The UNC Herbarium has only about a dozen
specimens collected by Ms. Taylor, all collected between 1889 and 1893. Collecting locations include Baltimore
County, Maryland as well as Dorchester and Richland Counties, South Carolina.
All were obtained in 2002 from the Jesup Herbarium of Dartmouth College (HNH), though how
her specimens came to be in Hanover, New Hampshire is unclear. The Harvard
University Herbaria database lists US, MICH, MSC, F, and ILL as having
specimens collected by her. Towson University Herbarium (BALT) has
catalogued about a dozen fern specimens collected by Katherine Taylor; as
BALT proceeds with cataloguing additional specimens may be found.
Katherine Augusta Taylor was born to
William H. Taylor and Augusta Birckhead Taylor on
20 November 1850. 1,3 The family was wealthy – grandfathers on
both sides were involved in banking and railroads – and lived on Mount Vernon
Place in Baltimore, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and home to many
of its wealthiest families in the 1800’s.
Mount Vernon Place is now designated as a National Landmark Historic
District and a Baltimore City Cultural District.2
How Ms. Taylor developed her interest in
plants is not known. However, it is clear
that she took collecting seriously, and it
is clear that she corresponded with noted botanists of her day (see
references to her botanical activities, below). It is
puzzling that no specimens found to date were collected near her home in
western Maryland; none found to date mention “Cascade” or “Washington County,
Maryland” as the collection locality.
It is also unclear at this time what Ms. Taylor’s connection —other
than botanical interest – was to South Carolina.
Taylor acquired 500 acres of land near Cascade, Maryland, and built her home,
“Tipahato,” there in 1902. Tipahato was
finished in 1904 and first served as a summer residence, though Ms. Taylor
moved there permanently in 1912. 3
“She managed her property as a working farm, going into town to
purchase supplies in jeans when other women of her wealthy social set wore
only dresses with white gloves and never earned a living. Local legend,” writes Pat Schooley
of the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, “says that Taylor had fallen in love
with a musician whom her father forbade her to marry, and this was the reason
she left her parents' home and moved to the mountain, determined never to
marry… She lived there with her disabled sister, Amelia, entertaining friends
from Baltimore with small musical ensembles in which the man her father
refused to let her marry was said to have sometimes played.”
“top of the hill” in Shoshone, designed by J.M. Woltz
of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania,
is an Arts & Crafts Home on the National
Register of Historic Places.
Photo by Jason Turner for the Hagerstown
Magazine, 2006 (4)
Augusta Taylor died in 1940 and willed Tipahato to
her cousin, Mr. Henry S. T. White, who used it as a summer home until his
death. In 1946 Mr. White’s estate sold
the house to George and Dolly Byrne, who operated it as a sanitarium for
mentally and physically handicapped individuals. Tipahato
continued as a sanitarium until the mid-1970’s. “A succession of property owners followed,”
according to Schooley. “The second floor was divided into two
apartments, and the house deteriorated, even going into foreclosure.” Tipahato was
acquired by new owners in 1997 and they began restoring it to its original
Augusta Taylor is buried in the graveyard of Germantown Bethel Church,
adjacent to Tipahato, and her gravestone faces the
house she loved.4,5
September 2002. Photo by Paula S. Reed
KATHERINE A. TAYLOR’S BOTANICAL
C. S. (1894) New or Little-known Plants: Darbya
umbellata. Garden and Forest 7 (313): 74-75. [Darby umbellata Gray
is now known as Nestronia umbellulata Raf.]
the spring of 1886 Miss K. A. Taylor, of Baltimore, found staminate plants
near Columbia, South Carolina, and two years later the pistillate
plant in the same locality; and the following notes from her pen
give the best account of the habit and mode of growth of this extremely rare
and interesting plant, which has not yet been brought into cultivation:
Oak, Hickory and other deciduous-leaved trees and shrubs. The soil is
light, loose white sand, without stones, and is overlaid with a thick-covering
of leaf-mold. The Darbya flourishes alike in sunny and shady situations.
The roots are several yards long, an eighth to half an inch in diameter, dark
red on the outside, white within, with rootlets at intervals of an inch or
more; they branch every foot or so, and run in straight lines through the
leaf-mold about two to six inches below the surface, crossing each other
frequently and sending up shoots sometimes an inch and sometimes several feet
apart. The leaves are always much larger on the pistillate
than on the staminate plants. The two grow thickly.
Small, John K. (1895) Studies in the Botany
of the Southeastern United States III. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club
22 (1): 43-48. [the portion mentioning
Ms. Taylor is on pg. 45]
BAPTISIA SERENAE M. A. Curtis, Amer. Jour. Sci. 7: 406 (1845). The range of
this species, heretofore confined to the uplands and foot-hills in South
Carolina and Georgia, has now been extended into the low country by its
discovery by Miss Katherine A. Taylor in the pine barrens about Summerville,
John K. (1897) Studies in the Botany of the Southeastern United States. --
XII. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 24 (11): 487-496. [The segment referring to Miss Taylor is on page 489.]
MENTHA ROTUNDIFOLIA (L.) Huds.
Fl. Angl. 221. 1762. Only one station in the Southern States, namely,
"near Wilmington, North Carolina," (Chapm.
Fl. S. St. Ed. 2 313) has been recorded for this mint. However the species is
spreading; in 1891 Miss K. A. Taylor collected specimens in a wet meadow near
Columbia, South Carolina, and in 1895 I found it abundant near Trader's Hill
in southeastern Georgia.
of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution Showing the
Operations, Expenditures, and Condition of the Institution for the Year
Ending June 30, 1896: Report of the
U.S. National Museum. Washington,
D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1898. [below is from List of
Accessions, page 111.]
Specimen of Eryngium from Miss K.A. Taylor,
Baltimore, Md. (29994)
(1) Schooley, Pat. "Beauty of mountain
home re-emerges" Herald-Mail [Hagerstown,
Maryland, U.S.A.] 18 November, 2007: E1+.
accessed on 19 December 2011
(3) Barnhardt, J.H. (1965) Biographical Notes Upon Botanists, volume 3.
New York Botanical Garden, NY.
(4) Keyser, Cheryl M. (2006) Splendor on the Mountain – Arts
& Crafts Home Tipahato: Love and Labor Restore Historic Tipahato to its Former Glory. Hagerstown Magazine. http://www.hagerstownmagazine.com/articledetail.aspx?id=159
accessed on 13 December 2011.
accessed on 3 July 2013. Record
created by Mike Hahn on 26 May 2010.