. . .

; =

...- * US ,•: - * ■' - ' ' I

. . ... i ' ■> .•' " c In,, '

fi ,. ;,-. ... ij , ■■ -■■ :- :■ h :■

£i */i .... . ■■■ .. - / v ' .
















j' ionaGfl^waaa©»feBa®a"i"-u- aoc



/ 1







Ithaca, New York


Blluetin No. Plates Pages

77. Timothy Abbott Conrad, with particular refer-

ence to his work in Alabama one hundred

years ago

By H. E. Wheeler 1-27 1-158

78. A microfauna from the Monmouth and basal

Rancocas groups of New Jersey

By P. H. Jennings 28-34 159-234

79. Coral Studies. Part I : Two new species of

fossil corals. Part II : Five new genera

of the Madreporaria

By J. W.Wells 35-36 235-253

MAK 2 5 1937






Ithaca, New York, U. S. A.


CIV^ £SY- ^tr-rTS^^c*-^/





No. 77

Timothy Abbott Conrad, with Particular Reference to his Work in Alabama One Hundred Years Ago

By Harry Edgar Wheelkr

September 2, 1935

Paleontological Research Institution Ithaca, New York

Vol. 23


Plate No. 2

Gilbert Dennison Harris


(Profssor Emeritus of Paleontology and Stratigraphic Geology, Cornell University)


Affectionately, THE AUTHOR




Scope of the work : Acknowledgements 1

Chronological 5


The Historic Background for a Scientific Story

A Distinguished Statesman and Patron of Science 10

Claiborne: Its prominence in Alabama History 13


Eighteen Thirty-three

Exit - the Alabamas ; Enter - the Conrads 21

The Long Road to a Pnleontologieal Paradise 24

Happy Days with Hospitable Friends and Tertiary Fossils 29

Mobile, St. Stephens, Erie " 33

PART THREE Expedition to North Alabama

Pen Pictures of a Pioneer Period 39

Maps, Roads, and Rivers 42

On the Trail of a Shell Collector 44

PART FOUR Working and Waiting

Rounding Up an Eventful Year 51

The Homecoming of a Traveler 54

PART FIVE The Passing Years

The Period of Active Production : 1834 - 1846 60

The Period of Miscellaneous Interests : 1847 - 1877 70

The Closing Scene 77


The Poetical Conchologist

The New Diogenes 82

A Geological Vision 83

PART SEVEN A Costly Controversy

Steamboats and Science 93

A Promising Cooperation 96

A Clouded Sky 98

New Light from Old Letters 103

PAET EIGHT Estimates and Appreciations

Limitations and Discouragements Ill

Gratitude 115

Honors and Recognitions . . / 117

In Conclusion 121








1. Timothy Abbott Conrad (Fronti&p\ iii

From a photograph retouched by an artist member of family.

Acknowledgments are made to D. Appleton & Co., for per- mission to republish the portrait, and to the U. S. National Museum for the use of the Plate which belongs to the Merrill Collection of Geological Portraits.

2. Gilbert Dennison Harris v

3. The First Fossils Described from Claiborne 9

4. Claiborne Fossils 11

5. Shells Described from Claiborne 13

Ostrea sellaeformis (St. Maurice) Tulotoma magnified (Fresh-water)

6. Charles Tait 15

7. The Debet ' ' Mansion ' ', Claiborne 17

This house, the present home of Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Deer, was built in 1835, replacing the earlier house in which Gen- eral La Fayette was to ' tve been entertained on his visit in 1825. It is the only one of the old Claiborne residences re- maining. Much of its g rial furniture is preserved.

8. Hall and Stairway in the Dellet House 19

9. The. Masonic Lodge, Claiborne; The old Warehouse at the

Lower Landing, Claiborne, top of the bluff 21

10. Truman Heminway Aldrich 23

11. House of Thones Kunders 23

The only one of the original houses built by the emigrants from Crefeld, Germany, which could be positively identified. It stood at 5109 Main Street, Germantown, Pa. A modern four-story building was erected on this site about 1919 in which the walls of the original house were incorporated.

The photograph from which this illustration is engraved was made about 1904.

Courtesy of Richard M. Abbott.

12. The Historic Beech on Crosswicks Creek, Abbottville, New Jer-

sey 25

On this tree, which is probably more than 200 years old, are carved the initials of Timothy Abbott Conrad, and the date, 1819. The photograph, taken many years ago, was found in the diary of Dr. Charles Conrad Abbott.

Courtesy of his son, R. M. Abbott.

