The University of North Carolina Herbarium has
only a handful of specimens collected by Dr. A. W. Blizzard – all from
Darlington County, South Carolina, all collected in 1931. As more of NCU’s collection is catalogued,
it is possible that more will be found.
According to the 1920 US Federal Census, Alpheus
W. Blizzard was born in Ohio, as were both his parents. In the 1900 US Federal Census, “Apheus”
Blizzard’s birth is listed as May, 1883 (whereas multiple other sources list
his birth year as 1884) and he is a farm laborer living in the home of Henry
J. Myers in Liberty Township, Fairfield County, Ohio. Blizzard earned his B.S. in Education at
Ohio University (Athens, Ohio) in 1913.
ALPHEUS W. BLIZZARD. B. S. in Ed. Basil,
Ohio. Delta Tau Delta. Athenian Literary Society; Y. M. C. A. " Blizz
" Blizzard, a furious hurricane. Some one left the door open and in it
blew. He talks enthusiastically upon one subject only, and that is Basil,
Ohio. Before he came, we had the idea that New York and Cincinnati were
fairly prosperous hamlets, but we are now convinced that we were wrong. The
wealth of America is centered in just one spot— the skating rink at Basil. He
can tell you anything about any subject from football to moving pictures,
this includes math. The Athena (Yearbook Class of
1913) Volume 8: 70, The Ohio University
village of Basil was absorbed into the village of Baltimore in Liberty
Township, Fairfield County, Ohio in the mid-1880’s, but residents continued
to refer to neighborhoods that had older names such as Basil, New Market, or
Rome City. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltimore,_Ohio
accessed on 12 January 2011) . The
1900 US Census records list a Charles Blizzard (age 30; b. Feb. 1870, farmer
and wife Nettie (age 22, b. Oct. 1877) and son Ervin R. (age 1, b. Sept.
1898) as living nearby (on same census page!) as Alpheus. Given the age, I assume this is a relative
– perhaps a brother – of Alpheus.
Blizzard earned the A.M. degree in 1916 from
Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Blizzard’s 1917 paper on Agarics acknowledges “Professor Geo. F.
Atkinson under whose direction this study was undertaken for many helpful
suggestions,” so it seems likely that Atkinson was his major professor. The title of Blizzard’s Masters thesis at
Cornell was “The development and morphology of some species of Gymnocarpus (Agaricaceae).”
The 1920 US Federal Census lists an Alpheus
Blizzard, 35 years old, as living in Manhattan (189 Lexington Avenue) and
occupation, “professor” at “N.Y. Univ.”
His wife, Ethel (24 years old, English by birth, immigrated to US in
1912) is listed as “registrar,” but unfortunately her place of employment is
illegible. Daughter Ethel J., born in
New York, is 2 ½ years old.
Alpheus Blizzard earned his Ph.D. from Columbia
University in 1926, and his thesis was entitled “The nuclear phenomena and
life history of Urocystis cepulae.”
Blizzard was Professor of Biology at Coker
College in Hartsville, Darlington County, South Carolina from 1926 until
1934. The photo below, courtesy of
Coker College, is from the College’s 1933 yearbook.
The 1930 US Federal Census lists “Adolphine”
Blizzard of Hartsville, Darlington County, South Carolina, as head of
household, 45 years old, occupation “teacher,” and place of occupation
“college,” meaning Coker College.
Ethel L. Blizzard occupation “stenographer” and the place of
occupation “[illegible] factory.” In
addition to daughter, Ethel Jane Blizzard, age 10, the census lists Alpheus
W., age 8. Young Alpheus
joined the Navy on Pearl Harbor Day and was a career officer in the Air
Okaloosa County – Miscellaneous Obituaries – 214” http://www.genealogybuff.com/uco/webbbs_config.pl/noframes/read/1144. accessed 12 January 2011
Alpheus Wesley Blizzard died April 7, 2000, at Dorn VA Hospital in Columbia,
S.C., after a short illness.
He was born on June 11, 1921, in
New York City, son of Dr. Alpheus Wesley Blizzard and Ethel Lewes Blizzard.
The Blizzards moved to Hartsville, S.C., in 1925. Col. Blizzard graduated
from Hartsville High School in 1938. He attended college at the Citadel and
the University of South Carolina and joined the Navy after the Pearl Harbor
He served in the military for 31
years. He transferred from the Navy during World War II to the Army Air Corps
(which later became the U.S. Air Force). He then flew B-17s and B-25s from
England during World War II; was a wing commander in Strategic Air Command;
and served in the Air Force Special Operations during both the Korean and
Vietnam wars. He was a test pilot for the early supersonic planes and the
B-58 Hustler Program and was stationed at the Special Air Warfare Center,
Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. His final assignment was Chief of Staff, 5th Air
Force, while stationed in Japan.
