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).
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. 1899).
Most of Memminger’s specimens deposited at NCU
have scant location data – “Flat Rock, N.C.” is most common. To date 241
specimens collected by Edward Read Memminger have been found in the UNC
Herbarium. 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.
Senecio memmingeri Britton ex Small is named for Edward Read Memminger.
Small writes in the original description of the species:
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):
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
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
A set of European plants, chiefly mosses, has been given by Miss
Henrietta A. Kelly. Bulletin of
the Charleston MuseumVIII (1): 10-11.
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.
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
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 survey cards.
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.