Title:
David Dale Owen and Joseph Granville Norwood: Pioneer Geologists in Indiana and Illinois

Author:
Clark Kimberling

Date:
1996

Source:
Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 2-25

Article Type:
Article

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David Dale Owen and Joseph Granville Norwood: Pioneer Geologists in Indiana and Illinois

Clark Kimberling

In 1993 America's highest-grossing concert act popularized a song entitled "Dire Wolf,"1 and a leading children's television series was using dire wolves as bad guys.2 Elsewhere, players of Dungeons and Dragons empathized with the species. Although these modern-day dire wolves are mythical and fantastic, a few millennia ago real ones roamed both American continents.3 They hunted other animals, slew them with their powerful jaws, and ate them. In 1854 Francis A. Linck of Evansville, Indiana, found a fossilized jawbone of what was later identified as the first known dire wolf and thus established a new species. Tracing the movement of this fossil from Evansville to New Harmony, Indiana, then to Philadelphia opens up an interesting view of the study of geology in the mid-nineteenth-century Middle West and of two geologists living in New Harmony in 1854: David Dale Owen and Joseph Granville Norwood.

Although the story of Francis A. Linck and his discovery can be viewed as a kind of introductory note to the Owen-Norwood account, it is in itself a fascinating tale. Linck's father, also Francis, was a native of Wurttemburg, Germany, who migrated to Vanderburgh


  • Clark Kimberling is professor of mathematics, University of Evansville, Evansville, Indiana. For abundant and enthusiastic help, he wishes to thank Faye Mark, archivist, Indiana University, Bloomington; Ronald L. Richards, curator of paleobiology and chief curator of natural history, Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis; Josephine M. Elliott of The Workingmen's Institute, New Harmony, Indiana; Rodney D. Norby, associate geologist, Illinois State Geological Survey; and Professor A. S. Horowitz, curator of paleontology, Department of Geology, Indiana University.
  • 1 The concert act was the Grateful Dead. See Richard Harrington, "Drawing a New Crowd, Comics for the Rock-and-Roll Generation," WashingtonPost, Sunday, October 13, 1991, Final Edition; Parade Magazine, November 28, 1993, p. 2.
  • 2 This series, Cro, from Children's Television Workshop (the producers of Sesame Street) is a cartoon in which the lead character is a Cro-Magnon boy. The series premiered in September, 1993, on ABC-TV. Christian Science Monitor, November 19, 1993, p. 15.
  • 3 Dire wolf remains have been found in Alberta, Canada, and northern Peru and across the United States from California to Virginia. A detailed discussion of dire wolves and their geographical distribution is given in Ronald M. Nowak, North American Quaternary Canis (University of Kansas, Museum of Natural History, monograph no. 6; Lawrence, Kans., 1979), 106-15.
County in the Hoosier state via Tennessee around the time that construction began on the Wabash and Erie Canal. By the fall of 1836 Francis Linck had purchased and was operating the brick Mansion House hotel, "a rambling structure located a short distance from the Ohio River" at First and Locust streets in Evansville.4 Situated in the far southwestern corner of Indiana, Evansville had approximately 1,228 residents in 1836, 2,121 in 1840, and 3,235 by 1850.5 The Linck family, along with the town, prospered. The 1850 manuscript federal census for Vanderburgh County lists Francis Linck, seventy-five, as a merchant in Pigeon Township with real estate worth $14,400. Francis A. Linck, twenty-nine, was married and resided in Knight Township.6

Other than that they were probably among the first Catholic families in Evansville,7 little more is known about the Lincks. The Mansion House was torn down to make way for a 1,000-seat Opera House that opened in 1868, and portions of the property remained in the Linck family until 1882.8 Francis A. Linck held a seat on the Evansville City Council beginning in April, 1853, was apparently an "enthusiastic collector" of geological specimens, discovered the jawbone of the dire wolf probably in the late summer of 1854, and died on August 28 of that same year. His will describes the property he owned, mentions seven other Lincks, and states, "I further give and bequeath to my dear wife Elizabeth Linck … my cabinet of Shells and curiosities …."9

The story of Linck's collection continues in a series of letters written in 1854 and 1855 from Dr. Joseph Granville Norwood, then state geologist of Illinois, to Dr. Joseph Leidy, curator of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.10 On August 12, 1854, Norwood, who at the time resided in New Harmony, wrote Leidy:


  • 4 Frank M. Gilbert, History of the City of Evansville and Vanderburgh County, Indiana (2 vols., Chicago, 1910), I, 34; Brant and Fuller, pubs., History of Vanderburgh County, Indiana… (Madison, Wis., 1889), 109; quotation in John A. Ellert, A Souvenir of the Centennial of the Assumption Church, Evansville, Indiana (n.p., 1937), [1].
  • 5 Brant and Fuller, History of Vanderburgh County, 127; Gilbert, History of the City of Evansville, 46.
  • 6 U.S., Seventh Census, 1850, Population Schedules for Vanderburgh County, Indiana, 478.
  • 7 Herman Alerding, A History of the Catholic Church in the Diocese ofVincennes (Indianapolis, 1883), 264-65.
  • 8 Maria Linck's will, Vanderburgh County Will Book D, August 12, 1882, p. 379, Willard Library, Evansville, Indiana. Today a parking lot occupies the site of the Mansion House/Opera House. Those who start there, walk two blocks to the river, and look downstream will see a bridge over Pigeon Creek, right where the creek empties into the river, near the place where the fossilized jawbone of the first known dire wolf was found.
  • 9 Joseph P. Elliott, A History of Evansville and Vanderburgh County, Indiana … (Evansville, Ind., 1897), 74; EvansvilleDaily Journal, August 30, 1854; Francis A. Linck's will, Vanderburgh County Will Book A, August 27, 1854, p. 88, Willard Library.
  • 10 Joseph Granville Norwood served as state geologist of Illinois from 1851 to 1858. For more information concerning him, see below and G. C. Broadhead, "Joseph

Enclosed you will find drawings of a bone found a short time since in the bank of the Ohio, near the mouth of Pigeon Creek, a short distance below Evansville, Indiana. It is from a locality where several bones of a Megalonyx were obtained some years ago—and in the same geological position. Other remains have been found associated with them, which I hope to obtain next week. The gentleman who found them, Mr. Francis A. Linck, would not part with them, but will allow drawings to be made. He has also promised me to continue his researches during the present very favorable state of the river, which is very low. If he cannot be prevailed on to send them to you, I will have as good drawings made of them as possible, and forward them. The drawings of the portion of jaw now sent, are by Mr. John Chappellsmith, a gentleman who executed many of the illustrations in Dr. Owen's Report. On the receipt of this, write and tell us what it is. Mr. Linck is anxious to know, and a word will sometimes do much toward stimulating a person to further research …."

Almost three weeks later, on August 31, Norwood informed Leidy of Linck's death and commented, "This is a matter to be regretted not only on account of his family, but also in regard to the branch of science to which you devote yourself; so far at least as the labors of an enthusiastic collector are concerned." It also at least temporarily prevented Norwood from sending to Leidy a box of bones that Linck had earlier deposited with him. The bones were "of great interest" even though they did not include the jawbone of the still unidentified dire wolf, which fragment Linck had refused to release. "With regard to the drawing sent," Norwood instructed, "if you cannot make any thing of it, let the matter rest until I can see his father. Perhaps he will allow all the bones [presumably including the jawbone fragment] to be sent to you."

Subsequent correspondence indicates that Norwood continued to negotiate with the Linck family concerning the "fossil bones." The geologist asked to be allowed to keep them for a longer period of time and to have returned to him the fragment of the jawbone, which was back in the family's possession.12 In a letter dated November 1, 1854, Norwood wrote of a box forwarded to Leidy "on Tuesday last." Among other items the box contained "the bones collected by Mr. Lincke, including the fragment of a jaw, of which I


  • Granville Norwood, M.D., LL.D.," The American Geologist, XVI (August, 1895), 68-74; History of Boone County, Missouri (1882, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 1970), 917-20; Charles Keyes, "Joseph Granville Norwood: Pioneer State Geologist in the West," Pan-American Geologist, LXXIII (February, 1940), 1-10. For Joseph Leidy see W. S. W. Ruschenberger, "A Sketch of the Life of Joseph Leidy, M.D., LL.D.," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, XXX (April, 1892), 135-84. The letters from Norwood to Leidy are located in Collection 1: Joseph Leidy Papers, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • 11 The John Chappellsmith to which Norwood refers is listed in the 1850 manuscript census schedules as an artist, age forty-three, born in England. See Elfrieda Lang, ed., "The Inhabitants of New Harmony According to the Federal Census of 1850," Indiana Magazine of History, XLII (December, 1946), 387. For the Owen report see David Dale Owen, Report of a Geological Survey of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota and Incidentally of a Portion of Nebraska Territory (Philadelphia, 1852).
  • 12 See Norwood to Leidy, October 22, 1854 (Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia).
sent you a drawing sometime since; Mr. Lincke's brother having sent it to me since I wrote you last. I have sent the bones without his knowledge, and hope, when you have done with them, that you will return them to my address…."

Other letters in the Norwood-Leidy correspondence further imply that the wolf jawbone was of exceptional interest in comparison to the other bones and shells in Linck's collection. Norwood had been "gratified to hear that the box of bones belonging to Mr. Lincke contained something new," he told Leidy in a letter of November 27, 1854. On February 12, 1855, he confirmed, "The box with the fossil bones of Mr. Lincke, after a tedious transit, came to hand safely; and the bones have been returned to Mr. Lincke's brother. I am truly glad you found something new among them…. I shall be glad to receive your paper on the new wolf—with a copy for Mr. Lincke's relatives. Keep the wolf jaw until I am receiving a box from Phila., of which I will give you notice." As the letter indicates, the wolf bone was the only specimen not returned to Norwood and the Lincks at this time. On April 17, 1855, Norwood informed Leidy that he would soon be moving from New Harmony to Springfield, Illinois, a fact that may help to explain why the fossil of the Evansville dire wolf never was returned. It is still in Philadelphia.