Col. Blizzard was a member of
Prince George Episcopal Church in Georgetown, S.C. Survivors include his wife, Mrs. Edith
Bourne Blizzard of Georgetown; son, Alpheus Wesley Blizzard III of Tucson,
Ariz.; daughters, Maj. Laura Blizzard Bloemer, U.S. Air Force retired, of
Jacksonville, Fla., Maria Blizzard Legate and Stacie Elizabeth Blizzard, both
of Tallahassee, Fla.; stepson, William Davis Bourne Jr.; stepdaughter, Julian
Bourne Horst; sister, Mrs. Charles E. Lee of Columbia, S.C.; nephews and
niece, Dr. Christopher L. Lee of Lafayette, La., Mrs. Janet Lee Burnet of
Wesley Hills, N.Y., Mr. Frank E.R. Lee of Isle of Palms, S.C.; and six
Col. Blizzard was predeceased by
his first wife, Anthonette Lempka Blizzard, in July 1987.
Graveside services will be
conducted at 2 p.m. Thursday, April 13, at Barrancas National Cemetery, Naval
Air Station, Pensacola, Fla. The
family requests, in lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Memorial
Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Ave., Box E, New York, NY 10021.
Dr. Alpheus Blizzard died of a heart attack on
19 October, 1957.
Williams, Clark E., ed. (1941) South Carolina Biologist Waging War on
Mosquitoes in His Area. The Ohio
Alumnus: Official Publication of the
Ohio University Alumni Association 19(3).
Dr. Alpheus Wesley
Blizzard, ’13 [Ohio State University alumnus, class 1913], acting director of
the health and sanitary division of the South Carolina Public Service
Authority, has been acclaimed for his work in making the area of the
Santee-Cooper hydroelectric and navigation project a healthier place in which
to live. He directs the extensive war
now being waged by the authority on the mosquito scourge and has made an
extensive study of the hydro-biology of the aquatic vegetation in the basin.
Dr. Blizzard is a native of Ohio
and a direct descendant of the famous English surgeons of that name, members
of the Royal Society of London.
After graduating from Ohio
University he earned a master’s degree at Cornell University and a doctorate
at Columbia University. Further
postgraduate work was pursued at the University of Chicago and at the College
of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University.
Dr. Blizzard first taught at the
Iowa State Agricultural College, and for ten years thereafter was professor
of biology at New York University, where he was also a member of the faculty
of the graduate school. During the
summers he was a member of the research staff of the Cold Spring Harbor
Marine Laboratories. He went to the
South Carolina Public Service Authority in 1938 from Coker College, at
Hartsville, S.C., where he had been professor of biology for ten years.
The South Carolinian is a fellow
of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a former
president of the South Carolina Academy of Science, and is a member of a
number of scientific bodies including the Botanical Society of America,
American Public Health Association, American Society of Tropical Medicine,
National Malaria Commission, Sigma Xi, and Beta Lambda Sigma. He is a member of the Delta Tau Delta
social fraternity. He contributions to
scientific magazines of the nation have brought him wide recognition.
In 1919 he married Miss Ethel
Lewes of London, England. The
Blizzards have two children, Ethel Jane and Alpheus Wesley, Jr. (pictured
with his father on page 11). The son
attended The Citadel, military college of South Carolina, for three years
then transferred to the University of South Carolina where he is now a member
of the senior class. On December 9,
the day that war was declared on Japan, he enlisted in the Navy Air
Corps. The daughter is an alumna of
the University of South Carolina where she is now pursuing graduate
work. She, too, has just enlisted in
an auxiliary unit of the air corps.