13. Thp Cover of the First Number of Conrad's Fossil Shells of the

Tertiary Formations 27



14. Isaac Lea 29

15. Samuel George Morton 31

16. Thomas Say 33

17. Claiborne Bluff in Summer 41

IS. Claiborne Bluff in Winter 43

19. The Steps, Incline, and Landing, Claiborne 45

20. Charles Lyell '. 47

21. Philip Henry Gosse 63

22. Title Page of Koch's pamphlet describing Hydrargos Sillimanii 69

23. Personal Belies of T. A. Conrad 79

24. Title Page of The New Diogenes 81

25. Title Page of A Geological Vision 83

26. Title Page of Contributions to Geology 105

27. Contact of the Claiborne and St. Maurice Stages of the Eocene

at Claiborne; The ''Ferruginous Sand Beds", Claiborne .... 121



1. Conrad's Eoute through North Carolina, 1832 25

2. Conrad's Route through South Carolina, 1832 26

3. Conrad's Route through Georgia, 1832 27

4. Conrad 's North Alabama Expedition 38



Reproduction of Conrad's Geological Map of Alabama, on which

his journeys in Alabama are indicated 48

Chart of Conrad's Residence and Travels in Alabama 37


SCOPE OF THE work: acknowledgments

For many years the author has been a leisure-time student of the fossils of the Tertian' formations, particularly those which are identified as belonging to the Eocene period, and which occur in Alabama. As Prof. Gilbert D. Harris says, Alabama will al- ways be the type locality for this great division of geologic time. The State attracted the attention of the earliest of those investigators with whose studies this period has ever since been associated.

It was through the kindness of Dr. Truman H. Aldrich and Dr. Eugene A. Smith that this realm of fascinating interests was made real to the writer's imagination, and many were the meet- ings and many the excursions that were arranged in the encour- agement of mutual interests.

Not having had the technical training nor the professional con- nections that the paleontologist requires, the author has content- ed himself with the making of a collection of fossils, in the gathering and study of which many new facts and some new spe- cies have been brought to light ; but he has also been interested in the historical side of the study, which interest has led him far afield in matters which the paleontologist does not always have time to follow.

From the cauldron of technical confusion and controversial bitterness die author has undertaken to save some of the nearly obliterated facts concerning the pioneer work of Timothy Abbott Conrad. He has tried to piece together the scattered remnants of a life that is not embossed with events of thrilling interests nor characterized by leadership in die political or social affairs of his time, hut which nevertheless had the highest respect of his contemporaries in the held of geologic study.

2 Bulletin 77 - 2

The author reviews his own work with the criticism that he has not produced a story for the reader who wants a full biog- raphy ; nor yet for the scientist who expects specific help in tech- nical matters. After all our labor to recover data of pertinent interest there remain great gaps bridged by no recoverable documents in the life of one of our greatest American paleon- tologists. In the interest of accuracy he has chosen not to em- bellish the story with unwarrantable drafts on his own imagina- tion.

The author desires to express his indebtedness to all who have assisted him in following up man)' clues. Libraries, museums, and private collections have been ransacked for information. The following persons and institutions deserve special mention for many kindnesses and courtesies extended : Mr. Richard M. Abbott, of Bristol, Pennsylvania, Miss Louisa G. Conrad, of Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, and other members of Conrad's fam- ily; Elizabeth Kerr Atkinson (Mrs. G. F.), the daughter of Dr. W. C. Kerr, former State Geologist of North Carolina ; the late Charles W. Johnson, of the Boston Society of Natural His- tory ; Prof. Gilbert D. Harris, of Cornell University ; and Mr. Peter A. Brannon, of the Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama.

The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and especial- ly its Secretary, Dr. James A. G. Rehn, has been very gracious in permitting the author to copy and quote from a sheaf of let- ters written by Mr. Conrad to Dr. Samuel G. Morton. Dr. Charles C. Adams, Director of the New York State Museum, has made available letters from Mr. Conrad to Dr. James Hall, for- mer Director of the New York State Geological Survey. Mr. Peter A. Brannon has permitted the author to examine copies of letters which passed between Dr. Isaac Lea and Judge Charles Tait, some of which have thrown much light on biographical in- terests. The originals of these letters are in the Department of x\rchives and History, Montgomery, Alabama. The officials of the Library of Congress, the Trenton Free Public Library, the Wagner Free Institute of Science, the United States Geological Survey, and the United States National Museum have been ex-

