealogical relationships that are not
explicit in presented data on genealogies, it is tempting to consider a
website (copyright 2000) created by Gary Waterbury entitled "The
Waterbury Family." Without actually knowing whether Rhoda and her
Schoharie family were related to the people Mr.Waterbury lists in this
website, many correspondences can be found. The originators of the clan in
G. Waterbury mentions a Homer Waterbury born in 1838 to the wife of James Waterbury of Andes, New York, and a Waterbury branch in Delaware County - perhaps both the same family (Rhoda wrote: "On Tuesday morning Oct. 3rd six of us started with a span and our own conveyance to visit the graves of our ancestors in Andes, Delaware County," Oct. 9th, 1865).
The only Rhoda given on G. Waterbury's website is one of
nine children, a daughter of Joseph Waterbury of
In Rhoda's letter of March 23, 1866 we learn that 12 children were born to her family, three died in infancy and nine survived. Of the four girls, the youngest died of consumption during the war during her 19th year. Rhoda and her sister Mate [sp?] were "old maids" at the time of writing, Mate [= Matilda?] being the eldest girl who "has the management of things at home." The children at the time of the letters are young adults, most of them married or marriageable. From a cursory glance at the letters one might imagine Rhoda's mother had died. Rhoda seldom mentions her. "If I were not sometimes cross when people will not be what I call true and just and patriotic; and sundry other defects I mourn in my disposition, I should be a happy old maid living as a child with my parents" (August 28, 1865). This statement seems to indicate that her mother survived and Rhoda was living with her and her father. Indeed, the mother's existence is confirmed: "It does not seem sad to me that my grandparents passed on in ripe old age to a blissful immortality, but then I am a strange girl Ma says." (Oct. 9, 1865). Her father seems to be more important in her life than her mother, her brothers than her sisters.
Rhoda's father was a resident of Schoharie: "... it will not be difficult to find us as we are old residents (My father has been here near forty years) and the Schoharie stage will bring you within half a mile ..." (Jan. 5, 1866). In Schoharie "... our old stone house is warm throughout [as] if it is a farm house." (January 5, 1866).
The fourth sister (older than 19) had married and removed
to Warsaw, New York, where "I was called here by telagram [sic] to the
death bed of my pet and namesake, my sisters oldest child a lovely little
creature of ten years" (January 1866). At the end of this letter,
From the enumeration of the
Of the five living brothers, as mentioned in Rhoda's
letter of May 7, 1866, there is one also in Warsaw, who "had made
arrangements to take our dear Allies body from the cemetery here to Mt. Hope
Rochester where they have a family lot" - it seems the Waterbury's may
have a family lot at Mt. Hope, but possibly it was the family of the father
of the stricken child, Rhoda's sister's husband, although this does not seem
to be what Rhoda meant. Otherwise, "... my brother Prof. O. H. [
"... my second brother is editor of the Sandusky
Daily, Triweekly & Weekly Register, that is Charley, none of them are
noted men but as true as steel I know, and christians." (January 5,
1866). The only
"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." (Nov. 1865).
Homer is the youngest of seven sons (two apparently having died in infancy) and has been fortunate enough to return from the recent war." What fun we do have here when Homer is well. He is the seventh son and we call him Doc. at home for a pet name. ... But I must close this and write to my pet brother in the army, who has just lost his horse which was indeed a veteran, having served ever since the first call for volunteers" (Aug. 28th, 1865). (Nov. 11, 1865) ..." 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 ...".
As to Rhoda herself, her birthday is May 12 (letter of May
7, 1866). She wrote frequently that she is an old maid. As to her age:
"The coldest day of the season and but little snow: now does the picture
of the "middle aged venerable very [grave?] lady" on skates rise
before you? "(Jan. 5, 1866)."I am a Hydropathist, four years ago I
spent five months under treatment at Clifton Water Cure trying to preserve
what seemed to me then a valueless life, and the result has been I am a
thorough Water-Cure-ite, quite a healthy old maid, and weigh 140 lbs, now are
you not shocked? You see I want you to try water when you feel sick, or two
thirds sick." (Sept. 16th, 1865).
