Correspondence of Henry Willey and G. W. Clinton
P. M. Eckel
Res Botanica
Missouri Botanical Garden
April 9, 2013
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The Correspondence of

Henry Willey (1824-1907) and

George William Clinton (1807‑1885)


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



Henry Willey (1824-1907)






Henry Willey (1824-1907) was born in Geneseo, New York State and died in South Weymouth, Massachusetts (Jennings 1949). At the time of his correspondence with George Clinton (January 20, 1871 - April 24 1874) he resided in New Bedford, Massachusetts where he was editor of The New Bedford Standard, a newspaper, a post he resigned in 1900 (J.M.C.). The photograph of the older Willey that is reproduced so often in his necrologies  and is displayed below, seems to derive from “A highly appreciative article by Dr. R. H. Howe, Jr., that was published in the New Bedford Sunday Standard, July 20, 1913” and was loaned to Jennings for his article (Jennings 1914).


New Bedford, Bristol Co. in Massachusetts is on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, part of the complex coastal geography of Buzzards Bay in the southern part of the state off Rhode Island Sound. Essex County is due north of it, also a county on the sea coast. Haverhill is located there, where Mary Wilson, see below, lived for a while after leaving Buffalo, as well as the city of Salem, the home of botanist John Lewis Russell.


Before Willey became an editor, he was a teacher “in the Mattapoisett schools” (Jennings 1914) and it is perhaps his interest in teaching that led him to publish two papers in the American Naturalist in 1871 describing the use of the microscope in the study of lichens, and the use of lichen spores in their identification. Although Willey’s mentor in lichenology, Edward Tuckerman, characterized much of his own work as primarily for “Lichenographers,” Tuckerman indicated, in reference to Willey’s two 1871 papers, that “Mr. Willey has done some good work for students” (Tuckerman letter to George Clinton February 7, 1871).


Harris (1987) wrote: “From the recent examination of a number of older herbaria I believe that Willey may have been more responsible for spreading lichenological knowledge in North America than Tuckerman. His material at BUF [the Clinton Herbarium at the Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, NY] apparently constitutes a representation of North American lichens as he knew them, including some types of his and Tuckerman’s species.”


Jennings indicated that “from his boyhood days [Willey] had been a collector and student of the lichens and was a pupil of Edward Tuckerman, whose last work he edited” (Jennings 1914). The beginnings of Willey’s relationship to Tuckerman in 1862 Willey himself would note, upon Tuckerman’s death in 1886, “And here I would pay a last tribute to the memory of one to whom, for the unbounded liberality of the information imparted from 1862 to the time of his death, and for his patience under my sometimes too great demands upon him: I am under such great obligations” (J. M. C., 1913; the quote is without bibliographic reference, but perhaps from Howe (1913). “In about 1862, aside from his work and voluminous correspondence, he [Tuckerman] began to initiate Henry Willey, the eccentric editor of the New Bedford [Mass.] Standard into the study of lichens (Culberson 1964).


In Willey’s first letter to George Clinton (Jan. 20 1871), Willey further elaborated:


I have been engaged in the study of our Lichens for several years, having been led into it by accidentally falling in with a copy of Prof. Tuckerman's Synopsis, and since I have got to using the microscope, it has absorbed my time almost to the exclusion of all other plants.


In 1848, Edward Tuckerman published, in book form, the “Synopsis of the lichens of New England, the other Northern States and British America,” which was “the first full descriptive list of our lichenes published in this country. It enumerates and describes 295 species of which twenty are new” (Tyler 1886).


Willey’s first paper on the study of lichens was published in 1867 and he would continue publishing until 1898 for a total of approximately 26 papers. Some articles or treatments, six of them, were included in the lichenological reports of other authors, such as the 216 species tabulated in the list of lichens for Illinois by John Wolf and Elihu Hall (1878).


When one reads Willey’s letters to Clinton, transcribed here, one is gratified to acknowledge Willey’s freshness, friendliness, his professionality and intelligence, and there is nothing to lead one to suspect his sanity. Bruce Fink, in his 1914 necrology of Willey, considered him to be, “after the death of Tuckerman in 1886, the leading student of North American Lichens” (Fink 1914). It is odd how late was the year American botanists took to recognize Willey’s death - he died in 1907, yet it took six or seven years for his first memoir to be published. Fink’s 1914 paper was the most richly commemorative of all similar publications, yet there is a defensive tone throughout the memoir, especially with regard to the number of Willey’s new species, the number of his papers and the critical comments in the papers he did publish (as opposed to species lists).


Perhaps Fink’s memorial was a response to one written the year before (1913), by “J.M.C.,” who wrote a small memoir in the Botanical Gazette. In the first line of J.M.C.’s memorial, the author acknowledged briefly that “The work of Henry Willey in lichenology entitles him to a more definite introduction among botanists than he has received.” Although the author states “As a student of lichens, he probably ranked second only to Tuckerman, whose pupil he was, and whose last work he edited” the author hastens to state that after Willey’s 1892 publication on the lichens of New Bedford, Massachusetts and vicinity, Willey “disappeared from botanical literature during the last fifteen years of his life.”


Then, most unfortunately, J.M.C. makes the following statement about Willey’s character: “As a man, he was very eccentric, being exceedingly diffident and having only the one great interest. For the most part he lived alone in complete seclusion, with his library and herbarium as his only companions.... Although a recluse socially, he was very generous in his work for others, determining cheerfully hundreds of specimens of lichen that were sent to him, but brusquely resenting any apparent effort to impose upon him.” The author then goes on to state that “A very interesting account of Henry Willey, from which the above information was obtained, was published in the New Bedford Standard of July 20, 1913, prepared by R. Heber Howe, Jr.”

This was Reginald Heber Howe, Jr. (1875-1932), a publishing lichenologist, who wrote a popular introduction to the lichens, published articles in professional journals and books on the ornithology of New England. He taught in the Middlesex School for some 20 years and, having raised money for a new Belmost Hill School outside of Boston, which still exists, was its first Headmaster. He apparently died in the first year of the school’s existence (note that the floruit dates are from a sketchy biography in Wikipedia whose links have all expired). Howe, Jr.’s  publications include:

Howe, R. Heber, Jr.:

1906. Lichens of Mount Monadnock, New Hampshire. The American Naturalist 40: (477): 661-665.

1911. List of lichens collected in the Yukon Region by Mr. R. S. Williams. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club Vol. 38(6): pp. 287-293.

1913. Lichens of Mount Katahdin, Maine. The Bryologist Vol. 16(3): pp. 33-36.

1914. On a small collection of lichens from Jamaica, West Indies. Mycologia Vol. 6(5) (Sept. 1914): pp. 259-263


There are eleven specimens of lichens collected by Elliot Calvin Howe (1827(1828) - 1899) in the lichen collections of the Clinton Herbarium (Harris 1987). Reginald H. Howe, Jr. does not appear to have been directly related to him: E. C. Howe’s four children included two sons: Ralph R. Howe and Dr. Joseph D. Howe. It is clear that Reginald Howe Jr.’s father was also named Reginald.


Howe’s memorial to Willey would have been written when Howe was thirty-eight years old. He would have been thirty-two in the year Willey died. Howe would have been in his 20’s if he had known Willey personally, and one wonders how much Howe’s memorial was based on hear-say or gossip. There is no doubt that Howe, himself, was prolific during his lifetime. I have no access to this publication, but Howe’s memorial account of Willey was apparently “very interesting” (J.M.C. 1913) - although Jennings (1914) says Howe was “appreciative” - and one wonders whether Howe may have borne a sort of grudge against Willey, who perhaps rebuffed a request made to Willey earlier, by Howe, as Willey appears to have  brusquely resent[ed] any apparent effort to impose upon him” (J.M.C. 1913).


Jenning’s (1914) stated that Howe’s “highly appreciative article” gave “among other things considerable interesting information as to the personal habits and character of Mr. Willey ...”.


J.M.C.’s memorial was published just after Howe’s, in the same year. Perhaps this is why Bruce Fink made haste to counter these memorials of 1913 with one of his own a year later. Willey was vulnerable to whomever would initiate the botanical history of Willey because no one had before, or perhaps since, written a summary of his contributions to American lichenology.


Unfortunately, in 1914, another short memorial was published by O. E. Jennings and in it the information from Howe’s newspaper article was repeated almost word-for-word:  “As a man it is said that he was exceedingly diffident and peculiar, living mainly in seclusion with his books and collections for his only companions, and had but few friends outside of a wide circle of botanical friends.”

The motive for the writing and publishing of this article by Jennings (1914) was “In connection with the publication of a new species of lichen in the May issue of the Bryologist ...”, that is, the description of a new species of lichen by Howe (Ramalina willeyi Howe) who wrote (Howe 1914):  “It has plainly never been described, through a long confusion, and, therefore, I propose for it here a new name, given in honor of Henry Willey, because of the abundance of the species in the region in which he collected; the type locality being one of his favorite collecting grounds. “

This comment is reminiscent of Farlow’s anecdotal note regarding Tuckerman who, as a young man visiting the foremost European lichenologist and mycologist, Elias Fries, “when walking together on the famous avenue near the University, Tuckerman discovered a species of lichen which he {Fries], the authority on lichens, had not seen there before” (Farlow 1887).

In W. L. Culberson’s introduction to the collected lichenological papers of Edward Tuckerman (1964), he wrote that Tuckerman “began to initiate Henry Willey, the eccentric editor of the New Bedford [Mass.] Standard into the study of lichens.” Again, Culberson reinforces the character of Willey’s personality by adopting the attitude of Howe, in Howe’s 1913 newspaper article in the New Bedford Sunday Standard, especially in the repetition of the word ‘eccentric.’

Culberson, when commenting on the discomfort Tuckerman felt on the reception of his lichenological views in Europe by a rival, William Nylander, he discharged his view that:  “when the neurotic Henry Willey wrote that Tuckermann ‘frequently became discouraged, he suffered the demands of others upon his time to divert him from its regular purpose, and he felt pained at the absolute want of public recognition abroad’ we may well suspect that Willey was unconsciously attributing his own complex frustrations to a life they ill-described.” 

Then Culberson goes on to seemingly justify Willey’s apparent “projection” of his own neurosis on Tuckerman by mentioning Tuckerman’s election to membership in “at least four European academies and societies by 1872” - a non sequitur. The evidence for Willey’s “complex frustrations” do not seem to exist outside of Howe’s 1913 article, although further documentary evidence of Willey’s apparent neurosis may exist in other archives than those consulted for the present text.

In the letters to follow the present introduction, it may be seen that Willey did everything in his power not to intimidate Tuckerman. Tuckerman himself seemed to be touchy on the matter of Willey describing his own species, seeming to want to retain that privilege for himself alone - a privilege which Willey was more than willing to oblige. It was probably not that Tuckerman resented another person describing species, but there was hardly anyone competent in North America to differentiate European species from North American ones that were unique to this continent.

When Tuckerman returned from his second trip to Europe (see letter to Clinton below, April 30 1873), Willey was unhappy that Tuckerman did not seem to want to work on his own Synopsis, and seemed to waste his time identifying plants for others.


“I wish he could come back and do up his manual. He seems to be a very slow worker, and is I think rather afraid of the thunder of his own reputation, or rather of the judgment passed on him by European lichenists. His Genera seems to me to show a great desire to conciliate Nylander who is very severe on his rivals in Europe, but has always treated T with consideration; though they had one difference in regard to Nyl's giving names to plants which T thought himself entitled to name and their correspondence was suspended for a time but afterwards resumed. I believe at Nyl's request. T has once or twice shown himself unnecessarily susceptible in regard to me, but I think I convinced him that I was not in fault. Such was the fact at any rate. But I wish he would consider the just claims of botanists and students a little more and do up a work which no other person can do so well. He ought to do it now, especially, having presented a System of his own, which he should exemplify in its application to our Lichen Flora.” 


It is clear that Tuckerman was nearly a recluse himself and had a natural affinity with Henry Willey. They were good friends and understood each other, perhaps even better than Asa Gray and Gray’s associates may have done. In the Genera Lichenum by Tuckerman of 1872, p. 256-7 [footnote 2], Tuckerman wrote: “My friend Mr. Willey writes however that in a recent examination of the apothecia of Staurothele diffractella, during which he had submitted “the nucleus, dissected as much as possible from the external parts,” to the microscope, “cylindrical, straight spermatia ... etc.” Tuckerman acknowledges that Willey is his friend.

Farlow wrote (1887) “From the first, Professor Tuckerman was of a retiring and sensitive temperament, and, as years passed on, he ws fored to become more and more secluded in consequence of a deafness which gradually increased, and at last reached a stage at which conversation became difficult.”

In Asa Gray’s memorial to Tuckerman (1886), Gray wrote “Living for a long while in comparative seclusion, few of our younger botanists can have known him personally, or much by correspondence; and most of his old associates and near friends, who knew him best and prized him highly for his sterling character, have gone before him.” William Farlow, too, mentions Tuckerman’s enjoyment of privacy: “If he was at times reserved he was also genial when the occasion demanded; if he was often absorbed in his own studies, he unbent when friends sought his society” (Farlow 1887). At Amherst, he “rarely left home except to make some botanical excursion” (Farlow 1887).

One wonders what society would make of Tuckerman’s wife who bore him no child and the reclusive poetess Emily Dickinson, a neighbor of Tuckerman’s, considered by Culberson to be “brilliant” and, perhaps as a testiment to the social virtues of both persons,  who “eventually, would become a friend of the wife of Tuckerman’s nephew” (Culberson 1964)!

Willey was entrusted with the task of bringing to publication Tuckerman’s last great work. Asa Gray wrote in 1886: “It is hoped, but it is not yet certain, that some portions of the remainder [of the Synopsis of the North American Lichens ...] relating to the less conspicuous but more difficult tribes, may have been substantially made ready for the printer. The loss, we fear, is irreparable; for the work cannot be completed by other hands upon quite the same lines, nor in our day with the same knowledge and insight; and Professor Tuckerman’s mode of exposition is inimitable.” Willey did in fact bring out the final treatment of the Synopsis in 1888 (see end of this article for Willey’s preface).

The first volume of the “Synopsis of the North American Lichens” of 1882 treated three major groups of lichens, but the second volume escaped Tuckerman’s grasp. He died and “it is not now known whether his manuscript is in a state to admit the publication” (Farlow 1887). In a footnote, Farlow stated that Tuckerman’s family intended to publish the manuscript treating of at least two further large groups of lichens (the Lecidiacei and Graphidacei). These would be entrusted to Willey.

To what evidence do we owe the subsequent biographic judgement of  Willey’s character as ‘reclusive,’‘eccentric,’ ‘neurotic,’ and ‘with complex frustrations?”

Brodo (2000) published an article on lichenologists associated with the journal “American Bryological and Lichenological Society” between 1899 and 1999. He only stated that, at the time of establishment of the Society, “Henry Willey ... was still alive although 74 years old, perhaps too infirm to become active in the new society; he apparently was a bit of a loner in any case. Willey was a student of Tuckerman, but made his career as the editor of a newspaper in New Bedford, Massachusetts. But let’s get back to Mrs. Harris.” ...”. When Willey was 74 years old, it was 1898 (he would die in 1907). The last publication by Willey noted by Fink (1914) was in 1896: “Notes on some North American species of Parmelia” in the Botanical Gazette.