Leidy's article announcing the new species of wolf appeared in the Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia in November, 1854, and opened with the sentence, "Through the kindness of my friend, Dr. J. G. Norwood, of New Harmony, Indiana, I have had the opportunity of examining a collection of fossil bones, which were obtained by Mr. Francis A. Lincke, from the banks of the Ohio River, near the mouth of Pigeon Creek, a short distance below Evansville, Indiana."13 The article further revealed that Linck had discovered not only the first dire wolf specimen but also, some years earlier, bones of a Megalonyx, a huge extinct mammal commonly known as Jefferson's ground sloth.14.


  • 13 Joseph Leidy, "Notice of some Fossil Bones discovered by Mr. Francis A. Lincke, in the banks of the Ohio River, Indiana," Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, VII (November, 1854), 199-201. In Norwood's letter dated August 18, 1854, and in subsequent correspondence, consequently in Leidy's report, the name Linck is misspelled Lincke. The misspelling persists in Oliver P. Hay, The Pleistocene of North America and Its Vertebrated Animals from the States East of the Mississippi River and from the Canadian Provinces East of Longitude 95 (Washington, D.C., 1923); and Marcus Ward Lyon, Jr., Mammals of Indiana (Notre Dame, Ind., 1936). This latter publication is reprinted from the American Midland Naturalist, XVII (January, 1936), 1-384. The name "dire wolf," or more properly Canus dirus was not assigned until another of Leidy's articles in 1858. For details see Nowak, North American Quaternary Canis, 106.
  • 14 The genus name Megalonyx, meaning Great Claw, was given by Thomas Jefferson. "Two papers on this animal, read before the American Philosophical Society in 1797 [one by Jefferson], were the beginning of vertebrate palaeontology in America…. In proposing the generic term Mr. Jefferson did not suggest any name for the species and this omission was not corrected until 1822, when the French naturalist, Desmarest, gave it the very appropriate term of M. jeffersoni." William B. Scott, A History of Land Mammals in the Western Hemisphere (rev. ed., New York, 1937), 660.
[Figure]

Photograph reproduced from George P. Merrill, The First One Hundred Years of American Geology {New Haven, Conn., 1924). Signature from Norwood's letter of acceptance as Correspondent of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, May 23, 1843.

[Figure]

FIRST PAGE OF DR. JOSEPH G. NORWOOD'S LETTER TO DR. JOSEPH LEIDY DESCRIBING A BONE FOUNDBY FRANCIS A. LINCK

Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.

[Figure]

ABOVE: CANIS DIRUS LEIDY (DIRE WOLF)

BELOW: THE SLIGHTLY SMALLERCANUS LUPUS (MODERN GRAY WOLF)

© 1987 Mark Hallett

Other collectors had also found Megalonyx bones at various places along the Ohio River, some near Canoe Creek on the Kentucky shore a few miles downriver from Pigeon Creek, some near Diamond Island, and probably some at other places as well. In a series of letters to Leidy, the first dated in December, 1852, David Dale Owen, who had served as the first state geologist of Indiana, described the sites in some scientific detail and noted their similarities.15 Of the bones found around Canoe Creek in 1854, he opined, "One thing … is very certain, both from the position of these bones and those found, under analogous circumstances, in the banks of the Ohio, below Evansville, Vanderburg [sic] County, Indiana, that they are, comparatively speaking, of a very recent date …."16 Owen also referred to bones received from other discoverers and to his collection sent to Philadelphia for description in a memoir Leidy was preparing for publication.17 By November, 1855, he was complaining that only a few of the bones of his collection had been returned and of his own personal expense in paying for their shipment. In the final letter of this series, dated April 28, 1856, Owen replied briefly and sharply to what apparently was a suggestion from Leidy: "I could not consent to dispose of my Megalonyx bones. My address is New Harmony, Posey Co. Inda., care warfboat or Dusouchet, Mt. Vernon, Inda. I expect to be in Phila. soon—in two or three weeks and shall call at the Acady."