In 1861, when she visited Clifton Springs, the Confederate
Rhoda had been educated in the well known Troy Female
Seminary, the principals of which were Mr. and Mrs. John H. Willard of
Elizabeth E. Atwater, the diplomat's wife, also a
When Rhoda resided at Clifton Springs, the political
tension in the
Schoharie was a town, as discussed below, whose residents
had some political influence in
Rhoda, from a large family, had a close attachment to brothers with middleclass employment: editor of a newspaper, head of a manufacturing firm, head of an academy, and a Union soldier. She seems to have been deeply exposed to political and societal issues. On October 6, 1866, she wrote: "It is too bad you are so confined to business, and I am anxious to know what you think of the political field now, please tell me for I am uncertain, uneasy, and want direction, you know how very important it is that all women should be right in political affairs."
She seems to have followed the women's movement in
education (she being an educator herself and trained at one of the leading
women's schools - the
The only reference to the initiation of Rhoda's botanical
From the content of Rhoda's letters, she and Clinton had
never met face to face and, without photographs, neither knew what the other
looked like. She knew how old he was, but he did not possess this knowledge
of her. She did not know Charles Peck before her correspondence began with
One might guess that it is through her acquaintance-network and that of her family, particularly her brothers, that she was somehow attached to the reorganization of the State Herbarium. Indeed, initially she had great luck in finding an interesting species or two, and showing the quickness of her intellect in finding, processing and distributing a rare vascular plant of her vicinity: Polemonium caeruleum L. (= Polemonium vanbruntiae Britton).
Note should be taken, however, that in 1864, the year previous to the onset of the present correspondence, S. B. Woolworth, the Secretary of the Board of Regents, in the Seventeenth Annual Report of that body, issued a broad appeal to the naturalists of the State of New York to submit specimens to "perfect the State Collections of Natural History ...". The Regents "respectfully invite you to co-operate with the many men of science ... who have tendered their assistance." "... the free and zealous co-operation of the naturalists of the State is absolutely necessary to the attainment of these objects." "The Regents will be glad to receive specimens of any or all the plants of your vicinity ...". "The naturalists of the State are encouraged to develop local catalogues of the species, particularly the botanical ones, pursuant to developing a "full catalogue of the Flora of New-York ...". Such specimens were to be submitted to the Secretary of the Regents for processing.
In the same Annual Report, G. W. Clinton published his
"Preliminary list of the plants of
Rhoda may simply have volunteered, perhaps writing to
Woolworth who may have forwarded her letter on to
The irrepressible Rhoda immediately, however, designated
Rhoda enjoyed associating intimately with men with
political credentials. Clinton, one of the Regents of the
She acknowledges her fascination with such men: ""Now do not smile at my enthusiasm, you who look from above upon Governors and such like have a bird's eye view while to me who look from below they seem to hide all other light and I am eclipsed by them." (August 10, 1866). "I dare not tell you what an elevated position you hold in my thoughts. Oh these old maids! some of them have a grand ideal of what God created in his own image, I know" (Dec. 23rd, 1865). Her pragmatic view of such men, however, is not an idealized one.
The reader of Rhoda's letters rather quickly finds
themselves drawn into a disconcerting stratum of intimacy Rhoda initiates
between herself and her "mentor." It seems clear that this is
actually a response to certain hints in
Rhoda seems to have been almost relieved to acknowledge to
Perhaps to demonstrate her fitness as a companion in
politics, Rhoda's hints at impropriety are matched with a kind of coercive
spitefulness. She is very aggressive about getting
John Gebhard Sr., born in 1800, and Jr. (his son) were both from Schoharie.
The object of the initiative spearheaded by Hall may have
been to improve these institutions, but the internal evidence of the various
letters written to Clinton, who was politically instrumental in effecting
Hall's rise in 1866 to dominate all these departments under one (Hall's)
head, indicates that Hall had personal axes to grind. His biographer, John M.