Biography of Conrad: Wheeler

ceedinglv kind in ferreting out information that was vital to our story. There are many others who, in one way or another, have been of help. We desire to mention in this connection . Dr. Rudolph Ruedemann, of Albany, New York ; Dr. Joseph Hyde Pratt, late State Geologist of North Car- olina; Dr. E. N. Lowe, late State Geologist of Miss- issippi; Mrs. R. T. Ervin, of Camden, Alabama; Mrs. W. E. Deer, of Claiborne, Alabama ; Mr. Clem Gazzam, of Birming- ham, Alabama ; Dr. V. H. Paltsitz, Chief of the American His- tory Division, New York Public Library; Dr. Paul Rartsch. Curator, Department of Mollusks, United States National Mu- seum ; Mr. John U. Perkins, of the Smithsonian Institution; Col. Lawrence Martin, Head of the Department of Maps, Library of Congress ; Dr. Carl Boyer, Director of the Wagner Free Insti- tute of Science; Mr. Fred. W. Ashley and research assistants in the Library of Congress; Miss Hazel Gray, assistant Librarian, American Museum of Natural History ; and Miss Sarah King, of Auburn, Alabama, a great-great-granddaughter of Judge Charles Tait.

The author also desires to express his appreciation to those who have offered constructive criticism of his work, and who have aided him in many research problems, among whom may be mentioned Mrs. Emily Wilcoxson, of Field Museum ; and Dr. H. A. Pilsbry, Curator of Mollusks, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, Pa. ; Mr. Calvin] Goodrich, of the b niversity of Michigan j Dr. Roland M. Harper, of the Alabama Geological Survey, who has also read the proof, verified some of the bibliographical references, and furnished the list of plants of Claiborne bluff; and my wife, who has been the untiring and unselfish companion of all these patient investi- gations.

The publication of this work has been made possible by the encouragement of the Geological Society of America, which has furnished the funds for the republication of Conrad's Geologi- cal Map of Alabama ; by the generosity of Dr. Howard Kelly, of Baltimore, Maryland, to whom the author is indebted for the illustrations and binding of the text; and by the cooperation of Prof. Gilbert D.Harris, for his unfailing interest in the progress

4 Bulletin 77 -i

of the work and his assumption of its puhlication as one of the volumes of the Bulletins of American Paleontology.

The author has tried to correct some of the errors concerning Conrad's personal life and work that have crept into literature. Matters that have heen entrusted to maps and charts have been verified in the smallest detail, as far as that was possible. In many cases, especially where controversial situations had to be faced, the author has chosen to present the facts as simply as possible, largely by direct quotation from letters and books, and to evaluate the evidence only when it seemed imperative in the interest of a fair understanding.

The illustrations in this story have been gathered from many sources. Some of the photographs have been made by Mr. Q. B. Schenk ; others were taken by the author ; while a few have come to him from friends or members of the Conrad family. Other acknowledgements are made in the text and in the table of illustrations.

The writer is indebted to Miss Clara Berentz for constructive work on the charts and maps and for the design used on the bind- ing. The zinc etchings and half tones were made by the Alabama Engraving Company, Birmingham, Alabama ; and the reproduc- tion of Conrad's Geological Map was done by Williams and Heintz, Washington, D. C.

Biography op Conrad: Wheelkr


1803 Birth, at Trenton, New Jersey, )une 21.

1824 First dated poem, republished in ./ Geological Vision

in 18/I. [826 Poems, published in the Souvenir. 1828 Poems, published in Philadelphia papers. [830 First scientific paper, published in the Journal of the

Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia.

1831 Elected a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Marine Conchology, Parts 1 and 2.

1832 Fossil Shells of the Tertiary formations, Nos. 1 and 2.

Marine Conchology, Part 3.

1833 Year in Alabama from February 28 to February, 1834. Fossil Shells of the Tertiary Formations, Nos. 3 and 4.

Unpublished poem, Claiborne.

1834 Honorary member of the Geological Society of Pennsyl-

vania. Curator, Geological Society, Jefferson Medical College,

Philadelphia. New Fresh Water Shells of the United States.

1835 Curator, Academy of Natural Sciences, from December

to December, 1836. Fossil Shells of the Tertiary Formations, new edition. No. 3, with plates and map. [836 Monograph of the [Jnionidcc of North America.

1837 Geologist of the New York State Geological Survey. [838 - 1842 Paleontologist of the New York State Geological


1838 Medial Tertiary, begun.

1838 - i8_]o Member Publication Committee, Academy of Nat- ural Sciences, Philadelphia.

1842 Conchologist, Powell's Survey of Tampa Bay, Florida.

1843- 1845 Member Publication Committee, Academy of Nat- ural Sciences.