Both Norwood's and Owen's correspondence with Leidy attest to the importance of New Harmony as an educational, cultural, and scientific center of national significance in the early decades of the nineteenth century.18 In 1825 Robert Owen, Scots industrialist and


  • 15 The letters from David Dale Owen to Leidy are located in Collection 1: Joseph Leidy Papers, Academy of Natural Sciences. For information on Owen see Walter B. Hendrickson, David Dale Owen: Pioneer Geologist of the Middle West (Indiana Historical Collections, Vol. XXVII; Indianapolis, 1943), 28, passim.
  • 16 For this letter see Joseph Leidy, A Memoir on the Extinct Sloth Tribe of North America (Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge; Washington, D.C., 1855), 7-8.
  • 17 Leidy, Memoir on the Extinct Sloth Tribe of North America, 7. An interesting tidbit relative to Owen's huge Megalonyx bones is recorded by Maralea Arnett in The Annals and Scandals of Henderson County, Kentucky, 1775-1975 (Corydon, Ky., 1976), 75: "In 1848 Miss Morton, a teacher from New York, encouraged the boys in her little log school, located in the virgin forest of Mr. Walter Alves' farm, to help Mr. Alves dig up a collection of fossilized animal bones he had found in an ancient channel of Canoe Creek…. The boys felt they had made a major contribution to science." Alves later gave the bones of the Megalonyx, which became known as the Henderson sloth, to Owen. Eventually the sloth was mounted at Indiana University, Blooming-ton, but "later was overtaken by some unforeseen disasters…." The few remaining bones now repose in the Indiana State Museum, Indianapolis. Ronald Richards, chief curator of natural history, Indiana State Museum, letter to author, December 1, 1993.
  • 18 According to a later historian, there were at this time "three centers of culture in the old Midwest: Lexington in the Bluegrass; Cincinnati on the Ohio; and New Harmony on the Wabash. The latter was the Mecca of scientists." Arthur Deen, "Early Science in the Ohio Valley," Indiana Magazine of History, XXXIII (March, 1937), 37. In addition to the doctor-geologists' association with New Harmony, it is
[Figure]

Photograph reproduced from Willard Rouse Jillson, Geological Research in Kentucky (Frankfort, Ky., 1923); courtesy The Kentucky Geological Survey, Lexington, Kentucky. Signature from David Dale Owen's letter to Leidy, September 1,1860 (Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia).

philanthropist, had purchased Father George Rapp's Harmonist village on the Wabash and had begun there a Utopian community from which he hoped to reform society and to establish a New Moral World. A short time later William Maclure, renowned educator and scientist, became Owen's principal associate and financial partner. Often called the "father of American geology," Maclure was president of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia from 1817 to 1840, and he brought with him to New Harmony a coterie of scientists and educators whose influence on the schools, laws, natural sciences, and society of the United States continued long after the collapse of Owen's dream in 1827-1828. During the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s, in fact, New Harmony "basked" in the intellectual "afterglow" created by the Owen children—including David Dale —and the other accomplished scholars who had come to New Harmony. The community attracted visitors from Europe as well as from the eastern states; a number of them stayed to participate in the activities there. Quite possibly, Leidy himself visited the town.19

Both David Dale Owen and Norwood were influential members of the scientific community at New Harmony. Owen conducted the first official geological survey of Indiana from 1837 to 1839. During 1839-1840 he was employed by the United States Treasury Department, through the General Land Commissioner, to head geological surveys in Iowa, Wisconsin, and northern Illinois and again from 1847 to 1851 to head surveys in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota. Concerning Owen's work in 1839—1840, a head curator of the United States National Museum later wrote, "Indeed, the organization and carrying out of the plan for … [the survey] within the short space of time and under the conditions imposed by Congress was a feat of generalship which has never been equaled in American geological history."20

Norwood's first extensive work as a geologist was as Owen's chief assistant during the survey of the Chippewa Land District of Wisconsin. Before that work began in the summer of 1847, the two


  • notable that Norwood received his M.D. degree from Transylvania University in Lexington and Owen received his from the Medical College of Ohio in Cincinnati. Broadhead, "Joseph Granville Norwood," 70; Hendrickson, David Dale Owen, 23.
  • 19 Donald F. Carmony and Josephine M. Elliott, "New Harmony, Indiana: Robert Owen's Seedbed for Utopia," Indiana Magazine of History, LXXVI (September, 1980), 161-261; Josephine Mirabella Elliott, "The Owen Family Papers," ibid., LX (December, 1964), 331-52; Donald E. Pitzer, "The Original Boatload of Knowledge Down the Ohio River: William Maclure's and Robert Owen's Transfer of Science and Education to the Midwest, 1825-1826," Ohio Journal of Science, LXXXIX (December, 1989), 128-42; W. H. G. Armytage, "William Maclure, 1763-1840: A British Interpretation," Indiana Magazine of History, XL VII (March, 1951), 1-20. Leidy's visit is mentioned on page 19.
  • 20 Hendrickson, David Dale Owen, 25-40, passim; Herman R. Friis, "The David Dale Owen Map of Southwestern Wisconsin," Prologue, I (Spring, 1969), 8-28; quotation in George P. Merrill, The First One Hundred Years of American Geology (New Haven, Conn., 1924), 199.
men had together explored geological formations in central Kentucky in 1846 and coauthored an article about them.21 Prior to January 29, 1847, Owen and Norwood had jointly written an elaborate letter urging the establishment of a Kentucky geological survey.22 That the two were friends as well as colleagues is suggested in a letter from David Dale Owen to his brother Richard in March, 1848: "Dr. Norwood brought his family down from Madison and staid several weeks at my house…."23 By the end of 1851 the two men had coauthored three more articles,24 and Norwood had moved with his wife and children to New Harmony and had begun his work as the first state geologist of Illinois.

