Liriodendron tulipifera flower

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


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium

George Washington Letterman
(1840 - 1913)

The University of North Carolina Herbarium (NCU) has about half a dozen specimens collected by George Letterman.  All specimens found thus far 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
from:  Spaulding, Perley (1909)  A 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 Jesupcollection 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 VernoniaPoa and Stipa commemorate the name of Letterman.




†† Curriculum in Ecology†††††††††††††††††North Carolina Botanical Garden†††††††††††††††Biology Department
††††††Curriculum†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† North Carolina†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† UNC

†††††††††In Ecology††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Botanical Garden†††††††††††††††††† Biology Department

University of North Carolina Herbarium
CB# 3280, Coker Hall
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280
phone: (919) 962-6931
fax: (919) 962-6930

Last Updated: 1 May 2015