[845 Expedition to Mississippi, for Vicksburg Fossils.

1848 'The New Diogenes.

185 1 Application for position in the Smithsonian Institution.

Bulletin 77

1854 - 1857 Part-time paleontologist, Smithsonian Institution. Work on the paleontology of several government sur- veys and exploring expeditions.

1865 Member of the American Philosophical Society.

1866 Check List of the Invertebrate Fossils of North America.

1870 - 1 87 1 Assistant in Invertebrate Paleontology, North Car-

olina Geological Survey.

1871 A Geological Vision and Other Poems. 1877 Death, Trenton, New Jersey, August 7.


Vol. 23


Plate Nq. 3

First Fossils Described From Claiborne 1. Crassatella alta, 2. Turbinella Pyraloides, 3. Ancillana altile, 4. Ancillaria scamba, 5. Ancillaria subglobosa, 6. Crassatella protexta, 7. Ancillaria staminea, 8. Ostra radians, synonym of Ostrea settee fovmis, juv.

Photo by Q. B. Schenk

Biography of Conrad: Wheeler



In the year 1832, in Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, a diffident young man published in pamphlet form the first two numbers of a little book which was destined to make something more than a commotion in the scientific world. The name of the man was Timothy Abbott Conrad; the name of the book was The Fossil Shells of the Tertiary Formations.

Since both the man and the book belong to an eventful period of American geology, and students of history and geology are almost sure to cross their trails, it may be interesting to set in order some intimate and little-known facts concerning them.

The year 1832 is chronologically pivotal. It marks the begin- ning of serious work on the Tertian- paleontology of North America. Though Mr. Conrad was not yet thirty years old, his reputation as a conchologist was already established. In 1831 he had published a small volume, the Marine Conchology, illus- trated (in its completed form) with seventeen plates, hand-col- ored by his sister, which work secured for him a recommenda- tion for membership in the Phdadelphia Academy of Natural Sciences. On the return of Dr. Gates,* of New York, from a

* This Dr. Gates may be identified though not with absolute certainty as Dr. Hezekiah Gates, a native of New England, who resided in Whitesboro (New York?) and who was practising physician and apothe- cary for many years in Mobile, Alabama. Dr. Charles Mohr (Plant Lift of Alabama) says that he was the first botanist to collect the flora of the coast region of Alabama. In 1829 he was elected a member of the Lyceum of Natural History of New York, the present Academy of Sciences, but the records do not show for what reasons. In his journey ings north and south he may have collected fossils as well as plants. If he visited Claiborne he was probably the guest of Judge Tait and would certainly have been introduced to the bluff, doubly interesting for its flora and its fossils. Asa Gray dedicated to him the genus Gate- sia which name unfortunately had to be abandoned since it was already preoccupied.

10 Bulletin 77 10

rather extensive visit to the Tertiary localities on the Atlantic seaboard and at Claiborne, Alabama, Mr. Conrad was given the task of describing the new species which he had collected. Dr. Dall does not hesitate to say] that at this time (1832) Conrad was the foremost authority on the Tertiary geology of North America. The modest numbers of his Fossil Shells, in which these descriptions appeared, were beautifully illustrated, both the original drawings and the engravings being prepared by the author. Of the species figured, nine were from Claiborne, one of which, however, was identified as Venericardia planicosta Lamarck, though it was assigned to the genus Cardita2


The credit for introducing Claiborne to the scientific world be- longs to a planter and statesman. Charles Tait, a native of Louisa County, Virginia, had represented the State of Georgia in the United States Senate from 1809 to 1819. Tendering his resig- nation in 18 19, he offered his citizenship to the newly consti- tuted State of Alabama. He had been officially interested in the affairs of the Territory while still in Washington, and had also acquired lands in what came to be known as Monroe County. Be- fore he came to Alabama, however, he spent a long vacation in Philadelphia, gratifying his desire to visit the Academy of Natur- al Sciences and to meet some of its distinguished members. Among these, all of whom were to play some part in the several acts of our story, were Dr. Isaac Lea, the millionaire publisher and conchologist3 ; Dr. Samuel G. Morton, author of the Synop- sis of Organic Remains; and Mr. Charles A. Poulson, another wealthy scientist, whose library was rich in source materials and whose molluscan collections were said to be the most ex- tensive at that time in America.