In 1854, the year that Francis A. Linck found the Evansville dire wolf, Owen was appointed state geologist of Kentucky, a position that Norwood had wanted badly. Perhaps the earliest existing manifestation of this desire is in a letter dated January 24, 1853, from Norwood to his friend Robert Peter, professor of chemistry at Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky: "I will be plain and explicit with you. In the first place, the charge of the Survey of Kentucky would afford me more pleasure than that of any other country under the sun, for the sufficient reason, that I was born and reared in Kentucky, and am, so far as I know, the only Ken-tuckian who has ever made Geology a special study and business." Interesting in light of later developments was Norwood's further assertion that his experience in field work was "at least, equal to that of any man in the West—without exception?Lexington should become the headquarters for the survey, Norwood thought. There the collections could be assembled and the chemistry and palaeontology done. Peter would, of course, take charge of the chemistry, and as to the palaeontology, "I must tell you that I have the best library I have yet seen—and, so far as European collections are concerned,


  • 21 David Dale Owen and Joseph G. Norwood, Researches among the Protozoic and Carboniferous Rocks of Central Kentucky Made during the Summer of 1846 (St. Louis, 1847).
  • 22 George P. Merrill, ed. and comp., Contributions to a History of American State Geological and Natural History Surveys (United States National Museum Bulletin 109; Washington, D.C., 1920), 103-104.
  • 23 David Dale Owen to Richard Owen, March 20, 1848. This letter is located in the private collection of Kenneth Dale Owen.
  • 24 David Dale Owen and Joseph G. Norwood, "Description of a New Fossil Fish, from the Palaeozoic Rocks of Indiana," American Journal of the Sciences and Arts, 2nd ser., I (1846), 367-71; Owen and Norwood, "Description of a Remarkable Fossil Echinoderm, from the Limestone Formation of St. Louis, Missouri," ibid., II (1846), 225-28; Owen, Norwood, and John Evans, "Notice of Fossil Remains Brought by Mr. J. Evans from the ‘Mauvaises Terres,’ or Bad Lands of White River, 150 Miles West of the Missouri," Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, V (1850-1851), 66-67, 328. In addition, Owen's reports as United States geologist contain substantial reports by Norwood: Report of a Geological Reconnoissance of the Chippewa Land District of Wisconsin and the Northern Part of Iowa (Washington, D.C., 1848); Report of a Geological Survey of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota and Incidentally of a Portion of Nebraska Territory.
for purposes of Comparison, I believe mine is the best in the country…."25

On April 24 Norwood still believed the position of Kentucky state geologist would be his, despite rumors that Kentucky Governor Lazarus W. Powell might give the post to Owen. "So far as I know," he wrote Peter from Louisville, "the Governor is yet uncommitted, and it is narrowed down to Owen or myself. If Owen gets it, as a certain thing, all the collections will be taken out of the State— the Chemistry will be done in Indiana…." Two days later, in a very bitter letter to his friend, Norwood seethed about Powell's appointment of Owen, "This is to be regretted, on every account." The governor wanted, Norwood surmised, "the ‘prestige of a name.’ He has, simply, committed a blunder as far as American Geologists are concerned…. The Geology of Kentucky is quite as important as that of any other Western state. It may be done roughly, or thoroughly and Scientifically. ‘Prestige’ is a term I have not yet met with in science…."

On July 3, 1854, not long before he sent drawings of Francis A. Linck's fossil to Leidy in Philadelphia, Norwood wrote Peter one more letter concerning Owen's appointment as head of the Kentucky survey. It is clear that in the intervening two months his jealousy had hardened. That Owen had not given the post of chemist to a Philadelphian, as he had possibly intended, Norwood attributed to the governor's having learned "it probably would not do to shut every thing out of Kentucky."26 Norwood then narrowed his attack to Owen's private collections:

He was for two years State Geologist of Indiana—Indiana has not a rock, fossil, or mineral, to show that such a survey was ever made. He was for five years U. S. Geologist for Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota—The General Government has nothing to show for it, in the way of rocks, fossils or minerals, with the exception of the rocks and minerals collected by myself in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and the fossils collected in the Mauvaises Terre of Nebrasca, by Dr. Evans. And, these last, (described by Dr. Leidy), are stated to belong to ‘Dr. Owen's Collection.’—They are, I believe in the Smithsonian Institution now.—The large collections of organic remains made during these surveys are all incorporated with Dr. Owen's private collections, and there, I suppose, they will remain. As some little dissatisfaction on these matters has been manifested, perhaps he will do better for Kentucky. I hope he may.—As no one, out of the U. S. Survey, knows any thing about these matters, you see the necessity for keeping this knowledge to yourself. In the mean time, notice things. So will I. It is full time that a certain sort of political humbuggery should be stopped.

