THE BOTANICAL JOURNAL OF G. W. CLINTON
Rendered by P. M. Eckel
Editor, The Clinton Papers
Buffalo Museum of Science
1020 Humboldt Parkway
Buffalo, NY 14211 USA
www.buffalomuseumofscience.org/botany/DiaryIntro.htm
January 8, 2003

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THE BOTANICAL JOURNAL OF G. W. CLINTON – April 1863

[1863]    April 2. Rained somewhat & cloudy in the morning. Chilly wind all day. Glorious after sunset. Noticed a flock of small birds, ['same as I saw yesterday.' written above the line.] Spen. [?] says he saw another with tufts on their heads. Probably cedar birds. 

 

[1863]    April 3. Brightish day, cold northerly air.

 

[1863]    April 4. Bright, clear day, icy northerly air. [in brackets "They were cedar or cherry birds."] Noticed 3 sail vessels far off in the Bay. Navigation has finally commenced.

 

[1863]    April 5. Sunrise bright & nature looks teeming, though the air moves from the north. 9 1/2 A.M. Thin clouds high up over the heavens. 

Have perused, recently, Darwin's Origin of Species, and it has lead to the following reflections.  1. An inference from an established may be can't be bigger nor stronger than the maybe.  2. A general inference from maybes, no matter how numerous, never  can be a must be.  3. The weakness of the inference increases in proportion to the number of aggregated may‑bes from which it is drawn.  4. Could we pile mountains upon mountains we could not thereby scale heaven. As we put mole‑hill upon mole hill, the base crumbles: and all our efforts to reach, by our understanding, through Nature unto God, however humble & beneficial, are eventually in vain. Let us abandon that audacious ambition, & travel, like little children, in the interminable paths of science. 

After dinner, walked out on B. & E. R. R. [Buffalo and Erie] crossed Buffalo Creek, & went into edge of Wood No. 1. Scarcely a sign of the beginning of vegetation. By the cattle platform, 2 small swallows (don't know the species) flying over the meadow. The first I have seen. Am fearful they'll fare poorly. Saw no insects in flight, not anywhere. 

 

[1863]    April 6. Monday. About 10 A.M. Small‑flaked snow commenced falling & has fallen until now (12 M.) & falls still ‑ melting as it touches the ground. In the enclosure of St. Paul's Church, S. W. corner, 2 small willows begin to open their catkins. Noticed one flock of pigeons flying southerly. In the nets of the River they caught last night, some fine black bass & yellow pike. The river & bay & Lake clear of ice. Black Rock Harbor jammed full of it.  6 P.M. Has been snowing (as in the morning) pretty much all day. 

 

[1863]    April 7. 6 A. M. Snow on the ground 1‑2 inches deep, & powdering down steadily.

 

[1863]    April 8. A little fresh snow fell last night. 6 A. M. a few flakes are falling, but it has already commenced thawing, is cloudy, & looks like rain. 

 

[1863]    April 10. A warm cloudy, or high‑up‑misty day, promising a warm rain. Afternoon went to the Dam with George & walked on Squaw Island. Sterile catkins of Alnus incana opening: and catkins of a Salix showing its silk. The eddy at the old stone dock gone: the ice has swung down river the last timber that had, for so many years, stuck straight out into the stream on top of the stone foundation. 

 

[1863]    April 11. 7 A.M. Misty high up, but looks like clearing, a pair of swallows disporting, must have come last night. Flocks of pigeons passing over, have been every day since March 31. After dinner went to the Dam. Found Sellstedt fishing, with worm, in a boat at the corner of Lincoln's [block] ['He had caught some small perch.' written above.] Got in & rowed to & got some minnows from under the starch factory. Came back & tied to corner of dock & we fished about 2 hours. I caught 33 small perch & 1 rock bass, & S. about same number. 

 

[1863]    April 12. A heavy gust of wind in the night, & some rain.  The day coldish & lowery. Have not seen my swallows out today.  Never noticed so many cedar birds about the City as this Spring.  They seem to be after berries of the Mountain Ash. 

 

[1863]    April 13. Observed the Swallows again. Went to Dam in afternoon & caught a few small perch & two Menobranchi, walked back. In crossing from the Dam to Delaware Street saw 2 bluebirds & heard frogs in a marshy place, so that Spring has come for good. The day has been bright but some air from the N.E. or N. 

 

[1863]    April 14. A beautiful sunrise, & the air seems to be balm.  After dinner walked on St. L. R. R. across bridge & around the bend of the creek. Men had been shooting, got musk‑rats. On the bend, (Wheelbarrow Point) 2 men fishing with handlines, each 4‑6 lines.  They had caught some mullet & one or two bull‑heads. 

 

[1863]    April 16‑17. Cool, easterly rain.

