The University of North Carolina Herbarium has
catalogued to date about half a dozen vascular specimens collected by Elihu Hall. As
NCU's collection continues to be catalogued, it is likely that more specimens
will be found. You can search NCU’s vascular plant collection at sernecportal.org . In
1916 Hall’s herbarium, ca. 35,000 sheets, was given to the Field Museum by
FROM: Milligan, J.
M. 1884. Botanical Gazette 9(4) 62.
Mr. Hall was
born June, 1822, in Patrick County, Virginia, and died September, 1822. As a
young man Mr. Hall was strong, healthy and full of ambition. In the winter of
1846, by severe overexertion, he brought him on an almost fatal hemorrhage
from the lungs, and during the following years of his life he was subject to
hemorrhages whenever his physical strength was overtaxed. This weakened
condition of his body induced him to seek outdoor recreation, not only as a
means of obtaining such moderate share of health as might be his, but to find
occupation for his active mind. He knew nothing of textbooks, had never
attended school, or had any scholarly associates, but
“Nature, the old nurse, took
The child upon her knee,
Saying,’Here is a story book
Thy Father has written for thee.”
And the “child” turned the leaves
with an industrious hand and read many things about the bird, insect and
plant life around him. With enthusiasm he noted every plant within his reach,
made himself familiar with the characteristics of
each species, and soon learn to classify them according to their general resemblances.
He had never heard of drawing plans to preserve them for specimens. In order
that others might see what he had seen, he set to work with patient diligence
to learn to draw and color each species as he gathered fresh from the fields. Naturally his first attempts were crude and
stiff, but his progress was rapid, for he copied only from the works of the
Great Master, and he was armed with a sturdy determination to succeed.
Colored drawings of 350 species of plants were the result of his first summer’s
work, besides a number of well executed drawings of birds, also colored. Mr.
Hall was not long in discovering that others must have gone over at least
some of the same ground. He began to correspond with scientific men, send for
books, and the New World was opened to him. Botany, his favorite study,
became more than ever a joy to him. He did not follow it for money or fame,
never seeking to impress himself or his work upon others. He was one of
Carlyle’s pattern silent, too occupied by his work to be drawn aside from it
by the trivialities of social life. He became famous with scientific men at
home and abroad, while his neighbors only knew him as the plane, honest “Eli”
and a most trusty citizen. Mr. Hall had good mathematical abilities, and had
made himself master of trigonometry and surveying.
He was elected surveyor of Menard county, for which office he was fully
competent. He ran his “lines” well, but on such tramps plants were his chief
interest, and his field herbarium was more often consulted and added to than
his “field notes.” In his close observation of nature he resembled sorrow,
but his character and many things was rounded to a
more agreeable perfection. His absorption in his love science make no difference in the completeness with which he discharged
all the duties of son, husband, father, neighbor, and citizen. No labor that
the comfort and welfare of others required was neglected in order that his
favorite study might yield him its pleasures.
Although a member of no church
organization, yet many instances are related of his Christian kindliness of
character. It was said of him that there was no one whose friend would be
more willing to send to heaven on his own merits that Mr. Hall. And no one
who would be less willing to go on those grounds.
In the later years of Mr. Hall’s
life, when too feeble to go on collecting tours, he turned his attention to
the study of shells. His collection of fresh water and land shells is
probably the best in the State of Illinois. Some idea of the extent and value
of his botanical collection to be gain from a mention of these sections of
the United States that he visited. He made extended trips to Colorado,
Oregon, Texas, Arkansas and Michigan, and shorter trips to Missouri, Iowa,
Kansas and Nebraska. He also made very complete collections of the plants of
Central Illinois. His name is permanently associated with the plants of
Oregon and Colorado. He discovered many new species, and the following list
comprises a majority of the genera containing species named for him: Sticta, Rinodina, and Pilophorus, by Tuckerman; Burchia, Campylopus, Conomitrium,
Orthotrichum and Archidium by Austin; Juncus, by
by Vasey; Isopyrum, Viola, Aster, Aplopappus,
Heuchera, Pentstemon, Dalea, Asclepias, Carum, Seseli and Astragalus by
Mr. Hall greatly
enlarges herbarium by extensive exchanges, both at home and abroad, and by
additions from his botanical garden, in the cultivation of which he was
wonderfully successful, making cuttings, seeds and fruits grow that he
collected on his various excursions and that were sent to him from all parts
of the country. This garden was not only valuable scientifically, but was
very lovely, even to those who had no botanical interest in it. On one side
was a bank where those plants were placed that were sturdy enough to hold
their own against native occupants, and these grew in the wildest luxuriance.
For other plants, that could not unaided contend with the change of climate
and soil, beds were carefully prepared and the foreigners alone were allowed
to flourish in them. In other parts of the ground curious and beautiful
vines, shrubs and forest trees, in great variety, grew as if perfectly at
In a swampy hollow over fifty
species of willow were planted. This garden afforded Mr. Hall much enjoyment.
