Welcome to the HSN database! Here you can learn about the history of the field of natural history through the collections of significant naturalists of the South, especially those associated with the University of South Carolina. This project is ongoing, so please bookmark the site to see what’s been added.
During the colonial period in North America, centers of scientific thought were often associated with port cities such as Boston, New York and Philadelphia. However, the southernmost port city of Charleston should not be overlooked, as it was the center of intense scientific investigations through the mid-1800s. The founding of South Carolina College in 1801 drew the attention of scientific pursuits to the inland city of Columbia, and there began an important legacy of scientific collections.
Since that time, the University of South Carolina (formerly South Carolina College) has amassed a collection of both archives and objects dating to the earliest years of the field of natural history. This website cross-references digitized images of object and archival collections documenting the work of significant naturalists associated with the University, who worked in the South.
Thomas Cooper, 1759-1839
Thomas Cooper was born into a land-owning family in Westminster, England in 1759. He attended Oxford University, completing coursework in law, medicine, and the natural sciences but he left the university without a degree. Cooper’s involvement in politics started as early as 1790 when he participated in religious tolerance campaigns and joined the Manchester Constitutional Society. Cooper and another Society member were sent to Paris in 1792, though the violence of the French Revolution forced them back to England in 1793. Soon after Thomas Cooper visited and then permanently relocated to America in 1794, again inserting himself in the politics of the region. In 1799, Thomas Cooper found himself at odds with President John Adams and was found guilty of publishing false and malicious writings against the President under the Alien and Sedition Law. Cooper was fined and imprisoned for six months, during which time his wife, Alice Greenwood Cooper, passed away. Beginning in 1804, and until 1811, Thomas served as a judge until his removal from office.
The remainder of his professional life was spent in the academia, holding multiple positions at Dickinson College, University of Pennsylvania, and finally at South Carolina College in 1819. Cooper began his tenure at South Carolina College as a professor of chemistry, mineralogy, and geology. After Jonathan Maxcy’s death in 1820, Thomas Cooper became the second president of South Carolina College. During his years in England, France, and in America, Cooper avidly collected mineral and rock specimens, amassing a large collection by the time he arrived in South Carolina. In 1821, the South Carolina state legislature purchased Cooper’s mineral and fossil collection for the college, thereby establishing the first collection owned by the institution. Although originally utilized to supplement classroom lectures, the geology collection’s intrinsic research value and potential as a core museum collection was quickly recognized.
Lardner Vanuxem, 1792-1848
Lardner Vanuxem was born on July 23, 1792 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to James and Rebecca Clark Vanuxem. Lardner Vanuxem left his father’s shipping business at the age of twenty-four to study geology at the École des Mines in Paris, France. Vanuxem returned to the United States after his graduation in 1819. In 1821, upon invitation from Thomas Cooper, Vanuxem became the Chair of Geology and Mineralogy at South Carolina College in Columbia.
While working in SC, Vanuxem also served as South Carolina’s first state geologist from 1825-1826 and his “Report on a Mineralogical and Geological Examination of the State of South Carolina” was the first economic survey of the state and the second state geologic survey published. Samples from this survey were deposited in the college’s cabinet. In 1826, Vanuxem left South Carolina College to work as a consultant on a gold mine near Mexico City. In 1830, he returned to Pennsylvania, settling near Bristol, and soon after married Mary Ann Newbold.
From 1836 through 1841 Vanuxem was the chief geologist for New York state where he conducted and published geologic surveys of western and central New York. After the survey ended, he spent some time in Albany arranging the state’s geological cabinet, which became the foundation for the geologic collection of the New York State Museum. It has been said that “Professor Vanuxem’s private collection of mineral and geological specimens was considered at the time of his death to be ‘the largest, best arranged, and most valuable private collection in the country.’” Lardner Vanuxem died at the age of 55 in January of 1848 after a short illness.