Photograph of Henry Willey used by J.M.C. (1913).



Photograph of Henry Willey used by Jennings (1914), derived from the New Bedford Sunday Standard, in an article, the first memorial of Willey, by Howe (1913) for July 20, 1913.




Ainsworth, G. C. 1961. Ainsworth & Bisby's Dictionary of the Fungi. ed. 5.   Commonwealth Mycological Institute, Kew, Surrey.

Britten, James and G. S. Boulder. 1893. A Biographical Index of British and Irish Botanists. West, Newman & Co. London.

Brodo, Irwin M. 2000. Lichenology in the American Bryological and Lichenological Society - 1899-1999. Bryologist 103(1): 15-27.

[J.M.C.] 1913. Henry Willey. Botanical Gazette, Vol. 56(6) (Dec. 1913): 502-503.

Casselman, Karen Diadick (Karen Leigh Casselman). 2001. Lichen Dyes: The New Source Book. Dover Publications. New York.

Cheney, Amos P. 1884. First Fourteen Years of the Historical, Natural History and Library Society of South Natick, Mass. with the Field-Day Proceedings of 1881-1882-1883. South Natick, Mass.: Printed for the Society. stamp from the “Harvard College Library.”

Culberson, W. L., ed. Reprint 1964. 2 Vols. The Collected Lichenological Papers of Edward Tuckerman. Cramer. Weinheim. Wheldon & Wesley, Ltd. New York.

Day, David F. 1883. Lichens. in The Plants of Buffalo and its Vicinity - Cryptogamae. Vol. 4 (4) Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. Buffalo. pp. 167-173.

Eckel, P. M. 1991. Preliminary review of the rare plants of the Niagara River Gorge, U.S.A. and Canada. Clintonia (Botanical Magazine of the Niagara Frontier Botanical Society) 6(2, Supplement): 1-8. 1991 reprinted on line May 26, 2004.

Farlow, W. G. 1887. Memoir of Edward Tuckerman. 1817-1886, “Read before the National Academy, April, 1887.”  National Academy of Sciences. pp. 17-28.

Fink, Bruce. 1914. Henry Willey: A Memoir. Mycologia Vol. 6(2) (Mar., 1914):49-53 with a bibliography of his lichen publications only.

French, J. H. 1860. Historical and Statistical Gazetteer of New York State. R. P. Smith, Publisher, 8 Sth. [sic] Street, Syracuse. Reprint 1980. Heart of the Lakes Publishing. Interlaken, NY 14847 with digital copy.

Gray, Asa. 1886. Edward Tuckerman. Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, new series xiii., 539: pp. 491-498.

Harris, Richard C. 1987. The lichen collection of the Clinton Herbarium, the Buffalo Museum of Science (BUF). Evansia pp. 46-48.

Harvey, William Henry. 1857. Nereis Boreali-Americana. Part III - Chlorospermeae (although the fresh-water green algae were not treated due to problems in the preservation of fresh specimens).

House, Homer. 1924. Annotated List of the Ferns and Flowering plants of New York State. New York State Museum Bulletin No. 254. Albany, New York.

Howe, R. Heber, Jr. July 20, 1913, “A very interesting account of Henry Willey from which the above information was obtained” (by J.M.C. 1913) in the New Bedford Standard, a newspaper which Willey had edited until 1900 (J.M.C. 1913).

Howe, R. Heber, Jr. 1914. North American Species of the Genus Ramalina. Part V.  The Bryologist, Vol. 17 (3) (May, 1914), pp. 33-40.

Jennings, O. E. 1914. Henry Willey. The Bryologist 17(5): 75-76.

Robertson, Imogene C., ed., Edmere C. Barcellona, assistant: 1939. Seventy-five Years. A History of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences 1861-1936. Ed. 2 Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. Buffalo, New York. Vol. XVIII.

Smith, G. M. 1933. The Fresh-water Algae of the United States. McGraw-Hill. New York and London.

Tuckerman, Edward. 1866. Lichens of California, Oregon, and the Rocky Mountains; So Far as Yet Known. J. S. and C. Adams. Amherst.

Tuckerman, Edward. 1866. Lichenes. Pp. 223-234 in H. Mann, Enumeration of Hawaiian Plants. Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts and Sci. 7:143-235.

Tyler, Prof. 1886. Edward Tuckerman. I. Biographical Sketch. Botanical Gazette. Vol. XI(4): pp. 73-74.  [Note that the author of this paper was actually H. H. Doodell (Culberson 1964; see below).

Wolf, John and Elihu Hall. A list of the mosses, liverworts, and lichens of Illinois. Illinois State Lab. Natural History, Bulletin 2:18-35. “The lichens were studied by Willey. See pages 27 to 34 for a list of 216 species and subspecies” (Fink 1914). Fink also indicated that this work was “the best piece of local work ever accomplished on American lichens’ (Jennings 1914).

Wood, H. C. 1871. Prodromus of a study of the fresh water algae of eastern North America. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society Vol. 11.

————. 1872. A contribution to the history of the fresh-water algae of North America. Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge 19. 241:1-262.




The Letters of Henry Willey

(Annotation paragraphs of P. M. Eckel are indented.)


Vol. 7, no. 138 [E 93]

                                New Bedford Jan. 20 1871

Dear Sir

    I am much obliged to you for your friendly letter of the 18th, and for the accompanying publications, the Regents' Report was especially interesting to me on account of the list of lichens. I have made it somewhat of a specialty to collect everything published in this country in Lichens, and this last was new to me. It is by no means exhaustive, as the rock lichen are hardly touched upon. There is one species Placodium imp... the name of which I had not before met with, & which probably has never been described. I published a few years ago a short bibliographical account of the works in Lichens published in America a couple of copies of which I send you, begging you to have the kindness to present one to your friend Miss Wilson - I may add that being a native of your state (Geneseo, Livingston Co.) I take an interest in its natural history & shall be glad to receive the future reports of the Regents. Was there not published in one a few years since a catalogue, I think by a Mr. Paine, but am not sure of the name, of plants in the central part of the State? If so I should be glad of a copy, if attainable. 

    I have been engaged in the study of our Lichens for several years, having been led into it by accidentally falling in with a copy of Prof. Tuckerman's Synopsis, and since I have got to using the microscope, it has absorbed my time almost to the exclusion of all other plants. It is perhaps the most difficult of all branches of botany, and becomes exceedingly attractive the more one pursues it. But a microscope is indispensable. Our lichen flora is a rich one for so small an area, and includes several rare and some new species, I have also collected some lichens in the White Mountains and last summer (during that time ... heat [?]) I made an excursion to central New York (about Syracuse, Ithaca and Watkins) and collected several that were new to me and which I was unable to determine. They are now in Prof. Tuckerman's hands, who is the only one in this country who is competent to decide in new or unknown plants. The [lime stone?] region of New York is almost entirely unexplored, and affords a good opportunity for discovery, and I hope to visit it again next season, when I hope to be able to visit Portage and other places. 

    I have none but a manuscript catalogue of our New Bedford Lichens though I have often ... ( in ... ...) of publishing a catalogue. But mere list[s] of plants are not very satisfactory, and I don't know as I shall ever do it. Professor Tuckerman's work now in the printer's hands will be a very valuable one, and his various publications since the Synopsis are equally so, and give descriptions of a good many American lichens not published elsewhere. What is much needed is a new work like the Synopsis including all American lichens now known. Professor Tuckerman has in contemplation the getting up of such a Manual but he has so much in his hands, that I don't know as he will ever complete it so as to be of use to us.

    If I can be of any service to you or your friend Miss Wilson in exchanging specimens in ... any ... way I shall be very happy to do so. I don't think she will be able to catch up with me in regard to the number of species, though I doubt not she will add to her collection. I think I have got this region pretty well explored, though not a year has passed without my adding something. This again seems to be a place of meeting for northern and southern forms.

    Truly Yours

        Henry Willey

    The February number of the [American] Naturalist will contain a fuller accnt of the doctrine of the Lichen spore, which I intended as a note to the article in the January number, but which was postponed & late for insertion there. I was gratified by Prof. Tuckerman's approval of my article, which I should not have undertaken, if I had supposed he would have done it, a task for which he is far more competent than I.


[written by Clinton:] Recd Jan. 22  Ansd Feb. 4




George Clinton had initiated his correspondence with Henry Willey on January 18, 1871. It seems rather surprising that a letter could be written on the 18th, posted, mailed from Buffalo, New York, to New Bedford, Massachusetts, and to reach its recipient in two days. Willey wrote the reply to Clinton, transcribed just above, on January 20. It took two days for Willey’s letter to arrive in Buffalo, as the note written by Clinton at the bottom of Willey’s reply attests.


It is to be noted that Willey responded to Clinton’s introduction of Miss Mary L. Wilson twice as “your friend.”


G. W. Clinton was President of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. He, along with 19 other persons, plus the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor of the State, was a Regent of the State University (of New York). An annual  publication of the New York State Government was the Report of the Regents of the State of New York. The Regents were trustees of the State Cabinet of Natural History in Albany, New York and they were required to superintend the completion of the publication of the natural history of New York State (French, 1860, p. 125). A fund was established to conduct exchanges of books and documents with other States and countries, much like the Smithsonian Institution at this time did with other countries, hence, as Regent, Clinton’s freedom in offering copies of annual reports, which included text relevant to the botany of the State.


The “Synopsis of the Lichenes of New England, the other Northern States, and British America” published by Tuckerman in 1848 “was the first attempt at a systematic description and classification of all lichens known, at that time, in the temperate regions of North America and may be called the lichen-primer of this country” (Farlow 1887). Although limited, “it offered to the student of that day the means of recognizing and referring to their proper places in the then accepted system the more prominent species of the eastern portions of the United States and it served as an incentive to the study of lichens which was important” (Farlow 1887).


In 1871, Tuckerman published “Lichenes” pp. 412-413 in S. Watson, Botany, United States Geological Exploration of the Fourtieth Parallel. Clarence King, Geologist-in-Charge. Vol. 5.


In 1867, Willey published “American lichenography.” Proceedings of the Essex Institute 5:191-196. In Willey’s memoir by Bruce Fink (1914), Fink commented that this publication “Gives a fairly good list of publications on American lichens up to 1867.”

    Later in 1871, Willey wrote “Lichens under the microscope.” American Naturalist 4:665-675 f. 139-153. “A popular discussion of microscopic structure” (Fink 1914).

    Also in 1871, Willey wrote “The spores of lichens.” American Naturalist 4:720-724. “A valuable discussion of the diagnostic value of number and size of spores” (Fink 1914).


The floristic catalogue Willey mentioned is:


Paine, John A., Jr. 1865. Catalogue of Plants Found in Oneida County and Vicinity. Eighteenth Annual Report of the Regents of the State of New York, pp. 53-192. Albany, New York.


This beautiful catalogue is not much noticed among botanists in New York State, but Homer House noted that, after the work on the State Flora was accomplished by John Torrey, “no subsequent complete list of the plants of the entire State has been published, although John Paine Jr. published in 1865 a ‘Catalogue of the Plants of Oneida County and Vicinity,’ which was virtually a flora of the entire State north of the Hudson highlands” (House 1924).


In a letter Tuckerman wrote to George Clinton (Feb. 7, 1871), Tuckerman wrote that his own book “is rather a report to Lichenographers of the results of my studies than a book for study. But Mr. Willey has done some good work for students. You have seen his paper in The Naturalist for January?”


The “region” of New Bedford, Massachusetts, was the locality for Willey’s publication years into the future (1892) of his “Enumeration of the lichens found in New Bedford, Mass., and its vicinity from 1862 to 1892. 1-29; E. Anthony & Sons, New Bedford, Mass. Mr. Willey was encouraged and aided by Edward Tuckerman in this local pursuit. Bruce Fink was to review this paper (Fink 1914) and stated that :


“This publication embodies the results of the best piece of local work ever accomplished on American lichens, and would alone have given its author a place among students of lichens. The list contains nearly 500 species and subspecies, with copious notes. Probably very few of the lichens of the region, however, minute or rare, escaped Mr. Willey’s notice. Seventeen new species are described” (Fink 1914).


As to the specimens in Willey’s herbarium, Fink wrote that “Mr. Willey’s herbarium, now in the Smithsonian Institution at Washington, was the largest and most valuable private collection of lichens of his day, if indeed second to any other American lichen herbarium of any time, brought together by one person. The writer has had occasion to consult the Willey collection at Washington and knows personally of its great value. It contains about 10,000 specimens, many of them very rare and valuable.” (Fink 1914).




Vol.7 no. 150 [E 81]

                                New Bedford, Feb. 7, 1871

Dear Sir

    Your favor of the 4th is received. The number of the Regents' Report containing Paine's interesting catalogue had already come to hand for which I am very much obliged. I found Camptosorus rhizophyllus last summer at Taghannock Falls, a state in which he does not give. I see that in your Buffalo list you give Scolopendrium. I went to Chittenango on purpose to try to find this but did not succeed. I suppose it is rare even there from what Paine says. I can send you if you would like it, a specimen though not a very good one of Aspidium fragrans, which I found in the White Mountains a few years ago, its first discovery in that region.

    I shall be happy to accept the membership with which I am honored, though I do not think I shall be able to do much if anything for your society. I am not much [for hard?] work in harness and profess no acquaintance with natural science in general having confined my attention exclusively to one special kind and that for hardly more than a limited locality. But if your society would like specimens of the New York lichens collected by me I shall be pleased to send them some by and by.

    I enclose my photograph as requested but I deprecate any comparison with Tuckerman. He stands among the foremost of the writers in this [land] with a European reputation and wide knowledge while I am only a humble local collector. 

    I sent you a few days ago a copy of a catalogue of our New Bedford plants by Mr. Hervey one of our botanists. It doesn't .... the arrangement especially being wretched, but it may be interesting for comparison. There is a good deal of difference between our flora and yours.

    Can you tell me whether there are any copies of the Botanical volumes of the N.Y. State survey to be had at a reasonable price? I should like to get them if I could without paying too much.

                                Yours truly

                                  H. Willey

Recd Feb. 9 ansd Feb. 16



In Willey’s letters ‘land’ and ‘hand’ seem visually the same. He crosses his "t"s it seems, at whatever elevated letter exists down the word.


Clinton had received Willey’s reply to Clinton’s first letter of introduction and had ‘answered’ Willey on February fourth. Willey’s reply just above was written on the seventh.


Taghannock Falls is in Ulysses Township, Tompkins County, New York. In French’s 1860 Gazetteer for New York State, French wrote “The only considerable stream [in Ulysses Township] is Taughanick (Ti-kaw-nik) Creek, which crosses the town from the [west.] In its descent from the plateau to the lake [Cayuga Lake] this stream forms a series of cascades, the principal of which is known as Taughanick Falls. These falls have receded about 1 [mile] from the shore of the lake, and have worn a deep gorge in the yielding shales, with banks 380 [feet] high. The stream now falls, in an unbroken sheet, over a limestone terrace 210 [feet] in height. About 1 [mile] farther up the gorge is another fall, of 80 [feet].”


