The UNC Herbarium has about 40 specimens
collected by Henry Eggert. The earliest specimen of Eggert’s in NCU’s collection, Gypsophila repens, dates from 1864 and
was collected in the Harz Mountains in Germany. Eggert’s
specimens in the 1870’s are from Missouri and Illinois, while his later
collections in the 1890’s are from Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, South
Carolina and Tennessee. Many Eggert specimens have
come to NCU through acquisitions of the W. W. Ashe Herbarium and the Jesup Herbarium of Dartmouth College.
The following lengthy excerpt is from Spaulding, Perley (1909) A biographical history of botany at
St. Louis, Missouri. IV. Popular Science
Monthly 74: 240-258. The pages dealing with Eggert are 252-256.
Heinrich Karl Daniel Eggert
was born March 3, 1841 in the town of Osterwieck,
Prussia. He was educated at a seminary
in Halberstadt, and became a teacher in the public
schools of the neighboring city of Magdeburg.
He early became interested in the study of plants, and before leaving
Europe he had made botanical collections in the Harz Mountains and on short
journeys to Kreuznach and in Bohemia. Dissatisfied with the small salary of a
German school teacher, Eggert came to America in
1873, and for a few months worked on a farm in southern New York. From New York he went to St. Louis, where
he remained for a number of years and then removed across the [Mississippi]
river to East St. Louis [St. Clair County, Illinois], where he lived the rest
of his lifetime.
The first work he seems to have taken up in
St. Louis was that of carrying papers for the local press. He carried papers for about twenty years,
handling both a morning and an evening one.
He worked early and late, never sparing himself and always living by
himself in a secluded manner.
Comparatively few persons ever saw the interior of his house, and
still fewer were on really friendly terms with him, as we ordinarily use that
phrase. While he had but little to do
with his neighbors he never seems to have had any enemies.
Eggert’s first start in making more money than usual was at the
time of the great outbreak of the American Phylloxera in the vineyards of
Europe, destroying immense numbers of the vines and threatening the entire
wine and grape industry of Europe. It
was finally discovered that the American native grapes might be used as
stocks upon which to graft the more susceptible European varieties, so that a
vine was obtained with which had roots of the American resistant species with
the top of some desirable but susceptible European species. This work resulted in an immense demand for
the seed of some of our native species of grapes. Eggert’s
knowledge of botany led to his being recommended as a suitable person from
whom to get these seeds. For at least
two or three years he made a business of collecting and selling them to
foreign countries. The business was
quite remunerative and in the proper season he is said to have made several
hundred dollars a month in this way.
He seems to have kept up his carrying of papers at the same time. At first he carried them on his back,
taking immense loads in a bag slung over his shoulder. As his business grew he bought a horse and
wagon and still later he employed others, so that at one time he conducted a
considerable business of this kind. He
never relinquished his botanical work, and in early days he collected
specimens for sale to botanists and for use in colleges and schools, thus
making some little money. In later
years his left arm and hand became affected with a partial paralysis which he
attributed to his severe work in carrying such heavy weights of papers slung
over that shoulder.
in East St. Louis, ca. 1909
[According to William P.
Shannon, IV, Curator of the St. Clair County Historical Society, Henry Eggert’s house at 1101 North 7th
Street has been demolished ; the location in 2013 is in the midst of a
maintenance yard for the Illinois Dept. of Transportation
near the Exchange Avenue Exit of Interstate 64/70/55.]
His money he invested in farms and similar
property, and he succeeded in amassing considerable property. In his personal habits he was always very
frugal, his only luxury seeming to have been his botanical collecting. In 1896 he sent to Germany for his nephew,
August Eggert**, and turned his greenhouses over to
him to run. This nephew lived more or
less intimately with him. Mr. Eggert was always of a peculiar disposition, apparently
being constantly in fear of some attempt upon his life. He had hallucinations in which he thought every one had designs upon his life, and these became
worse as he grew older. His mind was
undoubtedly unbalanced, and on the night of April 18, 1904, he shot himself
with a revolver.
As mentioned above, Eggert
early learned botany and collected extensively all of his life. He collected assiduously all around St.
Louis for a considerable distance, and his collection probably represented
the flora of this district better and more completely than any other ever
made. He also went on collecting trips
to various parts of Missouri, Illinois, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, and
Texas, and the southeastern states. He
seemed to possess a genuine love for botany, and his determinations seem to
have been, as a rule, correct beyond ordinary. He was a charter member of the Engelmann
Botanical Club, and was its first vice-president. He was also a member of the International
Associations of Botanists, and was made one of its vice-presidents.