There is no evidence that Norwood ever expressed his accusations publicly. In fact, they are quite unlike anything in Norwood's publiccations

  • 25 The letters from Norwood to Robert Peter repose in the Robert Peter Letters, Transylvania University Library, Lexington, Kentucky.
  • 26 It is interesting to note that the post of chemist for the Kentucky survey went to Peter, who maintained a long and cordial relationship with Owen. Hendrickson, David Dale Owen, 114. The Robert Peter Letters in the Transylvania University Library contain some fifty pieces of correspondence from Owen to Peter in the years after 1854. Ibid., 145.
and other surviving letters. Nevertheless, his charges do elicit questions: just what collections did Owen supply to the states where he did his surveys, and where are those collections today? At the same time one must wonder if Norwood collected important specimens during the Illinois survey and where they are currently located.

Commenting on Norwood's accusations, Owen's biographer wrote:

The Hoosier geologist was ambitious and he was criticized by his jealous rivals. His one-time assistant in the Northwest, Joseph G. Norwood, accused him of ruthless acquisition of specimens, and of appropriating all specimens collected on public surveys. Owen, like all confirmed collectors, did use every means to enlarge his museum, but Norwood's charge was unjustified, for Owen always obeyed the letter of his instructions and supplied collections when they were called for. One cannot refrain from believing, however, that the best of the specimens found their way into the New Harmony museum.21

Owen's rather sharp letters to Leidy in 1855 and 1856 concerning the return of his specimens suggests that the biographer may well have been correct.

Tracing the various Owen collections is difficult. Owen's first public geological survey, in 1837-1839, was for the state of Indiana. He left no collections of specimens because none was called for.28 As early as 1840, however, Owen proposed that a collection from his 1839-1840 survey of Iowa, Wisconsin, and northern Illinois form "the nucleus of a national cabinet." Indeed, eighteen shipping boxes of specimens from Owen's collection were sent to Washington, D.C., where eventually they were placed in the National Museum.29 In 1854 the act providing for the Kentucky survey required the state geologist to form a cabinet of geological and mineralogical specimens,


  • 27 Hendrickson, David Dale Owen, 114. Facing page 62 is a picture of Owen's New Harmony museum.
  • 28 In 1916 W. S. Blatchley, himself an Indiana state geologist, shared his thoughts about the legislative act that established the first Indiana geological survey and appointed David Dale Owen the first state geologist: "This was probably the first sum ever appropriated by a Legislature of Indiana for scientific purposes. That eminent body evidently thought it was buying a gold brick and proposed to pay for it the least sum possible. Here it was proposed to hire a man … [to] travel on foot or on horseback through a wilderness from one end of the State to another and make a ‘complete and minute’ geological survey…. Ye Gods and little fishes! I wish the author of that bill were here … to take his medicine." W. S. Blatchley, "A Century of Geology in Indiana," Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science, XXXII (1916), 89-177c, quotation, 97.
  • 29 As a result of accidents, fires, and removals, this collection by 1943 had lost its identity. A similar fate befell a collection of nine shipping boxes of specimens from the collection of William Maclure of New Harmony. Concerning the 1847-1851 survey, there is a "Catalogue of geological specimens collected by Dr. D. D. Owen and deposited in the Smithsonian Institution by the Commissioner of the Land Office, December, 1851" in the annual report of the Smithsonian Institution for 1854. Ninth Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution… (Washington, D.C., 1855), 393-96. This collection is the one to which Norwood referred in his letter of July 3, 1854. See also Hendrickson, David Dale Owen, 50, 51, 51n, 149.
the collection, according to a later act, to be housed in the capitol. Apparently, however, when Owen died on November 13, 1860, there were specimens collected during the Kentucky survey located at New Harmony. Although directed by the Kentucky legislature to obtain this collection "by suit or otherwise," the attorney general, it appears, did not carry out the order. Whatever the case, Owen did establish a "valuable museum" at Frankfort,30 but, probably for a number of reasons, the collection is no longer in existence. As the first state geologist for Arkansas, Owen also formed a collection of specimens that was set up in Little Rock. In part because of the Civil War, the geological survey was discontinued after Owen's death, and the collection was turned over to St. John's College in the capital city. St. John's closed in May, 1861, and apparently "no archival materials, books, specimens or artifacts of any kind" survived.31

What happened to David Dale Owen's personal museum of some 85,000 items after his death in November, 1860, is actually rather unclear. Richard Owen took charge of the collection in New Harmony upon the death of his brother. In reference to the Arkansas collection, he expressed his belief that duplicates of the specimens had indeed been forwarded to Little Rock for a state museum. Those remaining had been "placed in one room of the laboratory, designated as the Arkansas room." He further indicated that "some duplicates" had gone to Indiana University.32 While the most recent history of the university mentions the Owen cabinet and states very broadly that sometime "in 1859 or 1860 this huge collection was transferred to Indiana University," the statement is both unsettling and undocumented. Actually, the exact sequence of events and a precise description of the school's holdings are difficult to determine, particularly for the years from 1860 to 1869.33