Clarke, though a great admirer of Hall, does not hesitate to portray him as
profoundly jealous of his own (Hall's) ascendancy as a kind of "Father
of American Stratigraphy," both in
Some of Rhoda's tutelage in the summer of 1865 may have
included some political background, especially into the role and obligations
of members of the Board of Regents (of which
Although Rhoda saw
At first one might think Rhoda may have been something of
a tool of a political faction, but it appears more likely from her letters
that she used this knowledge in a predatory fashion for her own purposes,
rather than those of others. Governor Fenton is considered to have been the
inventor of the Republican Party, whose first president was Abraham Lincoln.
Rhoda existed in emotional isolation
Although her letters suggest Rhoda was surrounded by people whom she loved with a devotion that is really beautiful, one cannot escape the feeling that she actually was isolated in spite of the abundance of people in her family circle. With so many siblings and their extended families, with her passions and lively intellect, it appears as though she were at the center of a broad social context. She appears to be very popular and well connected to the powerful, when in fact, the thrust of the letters imply that whatever social currency she possessed was fast diminishing. In fact these two years, 1865 and 1866, seem to have been one last desperate effort for her to capture a life she felt she was eminently destined, prepared and suited for.
In a rather obvious disregard for or failure to understand social realities, Rhoda characterized herself as scornful of the sort of woman society during the 1860's trained them to become - along the lines of the syllabus at the various women's academies she attended and at which she taught. Rhoda was no shrinking violet but an upright Walkurie that played in the wet mountain meadows with her hair blowing in the breeze, the moral, spiritual, intellectual and political companion of men who were leaders in their community.
Throughout her letters, Rhoda, the Schoharie oread, hints
at impatience with the valetudinarian conventions of contemporary women
Rhoda, however, sought to embody the elixir of life as her boots filled with the water of soaked moss beds and pitcher-plants, a vitality she was eager to pour over the withered and despairing head of the variously infirm Judge Clinton, or so he seems to have led her to believe in his letters to her. Although Rhoda worried about the apparently sick and frail Judge, she had no such concern for sick women (wives): "I do hope this fine spring day is cheering to the "invalid wife", how I do pity those who cannot enjoy the open air, and ramble the fields as I do ...," (May 7th, 1866).
Although unwilling to entertain marriage guests in her
family's home in Schoharie,, Rhoda would make her sorrowing and sick, married
The Women's Rights Convention was convened in
Rebellious laughter shouts out in her letters in what might appear to be an excess of joy. On October 9, 1865 she wrote: "I cannot tell you half of it, but I was very happy and felt so well, and laughed so much, all but the one day we spent at the old place and even then I could not feel sad as my father and aunt did." Her mother thought her odd. On October 16, 1865: "Do you like to have a good loud laugh? Then what a pity you could not have been near when I came to that sketch in your last." December 23, 1865: "it is glorious fun when my brothers will go to draw up the sleigh and we girls have only to ride and laugh." On January 5, 1866 she wrote: "I am so glad you are full of fun in winter and I must try to modify my laugh before you get here for I am given to laugh loud. There I have foolishly told of it again."
But there is another, more depressing side to the laughter in her family. On Oct. 9th, 1865 she wrote: "My brothers call my room my den and I don't wonder with all the plants & mosses in every corner but no one dares to disturb them, and they make all sorts of fun of me because I am so delighted with them." In November, 1865, she wrote: "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."
Again: "I put in a cotton plant not for its value but our folks make fun
of it and say it must be a new dwarf variety and Homer who has just come
will have to pass as a Schoharie variety. I had some plants four feet high
but they did not ripen." (December 23, 1865).
Rhoda had stirred up her family with her relationship with
Even though, on September 29, 1865, she was requested to entertain a houseful of company, she actually disliked their presence and kept to her room: "I don't like to be caged up here in the house with company all the time and it is seldom I can find a company that like to ramble as I do and to tell the truth, it has made me sick to stay in doors so I kept my bed one day and soon can hardly breathe with a cold which I should have avoided could I have been in the open air."
Toward the end of her exchange with Clinton, however, the knowledge and enthusiasms she had developed during her correspondence with Clinton had made her even more estranged from her social equals: "The woods were just in their gayest colors last Saturday and the day was made expressly for us, yet the company were strange to me, only friends of a few weeks, and I did not dare talk of all these things as I would to you who know me so well, and part of the pleasure was lost. They think it so strange too that I gather mosses, and then I feel sensitive about it, because you know one does not like to be odd, so I say just as little about it as I can when I am just full of joy that I have discovered something." (Gloversville Seminary, Saturday evening Oct. 6th, 1866).