Richard Brumby, 1804-1875
Richard Trapier Brumby was born August 4, 1804 in the Sumter District of South Carolina to Thomas and Susannah Greening Brumby. He attended the classical school of Rev. John Marshall in Lincolnton, North Carolina before enrolling in South Carolina College as a junior in 1822. Brumby graduated with honors two years later. In December of 1825, he was admitted to the bar and began practicing and teaching law. Brumby married Mary Brevard in 1828 and the couple moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1831, where Brumby became the editor of a newspaper called The Expositor.
In 1834, Brumby was hired at the University of Alabama serving as a professor in chemistry, geology, mineralogy, and natural history until 1849. During that time, he also held the position of Alabama State Geologist and prepared the first report on the state’s mineral resources. In 1849, Brumby returned to South Carolina College filling the professor of chemistry position until retiring in 1856 due to illness. While in this position, Brumby greatly expanded the mineral cabinet of the college, making purchases from notable mineral dealers in Europe and the US, while also beginning the first systematic catalog of the cabinet. Many of these specimens are still held by the University of South Carolina, though Brumby’s personal collection was sold at auction to Davidson College in 1869 and subsequently destroyed in a fire in 1921. Richard Brumby died in 1875 one day after his wife.
Charles U. Shepard, 1804-1886
Charles Upham Shepard, Sr. was born on June 29, 1804 to Reverend Mase and Deborah Haskins Shepard in Little Compton, Rhode Island. Shepard showed an interest in mineralogy at an early age and started his first mineralogical cabinet before he began secondary school. He graduated from Amherst College in 1824 and then attended the University of Cambridge, where he studied and subsequently taught botany and mineralogy. In 1827, Shepard became an assistant to his mentor, Dr. Benjamin Silliman at Yale College. Charles married Harriet Taylor in 1831 and the couple soon had three children.
In 1834, Charles Shepard was appointed professor of chemistry at the Medical College of South Carolina in Charleston. He then split his time between Charleston and New Haven, spending winter months in the South and warmer months in Connecticut, until 1847. During this time Shepard also arranged mineralogical collections and botanical facilities with specimens gathered from across the United States and Europe. In 1847, he returned to his alma mater, Amherst College, and taught until his retirement in 1877. That year Professor Shepard’s collection was purchased by Amherst College, but three years later it was lost in a fire. In 1887, Charles Shepard’s son presented a second collection of his father’s minerals to Amherst College, as well as a representative cabinet with more than 200 meteorites to the U.S. National Museum in Washington, D. C.
The Shephard collection at the University of South Carolina was purchased in 1853, brokered by Richard Brumby. At the time Shepard noted that the collection at South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina) was “second in point of numbers and variety in the United States… The Yale [cabinet] is the first.” This collection contains ten meteorites collected by Shepard, forming half of the university’s meteoritic collection.
Michael Tuomey, 1805-1857
Born to Thomas and Nora Forley Tuomey in Cork, Ireland, Michael Tuomey showed an early interest in the sciences. After a home-schooled education, he worked as a teacher for several years until emigrating to the United States in 1830s and entering Rensselaer Institute at Troy, New York. After graduation, Tuomey focused his career on geology and worked briefly as a railroad field engineer and private tutor. Tuomey married Sarah E. Handy in 1837 and opened his own school in Petersburg, Virginia.
The renowned British geologist, Charles Lyell visited the US in 1841 and was hosted for a time by Tuomey. Lyell later recommended Tuomey to succeed Edmund Ruffin as South Carolina’s State Geologist in 1844. During the next three years, Tuomey surveyed and collected throughout the state producing classic publications in the fields of geology, paleontology, and agriculture. Specimens illustrated in these publications were deposited at South Carolina College (now UofSC) where they remain. Tuomey also began long standing communications with Dr. Lewis R. Gibbes. Through Gibbes, Tuomey was introduced to the “cultivators of science” in South Carolina: Francis S. Holmes, Edmund Ravenel, Robert W. Gibbes, and John P. Barratt.