Blizzard’s 1931 publication, “Plant sociology
and vegetational change on High Hill, Long Island, New York,” lists his
affiliations as the Biological Laboratories, Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island
[New York, USA], and Coker College, [Hartsville, Darlington County], South
In the January-February, 1999 issue of the Long
Island Botanical Society Newsletter (Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 1-4), Ray Welch
describes re-sampling Blizzard’s study site at High Hill Field in “The summit vegetation of Long Island: After A. Blizzard”:
3. 1881, brought Walt Whitman back to his childhood home at West Hills, Long Island
and he said, in a letter to the New York Tribune, "I write this
back again at West Hills on a high elevation (the highest spot on Long
Island?) of Jayne's Hill.. . . A view of thirty or forty, or even fifty or
more miles, especially to the east and south and southwest; the Atlantic
Ocean to the latter points in the distance -- a glimpse or so of Long Island
Sound to the north" (Gatewood, 1976). Silas Wood, early in the 19th century, was said to
be able to see both the Atlantic and the Sound from a point in the
West Hills called "Oakley's High Hill Field." He later paid for a
survey to discover if the spot was, indeed, the Island's highest point, and
found it so, at 354.5 feet above sea level (Wood, 1865).
The official height of High Hill, several times resurveyed, and now generally
called Jayne's Hill, has risen from 354.5 feet to 428 feet. and fallen back
to its currently accepted elevation of 400.9 feet. Unfortunately for fame,
Todt Hill on Staten Island is a few feet higher, and so it has the distinction
of being "the highest point on the Atlantic seaboard south of
Maine." Jayne's Hill slumbers in the relative obscurity of the Number
The summit of Long Island is preserved in West Hills County Park, its site
rather overlooked and neglected.
There are no signs to lead you to it, and there is only a small sign
at the end of the closest road access to tell you anything about it (less
than I've told you already). You have to want to go there. I did and so I
trekked there in October and November of 1998. Run-down park buildings,
shamefully left to crumble by the county, greet you as you begin your final
summit assault from your parked car (less than five minutes walking, even the
long way; less than 50 feet of ascent; thin air no problem). At the summit is
a large boulder brought in to hold a commemorative plaque, a plaque soon
vandalized and stolen and never replaced, leaving only a great blank hollow
in the stone. There is a bench to sit on. I sat.
There is no view to the Sound to the north and west (trees loom close), nor
can you see "fifty or more miles, especially to the east" (more
trees and an immense and ugly water tower block the view). Only to the south,
where a sight line is cut through the encroaching forest, is there a grand
view: the Atlantic glitters on the horizon (and the Babylon Town landfill
squats in the middle distance). The Jayne's Hill of Wood and Whitman is not
the hill we have today. Where have
Wood's and Whitman's observations and the name "High Hill Field"
tell us that up to at least 120
ago Jayne's Hill must have been quite grassy and open.. .there is no way to
get extensive views otherwise. And this is no surprise. Long Island in the
19th century was much less wooded than now. The land was cleared for timber,
for firewood, for cultivation, or for grazing, and kept that way by brush
cutting and regular burning, and so Jayne's Hill was probably a pasture after
its clearing. Though the grassland is gone, we have a kind of snapshot to
tell us much about its disappearance. A man with the wonderful name of
Alpheus Blizzard took the "picture" in the late 1920s (Blizzard,
1931). Blizzard worked out of Cold Spring Harbor and was affiliated with
Coker College in South Carolina, but I have little further information about
him. He was interested in patterns of vegetational change as seen at Jayne’s
Hill, and carried out plant surveys and set up quadrats to investigate the
question I've posed: where did the
views go? Unfortunately, his location maps and quadrats are not easily
correlated, but I provide a modified and annotated figure from his paper, my
1 shows Blizzard's general community map, where the shrub and grassland areas
outline an old field surrounded by woodlands. This area might well represent
the grassland that allowed extensive views to the east and south as well as
glimpses to the north, with the west blocked (Whitman doesn't mention views
to the west). Unfortunately, even in Blizzard's original Figure, much detail is
almost too minute to decipher, but enough can be seen to tell us where the
grassland went. It successed away. Where today we have woodland, in 1928 (the
actual year of survey), we see a shrinking grassland being invaded by
Bayberry, Wild Black Cherry, various oaks, and Red Cedar. No surprise to
anyone who looks at old fields on Long Island today, and no surprise that the
Jayne's Hill grassland is gone
But what was the extinct grassland like when it topped the hill? Some of
Blizzard's quadrats let us know. He found that the grassland was about 50%
Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and my inspection of some
photographs in the original paper confirms this. In the spaces between the
grass tussocks was little, except fruticose lichens (Cladina and Cladonia
spp.) and Haircap Moss (Polytrichum
sp.). There was little else in any amount, save
Hypericum gentianoides. All of
these, of course, indicate dry, open,
unfertile habitat with abundant sunlight. Today? Gone, all gone. The woods
won, as they will almost anywhere on Long Island.