  • 30 Merrill, Contributions to a History of American State Geological and Natural History Surveys, 106-109.
  • 31Ibid., 14-17; quotation from John L. Ferguson, Arkansas state historian, letter to author, January 10, 1994.
  • 32 Merrill, Contributions to a History of American State Geological and Natural History Surveys, 16-17.
  • 33 Thomas D. Clark, Indiana University: Midwestern Pioneer; Vol. I, The Early Years (Bloomington, 1970), 109. On the same page Clark states, "Since the arrival of the famous New Harmony scientists he [Owen] had been busily engaged with Alexander Maclure in surveying and collecting geological specimens." This statement contradicts Hendrickson, David Dale Owen, 13-23, as does the assertion that most of Owen's projects were supported by the United States Geological Survey. Owen was federally employed less than half the time between 1838 and 1859 and even then not by the United States Geological Survey. Also on page 109 the sentence, "Owen himself had exhumed a gigantic atheroid (Megalxonyx) near Henderson, Kentucky …," is puzzling, not only because of the extra x or because the exhuming was performed by Miss Morton's schoolboys but also because there is no atheroid in leading unabridged and technical dictionaries. Given these discrepancies, one must agree with the reviewer who wrote of this book, "this work, alas, is not footnoted." Winton U. Solberg, review of ibid., Indiana Magazine of History, LXVTI (September, 1971), 268.

In 1859 David Dale Owen was appointed, for a second time, Indiana state geologist. Because his surveys in Kentucky and Arkansas were still in progress, it was arranged that his brother, Richard, would carry out most of the field work in the Hoosier state. With David Dale Owen's death, Richard Owen became the Indiana state geologist, a position that he held until 1862. In January, 1861, Richard Owen offered to sell his brother's collection to the State Board of Agriculture for $25,000. The offer was referred to a select committee, but no action was taken.34 In May of 1861 the legislature authorized the appropriation of funds for the enlargement of the state university's cabinet, appointed the state geologist a member of the university faculty, and required him to develop a collection of specimens in mineralogy and geology for the cabinet.35 Because of the Civil War, little was done until 1864. In that year the university's annual report spoke of "an extensive collection of minerals, fossils, and zoological specimens, as well as … illustrative charts, diagrams, and maps" that Richard Owen had brought to the school.36 Further, in lectures during the summer of 1864 President Cyrus Nutt described the university cabinet as "one of the largest and best in the West. Recently," he stated, "many interesting portions of the cabinet of the late Dr. David Dale Owen, of New Harmony, have been transferred to the State University, and now fill an entire wing of the building."37 Not until 1869, however, did Indiana University officially commit itself to the purchase of David Dale Owen's famous collection, the bulk of which had apparently remained in New Harmony. In February, 1869, Richard Owen wrote to Governor Conrad Baker:

When I was last at new Harmony, my nephew Alfred, son of my late brother David Dale, the same who was Col. of the 80th, requested that I would write to you regarding their collection….


  • 34 This letter is printed in Report of the State Board of Agriculture, Containing … A Synopsis of the Proceedings of the State Board of Agriculture for 1859 and 1860 (Indianapolis, 1861), lxxxv. Richard Owen's letter stands as an early indication of his interest in the establishment of a state agricultural college, a strong interest which, extending that of William Maclure, contributed to the founding of Purdue University, of which Richard Owen became the first president (1872-1874). See also Hendrickson, David Dale Owen, 128, 136-37.
  • 35 Indiana, Laws (special session, 1861), 88-89.
  • 36Annual Report of Indiana University, Including the Catalogue … 1863-64 (Indianapolis, 1864), 28-29.
  • 37Annual Report of Indiana University, Including the Catalogue … 1865-66 (Indianapolis, 1866), 31-42. President Nutt's lecture from which the quotation is taken is discussed in James Albert Woodburn, with David Demaree Banta, History of Indiana University; Vol. I, 1820-1902 (Bloomington, 1940), 272-77, quotation, 275. The lecture aimed at establishing a new agricultural college at Indiana University, not elsewhere. Nutt proposed that the "citizens of Monroe County [tender] … to the state, on condition that the new college be located there, the $50,000 Owen cabinet…." Woodburn comments, "It is not clear how President Nutt could say that the citizens of Monroe County offered the Owen cabinet; it belonged to the University and therefore only the trustees could make such an offer." It now appears that even the university did not own the Owen cabinet at the time of Nutt's lecture. Ibid., 276, 276n.

You have seen the collection, although perhaps not under the most favorable circumstances, and therefore one or two particulars may not be out of place.

The total number of specimens (without estimating the duplicates) is 36,823. some of these are rare and costly: one single specimen, the Ichthyosaurus, cost $225. They represent not only minerals under a number of different systems, but the rocks and fossils illustrate pretty thoroughly the Geology of North America, England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, &c. There are besides numerous Zoological specimens and several thousand dollars worth of the finest chemical apparatus.

