Founder of The Philadelphia Botanical Club
Today is the anniversary of the death of the Quaker doctor and botanist Jeremiah Bernard Brinton, who died 125 years ago today in 1894.
During the civil war, Brinton served as an assistant surgeon, and on September 14, 1863, he was promoted to Medical Purveyor.
It's hard to imagine, but Brinton managed to continue botanizing during the civil war. It's true. One time he was going to collect a specimen, and he made a friend in Major General Gouverneur K. Warren. That little connection was a happy recollection for Brinton through the years.
During the Civil War, there was a man named John Singleton Mosby, who was a Confederate raider. Mosby and his men conducted raids on union soldiers and communications over the span of two years.
On May 12, 1864, Mosby and his men captured a group of supply wagons. Dr. Brinton narrowly escaped, but his collection of botanical specimens from Virginia were destroyed when Mosby burned the wagons.
After the war, Brinton founded the Philadelphia Botanical Club. The highlight of his botanical life was guiding Harvard's Asa Gray and the Linnaean Society's William Caruthers on a visit to the pine barren region of New Jersey. His successfully showed them an extremely rare plant - the Schizaea pusilla or the little curly-grass fern.
In the final years of his life, Brinton dedicated himself fully to botany. He loved to entertain friends in his botanical workroom known as "the Den." In 1895, when Brinton was 60, he died from a heart attack and was found sitting in his chair in the Den.
A Biographical Sketch of Brinton in the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club reported that on the last night of his life, Brinton visited a friend, and they discussed a German poem called "Good night."
Over the quiet pathway
Comes clear the bell-ring sound;
Good night thy heart now sleep may
And 'morrow a day comes round.
Once more then let us whisper
A good evening and good night.
The moon shines o'er the housetops,
Our Lord keeps us in sight.