 

[1863]    April 18. 6 A.M. Air dark with mist, but not raining. Out on Main St, to the Scajaquada (Hundreds of swallows disporting), thence through the woods & fields to the Dam, in wood noticed a poplar near blossoming, a pair of large hawks, or eagles, circling high up. One Cardamine rhomboidea had a head of just developed flowerbuds, the only prognostic of flowering I discovered. A few leaves of Erythronium & Claytonia up. No fishing (1 rock bass,) at the Dam. On the embankment on Squaw Island, about 30 rods above the dock, boys digging into the side of the embankment found among the stones a large number of snakes, from 2 ft. to 6 in.  long, either the milk snake or the common water snake, & with them lizards (Salamander) &, as they said, one very green frog. I saw only two of the lizards, 1, the common water one & 1 the red one which is vulgarly supposed to be rained down. Sellstedt scooped up, from the ditches crossing the Island, 2 small pickerel, a crawfish (Astacus) with eggs, a leech, young dogfish? & sticklebacks.  Bob Curtis goes for yellow in fish, says the yellow sheepshead is an excellent fish, cooked anyway, the bass good for nothing. Mr. Cook says, pour boiling water, from a teakettle, on the Sheepshead, which loosens the skin, remove the skin & then boil him.  Our sturgeon pickled with spices, is excellent, but you must first boil out the oil. The yellow sturgeon, Bob Curtis says is best. So is our herring, clean, remove scales & fins, pack him in your jar, with a little salt, & your spices, fill up with vinegar, put in oven & bring to a simmering boil, & then close. 

 

[1863]    April 19. A glorious morning. 11 1/2 A.M. North side of Seneca St. beyond Ellicott, a tuft of Stellaria media with 2 flowers open. After dinner went to the Creek, at the Ship Canal & was ferried over by one of the boys with scows, for which he charged 5 cents (the immemorial price is 2 cents) I asked him how they had come to raise the price. He said "We boys had a meeting!" This is a good example of young America, & right enough.  All the classes of men & women workers have had strikes & raised wages, & why should not the boys? Walked to the Lighthouse, & then (Partly to save the 5 cents) up the beach, to the turnpike, & so, back across the Bridge, by Ohio St., home. In a pool between the Lake & Turnpike, found two sprouted bulbs floating. Don't think they can be Iris, may be a Cyperus.  Brought them home & gave them to Katy to plant in a pot (In the evening planted them). A small red‑wing‑ cased beetle, very numerous, in the Streets, in the pier & all along the beach. 

At the dam, yesterday. Mssrs. Chester, Steward & Sprague came in, had been dredging in the River &tc. for shells, in a boat, with Coleman Robinson's dredge. Last year I found the Lymnaea gracilis on the underside of the floating leaves of the Nuphar Advena, & in the Little Bay of Strawberry Island. Dredging these (I had told of the locality) in a very contracted space, they got a very large number. 

The elm trees are in flower at top & on the upper branches. Chickweed abundantly in flower in W. Seibold's garden on the Terrace. It had survived the winter. 

 

[1863]    April 20. Commenced gently raining at about 7 1/2 A.M. and rained steadily all day until about 5 P.M.

 

[1863]    April 21. Rained heavily in the night. Morning darkish, but sunlit.  Think the Martin's here. Certainly a pair or two big enough for swifts are (7 A.M.) flying before my windows. (My wife's birth‑day!). The day a fine one. 

 

[1863]    April 22. Glorious sunrise. Afternoon, 1st wood, right hand of Delaware St., after crossing the Scajaquada, the Claytonia Caroliniana in blossom, whether anything more than an early form of C. Virginica? A Luzula and an early Carex (probably the pedunculata) just flowering. Back of the Grove collected a Populus, probably tremuloides. The red maple is well in flower.

 

[1863]    April 23. Visited Strawberry Island. The willows still behind.  Equisetum arvense poking up through the gravel. Nothing in flower.  From N.E. corner of Pearl & Swan [Home. x] took specimen of Acer rubrum. D. F. Day tells me he thinks the easterly of the 2 maples in front of the 2‑steepled church on Niagara St. is Acer dasycarpum. 

 

[1863]    April 24. Glorious day!. Picked  specimens (female) of Populus alba from trees east side of Ellicott, between Batavia & Mohawk. The Acer rubrum is, frequently, without pistils & without petals. Took good (perfect flowered) specimen of it. In the enclosure before (General [Potter's, Porter's?] house (that was Geo. R. Babcock's) on Niagara Street, Aralia spinosa. Took specimen (2) from Day's Acer dasycarpum [pseudoplatanus crossed out] (think it rubrum). Going by the 2‑steepled church, easterly, & counting the 2 trees before it, the 4th tree is singular, either young leaves or remnants of last year's fruits (think the latter), on the tips of each branchlet, standing up like cups of a candelabra. Suspect it is Liriodendron (It is). There is a poplar not perfectly in flower, in that row, before reaching Delaware St., & after crossing Delaware, a Gleditschia [sic]. Evening, in front of the house, a little girl tells me she sees a bat, the first I have heard of this spring. 