Earlier, on August 28, 1865, she wrote: " ... most of my rambles are entirely
alone with nature and I sometimes find myself actually talking to the little mosses hid away among our rocks. I sit down to rest anywhere and invariably discover something new just at hand."
Her mother's attitude, from whom Rhoda appears to be estranged as with other women, is indicated in the following note: "... all but the one day we spent at the old place and even then I could not feel sad as my father and aunt did. It does not seem sad to me that my grandparents passed on in ripe old age to a blissful immortality, but then I am a strange girl Ma says." (Oct. 9, 1865).
Rhoda was odd, strange and ridiculous. She was
intelligent, rebellious and depressed. Her apparent ardency toward
Rhoda was aware of the passage of her youth: January 5, 1866: "How I wish I was young and handsome and literary just for one week, not that I want to go over life again, I have got past those foolish times and am glad of it, but it is so natural to admire youth and beauty, and was ever a woman born that did not like to please? I am me & am afraid you will think I am young and be so shocked! I am half a mind to tell you my age and weight, but that would just prove what our folks say, that I cannot keep a secret and I must wait and see you."
Men held the keys from survival to social status. It is probable that Rhoda had exploited the shortage of men and dislocations of the war in her own way.
The time had arrived when she could not longer do so. Her only alternative was to be conventional - she would marry or she would teach. Her eldest sister could care for the old folks - one well known way for parents to create an old maid out of the eldest daughter. But in a strange fallout of female spinster "primogeniture" Rhoda became the superfluous one. Her situation indicated that she was one of a surplus population of women during a time of a war that consumed the male population like never before or since in American history.
Even near the end of her correspondence with Clinton, after her private audience with the governor, again she is off in the field looking over a coal seam with Professor D..., a man who once stood to make a lot of money: August 10, 1866: "I visited in company with Prof. D..., what they call the coal mine, about four miles from here, they have gone, or rather followed a vein of something that looks very much like coal, a hundred feet into the side of the mountain, but I suppose it is not coal, and the company has been given up though they once dreamed of immense revenues to be derived from it."
Rhoda's five month visit to Clifton Springs to recover her
health reminds one, perhaps, of the watering ground and hotel world of Edith
Wharton where desperate mothers brought their daughters to such places to marry
them off as richly as possible. Such places attract the rich and powerful,
and those that prey on such people. Again, one is minded of the intense
hatred of the period, contributing to the riots in
One striking peculiarity of Rhoda's writings is her compulsive honesty. She acknowledges its compulsive character, that she cannot govern it and that she half-heartedly wishes she could. She seems incapable of certain kinds of duplicity. It is social suicide both to try to sell herself to Clinton as a hefty old maid and glad to be rid of her youth, her indiscriminate announcements to all and sundry about her present and pending relationship with the Judge, her rather sinister hints to Clinton about knowledge he would like to know and had to get from her lips, and her bragging to her family about her indiscretions. This in an age where discretion was given great prominence, and which was taught at the Troy Seminary. Her declarations seem to be part of a craving for an elusive liberty or retaliation for being the unwanted one, the unmarried one.
January 5, 1866: "How I wish I was young and handsome and literary just for one week, not that I want to go over life again, I have got past those foolish times and am glad of it, but it is so natural to admire youth and beauty, and was ever a woman born that did not like to please? I am me & am afraid you will think I am young and be so shocked! I am half a mind to tell you my age and weight, but that would just prove what our folks say, that I cannot keep a secret and I must wait and see you." "...I don't know how I dare to write so to Judge Clinton. The truth is, if you are half as good as I think you are I shall just tell you every thing I ever knew, and then afterward I shall just think how foolish it was at my age, that is the way I lecture myself almost every day for my indiscretions."... "The coldest day of the season and but little snow: now does the picture of the "middle aged venerable very [grave?] lady" on skates rise before you?"
