The University of North Carolina Herbarium
(NCU) has catalogued only about twenty plants collected by John White
Chickering, Jr. It is likely that more will be found as cataloguing
continues. Most of Chickering's specimens that have been found at NCU are
from Roan Mountain, Mitchell County, North Carolina and were collected in
June and July of 1880.
J. W. Chickering, Jr. was born Bolton,
Massachusetts (USA) in 1831. He received an A.B. in 1852 and an A. M. in
1855 from Bowdoin College in Maine (USA). Chickering was a founding member of
the Portland Society of Natural History in 1843, and served as the Society's
second president from 1849 to 1851.
On November 24, 1843, some 24 Portland luminaries met at Mr. Stearn's
schoolhouse on Free Street for the purpose of organizing an investigative
society to study Nature. Those in attendance were already well known in Maine
and in other parts of New England. They included the Hon. Ether Shepley, Rev.
John White Chickering, Edward Gould, John
Neal, Dr. Jesse Wedgwood Mighels (pronounced "Miles"), Henry
Quincy, Dr. William Wood, and Dr. Augustus Mitchell ... It was decided that
evening that a natural history organization should be established in the city
of Portland. Within a month, the Society found a home in the Merchants
Exchange Building on Middle Street. The group was incorporated in 1850 as the
Portland Scoiety of Natural History. (10, p. 3).
Ether Shepley was chosen as president of
the newly organized PSNH from 1843 - 1848. Judge Shepley was both a former US
senator and a US attorney for the state of Maine, as well as a future Chief
Justice of the Maine Supreme Court. Shepley handed over the presidency to John W. Chickering, minister of the High Street Congregational Church.
Unlike Shepley, who was considered an armchair naturalist, Chickering was
very active in the field, having climbed Mount Katahdin in 1850 and again in
1858. He collected a number of alpine plant specimens from the summit of
Katahdin in 1850 that are still housed in herbaria at the Smithsonian
Institution, New York Botanical Garden, and the Philadelphia Academy of
Natural Sciences. Chickering also climbed Mount Washington in 1862 for the purpose
of collecting alpine plant specimens.
(10, p. 4)
It is interesting that Edward S. Morse,
curator of PSNH ca. 1866, went on to become the director of the Peabody
Museum at Harvard University, and to found The American Naturalist.
Chickering published frequently in this journal.
After teaching posts that included Theological Seminary of Bangor [Maine]
(1852-1856), Seneca College Institute (principal 1857-1858; pastor
1860-1870), and pastorates in Springfield, Vermont and Exeter, New Hampshire,
Chickering became a professor of Natural Science and Pedagogy at Gallaudet
College in 1870. In1884 Chickering and Prof. J.C. Gordon presented papers on
the education of the deaf to the Section of Economic Science and Statistics
of the American Academy of Arts and Science, an organization in which he was
an active member for many years:
Prof. J. W. Chickering, jun., and Prof.
J.C. Gordon of the National deaf-mute college, Washington, read papers upon
the condition of deaf-mutes and deaf-mute instruction. Deaf-mutes average 1
in 1,500 of the world's population. In the United States there were 33,878
reported by the last census. Over 15,000 have received an education, and are
engaged in the ordinary pursits of life, 12,000 are of school age, and from
1,000 to 2,000 are uneducated adults. There are fifty-eight schools and one
college, for this class, in this country. The usefulness of the educated and
the pitiful condition of the uneducated were described by Professor
of the Section of Economic Science and Statistics. Science 4 (87): 346-348.
It is interesting to note that Chickering was
a co-author with North Carolina botanist Gerald McCarthy who was deaf and a student at Gallaudet. (For more
information about Gerald McCarthy, see Troyer, J.R. (1999) Stopped ears, open
mind: Gerald McCarthy (1858 - 1915): North Carolina botanist. J. Elisha
Mitchell Sci. Soc. 115 (4): 201-212.)
Chickering spent 29 years at Gallaudet, and
retired in 1899 (1, 2).
CHICKERING'S BOTANICAL WORK
Chickering seems to have been particularly
interested in alpine plants. Eastman (10) refers to Chickering's expeditions
to Mount Katahdin in 1850 and 1858. In 1880 he ventured to Roan Mountain in
Mitchell County, North Carolina. This summer on Roan Mountain was a highpoint
in Chickering's botanical career, as he published descriptions of several new
taxa he found there.
Three years ago a party of fifteen from
the Nashville meeting of the American Association [American Association for
the Advancement of Science, AAAS] made the ascent [of Roan Mountain], by
invitation of Gen. Wilder, the owner of the mountain, and the writer [Chickering]
collected largely at that time. During the past summer an almost continuous
scientific convention has been informally assembled on the summit; Profs.