George W. Clinton, in 1863, had published a “Preliminary list of the plants of Buffalo and its Vicinity.” in the Seventeenth Annual Report of the Regents on the State Cabinet, pp. 24-35. Albany. It was also issued posthumously as a pamphlet in Troy, New York, in 1888. In this list, Clinton noted Camptosorus rhizophyllus without locality, except the generalized locality of Buffalo. But Scolopendrium officinarum Swartz. was given a locality: “Chittenango falls.”


Chittenango falls in Sullivan Township, Madison Co., New York, is in the north western corner of the county. "Chittenango Creek flows through the town and forms a part of its w. boundary." "There are several mineral springs in town, the principal of which are the "White Sulphur Spring" and the "Yates Spring." The former - known as Chittenango Springs - is fitted up for the reception of visitors; and the waters of both are celebrated for their medicinal properties" (French, 1860  p. 393-4).  There was a station on the Albany & Buffalo branch of the New York Central R. R. at Canestota and Chittenango (French, 1860 p. 69).


”Membership” was in the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, of which George Clinton was the President from the beginning of its existence. Mr. Willey would later publish the following in the first of the Society’s bulletins:


Willey, H. 1874. “Statistics and distribution of North American lichens. Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences Vol. 1:161-167.

“Contains valuable information regarding distribution and relation to lichen species of other continents. Also mentions Opegrapha antiqua Lesq. (Haydens Report of 1873, p. 370) as the only fossil lichen described from our continent.” (Fink 1914).


The photograph sent is shown at the introduction to this article.


Note there does not seem to be any hint of a rivalry with Tuckerman as a man of science, nor is there any arrogance that might be attributed to Willey’s character. Indeed, it is Tuckerman who was sensitive to Willey’s lichen activities - note Willey’s letter to Clinton of April 30 1873 below:


“Tuckerman is (between you and me) a little, well [susceptible?] as to impingement on his domain, and has once or twice I think shown himself so. But he has given me a great deal of his confidence, and been very generous in every respect, and but for him I should never have known much about Lichens.”


Also in August, 1873, Willey wrote:


“Miss Wilson wrote to me about publishing descriptions of Lichens in the Bulletin of your Society and I think I shan't undertake anything of that kind so long as Tuckerman retains his intention of preparing a Manual. I am perfectly willing that he should do this work, and he seems rather to claim it as his right, and I don't want to interfere with him.”


Eliphalet Williams Hervey in 1860 wrote a 30 page book entitled: “A catalogue of the plants found in New Bedford and its vicinity: arranged according to the season of their flowering.” Press of E. Anthony, New Bedford, Mass.


Much later, in 1891, Mr. Hervey published a sequel: “Flora of New Bedford, and the shores of Buzzard’s Bay, with a procession of the flowers.” E. Anthony & Sons incorp., printers, New Bedford, Mass.


Copies of the “New York State Survey” may allude to the rather magnificent two volume publication by John Torrey, 1843, “A Flora of the State of New-York, comprising full descriptions of all the indigenous and naturalized plants hitherto discovered in the State; with remarks on their economical and medicinal properties.” Albany: Carroll and Cook, Printers to the Assembly, 1843. A two-volume set with color plates. These volumes have been digitized by the New York State Library




Vol.7 no. 189 [E 37, apparently E 38 had been skipped]

                                New Bedford

                                        Mch 28 1871

Dear Sir

    I should hope indeed not to lose your correspondence, though I am apt to be a little irregular in writing. It depends with me a good deal on moods. I have been a good deal occupied of late partly with microscoping which is a terrible time killer, and partly with the manufacture of some new boxes for my lichens. I like to do my own puttering and tinkering and that kind of work is a relief from severe labor. I have discovered a use for public documents, and as such a discovery is one of such importance, I take leave to impart it to you and to ask your legal opinion whether it is the subject of a patent. I take one of these valuable volumes containing a President's message, a [Treasury?] report or some other agreeably interesting matter for perusal, and ruthlessly cut out all the leaves to within one inch or so of the margin. Between the covers I insert sheets of manila paper in which to fasten specimens. I cover the titles on the back with cloth of the same kind torn from other similar volumes. I insert tapes to tie the covers together, and here I have a neat and convenient herbarium case into which fresh leaves may be inserted as become me - ... till the volume is full, can I not lay all the plant collectors of the country under contribution, and thereby make a fortune of which I stand in need, or is it best to show the discovery generously open to the scientific world? at any rate long may Congress continue to publish these invaluable works, and long may the franking privilege enable them to be freely distributed. But do not charge me a fee for your advice which will eat up all my entire anticipated profits.

    I beg you will not trouble yourself much about the New York botany. I imagine it is too expensive for my purse at present, about all whose surplus it takes to get the foreign lichen books which are expensive, & the N.Y. botany is not a necessity to me as those are - only a luxury, which I can very well dispense with. 

    Would it be of any interest to your State collection to send it specms of any of the New York lichens I collected last summer, which are not in the list in the Regents report? If so I shall be happy to do it, so far as they hold out. 

    I sympathise with you in your gladness to get into the woods once more, though since the microscope has absorbed so much of my time I have not rambled so much as before, now generally reserving Sunday for a long tramp, the region abounds in large cypress swamps some of which where the trees are large are interesting to travel in but others, when they are dense and small are a very purgatory. I had quite an adventure in one of the largest last summer. I went into it with a friend by a blind sort of old path, which soon gave out, the trees were at first of good size, but soon grew small, and I concluded to get out of it. I followed an opening which I thought to be the same as that I came in by and walked in at first leisurely then ...  expecting every minute to come out. But after walking a long time and finding no issue, I concluded to climb a tree, and see where I was. I got up into the highest swamp maple I could find [Acer rubrum L., Red Maple] and saw that instead of going out I had penetrated into the very middle of the swamp, and the high land dimly perceptible a long distance off so I had to get back the best way I could.  The ... was obscured by [clouds?] and I had left my pocket compass at home so I could only mark a prominent tree in the desired direction and make

    [second sheet:] for it as well as possible, the trees were small and thickly set, the soil boggy and full of water holes and it was getting towards night. I blundered along beginning to get tired and stumbling over roots and underbrush till at last in one unfortunate spectacles caught in a twig and flew off into space never to be seen again by mortal eye, till some future geologist discovers there traces of human existence, deposited perhaps in strata thousands of feet above the level of the sea, and concludes at these evidences of the ingenuity of his savage ancestors, this was quite a predicament, as I could see nothing distinctly three feet off. However, I kept on and hearing a melodious cow lowing to my right endeavored to make in that direction. But the water was so deep I had to give it up, at last I came upon higher ground, but so thick set with laurels and st... underbrush that it was about as difficult to travel in as the swamp. However at last I came upon a cow path and followed it till I came out [on?] the railroad some two miles from where I went in & found I had been travelling parallel to the road and never [to?] it for a long distance, but the set back of the water caused by the embankment had frustrated every attempt to reach it, but as I got out a dense fog came up, lucky for me that it came no sooner, and I got home at just nine o'clock in the evening, and registered a vow not to go into that swamp again - at least not without a compass, and with my spectacles firmly attached to my cranium. 

    But I fear I have wearied you with this trivial narration and will close, I shall always be happy to hear from you.

    Yours Truly

        H. Willey

Recd March 30


The strata thousands of feet above the sea level may refer to the marine shells in the alpine mountains of Italy noted by Leonardo da Vinci, etc., and referred to in the Darwinian literature of Willey’s time.


Mr. Willey’s reference to receipt of a patent for his use of political publications converted into boxes to house his lichen specimens is a kind of joke, a waggish reference to Clinton’s political occupation as judge. As he exhibited to Tuckerman in a contemporaneous letter sent to him just before Tuckerman’s reply (7 Feb. 1871), Clinton displayed a spurt of confidence due to his recent election as Chief Judge of the Court. Before Clinton’s 1870 election, he had served in the elected office of Judge of the Superior Court of Buffalo in 1854 - a period of 16 years.


Laurels, perhaps refer to the genus Kalmia in the Ericaceae, as Gray’s Manual refers to the genus as the Laurel (of America).


The cypress swamps of New York and Massachusetts are dominated by an evergreen coniferous tree, the Northern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis L. (Arbor Vitae). Other trees may include the Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill., Black Spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.) BSP), White Spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss, Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L.) Carr., White Pine (Pinus strobus L.) and hardwoods such as Black Ash. (Fraxinus nigra Marsh.). The Bald Cypress swamps of the Southern United States are dominated by the Taxodium distichum (L.) Rich., a deciduous conifer, and associated with Tupelo trees in the genus Nyssa.



Vol. 8, no. 122 [H 97]

                                New Bedford

                                 Apl 6  1872

My Dear Sir

    I had the pleasure the other day of acquiring from Miss Wilson a specimen of the fungus to which you have kindly given my name - a compliment which I value not so much because I have any ambition to see my name in print, as for the evidence it affords that you have not forgotten me. It looks as though it might be a pretty thing - but I know nothing at all about them and it must be a matter of great difficulty to determine the species.

    I have recently received the third volume of Krempelhuber's Geschichte and Literatur der Lichenologie - a work such as only a German could have the patience to perform. It gives an account of every system, of every work in lichens published down to the smallest brochure or magazine notice, and a list of all the species ever named with copious references, the whole making some 1600 or 1799 pages. The new volume brings the history down to 1870, and mentions among other things the bit in the Regent's report of 1869 (22d) of which the author says he has not been able to see a copy. It has occurred to me that it would be a pleasure for the Regents to send him one, and also of the botanical report just issued which contains some Lichen notices. His address is

 Dr. A. von Krempelhuber

 Amalien Strasse No 3



    I have been enjoying a very tedious season of poor health at times quite painful, for the past two months, and am not yet fully recovered, but hope warm weather if it ever comes will benefit me. Hoping that you have not been similarly favored I remain

    Yours truly

                       H. Willey

Recd Ap. 9, & wrote to Mr. Peck


The fungus named after Willey is most likely Thelephora Willeyi Clinton in the Regents Report no. 26, p. 71, published in [1873]. According to the database “Species Fungorum,” the present, or accepted name for this species is Cotylidia diaphana (Schwein.) Lentz. “Correspondence at BUF demonstrates this is the type material of what is now referred to as Stereum diaphanum” (Eckel 1991). The type locality is Goat Island on the Niagara Reservation at Niagara Falls, New York. The citation is better: Clinton, in Peck, 1874. New York State Museum Report. 26: 71.


“Peck” is Charles Horton Peck, mycologist, the curator of Botany at the State Cabinet of Natural History in Albany, New York, and a protégé of Clinton’s. Clinton was often responsible for Peck’s paycheck when the State Legislature tried to cut Peck’s position out of the State budget.


The book to which Willey refers is by August von Krempelhuber (1813-1882), a work “on the history and literature of lichenology from antiquity up to the year 1865” (Wikipedia February 2013). Krempelhuber was a German lichenologist, born in Munich. The Botanische Staatssammlung München presently curates some 20,000 specimens collected by him. “Through his collection and evaluation of lichenological literature (up to 1871), he made strides in establishing order out of the confusing nomenclatural situation that existed at the time.” (Wikipedia, February 2013). There are letters to Edward Tuckerman from A. von Krempelhuber preserved in the Tuckerman Botanical Papers, 1816-1886, Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College, Massachusetts.



Vol. 9 no. 147 [C 83]


                                New Bedford Apl. 30 1873

Hon. G. W. Clinton

    Dear Sir,

                        Yours of the 28th is received and I have sent you as desired two copies of the "List." Your suggestion as to a Synopsis of the System is a good one but did not occur to me in the preparation of the List. If there was any prospect of its ever coming to a second edition, I should certainly take it into consideration: or I could print it as an appendix and let it go with the List as it is. But the fact is that there is no demand for it, and the 200 copies printed will probably remain in my hands a long time. I didn't expect to make any money by it but the Lichen hobby has been a pretty expensive one to me - I suppose it has cost me [?1500 or $500] or more, and I never got or expect to get any return except my own satisfaction. 

    Tuckerman is (between you and me) a little, well [susceptible?] as to impingement on his domain, and has once or twice I think shown himself so. But he has given me a great deal of his confidence, and been very generous in every respect, and but for him I should never have known much about Lichens. I was afraid he would not like the publication of the List, though not aware of any good reason why he should not, and took the pains to send a copy to him in Europe before I issued it, saying that if he did not like it I would withhold it. However he spoke very kindly of it, though he said there were things [in?] he should have wished otherwise [?or: therein?], at which I am not surprised. If he had done it it would have been perfect.  But it is a thing which he never would have done, and imperfect as it is, it is I think calculated to be useful for certain purposes, one of which is that it will aid in calling attention to Tuckerman's system and promote its acceptance in this country at least; and his system is simple, more convenient and in my judgment as ... in ... ...  natural system as the present state of knowledge will admit. I wish there were a better prospect of my being able to get out a second and better edition ... than ... is. As T. says in his letter "it is not the first imprint in such cases which .... correctness - not even in such lists as Mann's or Gray" and he cites a few cases where his superior knowledge enables him to note some mistakes.

    It is not suprising that there should be so few interested in Lichens ... ...  ... [as mere?] amateur collectors, when [where?] [we are?] ... that there is not in the English language any view of them up to the present state of knowledge, except Tuck's Genera, and this needs to be complemented by a new Synopsis, which I hope he will do before long. Till then we must wait.  Few can afford to buy the expensive and often rare European works. 

    Tuckerman's Genera is advertised for sale by the American Naturalist price [dollar sign?] 3. I am much obliged for your suggestions, and shall be glad of any you may have to make hereafter.

    Will it be too much trouble for you to hand the enclosed note to Miss Wilson.

                                Yours truly

                                  H. Willey


Rec'd May 2. 


The “List” here perhaps refers to Willey’s publication of 1873:

A list of North American lichens. 1-30. New Bedford Mass., published by the author. “A bare list of 808 species and subspecies of lichens. Also 2 genera and 3 species of pseudo-lichens” (Fink 1914).


In this letter it becomes clear that Tuckerman is living in Europe around the time of April 30, 1873, as Tuckerman indicated he might in a letter to George Clinton in early January, 1872, in order to recover from sunstroke in September 1871. Tuckerman wrote to Clinton (6th January 6, 1872):


“Still, recovery in these cases is extremely slow, and months must yet pass before I can resume my work, indeed I look forward to a foreign tour before again taking up study.”


By the time of the letter from Willey just above, Tuckerman had already resided in Europe for close to or exceeding one year.


Willey makes reference to a list published by Asa Gray. Horace Mann Jr. (1844-1868) studied botany under Asa Gray at the Lawrence Scientific School, where he also took lessons from Louis Agassiz. He is most noted for a botanical survey of the plants of the Hawaiian Islands, which he visited in 1864 in the company of William Tufts Brigham, who would finish and publish various manuscripts of Mann’s, who died early of tuberculosis. The “list” was the “Enumeration of Hawaiian Plants,” by Horace Mann, Jr., published in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. VII, Sept. 11, 1866, reprinted as a booklet in July 1867 at Cambridge (Wikipedia, Horace Mann Jr., viewed March 5, 2013).


