The University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU)
has about half a dozen specimens collected by George Letterman.† All specimens found thusfar
are from Allenton, Missouri, which was annexed by the city of Eureka in St.
Louis County, Illinois in 1985.†
Among the specimens collected by Letterman in
NCUís holdings is a topotype of Crataegus x lettermanii from 1909.† This species was discovered by Letterman
near Allenton, Missouri in 1882.
George Washington Letterman
biographical history of botany at St. Louis, Missouri.† IV. †
Popular Science Monthly 74:† 250
The following excerpt is from Sargent, C. S. (1902)† Silva of North
America 13:† 79-80.†
George Washington Letterman (1884), the
son of John and Charlotte (Blair) Letterman, was born near Bellefonte, Centre
County, Pennsylvania, of a family which had lived for three generations in
Pennsylvania, his father being of Dutch, and his mother of Irish
descent.† From the public school he entered
the State College in Centre County, but left before graduation to join the
Union Army, in which he enlisted as a private.† Serving until the end of the war he was
mustered out of the service with the rank of captain of volunteers.† After crossing the plains to New Mexico in
1866, he returned to Pennsylvania, and then going west again to Kansas, with
the idea of becoming a farmer in that state, he finally in 1869 settled in
Allenton, Missouri, a railroad hamlet about thirty miles west of St.
Louis.† Here Mr. Letterman taught in
the public schools uninterruptedly for twenty years, and then for two years
served as superintendent of schools in St. Louis County.† Shortly after settling in Allenton Mr.
Letterman met August Fendler the botanist, who had
a farm at this time in the neighborhood.†
This meeting with Fendler stimulated his
interest in plants, especially in trees, and led to an acquaintance with Dr.
Engelmann, for whom Letterman made large collections of plants in the neighborhood
of Allenton, with many notes on the Oaks and Hickories.† In 1880 he was appointed a special agent of
the Census Department of the United Sates, to collect information about the
trees and forest of Missouri, Arkansas, western Louisiana and eastern Texas,
and later he was employed as an agent of the American Museum of Natural
History in New York, to collect specimens of the trees of the same region for
the Jesup collection of North American woods.† The distribution of the trees of this
region before Mr. Lettermanís travels was little known, and much useful
information concerning them was first gathered by him.† Of his numerous discoveries species of Vernonia, Poa and Stipa
commemorate the name of Letterman.