Edward Read Memminger
was an avid botanist and built his own house, “Tranquility,” just down Little
River Road from his parents’ home. Memminger
married Ella Drayton in 1888, and built Tranquility in 1890 as a wedding present
to her.1 Tranquility still stands today, and Edward was living
there when the Sandburgs bought the old family home
in 1945. Memminger gave Carl Sandburg an album
filled with the history of the home and the Memminger
family – this album is preserved in the collections of the Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site
.2 For a photo of
Tranquility, see page 36 of Terry Ruscin’s Hendersonville
& Flat Rock: An Intimate Tour
(Charleston: History Press, 2007).
Confederate States of America $5 bill bearing
Christopher Gustavus Memminger’s
likeness in the lower right corner.
C. G. Memminger was the father of botanist Edward
Edward Read Memminger
and Ella Grimke-Drayton Memminger (b. ?1853, d. 22 Feb. 1926) were married in 1888, and had
two children, Marjorie Drayton Memminger (b.1890,
d. 1957) and Edward De Vere Memminger (b. 1897, d.
Most of Memminger’s
specimens deposited at NCU have scant location data – “Flat Rock, N.C.” is
most common. To date 270 specimens collected by Edward Read Memminger have been found in NCU. Most of Memminger's specimens deposited at NCU were collected in
North Carolina, though there are some from St. Andrew's Parish, Charleston
County, South Carolina.
Other herbaria which curate specimens collected
by Memminger include Carnegie Mellon (CM), Missouri
Botanical Garden (MO),
New York Botanical Garden (NY), and University of South Florida
Senecio memmingeri Britton ex Small is named for Edward Read Memminger. Small writes in the original description of
In dry soil or on cliffs in or near the
mountains, North Carolina and Alabama. Spring and summer.
Most closely related to Senecio
millefolium, but clearly distinguished
by the coarse leaf-segments. The original specimens of this species were
collected in Henderson county, North Carolina, by Mr. E. R. Memminger, in 1887. In 1891, in company with Mr. A. A.
Heller, I found the plant on Blowing Rock Mountain in northwestern North
Carolina. Prof. Underwood and Prof. Earle have given me specimens almost
identical with the North Carolina plants from Auburn, Lee County, Alabama,
where they collected it on May 16, 1896.
John K. Small. 1898. Studies in
the Botany of the Southern United States -- XIII. i.
Species Hitherto Imperfectly Understood. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical
Club 25(3): 147-148.
The Holotype of Senecio
memmingeri can be found at the New York
Botanical Garden, J. K. Small’s home institution. NCU
has a topotype.
The Charleston Museum was organized in March,
1773, by the Charles Town Library Society. In 1850 it was tranferred
to the College of Charleston, and in 1907 a building
was provided by the City and the name was changed to The Charleston Museum.
Edward Read Memminger was very involved with the
mycological and botanical collections between the years of 1910 and 1914. Memminger was listed on the Bulletin's masthead as an honorary
curator starting with Bulletin of the Charleston Museum, Volume VI in
At a meeting of the Trustees [of the Charleston Museum] on Friday, May
12th , Mr. Edward R. Memminger was elected
Honorary Curator of Fungi. Mr. Memminger has been a
student of the botany of the southeast since 1882, devoting special attention
to the higher fungi. During the past three months he has rearranged the Ravenel Herbarium and added to the biological survey more
than a thousand records for fungi, based upon the work of the earlier
botanists. This work will be continued with a view to cataloging all the
fungi known to occur in this state. Bulletin of the Charleston Museum
VII (5): 39. 1911.
The [Charleston] Museum has secured the assistance of Mr. Ed. R. Memminger in a revision of the Henry W. Ravenel herbarium and the preparation of a catalog of the
fungi of South Carolina. Bulletin of the Charleston Museum VII
(3): 24. 1911.
Mr. Edward R. Memminger, honorary curator of
fungi, has returned to Charleston for the winter and is engaged in further
work on the Ravenel herbarium. In addition to its
valuable fungi, this herbarium contains a large series of flowering plants
collected during the summer in malarial swamps and inaccessible regions where
we should have great difficulty in collecting at the present time.
Furthermore, the prospect of extensive drainage operations in the coastal
region in the near future suggests that a few years may bring extensive
changes in ecological conditions. All of this invests the Ravenel
herbarium with special interest. Bulletin of the Charleston Museum
VII (8): 62.
Mr. Edward R. Memminger was appointed honorary
curator of fungi, and spent the greater part of two months revising the fungi
of the Henry W. Ravenel herbarium. Nearly nine
hundred South Carolina species were entered in the biological survey records
as a result of this work. Bulletin of the Charleston Museum VIII
(1): 4. 1912.