By 1847 Tuomey became frustrated by the SC Legislature and moved to Tuscaloosa, Alabama for a professorship at the University of Alabama and to serve as Alabama’s State Geologist. He continued surveying Alabama’s mineral resources and publishing maps and reports, while teaching geology, mineralogy, and agricultural chemistry. In 1857, Tuomey died of heart disease and pneumonia.
Lewis Reeves Gibbes, 1810-1894
Lewis Reeves Gibbes, was born August 14, 1810, the eldest of eight children, in Charleston, South Carolina. Lewis excelled in his studies early in life and became a student of Dr. Thomas Cooper’s at South Carolina College, graduating with honors in 1829. Two years later, he returned to SCC as a mathematics tutor (1831-1834) and then an instructor (1834-1835). While in Columbia, he began a study that resulted in the publication of the Catalogue of the Phoenogamous Plants of Columbia, S.C., and Its Vicinity. In 1836, Gibbes completed the medical program at the Medical College of South Carolina in Charleston. He studied abroad in Paris after medical school, and upon his return to Charleston began what would be a fifty-four-year career with the College of Charleston. Exacting but endearing, Gibbes was a professor of mathematics, chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Lewis Reeves Gibbes was a well-connected and prominent scientist who enjoyed many opportunities through the American Association for the Advancement of Science. During the mid-nineteenth century, Gibbes was a leading expert on American crabs and authored the first publications on South Carolina’s marine algae. An avid collector of the natural world, he described his own cabinet of crustaceans in 1850 as “the largest I believe at the South.” Many consider Lewis R. Gibbes to be one of South Carolina’s most versatile scientists. After his death, Gibbes’ shell and mineral collections were purchased by the University of South Carolina from his daughters.
James Woodrow, 1828-1907
James Woodrow was born on May 30, 1828 in Carlisle, England to Thomas and Marion Williamson Woodrow. In 1837, the Woodrow family moved first to Canada and then to Chillicothe, Ohio. Woodrow attended Jefferson College (now Washington & Jefferson College) in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, where he graduated with the highest honors in 1849. After graduation, Woodrow taught in various southern academies before becoming Professor of Natural Science at Oglethorpe University in Georgia in 1853. That summer Woodrow studied under Louis Agassiz at Harvard and then used a leave of absence to study at Heidelberg University in Germany, where he received both his master’s and Ph.D. After declining an offer to lecture for Heidelberg, Woodrow returned to Oglethorpe University to teach and study theology. In 1857, he married Felixina ‘Felie’ Shepard Baker and over the next five years they would have four children. In 1860, Woodrow was ordained in the Presbyterian Church and was named the first Perkins Professor of Natural Science at Columbia Theological Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina.
Woodrow’s training in science and theology uniquely qualified him to lecture on the compatibility of evolution and Christian teachings. The “Perkins Professorship of Natural Science in its Relations to Revealed Religion” was endowed through a contribution of $30,000 by Judge John Perkins. The position was created for the purpose of teaching the compatibility of scientific and religious truth. Woodrow ultimately argued there was no contradiction between the bible and evolution because the Bible was designed to teach moral and spiritual truth, rather than scientific or historical truth. The Presbyterian Church disagreed and in 1884 requested Woodrow’s resignation. Dr. Woodrow was eventually dismissed from the Columbia Theological Seminary though he would remain a minister in good standing.
In 1869, Dr. Woodrow accepted a second teaching position at the struggling South Carolina College, though in the sciences rather than in theology. He taught mineralogy and geology, with brief interruptions caused by administrative reorganization, when in 1891 he was elected President of the college. He continued teaching during his tenure as president until his retirement from both in 1897. That summer, he attended an International Geological Congress in St. Petersburg Russia upon the invitation of Czar Nicholas II. Woodrow served as both bank and financial company executives afterward his retirement. He died on January 17, 1907 and is buried in Elmwood Memorial Gardens in Columbia, South Carolina.