Tuckerman published a paper relating to Mann’s lichens in 1866: “Lichenes,” Pp. 223-224 in H. Mann, Enumeration of Hawaiian Plants. Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts and Sci. 7: 143-235.


Tuckerman, Edward. 1872. Genera Lichenum: an arrangement of the North American Lichens. Edwin Nelson. Amherst, Mass.



Vol. 9 no. 208 [C 15]

                                Alden, N.Y.

                                  July 30 [18]73

Dear Sir

    I have been here a few days visiting my mother who is a sister of Dr.  [Ricle's?] with whom you are acquainted. I went to B. [=Buffalo] on Monday in purpose to try to find you. I went to the Tifft House, and Law Library but unfortunately, could hear nothing of you, and as I leave for Geneseo my native place tomorrow, shall be unable to make another effort, and can only send my regrets that my visit was fruitless.

    Please excuse this hasty scrawl.

                                Yours truly

                                 H. Willey

Rec'd July 31 and wrote to him at Geneseo. 


Alden is a township in Erie Co., New York. The postal village of Alden was a station on the Buffalo and New York Railroad, it contained 2 churches and had a population of 285 (French 1860). Another Alden, in the post office of Crittenden, was a station on the New York Central Railroad. There is a Dr. G. W. Robbins mentioned in the Miscellaneous Index of Clinton’s collecting journal, who lived in Oxbridge, Massachusetts. Tifft House was a large, five-story hotel, part of which may have been used for a Law Library. Tifft House was located on Main Street, just north of Lafayette Square.


Geneseo is a township in Livingston County, New York, and, in 1860, Geneseo was a postal village, “a station on the G. V. R. R.” (French 1860), which is probably the Genesee Valley Rail Road. The county buildings were located there in 1860, and the Geneseo Academy, “under the control of the Buffalo Synod” (French 1860. The Genesee River forms the western boundary of the township. “On Fall Creek, [south] of the village, is a perpendicular fall of 70 feet” (French 1860).



Vol. 9 no. 216 [C 8]

                                New Bedford

                                  Aug. 19, 1873

Dear Sir

    On my return home I find your package of Lichens, the determinations of which are given below. I undernamed those of which you desired slips. They are mostly poor specimens of L. [=Lecanora] subfusca. Your Sticta ..vola is interesting as ... ... southern plants with that of New England. Tuckerman was quite surprised when I sent him a specimen from N. B. [New Bedford] it not having been previously found north of Ohio. I have recently found here also [Placodium] jungermanniae which judging from the remarks in Tuck. Genera I should think had not previously occurred so far north, and which may be looked for in your region.

    Your State especially in its limestone districts and in the deep glens and ravines with which some portions of it abounds affords a fine opportunity for discovery in Lichens. But the district I visited about Alden and Geneseo is a very barren one. The rocks are too shady, and I found nothing which was not familiar to me. You want to get a little farther East, say from Cayuga Lake to Trenton or Chittenango Falls to find the best region for discovery, and here a good deal will doubtless be discovered sooner or later. I wish I had the leisure to do it.      I should be happy to aid you by ... the lichens you may find which you may wish to have determined.

    I enclose a specimen of a plant collected in Geneseo as a lichen, but which on examination rather seems to be a fungus. Whether it has any interest or not you can perhaps determine

                Yours &c.

                  H. Willey


1 Parmelia olivacea            x6. Baeomyces aeruginosus

x2 Lecanora pallescens         x7  Buellia myriocarpa [(DC) Mudd.]

x3 Stereocaulon paschale [Laur.]    x8 Pertusaria leioplaca [Ach.]

x4 Buellia parasema [(Ach.) Koerb.] x9 =2

5. Physcia obscura                  x10 = 2


x11 Rinodina sophodes [(Ach.) Moss.]   x38 C. [Cladonia] turgida

                                       x39 C. vermicularis

x12 Biatora spores simple and not enough to determine

x13 Cladonia squamosa [Hoffm.] v. parasitica

x14 = 2           40 Cetraria islandica with Cladonia rangiferina [Hoffm.]

x15 Fungoid.

x16 = 5           41 Cladonia rangiferina

x17 Fungus

x18 Sticta ..ata  x42 Cladonia pyxidata [(L.) Fr.]

x19 Mycoporum pycnocarpum [Nyl.]

x20 Lecanora albella [Ach.] v. angulosa [Fr.]

21 L. subfusca [(L.) Ach.]

x22 = 4

x23 = 19

x24 = 19

x25 Conotrema urceolatum [Tuck.]

x26 Biatoria rubella [(Ehrh.) Rabenh.] v. suffusa

x27 Physcia pulverulenta [Nyl.]

x28 Lecanora varia [(Ehrh.) Fr.]

    & lutescens - sterile thallus

x29 Lec. [Lecanora] albella v. caesio-rubella [Ach.?]

   [=Lecanora pallida (Schreb.) Schaer., sec. Tuckerman pl. 185, 1882]

x30 = 7.

x31 Biatora viridescens [(Schrad.) Fr.]

x32 = 31

x33=Parmelia laevigata [Ach.]

x34 = 7

x35 = 6

x36 = 21

x37 Cladonia cristatella [Tuck.]

Rec'd Aug. 21. 


Placodium Jungermanniae (Vahl) was found “On the earth, upon mosses, Arctic America. Greenland” at Great Bear Lake; the Islands of the Behring’s Straits and British Columbia (Tuckerman: Synopsis of the North American Lichens: Part I. 1882 - and so the species was found almost exclusively in the North. Another genus with the epithet Jungermanniae could not be found in either Synopses.


For epithets ending in -ata in the genus Sticta of the Synopsis, there is crocata, crenulata, laciniata, limbata, and scrobiculata to choose from.




 Vol. 10 no. 1 [A 341]

                                New Bedford Aug. 26 [18]/73


Dear Sir

    The inquiries in your letter open a large field for observation. It is indeed difficult to acquire an "[...] knowledge" of the Lichens, not so much as perhaps in the case of the more conspicuous foliaceous and shrubby ones, which I should think one could learn to recognize - as far at least as the genera are concerned - with a little study, as with regard to the smaller and crustaceous lichens many of which can only be satisfactorily distinguished by the aid of the microscope; and they are besides subject to so many modifications and degradations, that the difficulty is much increased. But ... have a study of the scheme of the tribes and families as presented in the "Conspectus" of Tuckerman's Genera would enable you to acquire the leading ones. But as regards species in the lower orders, the microscope offers the only final guide, and even with the aid of this there is trouble enough.  You will see that there [are?] but 5 tribes distinguished by the characters of the apothecia, which are well marked and easily recognisable. The leading families depend on characteristics of the thallus or apoth. and some of them present anomalies. Lecanora is hardly to be recognised as distinct from Rinodina or Lecidea from Buellia &c except by examining the spores, while in Lecanora as well as in Biatora the apoth. are apt to assume lecidi[ine?] forms, which under the [recognition?] of their true character difficult, access to a well arranged herbarium would be of much assistance [?]. 

    Some Lichens are of great duration. Nylander says that most of the rock specimens in mountains or on the trunks of aged trees have probably lived for centuries. Others doubtless such as those which grow in the earth are short lived, and some of the lower ones seem to be quite fugacious. Color is a very deceptive test. Fries says "Nimium ne crede colorem" [“do not trust the color too much”] and in moist situations lichens are not put to great [degenerations?] and transformations.  It is hardly worth while for a beginner to trouble himself with specimens which are not well marked and fertile. 

    I will cheerfully prepare a few specimens and write some directions for your friend on paper, and if he should get any lichens should be glad to have a share in them.

    Miss Wilson wrote to me about publishing descriptions of Lichens in the Bulletin of your Society and I think I shan't undertake anything of that kind so long as Tuckerman retains his intention of preparing a Manual. I am perfectly willing that he should do this work, and he seems rather to claim it as his right, and I don't want to interfere with him.

    In regard to your specimens


No. 1 is worthless

No 2 has some scattered apoth. of Buellia parasema, but otherwise of no


x3 Physcia has a rather peculiar look and may be Ph. ... T. which I have

never seen.

x4 Buellia parasema - poor

x5 Lecanora subfusca with Graphis scripta

x6 Lecanora subfusca

x7 L. pallescens

x8 Cladonia squamosa

x9. the pale apoth. L. subfusca, the dark insufficient

x10 Rinodina sophodes

x11 Synalissa near S. fuliginea but probably different. I cannot name it. If you have another bit to spare I should like one to show Tuckerman when opportunity offers. It is likely to be something interesting in the Flora. 

12. worthless. 


    I beg to assure you of my sympathy with you in your recent loss.

                                Yours Truly

                                  H. Willey

I enclose a short note in the collecting of Lichens and a few specimens which will perhaps be sufficient to give your friend an idea of the aspect of various kinds of these plants.

Rec'd Sept. 1. ans'd Sept. 2.



The male ‘friend’ alluded to is unknown as yet. It is unlikely to be Miss Wilson, as she was actively involved in the study of lichens and already had a correspondence with Mr. Willey. Perhaps the ‘friend’ was Clinton himself, as in a few months, at least in December and January at the end of 1873, Mary Wilson would become so ill that she could no longer work on lichens. In April of 1874, Miss Wilson was still ill when Clinton made an appeal to Tuckerman to identify specimens that Clinton was desperate to collect to give to Mary, but of which he knew nothing.


In the list of lichens published by David F. Day (1883), the Synallissa specimen was still not identified to species, the specimen being reported as “Infertile. Portage, Wyom. Co.


As to Clinton’s ‘recent loss’ another correspondent offered an explanation. On September 29, 1873, Charles Mohr of Mobile, Alabama wrote to George Clinton:


"It is with feelings of deep regret and heartfelt sympathie with your great sorrow, that I pen these lines to you, after having heard through the kindness of Mrs. Atwater of the heavy affliction which has befallen you in the loss of your son; May He the dispenser of all our pleasures and sorrows give you comfort and strength to bear up under such a blow, that your vigor and health might be spared for many many years to come."




Vol. 10 no. 7 [A 335]

                                New Bedford Sept. 5 [18]/73

Dear Sir

    Below are the determinations of your last three packages of specimens


    Aug. 23.

x1. Pannaria nigra [(Huds.) Nyl.]

x2. Biatora hypnophila [Turn.]

x3 B. sanguineo-atra [Fr.]

x4  Verrucaria rupestris

x5 Placodium aurantiacum [(Lightf.) Naeg.]

x6 = 4. But the black crust does not belong here and seems to be an

infertile Synallissa [Tuck.]

x7 The "black eyes" appear to be a fungus.

x8 Biatora rubella [(Ehrh.)( Rabenh.]

9 = 4 with 1

x10 = 2

x11 = 8. terrestris

x12 = 5

x13 The [brown?] is L. subfusca: the orange P. [Placodium] aurantiacum and the yellow Placodium vitellinum [(Ehrh.) Ach.].

x14 Placodium rupestre [(Scop.) Nyl.]

x15 I can make nothing of this - no fruit

x16 = 8


                Aug. 26.

x1 Physcia stellaris [Nyl.]

x2 Cladonia pyxidata [(L.) Fr.]

x3 Opegrapha varia [(Pers.) Fr.] and the yellow Theloschistes candelarius



                Sept. 1

x1. Arthonia (patellulata?) no spores.

x2 Rinodina sophodes v. exigua

x3 = 2

x4 = 2

x5 Buellia parasema

x6 Lecidea melancheima [Tuck.]


    Do not ... yourself of your only sp. of the Synallissa. But I hope you will find it again, as it is worth looking for and securing all you can. It looks much like P. [Pannaria] nigra, but is deficient in the bluish-black hyp[othallus] which you will see surrounds that.

    I meant to have said something about the preservation of earth lichens many of which like your earth sp. of B. [Biatora] rubella are apt to get broken if left loose. The best way is to shave them tolerably thin when damp and then saturate them with mucilage enough to fill ... but not to come through more than can be helped on the other side. When dry they will be hard as stone and may then be gummed to paper.

    I do not know when Tuckerman is coming home. He spoke of being away one or two years. I wish he could come back and do up his manual. He seems to be a very slow worker, and is I think rather afraid of the thunder of his own reputation, or rather of the judgment passed on him by European lichenists. His Genera seems to me to show a great desire to conciliate Nylander who is very severe on his rivals in Europe, but has always treated T with consideration; though they had one difference in regard to Nyl's giving names to plants which T thought himself entitled to name and their correspondence was suspended for a time but afterwards resumed. I believe at Nyl's request. T has once or twice shown himself unnecessarily susceptible in regard to me, but I think I convinced him that I was not in fault. Such was the fact at any rate. But I wish he would consider the just claims of botanists and students a little more and do up a work which no other person can do so well. He ought to do it now, especially, having presented a System of his own, which he should exemplify in its application to our Lichen Flora. 

    I have been preparing a paper which does not come in conflict with anything T. would do, in the statistics and geographical distribution of North american Lichens. It fills about 9 pages of ... paper, with a table occupying about 4 pages more. If your Society would like to publish it in its Bulletin they can have it - that is if I can have assurance that it will be correctly got up and the proof carefully... ... copy, and a sufficient number of copies for my own use.

                                Yours truly

                                  H. Willey

Rec'd Sept. 10. 


According to the Day list of 1883, the Placodium rupestre came from Niagara Falls, as perhaps all the other species of August 23 [1873?].


The hypothallus “(of lichens), is the first growth of the hyphae” (Ainsworth & Bisby, 1961); it is “a marginal outgrowth of hyphae from the thallus in crustose lichens” according to the Webster’s III International Dictionary.


Biatora rubella and its variations all occur on the bark of trees, often evergreens, although other species grow on soil, such as sterile clay, sometimes growing over mosses. Other species grow on stones and rock.


Willey, H. 1874. “Statistics and distribution of North American lichens. Bulletin of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences Vol. 1:161-167.


“Contains valuable information regarding distribution and relation to lichen species of other continents. Also mentions Opegrapha antiqua Lesq. (Haydens Report of 1873, p. 370) as the only fossil lichen described from our continent” (Fink 1914).




 Vol. 10 no. 11 [A 330]

                                New Bedford Sept. 15 [18]/73

My Dear Sir,

    Your collection of Sept. 13 is as follows:

x1 Rinodina sophodes I think. But the margin of this sp. often blackens so

   that it is not always easy to distinguish it from Buellia

x2 Collema pycnocarpum [Nyl.]

x3 Biatora rubella Typica

x4 Placodium cerinum [(Hedw.) Naeg.]

5 Biatora rubella f. pixta f. inundata

6 Paper empty

x7 Peltigera canina [Hoffm.]

x8 Pyrenula nitida [Ach.]

    I have looked again at the plant referred by Mr. Peck to C. [Conotrema] urceolatum and consider it impossible that it is that. C. urceolatum has a proper carbonaceus margin, while the margin in this plant is biatorine, i.e. colored, not black. The plant may possibly be a lichen, as it gives a vinous red reaction with iodine. But I have not been able to find any spores. I hoped when I took it that it might be in Gyalecta.

    I have sent you by mail the copy of my paper, and the Society can decide after looking at it whether it is worth publishing. If so I want the proof ... carefully read and corrected [written above the line: "especially of the figures"] as it is the only perfect copy. I have ... a [revise?]

sent to me that I may look out for the spelling of the names. Twenty five copies will be as many as I shall want.