Many days of weakness and pain were made even beautiful to him while
wandering among his plants with his wife and little ones, living over with
them the delights of his pioneer collecting trips, when for the first time he
saw this or that new species. Mr. Hall seemed indeed be gifted with a more
than usual share of that enthusiasm that envelops the possessor in an
atmosphere of perpetual youth. It was said of him that [he] seemed two inches
taller when he got into the woods, and his associates on his excursions used
to declare that, although evidently far from strong, he tired them out, and
it was difficult to keep up with him when on a botanical hunt.
There are some points in Mr.
Hall’s life which should not be passed over without special notice. One of
these is the remarkable proficiency he attained through self-teaching; another, that he did not begin his education until after
he had reached maturity; third, that he accomplished so much while contending
against sickness. Curiously the love of nature slept within him unsuspected
till the touch of suffering aroused his sleeping senses.
Elihu Hall died in Athens, Menard County, Illinois
and is buried in Joel Hall Cemetery.2 He was survived by his widow,
Elizabeth C. Brown Hall, and three adult children, Una M., Julian H., and
Hubert R..3, 4
C. F. Millsapugh. 1916. The Hall Herbarium. Botanical Gazette 62: 239.
Students of botanical taxonomy in
the Central States and America are to be congratulated upon the donation to
the Field Museum of Natural History of the herbarium of the late Elihu Hall. The
family of Mr. Hall, after long deliberation, decided that in the herbarium of
the Field Museum the botanical work of their father would be advantageously
preserved in a highly preferable form; his individuality maintained; and his
material most carefully organized.
The herbarium of
Mr. Hall comprises about 35,000 sheets, particularly rich in western and
southwestern United States plants. It contains the original Hall plants of
Texas, the American Plains, and Oregon; the Hall and Harbour
collections of the Rocky Mountains and American Plains; and a unique series
of Western species grown at Athens, Illinois, from seeds of plants collected
from Texas northward to Oregon. The latter series is carefully labeled, so
that in every case the original plant may be directly compared with the
specimen of the same as grown in the new environment.
Mr. Hall was an active and careful
conductor of exchanges from 1858 to 1870, a fact that results in a large
series of plant specimens contributed to his herbarium by BOLANDER,
California; BRANDEGEE, Colorado; BUCKLEY, Texas; CANBY, various localities;
CHAPMAN, Florida; CLINTON, New York; COUTHOUY, Ecuador; CURTISS, Virginia and
Florida; FAXON, Florida; FENDLER, New Mexico; FORSHEY, Texas; GARBER,
Florida; GATTINGER, Tennessee; HALE, Louisiana; HOWELL, Oregon and Washington;
JAMES, California; JONES, Utah; LOOMIS and CROOM, North Carolina; MACOUN,
Canada and British Columbia; MOHR, Alabama; PARRY and PALMER, Mexico;
RAVENEL, South Carolina; RIDDELL, Texas; SHORT, KENTUCKY; TORREY, various
localities; VASEY, Illinois and California; VOLLUM, Texas; WOLF, Colorado;
WRIGHT, New Mexico; MCOWEN [MacOwan], South Africa;
MUELLER, Australia; and various other American and foreign collectors and herbarists.
Plants named in Elihu
Seseli hallii A.
Gray (Apiaceae) Proc A. Acad Arts
& Sci 8:
Penstemon hallii A.
Gray (Plantaginaceae) Proc Am Acad Arts & Sci 6:
70-71. 1862. Isotype Hall #388
collected by Elihu Hall in Colorado, 1862 is
curated at MO.
Astragalus hallii A.
Proc Am Acad Arts & Sci
6: 224. 1864.
Isotype Hall #121 collected by Hall in Colorado, 1862 is curated at
MO; holotype at GH.
Heuchera hallii A.
Gray (Saxifragaceae) Proc Acad
Nat Sci Philadelphia 15(3: 62.
Engelmann Trans Acad
of Sci St Louis 2:
446. 1866. Holotype Hall#562 collected in Colorado,
1862 is curated at MO.
Olney Prelim. Rep. U.S. Geol. Surv. Montan 496. 1872.
Campylopus hallii Lesquereux Misc Pub, US Geol Survey of the Territories 4: 155.
Paraleucobryum enerve (Thed.) Loeske)
Orthotrichum hallii Lesquereux Icones Muscorum, Supplement 63,
Papers about Elihu Hall’s work:
Gray, Asa. 1863.
Enumeration of the species of plants collected by Dr. C. C. Parry and
Messrs. Elihu Hall and J. P. Harbour
during the summer and autumn of 1862 on and near the Rocky Mountains in
Colorado Territory, Lat. 39-41.
Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences Philadelphia. (pages 55-80).
Papers by Elihu Hall:
1877. Notes on the arboreous, arborescent and suffruticose
flora of Oregon. Botanical Gazette
1877. Notes on the arboreus, arborescent and suffruticose
flora of Oregon (concluded)
Botanical Gazette 2(6):
Grave of Elihu Hall in Menard
Milligan, J. M. 1884.
Botanical Gazette 9(4): 59-62.
Find A Grave. Memorial ID 25302022. Accessed on 11 January 2018.
Meehan, T. (1882)
Gardener’s Monthly & Horticulturalist 24. [incomplete citation]
History of Menard
& Mason Counties, Illinois.
C. F. Millsapugh. 1916.
The Hall Herbarium. Botanical
Gazette 62(3): 239.