Goodale and Gibbs of Harvard; Prof. T. C. Porter of Easton; Dr. Leidy and
Messrs. Thos. Meehan and Joseph Wilcox of Philadelphia; Capt. J. Donnell
Smith, of Baltimore; Profs. Phillips and Symonds, of Chapel Hill, and Mrs.
Geo. Andrews, of Knoxville, being of the number, so that not only the plants
but the minerals, the rhizopods, the mollusks and the meteorology were all
looked after. J.W.
Chickering (1880) A Summer on Roan Mountain. Botanical Gazette 5 (12):
Roan Mountain Rattlesnakeroot (Asteraceae), was originally named Nabalus
roanensis Chick., and was published in 1880 in Botanical
5: 155. "Found sparingly on the summit of Roan mountian, N.C.,
growing in the clefts of precipices," notes Chickering in his
description of the plant. The lectotype is found in US. This plant is now
known as Prenanthes roanensis (Chick.) Chick.
Blue Ridge Three-lobed Coneflower, Rudbeckia rupestris Chick. was
published in 1881 in Coult.
Bot. Gaz.vi: 188. This plant is found in Kentucky, Tennessee and
North Carolina, and is now known as Rudbeckia triloba L. var. rupestris
Roan Mountain Bluet, Houstonia purpurea
L. var. montana Chick. is now considered to be a nomenclatural
synonym of Houstonia montana Small. NCU has one specimen
that Chickering collected on July 5, 1880, from an altitude of 6,200 feet on
Roan Mountain (NCU Accession number 30114). According to Weakley (7), this
plant grows "in crevices of rock outcrops at the summits of high
elevation peaks of the Southern Blue Ridge, also in thin, frost-heaved,
gravelly soils of grassy balds, near summit outcrops, from 1250-1950 m in
elevation... This species is endemic to the high Blue Ridge of northwestern
North Carolina and northeastern Tennessee, notably occurring on Roan
Mountain, Grandfather Mountain, Bluff Mountain, and Three Top Mountain."
It is listed as a federally endangered plant.
Chickering wrote of his botanical explorations in several scholarly journals
(see PUBLICATIONS, below), and also presented his findings to a more general
audience of a meeting of the Appalachian Mountain Club, held June 14, 1882 in
Boston, where he presented "Roan mountain notes" (9). In 1888
Chickering was one of four lecturers for the Amateur Botanical Club of
A WINTER course of four lectures before
the Amateur Botanical Club of Washington was as follows: Prof. Miles Rock on
the Guatemala forests, Prof. J.W. Chickering on the flora of Alaska, Prof.
Edw. S. Burgess on the fresh-water algae of the District of Columbia, and Dr.
George Vasey on some important medical plants. The club is in a prosperous
condition, having forty members and a good attendance at its regular
meetings. Notes and News. Botanical
Gazette 12 (2): 46-48.
Chickering was listed as "Chickering,
Prof. J.W., D.C. [District of Columbia]" in the Botanical Directory for
North America and the West Indies of 1873 (6).
It seems that Chickering had wide interests,
for he took note of not only botanical matters, but zoological and geological
as well. In 1854 he privately printed "List of Marine, Freshwater, and
Land Shells Found in the Vicinity of Portland, Maine" (3). The list
contained 20 land snail taxa (4). Chickering's collection of 1,500 shells was
given to the Gallaudet College museum, but was later donated to the
Smithsonian Institution (2). In 1879 "Prof. John W. Chickering, Jr. gave
a description of the newly discovered cave at Luray, Page county, Va., which
he said surpassed the Mammoth cave in beauty and in the size of some of its
chambers, and was inferior only in total extent" (8).
Chickering, J. W., Jr. (1854) List of marine,
freshwater, and land shells found in the vicinity of Portland, Maine. Double
sheet. Privately printed by the author. [reproduced on pp. 243-245 of
Bibliography of North American conchology previous to the year 1860, by W. G.
Binney (Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, Vol. 5, 1864].
Chickering, J.W., Jr. (1869) The
flowers of early spring. The American Naturalist 3 (3): 128-131
Chickering, J.W., Jr. (1870) Our
native trees and shrubs. The American Naturalist 4(4): 214-218.
Chickering, J.W., Jr. (1871) What
I found at Hampton Beach. The American Naturalist 5 (6): 356-360.
Chickering, J.W., Jr. (1872) Botany
forty years ago. The American Naturalist 6 (8): 485-487.