Daniel Strobel Martin, 1842-1925
Daniel Strobel Martin was born in New York to Rev. Benjamin Nicholas Martin and Louisa Catherine Strobel Martin on June 30, 1842. Martin’s father was a professor at the University of the City of New York (now New York University) and his mother was the daughter of United States diplomat Daniel Strobel. Mrs. Martin learned to paint while living in France with her family and eventually became a miniature portrait artist. Martin graduated with a BA in 1863 and a MA in 1866 from New York University, while also attending Union Theological Seminary. In 1868, he graduated from the School of Mines at Columbia University, and in 1881, he received his PhD from New York University.
Daniel Martin spent the warmer months up north teaching first, Greek and Latin, and then geology at Rutgers Female College at New York until 1895. Martin also served as a regents’ examiner in English studies for law students from 1882-1887. Then he lectured at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art until 1892. In 1895, Martin was named a professor at the Presbyterian College for Women at Columbia, South Carolina where he spent the winter months.
In 1902, A.C. Moore hired Martin to inventory and conserve the University of South Carolina’s scientific collections that were neglected during the Civil War and Reconstruction Periods. He would end up restoring more than 2500 specimens over the next 10 years, correctly associated labels with specimens collected by Thomas Cooper, Lardner Vanuxem, Michael Tuomey, Richard Brumby, and James Woodrow.
An avid mineral collector, Martin founded New York Mineralogical Club in 1886 with George Kunz and B.B. Chamberlain and built upon his father’s large mineral cabinet. Eventually this collection was divided between the Brooklyn Museum and The Charleston Museum, where Martin was an honorary curator of minerals, rocks, and invertebrate fossils. Daniel Strobel Martin passed away at his home in New York on January 3, 1925 from pneumonia and acute bronchitis.
Andrew Charles Moore, 1866-1928
Andrew Charles Moore was born near Moore, South Carolina to Thomas John and Mary Elizabeth Anderson Moore on December 27, 1866. He attended South Carolina College in 1883, becoming one of the institution’s first honors graduates in 1887. Moore served for eleven years as a public-school administrator in Alabama and South Carolina, before attending graduate school at the University of Chicago in 1898. He obtained his doctoral degree in 1900, the same year that he began his career at South Carolina College as an associate professor of biology, geology, and mineralogy. In 1904, Moore was promoted to full professor and in 1905 was named the first chairman of the department of biology, a position he held until his death. Moore served as acting President of the University of South Carolina from 1908-1909 and again from 1913-1914.
A biologist, Moore was particularly interested in botany. Among his research interests were the formulation of concepts on reduction division, as observed in liverworts. Considerable evidence in the McKissick Museum collection exists for Moore's usage of the word "meiosis" in its modern context, as the first ever in biology. Dr. Moore also founded the current herbarium with his own collections in 1907.
Richard Bayard Dominick, 1919-1976
Richard Dominick was born on September 17, 1919 to Bayard Dominick, Jr. and Alice Hoyt Dominick in New York City, New York. In his childhood, Dominick developed an interest in nature, especially moth and butterfly collecting, during visits to the family plantation near Coosawhatchie, South Carolina. After graduating from Yale University in 1942, Dominick became the Marine Corps pilot during World War II, earning many honors. After the war, he received his MD from Columbia University, specializing in in opthamology.
In 1948, Richard Dominick married Barbara Paschal and the couple had two children before they divorced in 1953. Eight years later, Dominick married Tania Djeneeff and eventually the couple moved to the Wedge Plantation near McClellanville, South Carolina to raise their blended family on property that had previously been a rice plantation. Richard and Tania together founded The Wedge Entomological Research Foundation to promote publication of lepidopteran research. It also hosted entomologists for collecting and research over the span of 10 years.
Though not a professional entomologist, Dominick was dedicated to the field and published many papers, named new species, devised innovative methods for specimen photography and preservation, and even earned the title of Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. During his years at The Wedge, Dominick built a collection of over 26,000 specimens of moths and butterflies collected from the property. This collection is now housed at the University of South Carolina, while collections he made in his youth from Low Country South Carolina can be found in the American Museum of Natural History. Richard Dominick died unexpectedly on May 4, 1976 and is buried at the Wedge Plantation.