In her letters, Rhoda Waterbury has the capacity to
express joy and such sentiments. Her graphic descriptions of unspoiled
habitats, especially those that support a diverse bryophyte population, are a
delight, especially to those who can translate her Latin names into the
visual image of the plants themselves. The physicality of her joy is apparent
in her various raptures, and this joy she was more than willing to share with
Clinton, who seems to have typically represented himself as old, overworked,
sorrowful and harassed, but by other measures, did not possess these
characteristics overmuch. Although
"I have a very queer idea of God I don't know but you will call it materialism but
I think not. It seems to me that the principle of beauty and every thing else that calls forth the feelings of pleasure and admiration in these things is a part, a spark, or at least a ray from Deity itself. There! that is not half the idea and I never can tell it. I do not think they are God but I think His spirit pervades them and
when we feel it we wonder & admire. I think I catch glimpses of the beauty of the Eternal in the physical world and of the glory that surrounds Him in the sunlight that sometimes makes every part of my being rejoice. My father says my theology is not orthodox and I suppose he is right but I cannot help it. I don't think every body
has the same idea of Deity, or can have. He manifests himself to me in the best way to suit the special organization he has given me & I must see Him as I do." (Oct. 28th, 1865).
This religious sentiment may reflect that of others with
"how I do pity those who cannot enjoy the open air, and ramble the fields as I do, my sister says that is living to me, the sort of life I only endure because I must, maybe it is so, mere existence is a pleasure to me when I can feel the fresh air all about me. I sometimes fear that when freed from the body I shall not have that definite consciousness of existence that I now have that it will be near a dream state ...".
Rhoda fails to mention that her rambles in the wilds of Schoharie county are best enjoyed in the company of men of social status, without additional company, and it is with such men that she can best share her rapture, doing what is natural and spontaneous, free from the prying eyes of married sisters and housewives, mothers and brothers.
The conscious quality of the stunning loveliness of some of Rhoda's writing is only one of various styles of composition at Rhoda's command. Her particular kind might be characterized as "sentimental" as in the following passage (Saturday evening [May 1866]):
"It is a beautiful moonlight evening and it is so quiet here in my brothers little library I feel just like writing sentimentally but it will never do I have passed the "transitional" state, and belong to the generation that is now on the stage of action doing the heavy work of the world."
The letter of Sept. 29th, 1865
In this letter occurs what might be the key to Rhoda's purpose, for once she leaves the realm of contributor to botany, and she starts a quest that may be difficult to understand in a pragmatic way.
If there is any suggestion of physical or sexual intent in
any of Rhoda's letters, such innuendo is really only an expression of what
really matters to Rhoda. In spite of an insistence on her jollity and high
spirits and physical strength, it is really an emotional commonality with
For all her protests of amiability, and her readiness to
feel and express deep affection for her family, such warmth does not appear
to have been returned to her, or returned in the way she needed. The
One is put in mind of the social isolation of another very clever contemporary, Emily Dickenson, who similarly rejoiced in nature, the seasons, and felt deeply the intimacy that death had in households at this time, where family members were responsible for the care and tending of the sick, and the preparation of the bodies of relations for burial. Such exposure to death made life more intensely poignant.
"I hope you will not think me unsocial...,"
which Rhoda obviously is.
"I hope you will not think me unsocial, far from it, but you don't know - yes I think you do know! how I love the open air the woods and the abandon of nature, and your letters always breathe fresh from the fields even when you are in that dull court that I so much detest, then too I am delighted to know you worship the God of Nature, another kindred tie between us."
It is most likely that Rhoda was asking for
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" (November 2865). Elsewhere in Clinton's correspondence he will refer to his botanical collections as so much "hay," an acknowledgement of the budding contempt for science and scholarship with the coming of the post Civil War business cycle, a social period in American history that has come down to us as the Gilded Age.
Being intellectually superior, but powerless, is dangerous in her social context. Rhoda's intelligence may have been of interest to men when she was young, but it had become intolerable to them in middle age, an idea that seems beyond Rhoda's
Ability to conceive . Rhoda may, in the end, have made a significant contribution to society with her botany had she not had a variety of conditions that put her at odds with the society she wished to benefit, were the reader to forget that botany was a convenient ruse to rehabilitate a diminished social status. Or her botanical career would have ended had she been successful in her unstated ends.
