The UNC Herbarium has only about a dozen
specimens collected by Ms. Taylor, all collected between 1889 and 1893, from
the Baltimore, Maryland area or from Dorchester and Richland Counties in
South Carolina. All were obtained in 2002 from the Jesup
Herbarium of Dartmouth College (HNH), though how her specimens came to be in
Hanover, New Hampshire is unclear. The Harvard University Herbaria database
lists MICH, MSC, F, and ILL as having specimens collected by her. US has specimens
collected in the Baltimore area.
Towson University Herbarium (BALT) has catalogued about a dozen fern
specimens collected by Katherine Taylor; as BALT proceeds with cataloguing additional
specimens may be found.
Katherine Augusta Taylor was born to
William H. Taylor and Augusta Birckhead Taylor on
20 November 1850 (1, 3). The family
was wealthy – grandfathers on both sides were involved in banking and
railroads – and lived on Mount Vernon Place in Baltimore. Mount Vernon is one of the city’s oldest
neighborhoods and was home to many of its wealthiest families in the
1800’s. It is now designated as a National
landmark Historic District and a Baltimore City Cultural District (2). How Ms. Taylor developed her interest in
plants is not known. However, it is
clear that she took collecting seriously, and it is clear that she corresponded with noted botanists of
her day (see references to her botanical activities, below). It is
puzzling that no specimens found to date were collected near her home; none
found to date mention “Cascade” or “Washington County, Maryland” as the
collection locality. It is also
unclear at this time what Ms. Taylor’s connection —other than botanical
interest – was to South Carolina.
Taylor acquired 500 acres of land near Cascade, Maryland, and built her home,
“Tipahato,” there in 1902. It was finished in 1904 and first served as
a summer residence, though Ms. Taylor moved there permanently in 1912 (3).
“She managed her property as a working farm, going into town to purchase
supplies in jeans when other women of her wealthy social set wore only
dresses with white gloves and never earned a living. Local legend,” writes Pat Schooley
of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, “says that Taylor had fallen in
love with a musician whom her father forbade her to marry, and this was the
reason she left her parents' home and moved to the mountain, determined never
to marry… She lived there with her disabled sister, Amelia, entertaining
friends from Baltimore with small musical ensembles in which the man her
father refused to let her marry was said to have sometimes played.”
“top of the hill” in Shoshone, designed by J.M. Woltz
of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania,
is an Arts & Crafts Home on the National
Register of Historic Places.
Photo by Jason Turner for the Hagerstown
Magazine, 2006 (4)
Augusta Taylor died in 1940 and willed Tipahato to
her cousin, Mr. Henry S. T. White, who used it as a summer home until his
death. In 1946 Mr. White’s estate sold
the house to George and Dolly Byrne, who operated it as a sanitarium for
mentally and physically handicapped individuals. Tipahato
continued as a sanitarium until the mid-1970’s. “A succession of property owners followed,”
according to Schooley. “The second floor was divided into two
apartments, and the house deteriorated, even going into foreclosure.” Tipahato was acquired
by new owners in 1997 and they began restoring it to its original glory
Augusta Taylor is buried in the graveyard of Germantown Bethel Church,
adjacent to Tipahato, and her gravestone faces the
house she loved (4, 5).
September 2002. Photo by Paula S. Reed
KATHERINE A. TAYLOR’S BOTANICAL
Sargent, C. S. (1894) New or Little-known Plants: Darbya umbellata.
Garden and Forest 7 (313): 74-75. [Darby
umbellata Gray is now known as Nestronia umbellulata
the spring of 1886 Miss K. A. Taylor, of Baltimore, found staminate plants
near Columbia, South Carolina, and two years later the pistillate
plant in the same locality; and the following notes from her pen
give the best account of the habit and mode of growth of this extremely rare
and interesting plant, which has not yet been brought into cultivation:
Oak, Hickory and other deciduous-leaved trees and shrubs. The soil is
light, loose white sand, without stones, and is overlaid with a
thick-covering of leaf-mold. The
Darbya flourishes alike in sunny and shady
situations. The roots are several yards long, an eighth to half an inch in
diameter, dark red on the outside, white within, with rootlets at intervals
of an inch or more; they branch every foot or so, and run in straight lines
through the leaf-mold about two to six inches below the surface, crossing
each other frequently and sending up shoots sometimes an inch and sometimes
several feet apart. The leaves are always much larger on the pistillate than on the staminate plants. The two grow
Small, John K. (1895) Studies in the Botany
of the Southeastern United States III. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club
22 (1): 43-48. [the portion mentioning
Ms. Taylor is on pg. 45]
BAPTISIA SERENAE M. A. Curtis, Amer. Journ. Sci. 7:
406 (1845). The range of this species, heretofore confined to the uplands and
foot-hills in South Carolina and Georgia, has now been extended into the low
country by its discovery by Miss Katherine A. Taylor in the pine barrens
about Summerville, South Carolina.
John K. (1897) Studies in the Botany of the Southeastern United States. --
XII. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 24 (11): 487-496. [The segment referring to Miss Taylor is on page 489.]
MENTHA ROTUNDIFOLIA (L.) Huds.
Fl. Angl. 221. 1762. Only one station in the Southern States, namely,
"near Wilmington, North Carolina," (Chapm.
Fl. S. St. Ed. 2 313) has been recorded for this mint. However the species is
spreading; in 1891 Miss K. A. Taylor collected specimens in a wet meadow near
Columbia, South Carolina, and in 1895 I found it abundant near Trader's Hill
in southeastern Georgia.
(1) Schooley, Pat. "Beauty of mountain
home re-emerges" Herald-Mail [Hagerstown,
Maryland, U.S.A.] 18 November, 2007: E1+.
accessed on 19 December 2011
(3) Barnhardt, J.H. (1965) Biographical Notes Upon Botanists, volume 3.
New York Botanical Garden, NY.
Cheryl M. (2006)
Splendor on the Mountain – Arts & Crafts Home Tipahato: Love and
Labor Restore Historic Tipahato to its Former
Glory. Hagerstown Magazine. http://www.hagerstownmagazine.com/articledetail.aspx?id=159
accessed on 13 December 2011.
accessed on 19 December 2011.