1 Bull. Phil. Soc, Washington, 12, p. 216, Jan. 1893.

2 Since these particular shells are the first ever described from this his- toric locality, whose beds have since yielded not less than four hundred distinct species, it may be well to list them here: Crassatella alia, Crassatella protexta, Turbinella pyruloides, Ancillaria altile, Ancillaria subglobosa, Ancillaria scambia, Aneil. staminea, Ostrea sellceformis and Ostrea radians. The two last-named species came from a bed under- neath the ferruginous sand, radians being subsequently considered by Conrad a juvenile form of sellceformis.

3 Many years ago I learned from Dr. Truman H. Aldrich, himself a min- ing engineer and a pioneer in the development of the coal fields of Ala- bama, that Dr. Lea had laid the foundation of his fortune by the acquisi- tion of large tracts of coal lands in western Pennsylvania.

Vol. 23


Plate No. 4

Claiborne Fossils 1. Crassatella alta, 2, 2a. Pyrula penita, 3. Dentalium. thalloide, 4. Pectunculus stamineus, 5. Grateloupia hydana, 6. Cassis nupera, 7. Oliva alabamensis.

Photo by Q. B. Schenk

11 Biography of Conkad: Wheelek 11

If we wonder how it came about that a man of Senator Tait's social standing and political leadership chose to throw in his lot with immigrants who had ) et to patent their homesteads in ter- ritory very recently acquired from the Indians, we need merely to remember that his only son James had already settled in Alabama and had written glowing letters ot the opportunities the new State offered.

James 1 ait had been a private in ihe Georgia militia, com- manded by Gen. John Floyd, which troops figured prominently in the Creek War in Alabama. In 1813 General Ferdinand Leigh Claiborne, Mississippi's brilliant hero of the Indian Wars, was ordered to fortify the high bluff on the Alabama River, previous- ly known as John Weatherford's Plantation,1 but later as Alabama Heights. The fort, which is described by Monette5, was little more than a stockade defended by three block houses and a half- moon batter)'. It was named Fort Claiborne in honor of its builder. No battle was ever fought there, though it was an im- portant base of supplies for the troops engaged in the conflict with the Creeks at Eccanachaca, or "Holy Ground," the swamp- surrounded stronghold of William Weatherford, which was about no miles northeast of Fort Claiborne, in a great bend of the Alabama River, south of Selma and east of Cahawba.

Young Tait and his comrades of Floyd's Georgia Militia were so attracted by the opportunities which Alabama would offer them that they determined to settle in this fair and promising re- gion on the expiration of their military contracts. Carrying this purpose into effect soon after the Battle of New Orleans young Tait entered land (in 1817) near the present village of Camden, later christened the "Dry Forks Plantation". Claiborne, which was to become the capital of the county formed in 181 5 by the Mississippi Territorial Legislature and named in honor of James Monroe, was only thirty miles away. At that time James Monroe

* The plantation proper was on the opposite side of the river. The fact that Weatherford claimed the lands on the left bank of the river upon the bluff on which the fort and town of Claiborne were built, accounts for the poorly constructed buildings first erected in the town. For graphic pictures of the tragic events of this period, see Pickett. History of Alabama, 1851. Note especially his account of the Rattles of Burnt Corn, and "Holy Ground"; and his description of the most terrible of all Indian massacres, that of Fort Minis, on August 30, 1813.

5 History of the Discovery and Settlement of the Valley of tht Mississ- ippi, John Wesley Monette, Vol. II, p. 414, 1848.

12 Bulletin 77 "12

was Secretary of State, but he afterwards became President. As originally formed, Monroe Count)' stretched over nearly half the present area of the State; but by 1819 its boundaries were the same as those of today.

The Territorial Capital of Alabama was St. Stephens, thirty miles due west of Claiborne, situated on a bluff, not of the Ala- bama River, but of the Tombigbee. St. Stephens was the Cap- ital only for the interval between 181 7, when Mississippi quali- fied for statehood, ami 1819, when Alabama hemmed her patch- work of undivided counties and numerous Indian land grants and joined her older sister as a member of the Union. The old Fed- eral Road crossed the Alabama River at John Weatherford's ferry (Ft. Claiborne), thus connecting Milledgeville and St. Stephens, respectively the capitals of the State of Georgia and the Territory of Alabama.

So in 1819, soon after the admission of Alabama to statehood, the distinguished Senator from Georgia moved himself and all his worldly goods to Claiborne, entering for himself near Clai- borne in a great bend of the Alabama River a plot of many acres, not far from the "Dry Forks" plantation of his son, ir Wilcox County.