Personally, he seems to have had no enemies;
he always remembered an injury, either real or fancied, and was unstinting in
his dislike for those who had in any way incurred his displeasure. His love of botany and his fine herbarium
made him well known to the local botanists, yet he never seems to have been
on really intimate terms with many of them.
He was always ready to exchange specimens of rare plants or local
species, and his herbarium was thus greatly enlarged by exchange from other
countries as well as from all parts of the United States. During early days he collected specimens
for the purpose of selling them, but as he grew older he could rarely be
induced to sell his specimens, preferring to exchange.
His herbarium at this death was estimated to
contain about 60,000 specimens, and was considered very valuable. It was acquired by the Missouri Botanical
Garden, and is at present  being incorporated with the herbarium of
that institution as rapidly as possible.
His herbarium is especially valuable for the reason that it was the
basis of a local flora published by Eggert in 1891
under the title “Catalogue of the Phaenogamous and Vascular Cryptogamous
Plants of the Vicinity of St. Louis, Mo.”
His preface is characteristic and self-explanatory, so that it may
well be given:
Since the publication of Mr. Geyer’s
catalogue of the Plants of Illinois and Missouri, about 1842, no other effort
has been made to publish a list of plants growing in the vicinity of St.
Louis but my own partial lists of species found in former years. I hope my present catalogue of Plants
growing in a radius of about 40 miles around St. Louis will be welcome to
botanists until a local flora is published.
Since 1874 I have systematically
looked over the ground in all directions, so that very few plants will have
escaped my observation; but as I could only go out one day at a time, in
places too far off from railroads, there still may be found something
new. Railroads also will bring new
immigrants from other regions when some of our own plants have vanished, so
that it will be a very important matter for later botanists to know what in
former years was growing here. This
idea mostly led me to have this catalogue printed.
With the exception of a few plants
reported to me by Mr. Letterman, of Allenton, Mo., all plants are collected
The catalogue contains nearly 1,100 different species and varieties,
so that St. Louis need not be ashamed of her flora.
This catalogue of Mr. Eggert’s
is by far the best and most nearly complete list of our plants which has yet
appeared. Besides the above mentioned
catalogue, a number of small lists of desiderata were distributed to Eggert’s correspondents for a number of years. Aside from these he published absolutely
nothing, so far as now known. Exact
localities were not given either in his lists or upon the labels accompanying
specimens, but he is known to have kept a note-book in which all such data
were given. This note-book disappeared
during the changes following his death, and thus much valuable and intimate
knowledge of our flora was lost. As
mentioned above, his entire herbarium is now in the possession of the
Missouri Botanical Garden, where it will receive the best of care and will be
accessible to all botanists desiring to use it.
eggertii Small was named in
Henry Eggert’s honor. MO holds the holotype,
collected by Eggert on 19 August, 1897, from “Dry
ground n. White Bluff” Dickson County, Tennessee.
Photo by Thomas Barnes,
from the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
NCU has specimens of Helianthus eggertii from :
Alabama: Cleburne County: ca. 7 mi. sse. of Oxford; Cheaha Mountain around
n. central T188S, R8E, section 9 Cheaha Lake. M.G. Bussey
#501. 2 October 1982. NCU526553 Note: Originally id as H. strumosus; annotated to H. eggertii ? anonymously, undated.
Arkansas: Washington County: near West Fork, west fork of White
River. G.E. Tucker #6347. 29 August 1967. NCU317915.
Note: Originally id as Silphium;
annotated to H. strumosus
by M.E. Medley in 1984; annotated to H.
eggertii by anonymous, undated.
Illinois: Johnson County: Roadside, Scout Cave, SE
of Goreville, Johnson Co., Illinois.
R.A. Evers #96252. 9 August
1967. NCU359278. Note:
Originally id as H. strumosus; annotated to H. eggertii by JNN Campbell in 2005.
Mississippi: Franklin County: Roadside slope on U.S.
Highway 84-98, 5.0 mi. W of Meadville, Homochitto
National Forest. L.C. Temple
#3842. 4 August 1966. NCU439001 Note: Originally id as H. divaricatus
by Temple; annotated to H. strumosus by McDearman in
1982; annotated to H. eggertii by JNN Campbell in 2005.