The major part of Blizzard's grassland is now fenced in and holds a water
tower and associated
as well as roughly maintained lawn, brush, and some trees that might
represent some of those that were invading the field in 1928. A portion of
the old grassland, however, lies to the north of the fenced area and is more
"natural." Here you can see Black Oak, White Oak, Black Birch, Red
Maple, Wild Black Cherry, some Pignut Hickory, a few Gray Birches, and a lone
Pitch Pine. There is a light undergrowth of Poison Ivy and a tangle of Smilax. The ground is covered thickly with leaf litter and there is not
a fruticose lichen to be found.
The woods around the old field contain some additional species in addition to
many of the above ones. There are Chestnut Oak, Blackjack Oak, Black Locust,
American Dogwood, American Beech, American Chestnut sprouts (not many), and a
few White Pines. Shrubs include various Vaccinium
species and Black Huckleberry, as well as Mapleleaf Viburnum and Mountain
The abundant, successional Bayberry of Blizzard is reduced to a few unthrifty
clumps along the edges of the trails near the summit. There is a scattering
of mature, unhappy Red Cedars that are struggling for light against overtopping
oaks here and there in the old grassland, inside and outside the fenced area,
and there are some big Wild Black Cherries. So, although
grassland is gone, some of the pioneers persist to remind us of the
now approaching a final state. Yet, surprisingly, Jayne's Hill still supports
a grassland. This grassland is a few square meters just beyond the west edge
of Figure 1, beyond where the trail turns northwest. Here, among young Black
Birches and some small oaks (the larger oaks that were once there are dead
and bleached--probably Gypsy-mothed in the 1970s), are
few scattered clumps of Little Bluestem among much more thriving Pennsylvania
Sedge. This paltry grassland renaissance is probably the relatively recent
result of the loss of the oak canopy, and it is already waning as trees
return. These few clumps of Little Bluestem are the last
of the community that once covered the hill and let Whitman see from the
Sound to the Atlantic.
A comparison of the plants on Blizzard's partial list (137 species) of woody
and non-woody species seen at Jayne's Hill with those observed today shows
few surprises. Overall, the species (at least the woody ones) of then are
species there today. What are noticeably different are additions to the
flora. Among species seen today, but not listed in 193 1, are Pokeweed,
Garlic Mustard. Mugwort, Japanese Knotweed, Wineberry, Multiflora Rose, Red
Mulberry, Oriental Bittersweet (a lot!), and, around the summit bench, lawn
weeds like Dandelion, Speedwell. Dock, Sorrel, and Hawkweed. Japanese Honeysuckle was there in 1931, but
Today's increased weediness is a clear sign of the world's increasingly
homogenized and corrupted floras.
As I sat on the bench behind the summit boulder, I looked around and asked
myself a last question, "What's the highest plant on Long Island?"
Well that depends on what's meant by "highest." The tree rooted on
the highest spot? That's a tossup between a Wild Black Cherry and a Scarlet
Oak, with some White Oak sprouts vying for status. The highest shrub'? A
Mountain Laurel. The highest forb? Well, as far as a native plant, perhaps Solidago rugosa. Or, on the other hand, what tree is it that rises highest
from the ground? That appears to be a White Oak, one of those indicated in
Figure 2 as "possibly still extant." Then does a sturdy White Oak
take the prize for being the Island's most lofty plant? No, alas. Clambering
up the oak and flaunting a few leaves even higher than the topmost twig of
the tree is---can we hear it for the winner?
Blizzard, Alpheus W 1931. Plant sociology and vegetational
change on High Hd. Long Island. New York." Ecology 12:
Dallas. 1976. A view from Jayne's
Hill. Newsday. December 27. p. 4A
Silas. 1865. A Sketch of the
First Settlement of Several Towns on Long Island. With
a Biographical Memoir and
by Alden J. Spooner. p. xvii. Brooklyn: Printed for the Furman Club.
Alpheus Wesley Blizzard’s PUBLICATIONS:
Blizzard, A.W. (1916) The development and morphology of some
species of Gymnocarpus
(Agaricaceae). Thesis, A.M. degree,
Botany Department, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.
Blizzard, A.W. (1917) The development of some species of
Agarics. American Journal of Botany
Blizzard, A.W. (1926) The nuclear phenomena and life history of Urocystis cepulae. Thesis, Ph.D. degree, Columbia
Blizzard, Alpheus W. (1926) The nuclear phenomena and life history of Urocystis Cepulae. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club
Blizzard, Alpheus W. (1931) Plant sociology and vegetational change on
High Hill, Long Island, New York.
Ecology 12(1): 208-231.