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,
Curator of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Herbarium

Elihu Hall
(4 June 1822– 24 September 1882)

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 .  In 1916 Hall’s herbarium, ca. 35,000 sheets, was given to the Field Museum by his family.5


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 Engelmann; Melica, by Vasey; Isopyrum, Viola, Aster, Aplopappus, Heuchera, Pentstemon, Dalea, Asclepias, Carum, Seseli and Astragalus by Gray.

     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 home.
     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 Hall’s honor:
Seseli hallii A. Gray (Apiaceae)  Proc A. Acad Arts & Sci 8:  288.  1870.
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. Gray (Fabaceae)   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.  1863 [1864]
Juncus hallii Engelmann  Trans Acad of Sci St Louis 2:  446.  1866.  Holotype Hall#562 collected in Colorado, 1862 is curated at MO.
Carex hallii Olney  Prelim. Rep. U.S. Geol. Surv. Montan 496.  1872. 
Campylopus hallii Lesquereux Misc Pub, US Geol Survey of the Territories 4:  155.  1874.  (now Paraleucobryum enerve (Thed.) Loeske)
Orthotrichum hallii Lesquereux  Icones Muscorum, Supplement 63, pl 45.  1874. 

PUBLICATIONS (incomplete list):

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:
Hall, Elihu.  1877.  Notes on the arboreous, arborescent and suffruticose flora of Oregon.  Botanical Gazette 2(5):  85-89.
Hall, Elihu.  1877.  Notes on the arboreus, arborescent and suffruticose flora of Oregon (concluded)  Botanical Gazette 2(6):  93-95.



Grave of Elihu Hall in Menard County, Illinois2




1.       Milligan, J. M.  1884.  Elihu Hall.  Botanical Gazette 9(4):  59-62.

2.      Find A Grave.  Memorial ID 25302022.  Accessed on 11 January 2018.

3.      Meehan, T.  (1882)  Gardener’s Monthly & Horticulturalist 24. [incomplete citation]

4.      History of Menard & Mason Counties, Illinois.  1879.  (page 721). 

5.      C. F. Millsapugh.  1916.  The Hall Herbarium.  Botanical Gazette 62(3):  239.



University of North Carolina Chapel Hill Herbarium
CB# 3280, Coker Hall
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280
phone: (919) 962-6931


Last Updated:  11 January 2018