"Besides the [county] buildings [Schoharie was the
county seat] it contains 3 churches, the
Rhoda's ancestors appear to have derived from the
Schoharie area and may have been of the urban middle class, as opposed to the
agricultural families typifying the population of the county. However, when
she teaches in a village devoted to manufactories,
Although Rhoda did not mention it, she should perhaps be
pleased to have a job, as suggested by the following information: "Within
the last ten years [i.e. 1850's], a mania for building large seminaries, far
beyond the wants of the people, has spread through the [Schoharie] co. The
speculation has proved a ruinous one, and the entire amount of capital
invested in the enterprises has been sunk. ... Of 9 academies built in this
co., 3 have been burned, 3 are "to let," and 3 are still
open." French 1860 p. 602). The 1850's was a boom and bust economic
decade. In the first half of the 1860's, during the Civil War, the economic
institutions of the
Specimens collected by Rhoda Waterbury now in the Buffalo
Museum of Science taken from a partially indexed database of the Clinton
Uvularia perfoliata L.
USA New York Schoharie Co., Schoharie
Rhoda M. Waterbury [1860's?]
Herbarium number: 7309
See letters May 27, 1865; June 10, 1865 and June 2, 1867.
Polemonium vanbruntiae Britton
Rhoda Waterbury (Ex Coll. G.W.C.) Unknown.
Herbarium number: 25153
=Polemonium caeruleum L.
See letters June 22, 1865, JULY 15, 1865; Dec. 23, 1865; Jan. 5, 1866; Jan. 19, 1866.
Eleocharis intermedia Schultes
USA New York, Schoharie Co., Schoharie.
ex coll. G. W. Clinton,
Rhoda M. Waterbury
Herbarium number: 5000
See letter of September 6, 1865.
Grimaldia barbifrons Bischoff
USA New York Schoharie Co., Schoharie
Ex Coll. G. W. Clinton,
Miss Rhoda Waterbury s.n. 1860's
Herbarium number: 41899
Grimaldia barbifrons Bischoff [= Grimaldia fragrans
(Balb.) Corda = Mannia fragrans (Balb.) Frye et L. Clark, a liverwort
(Hepaticae) once in the Marchantiaceae, recently placed in the Aytoniaceae.
See letters citing both Grimaldia and Riccia, the latter an erroneous determination for Grimaldia (A specimen of Riccia collected by her is referred to Mr. C. F. Austin by Leo Lesquereux Vol.2:2 and is probably her Grimaldia barbifrons (= Mannia fragrans). Rhoda refers to this correspondence as the "Riccia affair," resolved by Coe Finch Austin: Sept. 29, 1865; Oct. 28, 1865; [Lesquereux letter Oct. 16, 1865]; Nov. 11, 1865; Nov.  1865.
Fissidens exiguus Sullivant,
USA New York Schoharie Co., Schoharie
Rhoda Waterbury s.n. s.d.
Herbarium number: 75277
On April 2, 1866, the 19th Annual Report of the Regents of
the University of the State of New York, on the Condition of the State
Cabinet of Natural History and the Historical and Antiquarian Collection
Annexed Thereto, Senate document No. 89 of the State of New York was
published. Charles Peck produced his "List of Mosses of the State of
New-York" pp. 42-70 - Rhoda's specimen of F. exiguus is mentioned there.
Letters referring to this specimen at BUF include Feb. 13, 1866. See letter
from Charles Peck to
A search of on-line specimens from the
Bazzania trilobata (L.) Gray Miss R. Waterbury with C. H. P. Comm.
July 1865 United States of
Tortula mucronifolia Schwägr. Miss R. Waterbury 06 Sep 1867
Tortula mucronifolia Schwägr. Miss R. Waterbury
Polemonium vanbruntiae Britton Miss. R. Waterbury s.n. Jul 1887
Mannia barbifrons Shimizu & S. Hatt. Miss R. Waterbury 2a
The bryophyte specimens most likely are derived from the
herbarium of Coe Finch Austin, which in 1887
Note to the Sullivant plates
The book that Rhoda used to identify her mosses and
liverworts, and her vascular plants was Gray's Manual of Botany. W. S.
