Liriodendron tulipifera flower

The University of North Carolina
A Department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium
Information compiled by Carol Ann McCormick, Asst. Curator.

William Wirt Calkins
(29 May 1842– 9 July 1914)

NCU has cataloged 2 fungi and about 40 lichens collected by William W. Calkins, who usually signed his collections as “W.W.C.”  Most are undated, but those that do have dates were collected between 1888 and 1903.  Frequent collecting locations include Florida (especially Jacksonville in Duval Count), Illinois, and Tennessee.

Other herbaria that hold specimens collected by Calkins include PH, ISC, ASU, CANL, FH, F, LSU, MSC, NY, ND, UC, FLAS, MICH, MIN, WTU, and WIS.

Catalogs of NCU’s lichens and fungi, including those collected by W. W. Calkins, can be found at and

William Wirt Calkins1

William Wirt Calkins was born in LaSalle County, Illinois in 1842.  He was teaching in Ottawa, Illinois, but resigned and volunteered in the Union Army during the War Between the States. Calkins served in the 104th Regiment, Illinois Infantry, which was organized at Ottawa, Illinoi and mustered on 27 August 1862.  Calkins and the 104th saw combat on 7 December, 1862 at Hartsville, Tennessee.  The entire regiment was surrounded and captured by Confederate forces under Brig. Gen. John H. Morgan.  The 104th was sent to Camp Douglas, Chicago, Illinois as paroled prisoners of war until April, 1863 when they were declared “exchanged.”  The 104th returned to active service and participated in many battles and campaigns (see ).  However, after less than six months of active duty, Calkins was again taken prisoner by Confederate forces, and instead of being paroled, he was imprisoned.

“The great battle of Chickamauga fought on the 19th and 20th of September, 1863, was over.  Serving at that time on the staff of General John Beatty, commanding the First Brigade, Second Division, Fourteenth Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland, I was in both days’ combat and participated in the last fighting on “Horse Shoe Ridge,” or the “Snodgrass farm,” as it is known.  It was there that General George H. Thomas won immortal renown and his well-earned title, the “Rock of Chickamauga!”  There I was wounded and captured.  Darkness closed down on the bloody scene with nearly 33,000 men killed, wounded and missing.  That night I spent on the battlefield among the dead and dying.  The next day along with a great number of other prisoners who were captured, I was started for Richmond, and on arrival put in the infamous “Libby.”  May 7, 1864, we were all removed to Danville, Va.; thence to Macon, Ga.; from there in July to Charleston, S.C., the birthplace of secession, where we were confined in what was known as the “workhouse,” formerly a negro prison. 

Night and day we listened to the scream and roar of the shells from Gilmore’s batteries as they came on errands of death and destruction over our heads.  We listened with pleasure to these reminders that “our flag was still there.” 

While in the, the worst prison hell I had yet seen, the yellow fever broke out and carried off numbers of our men.  I can never forget the scenes and horrors of those days.  I had been sick all summer and had become reduced in weight from 170 to 120 pounds.  The yellow fever I regarded with indifference, having reached a condition where with disease and death all around, I could look unmoved upon it.  

Early in October about twelve hundred of us were transferred to Columbia, S.C.  We were corralled in a vacant lot near the depot and kept there twenty-four hours in the midst of a driving rain… Finally we were marched out to a plantation near Columbia, which it was announced would be our quarters for the present.  No shelter of any kind was provided.  But there was a growth of young pines in the camp, and the ingenuity of the prisoners enabled them to build huts, and construct burrows partly under ground, which, covered with limbs and dirt, afforded cover and some degree of comfort.  My two messmates and myself constructed one of these, which we had enjoyed a week when I escaped.  I had been meditating on this scheme for some time and on the 28th of November I put it into execution by running the guard line thrown around the camp, and taking to the surrounding woods.  Others had planned to escape the same day, and whilst lying concealed in heard them approaching, and joined the party. 