Mississippi: Holmes County: Holmes County State Park. T. M. Pullen #64719. 28 June 1964. NCU291061 Note: Originally id as H. strumosus by Pullen; annotated to H. strumosus
in 1982 by McDearman; annotated to H. eggertii
by JNN Campbell in 2005.
Mississippi: Holmes County: County roadside, 2.0 mi. N of Coxburg. L.C.
Temple #3868. 6 August 1966. NCU440035 Note: Originally id as H. divaricatus by Temple; annotated to H. strumosus
by McDearman in 1982; annotated to H. eggertii
by JNN Campbell in 2005.
Mississippi: Marion County: ca. 6 miles E of Columbia. S.B. Jones #6525, J. Carter, C.
Hudson. 15 June 1955. NCU 289314.
Note: Originally id as Helianthus; annotated to H. strumosus
by McDearman in 1982; annotated to H. eggertii
by JNN Campbell in 2005.
South Carolina: York County: On far side of ditch at edge of woods on
north side of Albright Rd (SC 72 Bypass),ca. 125 feet SW of mailbox numbers
1361 and 1397 in vicinity of Rock Hill utility pole no. 5149. Site is also NE of intersection of Albright
Rd. with SC 901 / SC 5 truck.
Approximately 47 flowering stems observed. Mafic soil present. Site may be impacted by ongoing
improvements to bypass. J.F. Matthews s.n. 21 October 2011. NCU595975.
Tennessee: Coffee County: Occurring in an old power line clearing in an
“oak barren” along Tenn. Rte. 55, 5.4 m. N. of jct. with US. Rte 41. HF Rock #943. 16 September 1957. NCU192205.
Tennessee: Coffee County: Quad:
Arnold Air Force Base, AEDC Airfield grass/herb dominated
mowed/burned open areas. West side of
airfield ca. 35degrees23'20"E [sic]; 086degrees05'10"W. Milo Pyne #03-010
& T. Whitsell.
4 September 2003. NCU579383.
** August Eggert
(b. November, 1870) immigrated to the United States in 1894 and rented a home
at 1125 North 7TH Street/Bowman Avenue, just a few blocks away
from his uncle, Heinrich “Henry” Eggert who owned a
home at 1101 North 7th Street/Bowman Avenue in East St. Louis.1 Henry
Eggert’s florist business was at 1025 North 7th
Street. 4 The
neighborhood was working-class, with most men on the street being day
laborers, though a blacksmith, railroad laborer and teamster were enumerated
as well. Several of the women are
listed as “washwomen” in the 1900 census.
While most people in the immediate vicinity of the Eggerts
were born in Illinois, others were born in Mississippi, North Carolina,
Tennessee, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Bohemia and Austria.1 By 1910, Henry had died, and August
continued in the florist trade and owned a home at 1021 North 9th
Street/Bowman Avenue. Though unmarried,
August did not live alone: his sister,
Elizabeth (20 years old) had joined him, and widowed housekeeper, Mary
George, and 16 year old James George lived in the house as well.2 By the 1940 census, August had
married Bilta Eggert and
had two daughters, Hilda, 22 years old, and Emma, 23 years old. The family still resided at 1021 North 7th
Street in East St. Louis. Another
family of Eggerts, Harold (69, born in Germany,
“property owner”) and Hilda (67, born in Germany) lived nearby, at 1000 North
7th Street, but it is unclear what relation they were to Henry or
1. Year: 1900; Census
Place: East St Louis Ward 7, St Clair, Illinois; Roll: 341; Page: 1A; Enumeration
District: 0107; FHL
Ancestry.com1900 United States Federal
Census [database on-line]. Provo,
UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.
2004. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the
Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration,
1900. T623, 1854 rolls. Accessed on 1 January, 2013.
2. Year: 1910; Census
Place: East St Louis Ward 8, Saint Clair, Illinois; Roll: T624_322; Page: 22A; Enumeration
District: 0136; ; FHL microfilm: 1374335.
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2006. Original data: Thirteenth Census of the United States,
1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1, 178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record
Group 29. National Archives,
Washington, D.C. Accessed on 1
3. Year: 1940; Census Place: East St Louis, St Clair,Illinois; Roll: T627_880; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 82-41. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA:
Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: United States of America,
Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington,
D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.
Accessed on 1 January, 2013.
4. Personal Communication, email between McCormick and
William P. Shannon, IV, Curator, St. Clair County Historical Society citing East
St. Louis city directory, 1900.