But men of Tait's calibre are not easily absorbed by the ma- terial interests of a remote and undeveloped country. No sooner had the constitutional convention, which met at Huntsville, defi- nitely located the first capital at Cahawba6 than President Mon- roe appointed him the first Federal Judge of the State. Until 1826, when he resigned his office to look after the interests of his plantation, Judge Tait maintained an official residence in the rap- idly growing metropolis of Claiborne.

6 Cahawba, at the time, was merely a selected "site". Within a few months over fields of cotton, rose a city of great proirise and importance, but one destined to sink into oblivion within the short period of sixty years. In 1830 Cahawba's real estate could not have been bought for fif- teen million dollars; but in 1894 one of the last surviving examples of antebellum architecture, the famous Perine mansion, costing one hundred thousand dollars, was torn down and its bricks were used to build a negro school. At that time the estate of Captain "Cliff" Kirkpatrick, exceeding twelve hundred acres, included all that was once a city of culture and the seat of government. See "A Forgotten Capital" in Illus- trated American, March 7, 189G.

Vol. 23


Plate No. .5

Ostrea sellcejormis Claiborne, Alabama

Tulotoma magnified Specimens photographed from shell heaps near old Fort Williams^Coosa^ River, ^ Ala.


In his new environment Judge Tail did more than serve the stream of imp-" grants that passed through this gateway to their homestead claims ; he contributed largely to the cultural and scientific development of his day. Social affairs and political activities, which gave his town prestige, were of minor concern tf> him. Even his plantation, which demanded constant atten- tion, did not prevent his giving expression to a desire to see some- thing of the world beyond the pioneer's horizon ; for in 1832 he made a six-months' tour of the (then") western states, on which he was accompanied by his family.

Tudge Tait had come from a cultural environment, and he ran true to form in his new frontier situation. In his library were books on geology ornithology, natural history and science, biog- raphv, lustory, and odier subjects. Many of these books were ordered through the firm of Carey, Lea and Co., of Philadelphia. Tait had taught school in Georgia. Previous to that, he had been a member of the facultv of Cokesbury College, in P>altimore, Mary^nd, the first Methodist college in America. He had, at Claiborne, college-bred men for his neighbors, his own son being a graduate of Harvard University. He kept up a correspond- ence with Tohn C. Calhoun throughout life. Henrv Clay was his first cousin. His political career was so clean and his ability so respected, that in 1828 President Adams offered him the post of Minister to the Court of St. James, an honor which he declined.


At the time, then, that our story begins, six years after Judge Tait had retired to private life. Claiborne had become one of the most important towns of the State. Tt had a population at one time estimated to be no less than twenty-five hundred, though this figure probably included a number of Monroe County residents identified with its business and social interests. Tn the year t8to Judge Thomas Stocks, after a visit to C'aiborne. staled that only one other town in the State had a larger population. Mr. Justus Wvman, who was a merchant's clerk in Claiborne in the same year, kept a rather careful and explicit diary,7 in which he

7 Published with editorial notes, in Publications of ' /" Alabama Hi- torical Society, Vol. Ill, pp. KI7-1-J7, pages quoted, 110, 115, 117.

14 Bulletin 77 14

says :

The census of Sept. 1818 [showed that the population of the State] was rising of 60,000 including slaves and free people of color. (This census was necessary to ascertain whether Alabama could meet the population prerequisite for statehood, which was 60,000; or under certain conditions might be less than that num- ber.)*

Mobile [he continues], is the oldest town in Alabama, and amongst the first settled by the French in the Louisiana territory . . . The whole number of inhabitants at the present time (March 1819) may be estimated at nearly 2,000. . . .

Fort Claiborne . . . stands on a high bluff of land called the Alabama Heights, about 180 feet above the level of the river. The first settlement commenced in this town toward the close of the year 1816; since that time it has increased with a rapidity scarcely paralleled. The whole number of inhabitants which one year ago did not exceed 800, is now rising of 2,000.

Among the builders of "Claiborne Town" was the Hon. James Dellet, a brilliant young lawyer, born in Philadelphia and of Irish ancestry, whose palatial home, designed by a Connecticut Yankee, rep'aced in 1835 the so-called "mansion" which he had first erected. But it was not in Dellet's house that the citizens of Claiborne and Monroe County held the reception for General LaFayette who honored their "city" by a visit on April 5, 1825. Judge Tait was on the reception committee but Dellet was mas- ter of ceremonies. August Levasseur,s the distinguished French- man's chronicler, remembered well the eloquence of the lawyer and the social superiority of the wilderness village, though he forgot that LaFayette dedicated the new Masonic Lodge the third established in the State speaking from a stand built for the occasion. Perhaps Levasseur was not a Mason. We, too, may wonder, if we stop to think about it, that a community that

See Peters Public Statutes at Large of the U. S. of Amer., 1 : 53, f .11. Art. 5, 1845.