Sullivant, contrary to the treatment in TL2 under "Sullivant" (and
not "Gray"), in fact issued his treatment of the mosses and
liverworts of the
Sullivant's treatment remained unillustrated until the Second Edition of the Manual, issued in September of 1856. The author of the TL2 treatment for Asa Gray seems to substantiate that the eight plates pertaining to the musci and hepaticae in the second edition were not only drawn by Sullivant (his original drawings now at the Farlow Herbarium), but Sullivant funded the copper plates as well: "Sullivant, on his own motion, had the eight plates of Musci engraved in copper, at his own cost … and gave them to the work, after printing 250 copies for his separate booklet …" Six plates of illustrations by Isaac Sprague in the second edition, including the ferns, were done "on stone" (TL2 p. 988).
The citation for Sullivant's contribution to the Second
Edition of the manual (1856) is: Sullivant, W. S. 1856. The Musci and
Hepaticae of the
Apparently there is an 1857 edition of the Second Edition of Gray's manual but without the bryological treatment, which would have, as the introduction to the manual states, made the book unwieldy for the ordinary user.
The eight copper-plate figures of musci and hepaticae that graced the 1856 edition of Gray's Manual also accompanied a separate publication by Sullivant where only his moss and liverwort text is printed, and it is from this volume that the figures are reproduced with this treatment of Rhoda Waterbury's letters (see note on the drawings below).
Sullivant's separate publication is cited as:
Sullivant, W. S. 1856. The Musci and Hepaticae of the
It was published in
Apparently there is an 1857 edition of the second edition of Gray's manual but without the bryological treatment, which would have, as the introduction to the manual states, made the book unwieldy for the ordinary user. However,
Sullivant's text also appeared in revised editions of the Manual for 1858, 1859 and in Edition 4, 1863, and Ed. 4 of 1865, the year Rhoda's correspondence began. Sullivant's treatment was not reproduced "in other issues of Manual after 1865" (TL2, "Sullivant").
In the year before the Waterbury-Clinton correspondence
began, Sullivant also published (Oct. 1864) the Icones muscorum, or
"figures and descriptions of most of those mosses peculiar to Eastern
North America which have not been heretofore figured,
All of Sullivant's eight plates published in the 1856 Putnam editions, which also appeared in the second edition of the second edition of the Manual are included here to give the reader some idea of the beauty and difficulty of knowing these plants as botany stood in 1865, and to allow the reader to share something of Rhoda's experience associating plants in the field with pictures of the genera with which they were associated, using the hand lens and microscope of the period.
It is a rare occasion when a distinguished taxonomist is also a superb illustrator of the subject of his profession. Fernald, in the Eighth Edition of Gray's Manual (1950) indicated that the plates to Gray's second edition of the Manual were drawn by Isaac Sprague. As discussed above, however, the plates for the musci and hepaticae were drawn by Sullivant.
Note should be made that there were numerous books on
botany Rhoda could have used for her vascular plants. I am indebted to
I thank John Grehan, Director of Science and Collections, Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, New York, for his generous assistance in permitting me continued access to the Museum's collections from the time I came to Saint Louis from Buffalo, where I had been Research Associate in Botany.
The copy of Sullivan'ts treatment of mosses and hepatics
is from the William Steere library, now in the bryological library of the
I thank Katherine Leacock, Research Librarian, now Curator
of Collections, Buffalo Museum of Science, for her generous assistance in
providing continued access to the
Lorinda Leonardi, Charles Sheviak and
Austin, Coe Finch. 1870. Musci Appalachiani: tickets of
specimens of Mosses collected mostly in the eastern part of
Clarke, John M. 1921. James Hall of
Clinton, G. W. 1862-1878. Botanical Journal. Unpublished
journal at the Buffalo
Museum of Science library,
Dugan, James. 1953. The Great Iron Ship. Harper &
French, J. H. 1860. Gazetteer of the State of New York. R.
Mitchell, Richard S. & Gordon C. Tucker. 1997. Revised Checklist of New