The plan was to march to the Congaree river, about 10 miles from Columbia, secure a boat and float down the Congaree and Santee rivers to the ocean, where we expected to be picked up by one of our war vessels which we knew was blockading the mouth of the Santee river and Georgetown, situated near by. [The group wandered for several days, eluding capture until hunger and privation forced Calkins to leave the group to seek food.]  I then left the party and traveled along until I came to a private road, which I knew would lead to a plantation.  Proceeding down this a quarter of a mile or so, I saw some lights to the right, also a large house and the usual negro quarters.  One of the latter was near the fence, and scaling this cautiously, fortunately no dogs disturbed me, I reconnoitered the inside through the openings between the logs, which were plenty enough, and to my delight I saw sitting before the rude fireplace a large black woman who, with her hands on her knees, seemed to be watching intently a pot boiling over the fire.  Was ever a sight more welcome!  I knew by the savory odors that meat was in that pot.  Forgetting all else I hurried around to the door and walked in.  For a moment the surprise of my sable friend was something wonderful, then as I explained matters and as for proof pointed to the glittering buttons on my threadbare coat, she let me know that I was welcome…I informed the hostess about my party and arranged with her to feed them, which she agreed to do after going out and bringing in her “old man,” as she called him…I then returned with a light heart and rapid steps to my fellow fugitives… Our black friends soon after appeared and set before us three dishes, which contained about a peck of boiled sweet potatoes, two gallons of rice, and a few slices of fried bacon…One of the party gave our kind friends a $20 Confederate note in payment for their hospitality, which pleased them very much.  [Calkins and other Union soldiers on the run spent several days on the plantation of Adam Keeger, 10 miles from Columbia, in the company of Joe, an enslaved man, who sheltered, guided, and obtained a boat for them. They floated down the Congaree & Santee Rivers, and on December 8th, they were rescued by the crew of U.S. Navy ship, Nipsie, which had been on blockading duty for 18 months.]  After waiting several days we embarked on the steamer Fulton and upon our arrival at New York received orders to report at Washington, where we were interviewed by Secretary Stanton, paid more money due us, and given leave of absence for thirty days.  I had been one month on the journey from Columbia when I finally reached my old home in Illinois.” [Calkins, W. W. 1895. Chapter 35 “The narrative of my escape from the Confederate Military Prison at Columbia, S.C. November 28, 1864, after fourteen months’ imprisonment, by Lieutenant William W. Calkins, Company E,” IN  The history of the One hundred and fourth Regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry.  War of the Great Rebellion 1862-1865.  Donohue & Henneberry, Chicago, Illinois.]

The 104th Regiment participated in
the Battle of Bentonville, North Carolina in 1865, one of the final battles of the War.   Calkins ended the war as First Lieutenant of Company E, and served as Aide de Camp to General John Beatty.4  Calkins was mustered out June 6 and discharged at Chicago, Illinois, July 11, 1865.  During service, the 104th Regiment lost a total of 194 men:   6 officers and 110 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded;  2 officers and 76 enlisted men succumbed to disease.3

After the War Calkins owned a lumber business and practiced law.  He was interested in many aspects of natural history including botany, mycology, and conchology.  “His earliest interest was in the study of rocks and fossils, but, unfortunately, his large collection was destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871.” 2  He was one of the founders of the Ottawa Academy of Science and served as an officer for that organization.1, 2   His herbarium of vascular plants was given to the University of Notre Dame.2  “He began the study of fungi about 1885, and papers on lichens and other fungi began to appear at once.  Though he collected and distributed large numbers of fungi of various kinds collected in the South and mainly Florida, it is apparent both from his publications and from conversations and correspondence with him that he soon gave up all other fungi for the lichens, which remained his main botanical interest until the time of his death.”2


Haase, H.E. 1914.  Sullivant Moss Society Notes.  The Bryologist 17(6):  96.

On the 9th of July, 1914, passed away William W. Calkins, at Berwyn, Illinois, born May 29 [no year], of Scottish descent.  The deceased was long a member of the Sullivant Moss Society.  From early youth he manifested interest in natural sciences and later contributed important papers to scientific literature relating to his favorite studies.  A versatile writer, he was a co-worker to a “Report on the Natural History of La Salle County of Illinois” his work covering geological, zoological, and botanical subjects; he also wrote a report on the Lichens of Florida, following an expedition to that state made conjointly with Dr. J. A. Eckfeldt, resulting in the discovery of interesting as well as new species that were determined by the late Dr. W. Nylander.  He also published “The Calkins’ Military Roster” and “The History of the One-hundred and fourth Regiment, Illinois Infantry” in which organization he had served throughout the Civil War.  Kindred pursuits induced a correspondence of over twenty years with the writer, by whom the memory of the deceased is cherished as that of a brother botanist and comrade.