 

[1863]    April 25th. Went by 8 o'clock train to Lewiston, walked to the landing, & then up the River a way. By the path from the river up the bank found a [in margin: See p. 15, June 5, also p. 72, May 12, 1864 ‑ hand‑lettered page numbers of the journal] very small leafless shrub, woody, with white flower buds in terminal heads (probably Rhus aromatica). Near the stone house Dr. Scoville once used in flower, Saxifraga virginiensis, Dicentra cucullaria, Claytonia virginica, Ulmus fulva. On the top of the bank a little beyond the Suspension Bridge, Houstonia [purpurea crossed out] caerulea. Walked to & up the Rail Road. On the precipice above it, where water dripped or ran from it, had many icicles. A cold north wind. Went half way down the Devil's Hole, felt there was no use, & so climbed up again. Walked to Whirlpool House on the bank beyond it, [Hepatica triloba?] abundant. Found also Erythronium americanum.  Some buds of Trillium grandiflorum & Cardamine rhomboidea.  On Goat Island, Dicentra cucullaria, Sanguinaria canadensis, and Shepherdia.  I was a week too early, some of these things were fairly in blossom.  Took the 6*20' train at the Falls & got home at 7*20' P.M. Collected also on Goat Island white (?) birch (Betula papyracea), & on the bank, above the Devil's Hole, a poplar (large trees by fence.) Evening at meeting of Soc. of Nat.  Hist. Mr. Reineke told Mr. Day & myself that, a week ago, he found a yellow flower (which he described as well as he could) on this side of the Scajaquada, near the stream, east of Delaware St, & some distance from it.  (It turned out to be Caltha palustris.)

 

[1863]    April 26. Afternoon, walked with Mr. Haskins [sp?]  & Mr. Day.  The northerly part of the Elk Street wood, 2/3 or more of the wood had been ['ruthlessly' added above] cut down last winter.  Found & collected the leaves of an Allium, I think A.  tricoccum. The Caulophyllum very abundant, & just beginning to blossom. The Dicentra Canadensis far from flowering. In the dark wood on the B. & E. R. R. found 3 species of Lycopodium, = lucidulum, dendroideum, complanatum. A large green stemmed, prickly Smilax in there, = S.  rotundifolia., & yet we ran over it last year. My Equisetum (= E.  limosum) in the ditch, corner of the railroad & the road through the wood, is just coming up, & with it, but on drier ground, the Equisetum arvense which is in fruit all along the railroad. In the hollow by the railroad bridge over the Creek, collected two young bulbs with leaves of Allium Canadense. 

 

[1863]    April 27. Afternoon. Grove, head of gully running from Crossroad from Schanzlin's, Corylus rostrata (Day found it first) The Dirca in flower. Collected male & female of a Populus. 1st wood on Delaware St., beyond Scajaquada Creek, collected some Claytonia Caroliniana spatulata, and, on dry ground, back, at the very end of the wood, the male & female of a Salix.

 

[1863]    April 30. Took 6* A.M. train to Tonawanda. Walked 1 1/2 or 2 miles up the Creek to 1st dead stream, then back through fields, woods & swamps to the Lockport R. R. & along it & through pine wood, back to the Village, found nil. Crossed with Mr. Driggs to Tonawanda Island & dined with Mr. Witbeck, the farmer, who keeps it for Mr. Bloodgood, formerly Mr. Stephen White. Explored it pretty thoroughly. At the lower end, Symplocarpus (very far advanced) abundant. Did not find the golden seal (Hydrastis.) Could not find Azalea nudiflora but Mrs. Witbeck thinks that a shrub which grows on the Island & flowers in June must be the Pinxter Blomache [?, note "Pinkster flower" in House, 1924] (A. nudiflora) and I described it to her. Sassafras abundant on the Island, & two fine trees of it on the bank of the river a little below the Indian mound. Back to the Village. Walked back, by the River Road, to Black Rock Dam, & thence, by Street Car, home. After tea took Day some Symplocarpus I collected for him. He has just returned from Forestville, & brings back (among other things) specimens of Viola rotundifolia & V. Selkirkii collected by him in Hemlock woods.  E. P. Dorr has, growing in a case, Dracaena versicolor, not in flower.  Is it a Clintonia?  Day gives me from Forestville Betula pumila? No! Myrica gale. Viola Selkirkii, Yes. Viola rotundifolia, Yes. Cassanda calyculata? (flowers in bud) Hydrophyllum appendiculatum? No flowers. No!


Lewiston and Niagara Falls Railway tracks and tunnel looking north in late 1800's.


The tunnel was blasted away. March 2003 picture.


Traveling north along the railway bed. March 2003 picture.

Scientific names may be looked up in the online checklist of Western New York plants. Find genus names beginning with  A - C  D - K  L - P  Q - Z.