HERBARIA. A new case for the general
herbarium was built in the Muesum shop in the
spring, and the Henry W. Ravenel herbarium and
other collections are in process of revision and remounting. Mr. Memminger worked over the fungi early in the year and is
now engaged with the flowering plants. The herbarium already contains 1397
sheets, of which 839 are from South Carolina. In addition, 840 sheets,
including 711 from South Carolina, are nearly ready for filing.
The Museum is indebted for assistance in mounting specimens to the Misses
Isabel O'Neill, Ida Colson, Marion McDonald, Anita Pollitzer,
and Priscilla Branford.
The first fascicle of Ravenel's rare Fungi Caroliniani exsiccati was given
by Dr. C.W. Kollock and has proved of much value in
Mr. Memminger's work.
A set of European plants, chiefly mosses, has been given by Miss
Henrietta A. Kelly. Bulletin of
the Charleston MuseumVIII
(1): 10-11. 1912.
For the first time it has been possible to
run all departments of the Museum at their full capacity and to utilize our
full equipment for the production and use of exhibits. Thus, while cases have
been built or refinished in the carpenter shop, specimens and copy for labels have been prepared by Miss [Laura M.]
Bragg [Curator of Books and Public Instruction], Dr. [Daniel S.]Martin
[Honorary Curator of Minerology], and Mr. Memminger,
and the Museum press has been busy printing labels... On the evenings of
February 20 and 26 the Museum was opened to public inspection in all
departments and personally conducted parties of from fifteen to thirty
followed each other at intervals of fifteen minutes about the building...
they learned the importance of the biological survey and how its records are
filed and indexed. The preparation of herbarium specimens in all its stages
was demonstrated with the assistance of young ladies of the Natural History
Society, who have been mounting specimens while the data have been prepared
by Mr. Memminger and Miss Bragg... The work of Mr. Memminger and his assistants has resulted in making
practically all the herbaria accessible and properly recorded. Dr. Martin has
cataloged the entire Booth collection of invertebrate fossils and has broughtt all the records of his department up to date. Bulletin of the Charleston Museum VIII (4): 35-37. 1912.
Mr. E. R. Memminger,
honorary curator of fungi, has returned to the city and has plans to continue
his work on the herbarium during the winter. Bulletin of the Charleston Museum VIII (7): 65. 1912.
In July and August Miss Bragg collected
plants at Sumter, in the region about Keowee, and
at Caesar's Head. When the material obtained in this way has been worked up
it may be expected to yield results of importance for the survey. Miss Bragg
also visited a number of colleges which possess herbaria, and arranged plans
for co-operation in extending the records of the flora of the state.
Mr. Memminger has continued his revision of the
nomenclature of the Ravenel herbarium and has
written survey cards for a large number of species. It is intended to include
in the records of the survey all specimens from South Carolina in our own
collection or known to be in other collections, all properly established
records for species observed but not preserved, and all published references
to local fauna and flora. To facilitate these entries, a stock of publication
record forms has been printed and a start has been made in filling these in
for some of the early floral lists, such as Bachman's catalog of the plants
of Charleston. Several months could profitably be devoted to this wrok, and in time these records will become of the
highest importance. Bulletin of
the Charleston Museum IX: 9-10. 1913.
Mr. E. R. Memminger
completed the revision of the Ravenel herbarium
while in Charleston. He is now in Beaufort where it is expected he will
secure numberous plant records for the survey. Mr Memminger's generous
assistance has been of the utmost value of the Museum. Without it the
herbarium could not possibly have reached its present stage of accessibility
nor the survey have been extended to any
considerable limits. While nominally honorary curator of fungi, Mr. Memminger has devoted his time to building up the
herbarium in all lines. Bulletin of
the Charleston Museum IX: 23.1913.
LOCAL FLORA. Mr. E. R. Memminger
has recently presented to the Museum a small collection of pressed plants gathered
at Beaufort, S.C. and at the Charleston Navy Yard.
Pressed plants collected at Barnwell, S. S., and near Darlington have
been received from Mrs. Thomas Frost.
Miss Emma Gibbes has completed the work of
transferring to the local survey records the data of South Carolina specimens
in the collection of the late Professor Lewis R. Gibbes,
and is now kindly assisting with the plant survey records.
Miss Frances Dill has also done valuable work on the plant survey
About three hundred plants have been mounted by members of the Natural
History Society and added to the herbarium.
Miss Bragg has been collecting extensively about Charleston and also in
the neighborhood of Chicora Wood, on the Pee Dee, the home of Mrs. J.J.
Pringle. As a result a large amount of local material is now ready for the
herbarium. Bulletin of the
Charleston Museum IX: 46. 1913.
BOTANY. In the development of the
collections the greatest progress has been made in the department of botany.