 PUBLICATIONS (possibly incomplete list):
Calkins, W. W. 1872.  Catalogue of living Illinois Mollusca.  Privately printed.  Chicago, Illinois.
-----.  1874.  Notes on freshwater Mollusca, found in the vicinity of Chicago, Illinois.  Cincinnati Quarterly Journal of Science 1(3):  242-244.
-----.  1874.  Notes on the molluscan fauna of Northern Illinois.  Cincinnati Quarterly Journal of Science.  1(4):  321-325.
-----.  1875.  Rambles of a naturalist in southern Florida.  Cinn. Quart. J. Sci. 2:  161-164.
-----.  1874.  The land and fresh water shells of LaSalle County, Ill.  Proceedings of the Ottawa Academy of Science.
-----.  1875.  Mollusca.  Cincinnati Quarterly Journal of Science 2(1):  95.
-----.  1877.  Notes on the winter flora of Florida.  Bot. Gazette 2:  128-129.
-----.  1878.  Mode of distribution of fresh-water mussels.  American Naturalist 12:  472-473.
-----.  1879.  Tillandsias under cultivation.  Bot. Gazette 4:  209-210.
-----. 1879.  January flora of the Indian River country, Florida.  Bot. Gazette 4:  242.
-----.  1880.  Catalogue of the Uniones in the cabinets of W.W. Calkins.  American Conchology.  Ottaway & Company, Chicago, Illinois.
-----.  1880.  Unio buckleyi and buddianus united.  The Valley Naturalist 2:  unpaginated.
-----.  1880.  Winter herborizations on Indian River, Florida.  Bot. Gazette 5:  57-58.
-----.  1880.  Botanical observations in Florida.  Valley Naturalist 2:  20-21; 35-36.
-----.  1882.  Epidendrum cochleatum L.  Bot. Gazette 7: 144. 
-----.  1883.  The W. W. Calkins collection of Florida woods.  1-10.
-----.  1883.  Notes on some little known Florida trees.  Am. J. Forestry 1:  386-398.
-----.  1885.  Notes on Florida lichens.  Bot. Gazette 10:  369-370.
-----.  1886.  Catalogue of lichens collected in Florida in 1885, with notes.  J. Mycol.  2:  112-114. 
-----.  1886.  Polyporus officinalis.  J. Mycol. 2:  107.
-----.  1886.  Notes on Florida fungi.  I.  J. Mycol.  2:  6-7.
-----.  1886.  Notes on Florida fungi.  II.  J. Mycol. 2:  23.
-----.  1886.  The leaf fungi of Florida.  III.  J. Mycol. 2:  42.
-----.  1886.  Cryptogamic botany of a Florida log.  IV.  J. Mycol.  2:  53-54.
-----.  1886.  Notes on Florida fungi.  V.  J. Mycol.  2:  70.
-----.  1886.  Notes on Florida fungi.  VI.  J. Mycol.  2:  80-81.
-----.  1886.  Notes on Florida fungi.  VII.  J. Mycol.  2:  89-91.
-----.  1886.  Notes on Florida fungi.  VIII.  J. Mycol.  2:  104-106.
-----.  1886.  Notes on Florida fungi.  IX.  J. Mycol.  2:  126-128.
-----.  1887.  Notes on Florida fungi.  X.  J. Mycol.  3:  7.
-----.  1887.  Notes on Florida fungi.  XI.  J. Mycol.  3:  33-34.
-----.  1887.  Notes on Florida fungi.  XII.  J. Mycol.  3:  46.
-----.  1887.  Notes on Florida fungi.  XIII.  J. Mycol.  3:  58-59.
-----.  1887.  Notes on Florida fungi.  XIV.  J. Mycol.  3: 70.
-----.  1887.  Notes on Florida fungi.  XV.  J. Mycol.  3:  82.
Eckfeldt, J. W. and W. W. Calkins.  1887.  The lichen flora of Florida.  J. Mycol.  3:  121-126.
Calkins, W. W.  1889.  Notes on new Florida lichens.  Bull. Torr. Bot. Club 16:  330.
-----.  1890.  Notes on rare East Tennessee lichens.  Am. Nat.  24:  1078-1079.
-----.  1892.  An edible lichen not heretofore noted as such.  Bot. Gazette 17:  418. [Endocarpon miniatum L..]
-----.  1892.  Remarks on North American lichenology – preliminary.  Science 20:  120.
-----.  1892.  Remarks on North American lichenology – II.  Science 20:  205-206.
-----.  1893.  Remarks on North American lichenology – III.  Science 21:  77-78. 
-----.  1896.  The lichen flora of Chicago and vicinity.  Chicago Acad. Sci. 1:  1-50.
-----.  1895.  The history of the One-hundred and fourth Regiment of Illinois Infantry. War of the Great Rebellion 1862-1965.  Donohue & Henneberry, printers, Chicago, Illinois.
-----.  1898.  “The lichen-flora of La Salle County,” pp. 120-149 IN Huett, J. W.  Natural history of La Salle County, Illinois.  Part 2.  Geology and Zoology.  1-174.  Pl. 1-3.  Ottawa, Illinois, Fair Dealer Print.
Jordan, D. S.  1899.  The fur seal and Fur-Seal Islands. Part 3, I-XI.  1-629.  Pl. 1-94.  Washington, D. C., Government Printing Office.  [pg. 583 is a list of 9 lichens det. By Calkins.]
-----.  1903.  The Calkins Memorial Military Roster. [incomplete citation]
-----.  1909
.  Supplement to The Calkins Memorial Military Roster and Geneology. M.A. Donohue & Co., Chicago, Illinois.
-----.  1910.  Mosses of Cook County, Illinois.  Bryologist 13:  107-111.


1. accessed on 19 December 2013. 
 2.  Fink, Bruce.  1915.  William Wirt Calkins, amateur mycologist.  Mycologia 7(2):  57-60.
3.  "UNION ILLINOIS VOLUNTEERS: 104th Regiment, Illinois Infantry." The Civil War: Regiment Details. National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior, 21 Nov 2013. Web. 20 Dec 2013. <rch-regiments-detail.htm?regiment_id=UIL0104RI>.
Calkins, William Wirt  1895.  The history of the One hundred and fourth regiment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry.  War of the Great Rebellion 1862-1865.  Donohue & Henneberry, Chicago, Illinois.  

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Last Updated 20 December 2013