                                Yours truly

                                  H. Willey

Rec'd Sept. 18.


If “C. urceolatum” was Conotrema urceolatum (Ach.) Tuckerm., the genus authored by Tuckerman, in the Synopsis, Part I of 1882, p. 217, much later than this letter, Tuckerman wrote that the thallus of this lichen was ‘whitish; apothecia small, sub-sessile; more or less white pruinose within.” In the genus description, Tuckerman wrote that the apothecia of species in the genus the apothecia were “consisting of a black proper exciple clothed with an evanescent veil of the thallus.” Tuckerman also treated of the species in the monotypic Conotrema in the Synopsis, Part II, 1888 p. 129.


[Conotrema urceolatum Tuck.; Gyalecta (Ach.) Anzi.]



 Vol. 10 no. 18 [A 322]

                                New Bedford Sept. 12 [18]/73

My Dear Sir

    Great are the tribulations of authorship. I believe one always makes a mistake in the awkwardest place, as I did when I wrote an extract from Tuckerman in my magazine article, and making him say exactly the opposite of what he did say. So in my mss. I have after copying the thing two or three times and taking great pains to get it right made two omissions in the first paragraph, for calling my attention to which I am much endebted to you. I hope there are no more. In the first extract after "North America," insert "must necessarily be imperfect,"; and below, after "accessions to our knowledge," insert, "may be expected." I think this will make the paragraph all right.

    On the top of this annoyance comes another. I have just received a copy of Dr. Hayden's work of last year, containing my list of lichens and several bad misprints owing to the fact that I did not see the proof at all. Dr. Coulter explains the causes of this but it is very provoking.

    I expect to have in my hands during the present work the lichens collected by Dr. Coulter the present season. ... whether it would not be better to postpone putting my article in print till I see whether anything new turns up. I do not think it would be worth while to revise the tables, but if any new species should occur they might be mentioned in a postscript. I suppose it will take me from two to four weeks to overhaul them. 

                                Yours truly

                                  H. Willey

P.S. Your letter got into the wrong box in the P.O. and somebody opened it. But I don't think any very important secrets were disclosed.

Rec'd Sept. 25.


The publications to which this letter applies include:


Willey, H. 1873: Lichens collected by the United States expedition under F.V. Hayden to the Yellowstone region in 1872 by J.M. Coulter. - U.S. Geol. Surv. of the Territ. Ann. Rep. 6: 790-792.




Willey, H. 1873: “Lichens collected by the United States Expedition under Dr. F. V. Hayden to the Yellowstone region in 1872, by Dr. J. M. Coulter ... and determined by H. Willey. Reprinted with corrections from the 6th annual report of the U.S. Geological Survey of the Territories, etc. in 1873, four pages.


Perhaps it is meaningless, but in the postscript Willey, perhaps waggishly, refers to “very important secrets” that may have been disclosed. This is, perhaps, as distinct from ‘ordinary’ ones.




 Vol. 10 no. 26 [A 313]

                                New Bedford Oct. 2, 1873

Dear Sir

    Yours of Sept. 19 arrived when my table was covered with the plants of Hayden's Colorado Expedition of last summer, and I thought I would finish them up before taking hold of any other work, and I had but finished them when your letter came to hand yesterday. After reading it at the office, I put it (as I supposed) into my coat pocket, but when I got home it was not there and I have not been able to find it anywhere. It disappeared very mysteriously, and I shall have to ask you for duplicates of the specimens it contained.


    The lichens of Sept. 18 are

1 Biatora rubella

2 The same saxicola

3. L. [Lecanora] subfusca

4. worthless.

    I doubt not my proof will be safe in Miss Wilson's careful hands, and I shall be much indebted to her for her supervision. I send a short postscript to be added.

    My list of the Yellowstone Lichens contained so many errors owing to my not seeing the proof, that I am going to reprint it, and shall have the pleasure of sending you a copy when done.

    I enclose a little fungus growing quite commonly in scales of the cones of pitch pine, which perhaps is only some common thing.

                                [unsigned: H. Willey]

Rec'd Oct. 5.


In the summer of 1873 was published Hayden’s U.S. Geological Survey to Colorado. John M. Coulter, the expert naturalist of the 1872 Yellowstone expedition, was also the assistant in the Colorado expedition.


“Instead of publishing his findings in the Annual Report of the expedition, as he had the year before, Coulter incorporated them into the Synopsis of the Flora of Colorado, a compilation of descriptions of plants found on various exploring expeditions. The Synopsis, which encompassed explorations ranging from Parry’s expedition in 1861 to Hayden’s most recent expedition, was written jointly by Coulter and Thomas C. Porter, a fellow botanist, and published in 1874.” Website, Smithsonian  National Museum of Natural History. Historical Expeditions: Hayden’s U.S. Geological Survey: Expedition to Colorado (1873), viewed March 1, 2013.


Willey’s contribution, the “Lichenes” is cited as follows:


Porter, T. C., and Coulter, J. M. Synopsis of the flora of Colorado. U.S.Geol. and Geog. Surv. Territories. Misc. Pub. no. 4: 1-248. 1874. Lichens, pp. 161-163, by Willey, 54 species and subspecies. One Lecanora and 2 Verrucarias briefly described without specific name” (Fink 1914).


The reason these citations were without epithets is because Willey suggested that they were new species and would not describe them - a decision he made throughout his career, always deferring to Tuckerman in such matters.



 Vol. 10 no. 87 [A 245]

                                New Bedford

                                 Jan. 11, 1874

Dear Sir

    I am very glad to hear from you again, and to see that you continue to take an interest in Botany. I am glad my article proved satisfactory. Tuck. at first disputed my corrections as to U. mammulata [Umbilicaria mammulata Tuck.], but afterwards yielded, and says his N. Am. plant is a n. sp. I have never seen it. The Lec. rhagodina [sp.? = molybdina?] he refers to L. [Lecanora] xanthophana f. dealbata [Tuck.], and here I yield to him. He has begun to work a little over collections but dosen't feel able to go on with his book; which is much the more important thing. I wish botanists generally would open him up to it, and try to overcome the strange reluctance he seems to feel as to publishing. But don't say anything to him of this. But I know the work done by him would at [be?] most admirably done [?], and as no one else can do it; and I tremble sometimes to think that so much treasured up knowledge as yet unwritten, such comprehensive views, such admirable faculty of description and discrimination might be lost to science. Of course I would not have him endanger his health by trying to do too much, but I feel that the getting up of a Synopsis of N. Am. Lichens is a much more important thing than looking over collections for individuals, which with his knowledge can yield him very little that is new. 

    I was sorry to learn by a recent letter from Miss Wilson at [Avon?] that her health has given out and she is compelled to give up work. I hope her illness is not likely to prove permanent. I have been much indebted to her especially for rare specimens, which she is very fortunate in procuring in abundance from almost all parts of the world. I almost envy her the possession of Russell's collection. 

    Of the small packages you send No 1 contains 4 lichens, I return the specimens with the species numbered, No. (2) however might perhaps as well be taken as a very depauperate state of Physcia obscura [Nyl.], which is apt to run into such conditions. 

    No. 2 is Pannaria nigra [Huds., Nyl. [sic]], which is very common in your region, especially in calcareous rocks. It does not occur in N. B.      No. 3 is Biatora sanguineo-atra.

    I am not doing much in botany at present, and shall always be glad to look at anything you may pick up. My own region has been pretty thoroughly ransacked, and I don't take as much interest in [cruis?]ing as formerly; hardly expecting to find anything new. 

                Yours truly

                        H. Willey

Rec'd Jan. 14!


Tuckerman described Umbilicaria mammulata Tuck. (Syn. N. E. p. 69, non Ach., fide Nyl.) replacing it with Umbilicaria caroliniana Ruckerm. p. 89 (Synopsis Part. I, 1882).


This letter is another reference to Tuckerman’s discouragement, upon returning to the United States from Europe, and his apparent, or perhaps only immediate, unwillingness to resume his synoptic lichen work. Perhaps this is an example of Culberson’s inference that “when the neurotic Henry Willey wrote that Tuckermann ‘frequently became discouraged, he suffered the demands of others upon his time to divert him from its regular purpose ...”. Is this an example of Willey responding to his own “complex frustrations” (Culberson 1964)?


Discouragement or not, Tuckerman eventually arose to the occasion and finished Part I of his Synopsis by 1882, the same year as David F. Day would publish “The Plants of Buffalo and its Vicinity,” for the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. Tuckerman would then soldier on, nearly finishing Part II before he died in 1886, Part II eventually making its appearance, with Henry Willey’s help, in 1888.


If “Avon” is transcribed correctly, it may refer to a town east of Buffalo, in Livingston County in New York State, south of the City of Rochester (Monroe County). It was in possession of mineral springs, which were “an important resource of the early town, and bath houses were constructed for many visitors” (Wikipedia, February 2013). In a letter to Tuckerman, Clinton (April 18, 1874) indicated that Miss Wilson was: “I am grieved to say, in ill health. For several months past she has been, and for a large part of this season expects to be absent under treatment. ... Her condition forbids study.”


Willey knew already in January that Wilson, who had written to him herself, was ill, and that her illness precluded her from the study of lichens.


“Russell’s collection” is in reference to John Lewis Russell (1808 - June 7, 1873). Russell was a native of Salem, Massachusetts and an alumnus of Harvard University. He was a minister, “his profession until 1854.” “Russell had an interest in cryptogams (plants that reproduce using spores), and he was Professor of Botany and Horticultural Physiology for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society from 1831 until his death in 1873.” (The President and Fellows of Harvard College (1999), Russell, John Lewis (1808-1873)).


Mary Wilson had met Russell personally several years previously some time in early 1870. The only letter in the Clinton letters from Russell is the following. Clinton had given specimens to Russell, as he gave a lovely collection of fungi to the collections of the History, Natural History and Library Society of South Natick in 1873. That Society was formed in 1870, and after Russell’s death in 1873, had received Russell’s entire collection (without the lichens):




  V6:   6:165 [L 48]

        Salem, Mass. 2d March 1870

G. W. Clinton

    Dear Sir

      The pleasure I have derived in the acquaintance of Miss Wilson will be enhanced by the proffered kindness of yourself. Already have I been convinced that you are a close observer of Nature, and the beautiful specimens accompanying your letter of 28th Febr. show that you will not let anything scape your eye.

    You are doubtless aware that any determination of our native freshwater alga must be in many instances nothing more than surmises and approximations as we have so few authentic specimens of the European. But we can satisfy ourselves of the genera, become acquainted with their structure, and their varying forms are just as attractive as if one knew their synonymy! Your specimens I think are


  A. Cladophora! Unioides Kutzing or perhaps setiformis Kutzing

  B. Cladophora! brachyclados Mtgne., with traces of Clad; fracta Dillwyn

  C. Cladophora! glomerata, the yellowish one, with Cladoph. fracta

Dillwyn, the dark green one.

  D. Chroolepus Kutzing! aureus! Kutzing, the var. glomeratus Kutz. Species



    The Cladophoras are branched Conferva: they make an immense genus, and require an immense Genius to understand them; of such I consider Fred. Traug. Kutzing!

    The Confervacea, especially when dry, become so altered that it is better to study them fresh, and the next best, is to mount them immediately in Chloride of Calcium between slips of talc. I should be most thankful for any more which may occur on the wet rocks or in the Cataract: the limestone formation of Niagara affords plants quite distinct from ours, which grow upon granite & metamorphic rocks, so everything is of interest to the Eastern or New England botanist.

    I want some more of that "singular Lecanora or Parmelia subfusca" about which Miss W. will tell you.

    The Reports to which you allude will be very agreeable to me, especially if concerning your State Collections and Mr. Peck's researches.

    I enclose my shadow for your Society. Another for a friend will not be good looking enough I fear, or perhaps it will improve when I should receive quam pro quo.

    A specimen of Lirosiphon compactus Kutzing (fide Prof. H. C. Wood Jr.) which I find on the moist surfaces of shaded rocks in the vicinity, Miss Wilson will hand to you.

    With respect,

                  yrs &c

                        John  L. Russell

Professor Wood: University of Pennsylvania, has issued a little Prodromus of a Study of North American Fresh Water Algae (Proc. Am. Philos. Socy. Vol. XI) which is the promise of something valuable.

Recd. March 3


Horatio C Wood, Jr. 1869. Prodromus of a Study of the Fresh-Water Algae of Eastern North America. Proc. Am. Phil. Soc, 11:119-45. In 1872 Wood would publish: A Contribution to the History of the Fresh-Water Algae. Smithsonian Contrib. to Knowledge, 19:274. 19 colored and 2 uncolored plates from 360 original microscopic drawings.


‘Quam pro quo’ is a variant of ‘quid pro quo,’ that is, something given in exchange for something, ‘something for something.’ The female gender of the relative pronoun must be a reference to a photograph of a female: Miss Wilson. The duplicate of his own photograph is also probably for Miss Wilson.


The botanical references are to specimens of algae - probably marine algae as Russell lived in Salem by the sea. He was also interested in the lichens.


Reference is to freshwater algae collected at the cataracts at Niagara Falls. Prof. William Henry Harvey of Trinity College, University of Dublin, who published his Manual of the British Algae in 1841, actually collected at Niagara Falls in 1849 where he collected the green alga Scytonema alatum (as Petalonema alatum) “on dripping rocks under Biddle stair-case,” [on Goat Island], one of only two stations for this algae in North America (Smith, 1933). Harvey published the first treatment of the green algae for North America, but unfortunately did not include the fresh water varieties due to the inability to preserve them in a fresh state (Harvey 1857).


At around the time of the letters of the early 1870’s, H. C. Wood collected three species new to science, two at the Cave of the Winds [Goat Island] (Zonotrichia mollis and Z. parcezonata) (Wood, 1872) and a third “on the rocks below the great cataract”[Niagara Falls]  (Scytonema cataractae) (Wood, 1871).


Fellow Pennsylvanian Francis Wolle, subsequently a distinguished scholar of fresh-water algae of the United States, was to collect at the base of Goat Island as well, issuing specimens from “Rocks, Niagara” from around 1876 in an exsicat entitled “Fresh Water Algae of the United States.” @@


At some time before developing her interest in lichens, Mary Wilson had shown an interest in the study of algae.


Annually New York State published their Annual Report of the Regents of the State of New York, from Albany, New York - in it scientific reports from the Cabinet of Natural History, the curator of botany of which was Charles Horton Peck, a leading American mycologist who also published there articles regarding lichens, as well as vascular plants.


The career of J. L. Russell has not been well documented during or after his lifetime. Edmund Burke Willson published the “Memoir of John Lewis Russell” in 1874 “from the Essex Institute Historical Collections Vol. XII, No. 3. Salem. Salem Press,” a copy of which is in the Harvard Divinity School. Russell himself graduated from the Harvard Divinity School in 1831. He “occupied various Unitarian pulpits’ from 1831 to 1854, in places such as Pittsburg, Penn. And Kennebunk, Maine, etc., but in 1853 he returned to Salem, mass. Where he resided until his death. In that year he married Hannah Buckminster Ripley, who survived him. Russell was felt by his contemporaries to have unquestionable rigor in scholarship and intellectual standards, especially in issues related to his ministry, but, due to a lack of ambition, his talents were relatively unrecognized then as well as now.


