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WILLIAM STARLING SULLIVANT
page 580

William S. Sullivant, the eldest son of Lucas Sullivant, was born January 15, 1803, in Franklinton, the village, literally in the midst of a wilderness, which his father's indomitable energy, more than that of any other one man, had set on the road to empire. His boyhood was exposed to all the real dangers, and beset by all the so-called hardships, incident to pioneer life in those early days. In 1812, when the subject of this sketch was nine years old, the shameful surrender of General Hull to the British forces at Detroit, exposed the whole frontier to an irruption of bloody savages, the allies of Great Britain. For months, the inhabitants of this new settlement, in common with others still more exposed, were harrassed [sic.] with fears of such an invasion, and of the cruelties and barbarous atrocities which distinguished savage warfare. Happily, however, this danger was averted, and peace and prosperity ensued.

At a proper age, young William, mounted astride of a bag of wheat on one horse, and leading another, on which also was strapped a well-filled bag, was often sent along the blazed bridle-paths through the forest to Sell's mil, near Dublin, to Dyer's mill, on the Darby, and sometimes to Kinnikinnick, in Ross county, to procure flour for the family. These expeditions frequently involved two or three days' waiting for the grist, and necessitated sleeping in the mill, wrapped in a blanket, where he was fortunate who had a pile of corn or wheat for his couch instead of the hard floor. But, dear reader, waste no sigh of pity for our young friend, William, and doubt not that in these pilgrimages he was supremely happy, and that these and similar experiences were fruitful in producing, not only the fine physical development and graceful carriage which distinguished him in his maturity, but also to arousing those latent tastes and capacities which have made his name an honor to his family and to his country. In those quiet journeyings through the leafy aisles of "God's first temples," and in those days of "waiting for the grist," when forest and stream and bird and flower wooed him to their companionship, to such a nature as his, how entrancing must have been this sweet communion with nature! And who can say that his chosen pursuit, in later life, was not the result of the bias given in these days of his boyhood? It is said, also, that he accompanied his father upon some of his shorter surveying expeditions, where he gained that knowledge which tended to make him an expert, rapid, and accurate surveyor, when, after his return from college, and after his father's death, he had occasion to exercise his skill in attending to the large landed estate of the family.

When old enough to be sent from home, he was placed in a celebrated private school, in Jassamine county, Kentucky. Afterward he pursued his classical studies under Professors Lindley and Dana, at the Ohio university, at Athens. Here he was prepared for yale college from which he graduated in 1823. Though almost immediately immersed in the cares and duties of active business life, while yet in early manhood, he found time to acquaint himself most thoroughly with the flora of central Ohio, discovering, in his botanical researches, several species hitherto unknown, to one of which his eastern botanical associates gave the name Sullivantia Ohionis. Dr. Asa Gray, the distinguished botanist, and long the intimate friend of Mr. Sullivant, speaks thus of his scientific researches: "As soon as the flowering plants of his district had ceased to afford him novelty, he turned to the mosses, in which he found abundant scientific occupation, of a kind well suited to his bent for patient and close observation, scrupulous accuracy, and nice discrimination." And it was in this field that his world-wide reputation was won; some of the most valuable contributions to the bryology and hepaticology of North America being the result of years of quiet but earnest labor. In the same article by Dr. Gray, already quoted, occurs the following estimate of the value of these labors: "His works have laid such a broad and complete foundation for the study of bryology in this country, and are of such recognized importance everywhere, that they must always be of classic authority. Wherever mosses are studied, his name will be honorably remembered. In this country it should long be remembered with peculiar gratitude." In accordance with his wishes, his bryological books, and his exceedingly rich and important collections and preparations of mosses, are to be consigned to the Gray Herbarium building of Harvard university, with a view to their preservation and long-continued usefulness. The remainder of his botanical library, his choice microscopes, and his remaining collections, are bequeathed to the State Scientific and Agricultural college of Ohio, and to the Starling medical college, founded by his uncle, of which he was himself the senior trustee.

Did space allow an enumeration of all of Mr. Sullivant's botanical labors and publications it would give emphasis to the reflection that such achievements in science, on the part of one whose life, so far from being given to the pursnit [sic.] of literature, was marked by great business activity, are, to say the least, of very rare occurrence.

His death, which occurred on the thirtieth of April, 1873, was thus noticed in the annual report of the Council of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences of that year: "William Starling Sullivant died at his residence in Columbus, Ohio, on the thirtieth of April, ultimo. In him we lose the most accomplished bryologist which this country has ever produced, and it can hardly be said that he leaves behind him anywhere a superior."

Mr. Sullivant was thrice married. His widow and several children survive him.

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