8 Levasseur Lafayette in America, Vol. II, p. 85, 1829. An elaborate pro- gram, including a grand ball in the evening, had been planned, but tho steamer had been much delayed and LaFayette was compelled to shorten his stay in Claiborne in order to meet his engagements in Mobile and New Orleans. Levasseur says: "From Cahawba we descended the river to Claiborne, a small fort on the Alabama. The general was in- duced by the entreaties of the inhabitants to remain a few hours which were passed in the midst of the most touching demonstrations of friendship. M. Dellet, who had been appointed by his fellow citizens to express their sentiments, acquitted himself with an eloquence we were astonished to meet in a spot, which, but a short time before, onl.\ resounded with the savage cry of the Indian hunter."

Vol. 23


Plate No. 6

Charles Tait 1768—1835

15 Biography of Conrad: Wheeler 15

had not yet effaced the lines of its wilderness character could produce so many citizens superior to its natural advantages. Be- for Claiborne was twenty-five years old, it had furnished three of the ten Governors who in that length of time had been called to serve die interests of the State.

Judge Tait had something to do with the election of two of these Governors; for John Murphy was his neighbor and friend, and John Gayle was married in Claiborne, though he had a home elsewhere in the Count}-. John Murphy and John Gayle were both classmates of James Dellet in South Carolina College, James ranking above both of the Johns in scholarship. Murphy, the fourth Governor of the State, was elected in 1825, and re-elected in 1827; Gayle, the seventh Governor, was elected in 1831. It was during Gayle's administration that the first railroad in the State forty-six miles long, connecting Tuscumbia and De- catur— was completed, and the second cotton mill9 was erected, this being in Madison County. Arthur P. Bagby, the tenth Governor of the State (1837-41), came to Claiborne in 1819, and was, like Tait, a lawyer and a native of Louisa County, Virginia.

Rut while younger men were setting their caps for political recognition, or cultivating their social and commercial oppor- tunities, the real statesman among them was delving into the mysterious beds of shells which an impatient river had uncov- ered in the bluff on which the fort and town had been built. Here were records of events of which the aborigines had no traditions, and which would be of the least concern to the settlers, young or old. Geologic agencies that had elevated these great marine deposits had been considerate, for the sands were not solidified nor were all the fossils comminuted. Apparently they were piled up on the floors of ancient estuaries and bays, long afterwards

n The old Bell Cotton Mill, built in 1832, and situated in the three forks of Flint River, in Madison County, is still standing, and some of its machinery is yet in place. The first cotton mill in the State, known as Haughton's Mills, was built in 1818 and 1819, and was located near the three forks of Flint. On August 30, 1819, it had "in complete opera- tion two large double throstles with preparations, which are making thread of a superior quality." Justus Wyman's Dunn/, in Proceedivfjfi Alabama Historical Society, Vol. Ill, p. 126, 1899. Notes by Thomas McAdory Owen.

16 Bulletin 77 16

to be lifted up by forces that had a million years at their dis- posal.

No wonder that the Judge with his fascination for scientific study occupied himself in sifting out from this quarry shells, corals, and bones fossils which no scientist had ever named or even seen. The strange fact is that it was not until 1829 that be brought to the notice of his friends in the Philadelphia Acad- emy of Sciences the nature of his discovery. The stranger fact is that Dr. Isaac Lea, ever keen for opportunities to multiply by name the population of mo1luscan families, should have let the precious fossils in that first box to say nothing of the yearly quotas that he professed to have received from Judge Tait lie untouched and nameless on his table ! To be sure he was pretty well occupied with the parcels of fresh-water shells that kept coming in from various parts of the United Sta'es, and per- haps he forgot about the fossils in the midst of active prep- arations for a long absence abroad. But no sooner had he re- turned from Europe and awakened to the significance of Mr. Con- rad's work in Alabama, than the situation bristled with possi- bilities. Willy-nilly, he became a competitor in a field which heretofore he had not entered.

It is fair to say, then, that to a distinguished jurist belongs the honor of discovering one of Nature's most richly furnished storerooms a storeroom so packed with the remains of Eocene activities that though each successive student might add new- facts to our knowledge of that early age, no one of them might presume to think that he had catalogued all its secrets.