Parallel with Russell’s interest in theology, and his ministry, was an interest in natural history, especially botany, which he pursued throughout his preaching activities. While still a student at Cambridge, he sought out the acquaintance of those with a similar interest. Mr. Willson gave a beautiful description of the young teenaged Russell’s apartments, which possessed all the usual books necessary for his studies, but in addition “all the available room was filled with plants and flowers; green things and beautiful. In a corner stood fishing rod and tackle; and disposed in odd nooks, boxes, baskets, and cases, such convenient furnishing, it may be presumed, as the botanist and student of nature requires for his pursuits. The apartment was lovely as a garden….” As a minister, he shared with his parishioners, anyone who had an “ear for the mysteries of the sea, or the forests, or the moss-coated rocks.”


Russell was appointed Librarian and “Cabinet Keeper’ or curator, of the Essex County Natural History Society at its inception in 1833. He was elected its President in 1845 until 1848 when that Society joined with the Essex Historical Society, both groups then forming the Essex Institute in 1848.


From 1833 to his death, Russell served as “Professor of Botany and Horticultural Physiology” for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.


Willson indicated: “The best botanists of the country ascribed to him … an extensive and accurate knowledge of the Cryptogamia in particular, and of lichens more especially, in which department he ranked as an original worker and of the first class of amateur students.” He received an encomium by Edward Tuckerman, in this regard.


Since Mary Wilson, in a letter to Edward Tuckerman, reported that she not only was given Russell’s lichen collections, but his correspondence as well, it is important to note that Willson stated that, as to Russell’s correspondence, he ‘maintained an extensive and interesting correspondence with naturalists at home and abroad, his opinion being often sought with deference by European botanists.”


Willson proceeds, in his memorial, to describe the complex and contradictory moods, emotions and opinions of this man – a personality seemingly typical of the 1800’s, indeed typical of many individuals, such as James Hall, the great early geologist of New York State, as stated in his biography, and Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln and others who were the most distinguished men in the United States, culturally and politically. This seems to have been a personality type against which the new, post-Civil War American society developed a vigorous prejudice.


Russell alternately hated men with distinguished educations one day (pedantry and pretense), the next extolled them and berated uneducated shams posing as botanists and naturalists. He showed a “preference” for men educated at the most distinguished universities, especially those, like himself, graduating from Harvard, but rebuked the “mis-called ‘self-made’ men, on many of whom his verdict would likelier have been, not-made men.” Russell was not the only nineteenth century botanist from Harvard with the same prejudices.


Willson then describes Russell as a man of mercurial opinions and contradictions, almost to the point of violence. He was “spontaneous, impetuous, unguarded.” He spoke out against slavery and utterly loathed the Irish, perhaps as they were immigrating into Boston and other Massachusetts cities at this time.


In his final ‘years of sickness,’ however, Russell mellowed. “He was always a lover of beauty … the beauty of childhood; the beauty of young men and maidens; the holier beauty of truth ….” Toward the end, Russell appears to have descended into a kind of bliss of friendship and love. “During his last illness he was overfull of this sensibility.” Willson then proceeds to quote three letters written by Russell when close to his death. As an example of his enjoyment of treating children he used to know, and were now adults, as though he were an affectionate old Uncle, or with “the easy freedom and familiarity of tone suitable to an elder brother, or a companion-father,” a week before he died Russell wrote to a woman, addressed by her first name, and abbreviated “M.” as “My Dear Little M.” and he was the “dear old ‘lunky Jack’ of her childhood.


Where Willson could have procured such a letter cannot be answered, but, as it was only a week before Russell died, it may have never been sent, and was part of Russell’s effects.


And so Willson’s memorial ends. It was in this period of Russell’s life that he gave to Miss Mary L. Wilson his lichen collection and his correspondence.


In Harris’s paper (1987), the Harris indicated that, in the lichen collections of the present Buffalo Museum of Science, “another significant group of specimens comes from the herbarium of J. L. Russell (1808-1873), discoverer of Hydrothyria venosa, purchased by Clinton after Russell’s death. It also includes material from C. C. Frost.”


But Clinton did not purchase this collection. William Edwards, curator of the Historical, Natural History and Library Society of South Natick, Mass., which had received Russell’s collections upon his death in 1873, wrote to Clinton:


    “As was the case with the Lichens which he [Russell] gave to Miss Wilson, they [fungus collections] got mixed with the plants.”


In a letter to Edward Tuckerman from Miss Wilson (Jan. 23, 2878), she wrote that: “I am hoping from season to season for the quality of ability needful to enable me to incorporate with our Society's Lichen herbarium the collection which Mr. Russell left me, and also Lesquereux's which is now ours.”


Apparently, Mrs. Russell also gave Miss Wilson Russell’s correspondence, at least with Edward Tuckerman. In the same letter as above, Wilson wrote:


“Mrs. Russell gave me your letters to Mr. R. with the Collection; I began to look them over and found some mingling of friendly with scientific talk, and laid them aside with the feeling that I ought perhaps to inform you that they were in my hands. You were then abroad, and since with frequent & long absences of my own, I have almost forgotten about them. I will send them to you if you desire them, but otherwise I should be pleased to keep them.”


Harris (1987) in his review of the lichen collections of the Clinton Herbarium, reported that they amounted to around 2750, of which some 2600, or 95% “were made before 1885 when the herbarium’s founder George W. Clinton died.” Harris indicated that specimens were collected by Mary Wilson “in Massachusetts, Michigan and New Hampshire, all in the years 1870-1871.” It was in 1871 that Clinton began his correspondence with Henry Willey and it is presumed that Mary did not write to him until that time either. It was also in 1870 that Mary acquired Russell’s lichen specimens.


Harris (1987) also noted the enviable collections of European material he found in the Clinton Herbarium. He wrote:


“Clinton and Wilson were quite successful in getting comparative material from European lichenologists. The most interesting are 85 specimens sent by William Nylander (1822-1899): France, Fontainebleau and Paris (43[specimens]), sin. loc. (9); Pyrenees (9); Algeria (3); Scandinavia (18); Finland (1); Colombia (1). Two British lichenologists sent rather large amounts of material with over 100 specimens from Reverend W. A. Leighton, mostly from England and Wales but some collected by Sir John Richardson (determined by Leighton) on the Franklin Expeditions to the American Arctic. Another major contributor was Churchill Babington, also British, but the majority of the specimens come from exotic regions, many probably collected by J. D. Hooker. Babington also contributed a set of Richard Spruce’s Lichenes Pyrenaei which Babington determined. There are a few other collections from the British Isles by W. Gardiner and R. K. Greville. A. F. Le Jolis (1823-1904) who wrote a lichen flora of the Cherbourg region of France, sent a set of 64 specimens from there. Henry Willey, who was an admirer and correspondent of A. Minks in Prussia, divided specimens sent by Minks and 33 are in BUF. T. W. Higginson collected seven lichens in the Azores. Scandinavia is poorly represented with a very few collections by O. G. Blomberg, A. G. Blytt and J. S. Deichmann-Branth.”


The Reverend William Allport Leighton (1805-1889) was born and died in Shrewsbury, England. He wrote “British Angiocarpous Lichens” in 1851, and “Lichen-Flora” in 1871 (Britten & Boulger, 1893). Sir John Richardson (1787-1865), an English surgeon and naturalist “in Franklin’s 1st (1819) and 2nd (1825-8) Expeditions” and the “3rd Arctic Expedition, 1851; made large collections” (Britten & Boulger, 1893). Reverend Churchill Babington (1821-89), of England was a lichenologist who “Assisted J. D. Hooker with lichens of ‘Flora Antarctica’ and ‘Fl. N. Zealand’ (Britten & Boulger, 1893). Perhaps the specimens from Willian Gardiner (1809?[sic]-1852) of Dundee were few because he seems to have been a bryologist (mosses), and Robert Kaye Greville (1794-1866), because he studied cryptogams in general, especially the algae (Britten & Boulger, 1893).


It is very probable that Tuckerman arranged to have these specimens sent to Mary Wilson on his second trip to Europe.


Harris then details much fewer, but no less diverse specimens from the Neotropics, and Charles Wright, his Lichenes Cubae “is most noteworthy with 144 of the ca. 250 numbers present. Many of these are types of Nylander and Tuckerman species.”  Gray (1886) wrote in a memoir to Edward Tuckerman “Equally fortunate are the herbaria which possess the “Lichenes Caroli Wrightii Cubae curante E. Tuckerman,” which authenticate his thorough work upon that portion of Mr. Wright’s Cuban collections that he undertook to elaborate.”


Harris’ list of western lichens in the collection are interesting as their sources reflect the list Tuckerman himself gave in his 1866 publication  on the “Lichens of California, Oregon and the Rocky Mountains.” Harris indicated that western lichens are not very well represented in the Clinton Herbarium collections, but “some interesting collectors are included” (Harris 1987):

Tuckerman wrote that Sir J. W. Hooker gave him “an important collections made in connection with the Oregon Boundary Commission by Dr. Lyall” (Tuckerman 1866). At Buffalo “There are 31 collections by David Lyall from the Oregon Boundary Commission, 1858-1861)” (Harris 1987).


Tuckerman wrote that Hooker also gave him “a smaller one, from Palliser’s British North American Expedition, by Bourgeau” (Tuckerman 1866). At Buffalo there were “six by Eugene Bourgeau from the 1859 Palliser British North American Expedition which surveyed from Lake Superior to Alberta” (Harris 1987).


Tuckerman wrote regarding his collections of the Coast-Flora of California by H. N. Bolander (Tuckerman 1866), and Harris wrote  that Buffalo had “a few collections from ... H. N. Bolander (California)...”.


Tuckerman wrote of specimens from “Dr. F. V. Hayden (Miss. & Yellowstone Expedition) who collected in some of the eastern Valleys of the Rocky Mountains” and Harris wrote Buffalo had a few collections from F. V. Hayden (Yellowstone). Tuckerman wrote of Rocky Mountain specimens from Mr. E. Hall, and Harris wrote of specimens from E. Hall (Kansas, Rocky Mtns.) at Buffalo. Tuckerman wrote of specimens from the Mexican Boundary Survey by Mr. [Charles] Wright, and at Buffalo Harris wrote of specimens by C. Wright (Texas), at Buffalo.


Also in 1866, Tuckerman prepared the lichen treatment in: H. Mann, Enumeration of Hawaiian Plants. Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts and Sci. 7: 143-235.

Harris wrote that “there are 81 collections from the Hawaiian Islands by H. Mann and W. T. Brigham” (Harris 1987).


It seems difficult to avoid the conclusion that Tuckerman was carefully dividing his collections with Mary Wilson, to the envy of Henry Willey.


It is obscure, from the documents presented here, how “Clinton and Wilson” managed to procure such a collection of lichen specimens, and from such a diverse array of specialists.


It was only in late (Dec.) 1866 that Clinton and Tuckerman exchanged letters wherein Tuckerman rendered advice on how to collect lichens and attempt to identify them and it is clear at that time that no one in Buffalo knew anything regarding lichens. In June of 1868 Tuckerman begs to put Clinton off on the identification of a collection sent to Tuckerman to identify, as there was no time - would perhaps the next year suffice?


The year 1870 appears to have involved certain changes in the development of the lichen collections at the Buffalo Society.


It is in January, 1870, in Clinton’s collecting journal that is written “Miss Mary L. Wilson ... has taken the Lichens in charge” in the developing herbarium of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences.


A month later Clinton received a reply to a letter he sent earlier to Tuckerman. On Feb. 29, 1870, Tuckerman wrote:


    “Dear Sir

    I cannot but thank you for your pleasant letter of the 17th, & shall be happy to assist the lady to whom you refer - Miss Wilson - to the extent of my power. If she will lay aside specimens about which she is doubtful, & when enough is brought together send it to me by mail, I will examine the same at the earliest moment possible, & return her my determinations. It will be necessary to mark the specimens sent similarly to those which she retains, as I can hardly undertake (unless exceptionally) to return the specimens. It sometimes happens that I cannot examine such collections for some months after receipt. - but this will perhaps make no difference.”


The rest of the letter protests or warns about the great amount of time required in the study of lichens. Note that Clinton initiated his correspondence with Henry Willey a year later, on January 18, 1871.


Already Mary Wilson had visited Russell some time before March 2nd, in 1870, and made her acquaintance. It is for the first time, on  March first, 1870, that another hand appears in Clinton’s journal, a refined, delicate hand. It is Mary Wilson’s where she inserts addenda to the orders, families and species in the numerical catalogue of the BSNS herbarium.


A year later, on Feb. 7 Feb. 1871, Tuckerman requested a photograph (carte de visite), as Russell did a year before, of Mary Wilson.


In February, 1871, Tuckerman wrote that his [lichen] collection was small: “but should I go abroad again, I think it likely that I shall make it an object to collect ...”.


In this letter it becomes clear that Tuckerman is living in Europe around the time of April 30, 1873, as Tuckerman indicated he might in a letter to George Clinton in early January, 1872, in order to recover from sunstroke in September 1871. Tuckerman wrote to Clinton: “Still, recovery in these cases is extremely slow, and months must yet pass before I can resume my work, indeed I look forward to a foreign tour before again taking up study.” By the time of this letter from Willey, Tuckerman had already resided in Europe for close to or exceeding one year. In response to a query by Clinton, Willey wrote on Sept. 5, 1873:


“I do not know when Tuckerman is coming home. He spoke of being away one or two years. I wish he could come back and do up his manual. “


In a letter from Willey (January 11, 1874), Tuckerman appears to be back living in Amherst, Mass., from his recent sojourn in Europe, which seems to have occurred between January, 1872 and January, 1874: some part of 1872 with a return in 1873, or somewhat over a year. Willey wrote on Feb. 3, 1874:


“Tuckerman returned in the fall, in good general health, but not he says in a condition to work much. But he is now examining some collections in his hands.”


Tuckerman returned but not exactly happy and disinclined to work.


It is somewhere upon Tuckerman’s return to the United States, in the later half of 1873, that Mary Wilson begins to have difficulties of such a grave nature that she is forced to consider abandoning the study of lichens.


From January 1870 to the end of 1873 appears to be the extent of Mary Wilson’s study of the lichens. In a rather hysterical letter to Tuckerman April 18, 1874, Clinton states Miss Wilson’s grave illness, ongoing for several months, and that he knows nothing about lichens, but “She has always had & has the exclusive charge of our Lichenes.” On January 28, 1874 Willey wrote Clinton:


“May I ask what is the nature of Miss Wilson's illness. She has never spoken particularly of it.”


On February 3, 1874, Willey wrote:


“I suspect that I have been under a misconception in supposing that Miss Wilson expected to give up all work in lichens, which I have gathered from her letters. I hope there has been no falling out to disturb the harmony of your Society. I had got the impression that her health was so seriously affected as perhaps to endanger her life. I have had but one letter from her this winter.”