Chickering, J.W., Jr. (1873) The
flora of the Dismal Swamp. The American Naturalist 7(9): 521-524.
Chickering, J.W. (1876) Catalogue of the alpine and sub-alpine flora of the
White Mountains of N.H. [New Hampshire]. Field and Forest, Vol. ii,
Chickering, J.W. (1876) Field notes in New England. Field and Forest,
Washington, D.C. [September, 1876, precise citation unknown; found in
Botanical Bulletin 1 (12): 51].
Chickering, J.W. (1878) Catalogue of phaenogamous and vascular cryptogamous
Plants collected druing the summers of 1873 and 1874 in Dakota and Montana by
Dr. Elliott Coues; with which are incorporated those collected in the same
region at the same times by Mr. G. M. Dawson. IN: Bull. U.S. Geol. and Geog.
Surv., 1878, Vol. iv, No. 4. Washington, D.C.
Chickering, J.W. (1880) A
summer on Roan Mountain. Botanical Gazette 5 (12): 144-148.
Chickering, J. W. (1880) Nabalus
Roanensis, n. sp. Botanical Gazette 5 (12): 155
Chickering, J.W. (1881) Notes
on Roan Mountain, North Carolina. IN: Philosophical Society of
Washington, Science 2(33): 62-63.
Chickering, J.W. (1881) Prenanthes
(Nabalus) Roanensis. Botanical Gazette 6(3): 191.
Chickering, J.W. (1881) Rudbeckia
rupestris, n. sp. Botanical Gazette 6 (3): 188-190.
Chickering, J.W., Jr. (1882) The
Canadian flora. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 9(11): 140. [Here,
Chickering lists his address as "Deaf-Mute College, Washington, D.C.]
Chickering, J.W., Jr. (1888) Queries:
Are bats diurnal? Science 12(290): 96.
Chickering, J.W., Jr. (1888) Some
Maine plants. Botanical Gazette 13 (12): 322.
Smith, John Donnell, Isaac C. Martindale, J. W. Chickering, Jr., Chas. E.
Bessey, A. W. Chapman, R. I. Cratty, J. D. Davis, Chas. F. Johnson, C. E.
Smith, and Gerald McCarthy (1886) Specimens
and specimen making. Botanical Gazette 11 (6): 129-134.
Chickering, J.W. (1894) The
botanical landscape. Science 23 (578): 118-119.
Other herbaria that the Harvard University
Herbaria database (5) lists as possessing specimens by Chickering include:
CGE (University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, U.K.)
F (Field Museum, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
GH (Gray Herbarium, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA)
MO (Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, Missouri, USA)
NY (New York Botanical Garden, New York, USA)
P (Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France)
PH (Academy of Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
POM (Pomona College, Claremont, California, USA)
TENN (University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA)
WELC (Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA).
1. Stafleu, Frans A. and Richard S. Cowan. 1978-1988. Taxonomic Literature: a
selective guide to botanical publications and collections with dates,
commentaries and types, 2nd edition. Utricht: Bohn, Scheltema & Holkema.
2. Gallaudet Almanac. Washington, DC: The Gallaudet College Alumni
Association, 1974. page 231.
3. Chickering, J. W., Jr. 1854. List of marine, freshwaster, and land shells
found in the vicinity of Portland, Maine. Double sheet. Privately printed by
the author. [reproduced on pp. 243-245 of Bibliography of North American
conchology previous to the year 1860, by W. G. Binney (Smithsonian
Miscellaneous Collections, Vol. 5, 1864].
4. Martin, Scott M. 2000. Terrestrial snails and slugs (Mollusca: Gastropoda)
of Maine. Northeastern Naturalist [Humboldt Field Research Institute].
6. Anon. (1873) Botanical Directory for North America and the West Indies.
Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 4(11): 49-53.
7. Weakley, Alan S. (2007) Flora
of the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia and Surrounding Areas, Draft of Jan.
1007. University of North Carolina Herbarium, North Carolina Botanical
Garden, Chapel Hill, NC.
and Paleontology. The American Naturalist 12 (11): 719.
9. Scientific news. The American Naturalist 17(1): 116-118.
10. Eastman, L.M. (2006) The Portland Society of
Natural History: The rise and fall of a venerable institution. Northeastern
Naturalist 13 (Monograph 1): 1-38.
Special thanks to the following individuals for providing information on
J.W. Chickering, Jr.:
Jane Rutherford, Reference & Instructional Librarian of Gallaudet
Scott Martin, for information on Chickering's zoological interests and for
providing a reprint of Eastman (2006).