On the trail blazed by these pioneer students of Tertiary for- mations came a troop of geologists and paleontologists, each of them finding some new point of interest or separatng some new form of life from those already described. In 1846 came the great English geologist. Charles Lyell, whose profound and con- stantly increasing knowledge of European Tertian deposits made necessary several revisions of his Principles of Geology. And in succeeding decades, even though Claiborne- continued to lose its political and commercial leadership, it has never lost its charm

Vol. 23


Plate No. 7

The Dellet "Mansion," Claiborne, Alabama

Photo by the Author, Nov. 11, 1932

17 Biography of Conrad: Wheeler 17

for students of these primordial records, and never will. In the procession we can recognize the faces of Angelo Heilprin, R. P. Whitfield, Antoine De Gregorio, William M. Gabh, William B. Clark, Alexander Winchell, William H. Dall, Otto Meyer, Michael Tuomey, Gilbert D. Harris, and Eugene A. Smith ; and spanning the earliest and latest periods of study is the work of that prince1 y paleontologis' . Dr. Truman H. Aldrich,10 who vis- ited Mr. Conrad in Philadelphia and who lived to see the cen- tenary of his Fossil Shells, and who in the very year of which we speak, at the age of eighty-four, was still describing new spe- cies from the inexhaustible ferruginous sands of Claiborne.

i°Dr. Aldrich died in Birmingham, Alabama on April 28, 1932. As an in- teresting- sidelight to this story, it may be mentioned that "Colonel" Aldrich. as he was familiarly called, was the grandson of Colonel Sam- uel Augustus Barker, whom Washing-ten appointed Aide-de-camp and Interpreter to General LaFayette. When L-Fayette made his triumphal tour through the Atlantic States in 1824 and 1825, Colonel Barker was still living; and the General, who had his first lessons in English under him, composed the following acrostic in his honor:

S age of the East! Where wisdom rears her head,

A ugustu*, taught in virtue's path to tread,

M id thousands of his race elected stands,

U nanimous to legislative hands;

E ndoived with every art to frame just laws,

L earns to hate vice, to virtue gives applause.

A ugustus, Oh, thy name that's ever dear U nrivaled stands to crown each passing year! G reat are the virtues that exalt thy mind, U nenvied merit marks thy tvorth refined. S incerely rigid for your country's right, T o save her liberty you deigned to fight; U ndaunted courage graced your manly brow, S ecured such honors as the gods endow.

B right is the page, the record of thy days A ttracts my muse to rehearse thy praise, R ejoice then, patriots, s atesmen, all rejoice! K indie his praise with one general voice! E niblason out his deeds, his virtues "prise, R eiterate his praises t<> tin skies.

P. S. Tie Colonel will readily apologize for the inaccuracies <.i an unskillful muse and be convinced the high estimation of lii: amiable character could alone actuate the author of the foregoing.

M. Du J.aFaykttk

Vol. 23


Plate No. 8

Hall and Stairway, Dellet House Claiborne, Alabama

Photo by the Author, June, 1932


Vol. 23


Plate No.' 9

Upper: Masonic Lodge, Perdue Hill, Ala. Removed from Claiborne, in 1884.

Photo by the Author, June, 1932

Lower: Old Warehouse at the top of the Bluff, Claiborne, Ala.

Photo by Q. B. Schenk, Nov. 11, 1932

•2\ Biography of Conrad: Wheelek lil



Recent evidence points to the fact that the word Alabama, per- petuating the name of the Alabamas, an alien tribe of Indians absorbed by the Lower Creek Confederacy, does not mean, as is commonly supposed, Here zvc rest. There was no rest for the AlaLamas after the coming of DeSoto in 15 13, and there was no rest for the Spaniards when the}' crossed the territory of the great Black Warrior, Tuskaloosa, whose capital is supposed to have been on the site of the present Mobile, and at one time Claimed by the Alabamas.

In the language of the Alabamas the word Alabehe-amo means literally The people that gather mulberries, and from this com- bination the name- Alabama is derived11. The hereditary home of the Alabamas was between the Coosa and the Tallapoosa Rivers, and along the course of the Alabama River below the junction of its tributaries. Mulberry Creek and Mulberry River appear on the Tanner map in the very heart of their holdings. The dis- tinctive festival of the tribe was timed to the ripening of the mulberries, which were the first of their native fruits. Tradition has it that these people planted mulberry trees in their villages, and that Milfort, their aged chief at the time the French evacu- ated the country on its acquisition by the English in 1763, made the journey to Mobile in a canoe constructed of mulberry wood.

Just eighty years before the treaty of 1763, which gave Ala-