So it is Mary Wilson’s activities, rather than Clinton’s purchases, that seem to have resulted in so many exotic lichens, as detailed by Richard Harris above, coming to Buffalo from Europe. Tuckerman claims that in so short a time, that Mary Wilson is an excellent lichenologist. One might be allowed to seriously consider that all of those exotic lichens that came to the BSNS were in fact arranged by Tuckerman during his stay in Europe, and that he arranged for her to receive those lichens for the same reasons, whatever these may have been, that Russell gave her the contents of his own lichen herbarium.


In Willey’s letter of February 3 below, Willey indicates that the problem with Miss Wilson’s career and health may be more some conflict between herself and the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences:


“I hope there has been no falling out to disturb the harmony of your Society.”


Also in that letter, Willey wrote:


“Hoping this will find you recovered from your illness and "stupidity" - I know what they are.”


Clinton had the previous autumn lost one of his sons, which may be ascribed to an illness Clinton may have developed. What the “stupidity” (quotation marks are Willey’s) might have been Willey only indicated that he “know[s] what they are.”



  Vol. 10 no. 95 [A 237]

                                New Bedford Jan 28 [18]74

Dear Sir

    Of your last specimens No 1 (Jan [June?] 21) seems to be only a fungus breaking through the bark. No. 2. is Pyrenula punctiformis [(Ach.) Naeg.]  No 1 (June. 4) may be in fruit as a poor form of Buellia myriocarpa [(DC.) Mudd.]. I can make out nothing in No 2. 

    I am sorry that Miss Wilson is to give up her work in Lichens. Besides Tuckerman she is the only contributor to my herbarium, and she has an excellent knowledge of Lichens. I am indebted to her for many fine specimens which I otherwise should not have possessed. I don't see how she continues to get so many foreign ones I never could. I spoke to Agassiz last summer about the lichens collected by the Hassler Exp. and he said they had never been unpacked; and in this state I imagine they are likely to remain for an indefinite period, more's the pity.

    I shall be pleased at any time to give you any information in my power about Lichens, and shall be glad, if you get hold of any thing exotic that you can spare, to be remembered in the distribution; though as regards the determination of foreign plants you will find Tuckerman much better informed than I am.

    May I ask what is the nature of Miss Wilson's illness. She has never spoken particularly of it.

    I enclose a little fungus picked up the other day, of which I know nothing

                                Yours truly

                                  H. Willey

Rec'd Jan. 29, & asn'd


The Hassler Expedition, which began on December 4, 1871, lasted eight months, until August 1872. Louis Agassiz was its chief scientist “The ship explored the Magellan Strait - something that drew the praise and envy of Charles Darwin himself .They collected oceanographic and geographical data in a host of remote areas, and collected tens of thousands of specimens. Today more than 7,000 of these are catalogued at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard, while still others went to the Smithsonian Institution and other natural history collections.” Louis Agassiz died one year later, on December 14, 1873 [information from a website from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: National Marine Sanctuaries: “The 2007 Hassler Expedition” [sic] February 27, 2013].


Willey’s response to a letter of inquiry from Clinton was only two months after Agassiz’ death. Apparently, as the next letter by Willey shows, the Buffalo Society of Natural History was not the only institution eager to receive some of the natural history treasure of the Hassler Expedition. Perhaps only with regard to the lichen collections. From the brief description of the Hassler Expedition cited above, it is doubtful the vessel docked for long enough to collect terrestrial specimens - the intent of the voyage was to dredge up new evidence of life in the deeper regions of the ocean - yet enough lichen material existed for Agassiz to consider sending it to Leo Lesquereux, whose expertise was more in paleobotany and bryology, than lichenology.


On January 24th, George Clinton had written to another correspondent, Elizabeth Atwater, then working in California, regarding Miss Wilson’s crisis (see Atwater’s response below Willey’s next note).



Vol. 10 no. 103 [A 230]

                                New Bedford Feb. 3, 1874

Dear Sir

    In reply to your inquiries about the Hassler collection I can only say that Agassiz told me the plants had never been unpacked. I suppose they must be in the Cambridge Museum which is now in charge of his son, who at any rate might be addressed on the subject. Ag. said he had hoped Lesquereux would undertake to examine them. But L. is not a lichenist and he is so much occupied with other pursuits that I do not suppose he could undertake it. Tuckerman would be the man if he would consent. But it is very desirable that they should be examined and put in shape for distribution. Your Society might have a chance in with others, and if you can do anything to bring it about I shall be very glad.

    Tuckerman returned in the fall, in good general health, but not he says in a condition to work much. But he is now examining some collections in his hands. He has expressed some annoyance at my urging him to examine his interrupted Synopsis (but you must not tell him I said this) and I shall not say any thing more in the subject, but leave him to his own time, however much I may think it better that he should work for the public - that is for the generality of botanical students than for individuals.

    I suspect that I have been under a misconception in supposing that Miss Wilson expected to give up all work in lichens, which I have gathered from her letters. I hope there has been no falling out to disturb the harmony of your Society. I had got the impression that her health was so seriously affected as perhaps to endanger her life. I have had but one letter from her this winter.

    Of your package dated Jan 27 No 1 may perhaps be best put with Arthonia punctiformis [Ach.] No 2 is perhaps a miserable state of Pyrenula punctiformis [(Ach. Naeg.]. But [under?] wretched things as this are hardly worth the trouble of collectin or of trying to determine. They are worthless as specimens. No. 3 Stereocaulon paschale [Laur.] The other package sent by express it will take me some time to go over, when I will give you the results. I am afraid I shan't be able to do much with the Brazilian lichens for want of the the necessary books.

    Hoping this will find you recovered from your illness and "stupidity" - I know what they are I am

                                Yours truly

                                  H. Willey

Rec'd Feb. 5.


For Brazilian lichens, see March. 12 and March 24 1874.


The problems with Mary Wilson were also noted by another correspondent of George Clinton’s: Mrs. Elizabeth E. Atwater. Mrs. Atwater had been corresponding, or intending to correspond with Miss Wilson but without much success. The two women had been introduced a few years earlier, and Atwater knew about Wilson’s special interest in lichens.


In a letter Atwater wrote to Clinton on February 26, 1874:


“Your kind note of Jan 24th came to me acceptably. Serious indisposition has precluded an earlier response. I was surprised to learn that Miss Wilson was losing her interest in the Academy. I sincerely trust that ill health was not the cause. It seemed that her enthusiasm would be adequate to overcoming all obstacles. “


The “Academy” is a mistaken reference to the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences. In the same letter, Mrs. Atwater indicated one specimen:


“I enclosed in the box one bright sp'm from the Sequoia giganteus [sic] at the ‘Calaveras group of Big Trees’ for her.”


Note that in 1873-1874 Miss Wilson had been elected and served as a member of the Board of Managers of the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences (Robertson & Barcellona 1939).






Vol. 10 no. 109 [A 223]

                                S. Natick [Mass.] Feb. 12 [18]74

Judge G. W. Clinton

    Dear Sir

    Your kind letter came yesterday morning and in the evening the Pkge of Fungi arrived in fine condition. In looking it over to day we are greatly pleased with it, and can assure you that it is a most acceptable addition to our herbarium. Very few persons in this country have given much attention to the Fungi, and very few are capable of arranging a collection in such perfect order. Did our noble friend Prof. Russell give you his coll. of Fungi? if so we have from his herb. a lot belonging to you. As was the case with the Lichens which he gave to Miss Wilson, they got mixed with the plants. We have a bushel or more of mixed up little "packets" containing Fungi, in considerable quantities. All the spare time I have had to devote to the coll. of Prof. R. has been spent, in mounting and labeling the shells & minerals, so that these mxd. pkgs have never been assorted. Now that we have such a fine donation from you we do not need them and will forward them to you if you wish. Ferns have been my specialty and are still & I enclose my desiderata and would like to exchange, or give you any duplicates I may have. You are right in saying my list is imperfect. I got it out in my first love for ferns. Not so much for the public as for my own convenience. In giving localities I relied too much upon K. M. Lyell’s Geographical work on ferns, wh led me into many errors. I hope however this year to to [sic] improve it, and to add several new varieties wh have of late been discovered. There is a great demand for a good reliable work on our N. American ferns, & we all look to Prof. Eaton who is the best authority on American ferns. The photograph which you have enclosed is the only attempt to a picture of our ferns and seems to be highly prized by those who have obtained one. Vassar College ordered four and after seeing them ordered four more, saying that they were used for a study of ferns. Mt. Holyoke Seminary and the botanic Gardens at Washington D.C. had each six copies. The negatives are so liable to break that I have been in trouble ever since I first issued circulars in Dec. orders come faster than I can get them. I have just completed a new one representing 43 spe's [=species] and next week I hope to be able to send you one. (The money came safe) I have some duplicate shells from Ohio River. Mostly Unio's which I will send if your Soc. wishes.

    I thank you most cordially for your splendid donation, and for your kind words of interest in our young Soc. too young as yet to have a stock of duplicates to offer, but with you "I can truly say that to be of use to your Society will give me pleasure"

                              Truly Yours

                                Wm. Edwards

Rev. H. Alger is Pres. of our Soc.

I enclose Ch [=check] list that you may find your desiderata

Rec'd Feb. 15.


This letter is to Clinton from William Edwards Esq. (i.e., a lawyer), who served in various capacities as an officer of the original society: The Historical, Natural History and Library Society of South Natick in Massachusetts. The Society appears to have been founded in 1870 (Cheney, 1884). At the time of Mr. Edwards’ letter, he was the “Custodian,” an office he possessed from April 14, 1873 (end of period not found). He was Corresponding Secretary from 1875 to 1877 and member of the Society’s Board of Directors 1873 to June 2, 1873.


The offices of the original society were listed by Cheney (1884) as from Feb. 22, 1870, to June 2, 1873.


The Reverend Horatio Alger, a Unitarian minister and father of the rather famous Horatio Alger, Jr., writer of various ‘rags to riches’ novels for young people, was the President from April 14, 1873 to Nov. 6, 1881; the Reverend Gorham D. Abbott, L. L. D., a Presbyterian minister, was the Vice-President, both, apparently, for the length of the Society’s existence. (Cheney, 1884). Gorham Dummer Abbott (1807-1874 was “an American clergyman, educator, and author. He was a significant figure in the movement to supply schools with textbooks, libraries, and educational journals.” (Wikipedia). He had retired to Natick, Massachusetts in 1870, and died in 1874, the year of the letter written just above.


In this letter it is clear that George Clinton made a significant donation of fungi to this society, much as he made an important donation to the early Purdue University. The collection was in “perfect” taxonomic order on receipt, and one must assume they were authentic in identity, mostly by Charles Peck, perhaps.


It would be interesting to discover whether Russell, or William Edwards,  donated his fungus collection to the Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences, as Russell did the lichens to Miss Wilson. Presumably Miss Wilson was serving as the intermediary for the Society in receipt of Russell’s lichens. The shells and minerals of Mr. Russell’s collections stayed with the H, N.H. and L. Society of South Natick.


K. M. Lyell. 1870. “A Geographical Handbook of All Known Ferns” Charles H. Smith, ed. book review: p. 428 of the Feb. 24 1870 issue of Nature:


“This useful and unpretending, but elegant little volume consists of two parts. In the first, the genera and species of ferns are enumerated under a number of geographical divisions and subdivisions, which appear to have been judiciously selected. The stations, habitats, and geographical range of each species, are given with much care, and the authorities fully quoted. It thus forms a series of fern catalogues for eighteen divisions of the globe. The second part consists of a systematic list of all the species, with their range of distribution indicated in eighteen columns. Sir William Hooker's arrangements and limitations of species have been followed throughout, and this gives a unity to the work which has its value. But as ferns have generally so wide a range that genera restricted to any one part of the globe are exceptional, we think it would be as well in a work of this nature, to adopt the additional genera of John Smith and others.


“We would also suggest for another edition, that a summary of the genera and species might be usefully given at the head of each geographical subdivision 


“Such summaries would offer useful materials for comparison, and show at a glance what genera were abundant, rare, or wanting, in a given district. We also think the specific names should have been printed with some difference of type, so as more readily to catch the eye; but these are small matters in so useful a work, which must have been a labour of love to its author, and which no lover of ferns should be without.”


The review was written by the English scientist deeply interested in biogeography: Alfred Russel Wallace.





Vol. 10 no. 113 [A 213 - inventory number 214 skipped]

                                New Bedford, Feb. 19, 1874

Dear Sir

    There is truth in what you say in regard to the study of such forms though I think it of more importance to the physiologist who studies structure and its modifications than to the systematist, who studies forms and their types. But your sp'm is really of no value at all; only a few scattered apoth. What I have to look for every day more and more is what is typical and here the great teachers in Lichenography are Fries and Tuckermann, whose Genera is an invaluable aid to the search of types and resemblances. Other schools have tended towards the increase of Genera and species, so that as T. once wrote me, they made of every remarkable species a genus and of every remarkable variety a species, the sporologists by attaching too much importance to the number and size of the spores, and more recently Nylander and his followers by building up innumerable species on mere chemical differences, which may be valuable to a certain extent as all miniscula but cannot be made the basis of a system. Every young observer tends to consider every distinct looking thing as a species, and to pride himself on accumulating species. But I hope I have outgrown that stage. Besides I have examined ..d.s of such things and it is very wearisome to the eye, and consuming of time. Of course I sometimes turn up something that is new, but as soon as I discover there is nothing typical I discard it. And this must be my excuse for labeling some of your spec'ms as "worthless" If any one wants to go into physiological and pathological studies let him do so; but I cannot. Not that I underrate the value of physiology. Schwendener has done a great deal of valuable work in this direction.

    It is difficult to designate any accessible work in English, in lichens of a popular character. There is a little book by Lindsay "Popular History of Lichens" is something like that, which might be had I should think in N.Y. which is as good as anything of the kind I know of. The 1st part of Nyl.'s Synopsis contains in Latin an account of Lichens but it is not easy to obtain, as is the case with most of the foreign works. I have a tolerably good collection, but it has cost me a good deal of money. I wish you all success in your efforts to disinter the Hassler Lichens. They ought not to be suffered to lie and rot.

    On another sheet I send you the determinations of your Lichens so far as I was able. The Brasilian leaf lichens are difficult to determine as very few of these leaf plants have been described. I send some sp'ms to Tuck. and asked if he would name them, and when I get his reply perhaps I shall be able to send you something.

                                Yours truly

                                 H. Willey

[no date of receipt.]


A Popular History of British Lichens, comprising an account of their structure, reproduction, uses, distribution, and classification. By W. Lauder Lindsay, M.D., London 1856. Lovell Reeve, 5, Henrietta Street, Covent Garden (John Edward Taylor, Printer, Little Queen Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. “To Sir William Jackson Hooker, K.H., LL.D., Director of The Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew, and Dr. Joseph Dalton Hooker, F.R.S., Assistant Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew, this humble and first attempt to popularize the study of British Lichens is, with much respect and esteem, dedicated by The Author.


William Lauder Lindsay “was a 19th-century Perth [Scotland] physician and dye enthusiast. Administrator of an insane asylum, Lindsay reduced stress by pursuing a passion for lichens. In a series of papers and one book, he described dozens of traditional Gaelic lichen dyes. Lindsay also tried to promote lichen dyeing as a means to economic salvation in rural Scotland .... Published in 1856, Lindsay’s Popular History of British Lichens, is still available at many university libraries.... Interestingly, at one point Lindsay was invited to work for the Canadian government. He came for a visit, said “yes” to the offer, later changed his mind, and died shortly after returning to Scotland” (Casselman 2001).