This is due primarily to the work of Miss Bragg and Mr. Edawrd
R. Memminger, aided by many volunteer assistants.
In addition to her duties as curator of books and public instruction,
Miss Bragg has found time to increase the number of specimens in the
herbarium 30 per cent, and to do a large amount of other work in connection
with the botanical survey. In this she has had the able cooperation of Mr Memminger. As honorary
curator in the botanical department, Mr. Memminger
has given generously of his time and skill in the revision of the old herbaria
and the extension of the botanical records of the Museum. His special knowlege of the flora of North and South Carolina,
combined with his cheerfulness in work which is often tedious, has been
largely responsible for the steady and gratifying growth of the herbarium and
for the accuracy of its data... Herbarium specimens have been presented by
Mr. Memminger from the vicinity of Beaufort, S.C.,
and by Miss A. L. Sloan from Pendleton, S.C. Miss Bragg has also collected in
the coastal region of the state.
Miss Pauline Dill, as a volunteer assistant, is engaged in rearranging
the Elliott Herbarium in systematic order. Miss Susie Allan, Miss Isabel
O'Neill, and Messrs. Alexander Sprunt, Jr. and
James Sprunt have mounted herbarium specimens. Bulletin of the Charleston Museum X (1): 7-8.1914.
It seems that there was a massive financial
re-structuring of the Museum (or perhaps a personal falling-out between Memminger and Paul Rea, Museum Director?), for suddenly
in 1914, resources are withdrawn from the biological survey. After years of
lauding his work, Memminger is not mentioned in the
Bulletin after the January 1914 issue, and botany is mentioned little
except for Miss Laura Bragg's efforts.
BIOLOGICAL SURVEY. It is to be regretted
that the Muesum [sic] is not in a position to make
any provision for regular work on the biological survey. The records of the
survey are for the most part incidental to other work and the value of the
data obtained under these diffucult conditions is
an indication of the results which might be accomplished with some special
effort. .. The greatest progess of the year has
been in the section of plants. There have been added 19 species of pteridophytes and 788 species of spermatophytes not
previously recorded in the survey. The total number of species of South
Carolina plants now listed is 2033. Dr. B. L. Robinson, curator of the Gray
Herbarium, has kindly furnished recrods for over
600 specimens representing 317 species of South Carolina plants in the Gray
Herbarium and also complete data for all plants which he collected on his
visit to this state in 1912. Dr. Robinson has thus given material assistance
to the Museum in the difficult task of obtaining records of South Carolina
plants in the herbaria of other institutions. Survey cards have been prepared
under Miss Bragg's direction for all plants in the Museum herbaria, exclusive
of the Elliott herbarium, and of 215 specimens of cryptogams.
Miss Emma Gibbes has rendered valuable
volunteer service by preparing survey cards for all published or otherwise
available records of the collection of her father, Professor Lewis R. Gibbes. Miss Elizabeth P. Ravenel
and Miss Frances Dill have also acted as volunteer assistants in preparing
It is of interest to note that the number of species already recorded in
the survey exceeds those cataloged by Dr. Bachman for the vicinity of
Charleston. Bulletin of the
Charleston Museum X (1): 11-12. 1914.
Memminger continued as Honorary Curator of Fungi
until April, 1915 when, it appears the Museum went through substantial
changes in organizational structure, and no "honorary curators" are
listed on the Bulletin's masthead. Museum Director Paul Rea left in
the early 1920's and by 1923 Laura Bragg is both the Director of Scientific
Staff and Editor of the Charleston Museum Quarterly, the publication
which replaced the Bulletin. Honorary Curators, including Edward Read Memminger as Honorary Curator of Fungi, are back on the
masthead of short-lived Quarterly, which published Volume 1 (1) in
1923 and Volume 1(2) in 1925.
Memminger travelled widely. In August 1905 Memminger sailed on the S. S. Zeeland from Antwerp,
Belgium to New York; his occupation/calling is listed as
"insurance" on the passenger list. In May 1909, 52 year old Memminger, his 56 year old wife, Ella, and 18 year old
daughter, Marjorie, were passengers on the S. S. Moltke
which sailed from Genoa, Italy to New York. Memminger
is listed as a passenger on the S.S. President Polk from Manila, Philippines
to New York in 1934. Memminger died in Henderson
County, North Carolina on 15 June 1949 at the age of 92. (3)
Albert Sanders, Curator of the Charleston Museum
Herbarium (CHARL) reports that museum staff and volunteers have spent many
years mounting plant specimens that Miss Bragg collected in the early 1900's,
and work to catalog these specimens continues. He is not aware of any
specimens in CHARL that bear Edward Read Memminger's
name nor any that bear Memminger's
distinctive printed label.