Vol. 10 no. 120 [A 202 & 201 inventory numbers used on pages of single


                                New Bedford M'ch 12 [18]74

Dear Sir

    Of your specimens dated M'ch 2, No. 1 is a Pyrenula with the hymenium entirely withered away, so that I cannot determine it.

    2. Pyrenula nitida [Ach.]

    3. Rinodina sophodes var. polyspora. The spores all were numerous, from 30 to 40 or 50 in the thekes, in this specimen than I have before seen them.

    4. Opegrapha varia [(Pers.) Fr.]

    5. = 4.

The Brazil specimen enclosed is Leptogium tremelloides.

    The other specimen I am unable to determine and have sent to Tuckerman for his opinion. When he returns it I will send it to you. I looks to me quite distinct.

                                Yours truly

                                  H. Willey

If I sometimes ask you for specimens I do not want you to rob yourself, but only to send them in case you have plenty. The plant I called some time since Staurothele Drummondii [Tuck.] is according to Tuckerman S. umbrina var. and he makes his S. Drummondii the same thing now. 

Rec'd March 14


[See Feb. 3, 1874, and March 24, 1874 for reference to Brazilian lichens.

[Staurothele Drummondii Tuck. was found at Niagara Falls, Day's 1880 list.]




Vol. 10 no. 124 [A 193, 192, 191, 190 on a single sheet of paper]

                                New Bedford Mch. 24 1874

Dear Sir

    I enclose spms of the Brazilian epiphyllae, with Tuckerman's comments.  I had to cut the leaves up to separate the species, none of which were too scanty for satisfactory determination, and many of these peculiar lichens doubtless have never been determined at all. 

    There are two of your Buffalo lichens in which Tuck. expresses much interest and a desire for further knowledge. One is the No. 78 of your large package, a bit of which I sent to T. with the query C. plicata? He writes "It would be very interesting to get this sp. & we ought to have it. Can't you persuade Judge C. to send good sp'ms I can do nothing with this. Do try to get more." So if you can find such spms  & especially if fertile, you may add a new lichen to our flora.

    Where is "Squaw I." where you found C. [Collema] limosum? It is well to designate such localities a little more definitely as to the region they are in.

    The second plant is one of which a small bit was sent me by Miss. Wilson some time since, and of which I sent a still smaller one to T. It grew in bark and I suggested it might be Buellia turgescens [Nyl.]. T. says "The named sp. is wholly unknown except on dead wood, this is not very unlike it. B. turgescens has always seemed to me a curious insulated & unexplained thing. Your sp'm agrees in the spores equally well with myriocarpon. But I hope this little thing will be looked up further & that you will let me know about it & in time give me enough " to swear by "which I have not."

    According to T. the Synallissa which you sent me some time since on crystalised limestone is S. Schaerei, I found it at Clinton & it was only known in this country before from Kansas. See Tuck. Genera. A noble find.

    I have been full of lichen work lately and have just received some 6 sheets of notes from T.  in a package I sent him which I have got to study over.

                                Yours truly

                                H. Willey (over)


If you get any more [Brazilian] epiphyllae I shall be glad to see them. 


Rec'd March 26


[In Day's catalogue p. 169 a Synallissa is given "Infertile. Portage, Wyom. Co.", no epithet. Synalissa Schaereri is reported in the Genera Lichenum (1872 p. 80) as Massachusetts “sub Pannaria. Pyrenopsis, Nyl.” Lime-rocks, Illinois, (E.Hall).


The citation of a collection of Synallissa schaereri from Massachusetts is perhaps from Clinton, Massachusetts in Worcester County, a town founded in 1654 and named after the DeWitt Clinton Hotel in New York City, “a favorite place of the town's founders, Erastus Brigham Bigelow and his brother Horatio” (Wikipedia, “Clinton, Massachusetts” viewed March 11, 2013). It is located in the central part of the State.


The “C. plicatum” is probably Collema plicatile, as this is the only genus beginning with “C.” and also a neuter noun in both parts of the Synopsis, and with an epithet beginning with ‘plicat...”. The placement and identity of Collema plicatile Schaer. was difficult to determine by Tuckerman in his 1882 Synopsis and would probably be most interested in adequate material to make a determination on its North American occurrence.


Squaw Island is in the Niagara River just offshore from the mainland in the City of Buffalo, Erie Co., New York. It is the site of the International RR Bridge that crosses over into Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada. The island was once wooded and possessed a small stream. Now it is completely overbuilt and serves as the locus of a sewage plant and waste dump.


For Brazilian lichens see Feb. 3, 1874 and March 12, 1874.





Vol. 10 no. 136 [A 170, 171, 172, one sheet]

                                New Bedford Apl 24 1874

Dear Sir

    I have been so busy for some time that I have neglected to attend to your last package of lichens, which are as follows:


1. Lecanora cinerea - corticola

2. Leptogium lacerum.

3. I refer to Lecidia contigua at present.

4. No spores - cannot say. But the th. [thallus] is well developed & it is worth looking up further.

5. Calic. [Calicium] subtile - perhaps the var. albo ... Nyl., which grows on oaks. [perhaps the Calicium parietinum v. albonigrum Nyl.; Calicium subtile was an earlier name for both C. parietinum and C. pusillum (Genera Lichenum 1872, p. 240)]

6. No spores. Seems to be a Lecidea, but as a specimen is insufficient.

8. Buellia dialyta

9. Biat. [Biatoria] sanguinea-atra

10. Collema nigrescens

11. Fungus

12. Biat. [Biatoria] rubella? (no spores)

13. Buellia parasema? (no spores)

14. Collema flacidum

15. Rinodina ascociscana

16. Worthless spm. of L. subfusca

17 Fungus

18 Fungus


    Prof. T. infers the Buellia which I thought was B. turgescens to B. parasema, with a peculiarly well developed thallus.

    I enclose a spm. of Rinodina inflata which has turned up here for the first time so far north.

    I hope you will  ... that ... (where is it) ity  thoroughly as it seems likey to yield some good things.

                                Yours truly

                                H. Willey

 Rec'd Ap. 28. 


This letter is the last Willey wrote to Clinton, or which Clinton preserved. In a letter to Tuckerman dated April 18, 1874, before Clinton received the letter Willey wrote just above, Clinton indicated his break with Willey as a correspondent: “A decent self respect forbids my having anything to do with Mr. Willey. You [i.e. Tuckerman] are the best and my only resource” for the identification of lichen specimens.” Clinton received the letter above on April 28, after he wrote his last letter to Tuckerman.


The following is a letter, the only letter of Willey’s in the Amherst College Library Archives and Special Collections from Willey to Tuckerman. It is in the Edward Tuckerman Botanical Papers (box 1, folder 55):



The following transcription is reproduced with permission from the Edward Tuckerman Botanical Papers, Amherst College Archives and Special Collections: “Henry Willey to Dear Sir [Edward Tuckerman], 1874 June 29.” In: Edward Tuckerman Botanical Papers (box 1, folder 55).


New Bedford, June 29, 1874

Dear Sir

    I am much obliged to you for the new Oregon lichens & the descriptions in the Bulletin which I do not see. I have taken Grevillea for two years but have all but decided to give it up as it contains very little of interest to me. But Weddell’s quotation of Nylander’s letter is certainly a [crusher].

    I find nothing from my apology to Judge C. but I had a letter last week from Miss. W. in which she says “that however Judge C. may have written to you or Prof. T. - that it shall be all forgotten - ill health & some [troubles] have wrought such changes in him that his friends are filled with dismay & sadness.” I replied that I did not take to heart anything he has said about me however much. I thought it uncalled for but that I could but free my mind in the matter, which I did not in anger, but in a way that I hope may be sanctified [to her]. As to the Judge’s knowledge of fungi I can say nothing. He named a species after me which I would much rather he would not have done; for I don’t think it right so to have species when the person complimented has nothing to do with either the species, genus or order under consideration. But I can’t think he knows much about lichens when he sends spm after spm of so commom a thing as L. [Lecanora] subfusca. However I hope the whole matter may [disappear]. So far as I know anything about Miss. W. I acquit her of any [disloyalty] to America; but I expressed to her plainly any sense of the undesirableness of [resorting] to Europe.

    I notice in your No. of the Bulletin a reference to Porter &. Coulter’s Colorado Flora. I suppose this contains the list of Lichens which I sent to Coulter, and a copy of it if I recollect right to you. But the receipt of this list was never acknowledged by him nor was any proof sent me though I insisted and he promised it should be, nor a copy of the book, which I think was not treating me quite fairly.

    I suppose that by your “L. [Lecanora] tessalina[“] you mean both the N.B. lichen, and the spms under the name of Myr... from the South & perhaps elsewhere. My plant is certainly a Lecidea, whatever the Myr ... may be. But did you ever name the Kansas Lecidia got by Hall, which you left undetermined. in the [rail] Biatora I find at Amherst I  saw it afterwards in [rails] at Warren - in wherever it is that your RR connects with the B. & O.

    I send the Lindsay by mail & would also the Garvaglio but I really don’t think there is anything in it that would interest you.

    I have done hardly any lichen work for some time. I began looking for sterigmata &c of Ramalina but I tired my eyes already fatigued - so much that I gave it up for the time - but I take it you are in no hurry about it.

    I find small spms of Ramalina most like Calicias but with the spores as in R. rigida which are puzzling to me. I send some spms which you may at some time care to look at. I have found one spm of the  rigida on [Cedrus; cedars] which gave no reaction with potash while those on the same tree gave the red reaction. I send also a spm of the Oneida lichen, wch is not very difft from the N.B. [New Bedford] ... one; and what seems to be B. [Biatora] globulosa tho’ the apoth. are much larger than in the [Trenton] spm.

    I hope in the course of next month to make a little trip to the White Mts & recuperate by exploring some portions of Mt. Washington &c.

    Yours truly

    H. Willey

I find among Clinton’s lichens a neglected Biatora (or Lecidia?) in which I [could] not at [first find] spores, of which I send a portion. But it is perhaps insufficient for determination.


Wedell, H. A. 1853. Voyage dans le Nord de la Bolivie et dans les Parties Voisines du Pérou, ou, Visite au District Aurifère de Tipuani. P. Bertrand, Paris.


“Your number in the Bulletin” refers to :

Tuckerman, E. 1874. Two Oregon lichens. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. Vol.5: p. 20.

Two new species are described in this one page article: Sticta Oregana Tuck. and Rinodina Hallii Tuck., both from collections made in Oregon by Mr. Elihu Hall.


Note that part of Clinton’s troubles must have derived from the loss of a son in the previous fall.


In summary, the circumstances to which these letters make allusion are rather confusing, based on the archival material and sources available to me. What conclusions the reader may arrive at in the end, both bibliographically and historically, cannot be predicted. Ultimately, at the beginning of the 1880’s both G. W. Clinton and Mary L. Wilson would depart from Buffalo, Clinton to spend the last few years of his life in Albany, New York, and Wilson to begin years of expatriate existence as a kind of exile, residing in both in the United States and Europe. The detraction of the scientific and personal reputation of Henry Willey, editor of the New Bedford Standard, remains unexplained.




I am grateful for the assistance of Peter Nelson of the Amherst College Library Archives and Special Collections for making several letters to Tuckerman available for transcription and publication on-line, and for answering various questions regarding other material at Amherst related to this text. Richard Harris of the New York Botanical Garden shared his extensive knowledge of the history of lichenology and expertise on lichens and provided critical information regarding the lichen collections of the Buffalo Museum of Science. I thank Richard Zander for sharing his knowledge in all aspects of botany, editorial skill and computer applications so that I might continue working on this and other projects.


I am grateful to the Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, New York, for past and present support for the transcription and analysis of the Clinton Correspondence curated in their Research Library.



1. Henry Willey.1886. Edward Tuckerman. II. Bibliographical Sketch. Botanical Gazette Vol. 11(4) (April 1886): pp. 74-78.


2.Note also the addenda to Willey’s memorial: “Tuckerman bibliography.” Botanical Gazette Vol.11(7) July 1886, p. 182:


“Willey’s article in commemoration of Edward Tuckerman was the second of two, the first, that preceded it, being “I. Biographical Sketch” (1886. Botanical Gazette Vol. 11(4) April 1886:73-74. This biographical, rather that Willey’s bibliographical, sketch was “condensed from the notice of Dr. Tuckerman in the Amherst Record of March 17, which we understand is from the pen of Prof. Tyler. --Eds.”


Culberson (1864) commented “The editors of the Botanical Gazette prefaced this article by saying that they “understood” that it was “from the pen of Prof. Tyler” but in the Duke Library separate, that had belonged to Henry Willey who wrote the accompanying “bibliographical sketch” of Tuckermans works “... Tyler’s name is stricken out and that of H. H. Doodell - educator, college president and citizen of Amherst [Massachusetts] - written in. The Dictionary of American Biography confirms Goodell’s [sic] authorship.” Note that Culberson’s footnote misspells Doodell’s name.


3. “To Mr. Willey, we must give great credit for editing the second volume of Tuckerman’s Synopsis after the death of its author. No one else could have done this important work so well as he who was, after the death of Tuckerman in 1886, the leading student of North American Lichens, and who was also especially fitted for the task by a thorough acquaintance with Tuckerman’s methods and work” (Fink 1914).


Willey’s Preface to Edward Tuckerman. 1888. A Synopsis of the North American Lichens: Part II., comprising the Lecideacei, and (in Part) the Graphidacei. E. Anthony & Sons, Printers. New Bedford, Mass., is:


“Preface.  Part I. of the Synopsis of the North American Lichens by Professor Edward Tuckerman, of Amherst, was published in 1882. He worked upon the second part nearly up to the time of his death, March 15th, 1886. It was found that the manuscript left by him contained the Lecideacei and a portion of the Graphidacei, leaving the Genus Graphis incomplete. It was been thought that the publication of this manuscript would be to the advantage of Science, and it has been placed in my hands for that purpose. It should be understood, however, that the work had not been subjected to the thorough revision it would have undergone before its publication by the author, in regard to which there were many pencil notes on the manuscript. I give his manuscript just as left by him. But I have given as additions such descriptions of some of the new species which I have seen, as I am able to, with the names of the species indicated to be studied, which I have not seen. I have also thought it would be acceptable to Students of Lichens to add as an appendix the descriptions of such North American Lichens not embraced in this work as are contained in Professor Tuckerman’s occasional publications, which are not easily to be obtained.


“There is a note in the manuscript of reference to be made to the articles on the Behring Strait Lichens by Nylander in Flora, 1884, and Professor Tuckerman would doubtless have availed himself of Nylander’s more recent work on these Lichens had he lived.

Henry Willey.

New Bedford, Mass, 1888.”



The proper citation of this electronic publication is:


"Eckel, P. M.. 2013. Correspondence of Henry Willey (1831–1888) and George William Clinton (1807–1885). Notes on the early herbarium of Purdue University. Res Botanica, Missouri Botanical Garden Web site.

[and lastly cite the date you actually read the publication as ‘Accessed: (date)’]."