The family (although my brother estimated it at $50,000, having given all his surplus time and means to its formation) offered to take $20,000 for the entire collection.

As my brother left but little except the property on which the house and laboratory stand, they have but little to dispose of (the granary excepting, which was sold for a Woolen Factory) until they can find a purch[as]er for the collection. As my brother was identified with Indiana, and as the collection ought to remain in this State, and would be most valuable either at Indianapolis or Bloomington or a Normal School, any recommendation by which the subject could be brought before the public by you, would be gratefully esteemed by the family.38

Later in 1869 the state university purchased the Owen collection for the requested $20,000. Transported from New Harmony to Bloomington in March, 1870, first via "the steamer West Wind," then on four railroad cars, the twenty-to-thirty-ton collection provided the impetus for the construction of a second building on the Indiana University campus to accommodate not only the Owen cabinet but the law school, library, and other departments as well.39

In July, 1883, fire, presumably started by lightning, destroyed the new building, many university records, and most of the Owen collection "save a few of the tables of the Museum…."40 During the week following the fire, either in accord with or because of a plea from Indiana State Geologist John Collett, workers salvaged an additional fraction of the Owen collection from the debris.41 As outlined in the university catalogue for 1883-1884, "eight cases of minerals and fossils, comprising about 1,000 specimens, were saved. Among these are many of the types of new species described by Professor [sic] DAVID DALE OWEN and, therefore, among the most valuable objects in the OWEN collection. The skeleton of Megalonyx Jeffersoni, from Hendersonville [Henderson], Kentucky, perhaps


  • 38 Richard Owen to Governor Conrad Baker, February 13, 1869, Governor Conrad Baker Papers (Archives Division, Indiana Commission on Public Records, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis).
  • 39 Theophilus A. Wylie, Indiana University: Its History from 1820, When Founded, to 1890 (Indianapolis, 1890), 139, 80; New HarmonyRegister, March 19, 1870; BloomingtonProgress, March 9, 23, 1870.
  • 40 For descriptions of the disastrous fire in 1883, see BloomingtonTelephone, July 14, 1883; Theophilus A. Wylie diary, July 15, 1883 (Indiana University Archives, Bryan Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington); Wylie, Indiana University, 83.
  • 41 John Collett to Gentlemen, July 14,1883, Owen Family Papers (Indiana University Archives); BloomingtonTelephone, July 21, 1883.
[Figure]

INDIANA UNIVERSITY'S NEW BUILDING, 1876 DAVID DALE OWEN'S FAMOUS COLLECTION WAS HOUSED ON THE FIRST FLOOR

Indiana University Archives, Bloomington.

the most important specimen in the Cabinet, was also saved. The Ward Casts, with one exception, were destroyed."42

In 1887 Indiana University President David Starr Jordan (whose name appears in the 1883 fire headline) arranged for the Owen specimens that had survived the fire to be sent to the United States National Museum (USNM, the Smithsonian Institution). These remains constituted three boxes of fossils containing types of 22 species described by Owen in his 1852 report, 327 other specimens from the upper Mississippi Valley region, and 5 types described by Owen in an 1860 report for the Arkansas survey. According to the USNM catalogue, twenty-two specimens were returned to Indiana University, apparently as part of the arrangement made by Jordan. These specimens are housed on the campus.43


  • 42Annual Report of Indiana University, Including the Catalogue … 1883-1884 (Indianapolis, 1884), 36.
  • 43 Alan Stanley Horowitz, "Notes on the History of the Paleontological Collection, Department of Geology, Indiana "University," Proceedings of the Indiana
[Figure]

PORTION OF THE FIRST PAGE OF THE BLOOMINGTONTELEPHONE, JULY 14,1883

Rescued from a rubbish barrel at the Owen laboratory in New Harmony, a number of type specimens figured in joint publications of David Dale Owen and Benjamin Shumard had by 1890 been deposited in the Gurley Collection at the University of Chicago


  • Academy of Science, XCV (1986), 375-76; Owen, Report of a Geological Survey of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota; Owen, Second Report of a Geological Reconnaissance of the Middle and Southern Counties of Arkansas, Made during the Years 1859 and 1860 (Philadelphia, 1860).
Walker Museum. Today they repose in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.44

Neither Norwood's career nor his extensive collection fared as well as those of Owen. Although specimens collected during Norwood's geological survey of Illinois originally formed the basis for the Illinois State Museum, none attributed to him remain in the museum today. Only fragments are traceable. In 1858 the governor of Illinois dismissed Norwood as head of the state geological survey. Thereafter he served as assistant to the Missouri state geologist and as a professor at the University of Missouri at Columbia, where he died in 1895, never having achieved the prestige and reputation accorded his colleague, Owen.45

Although not unusual for executive and legislative directives, the Illinois governor's instructions to Norwood in 1851 relative to his duties as Illinois state geologist perhaps provided the basis for the problems that later developed: "consult economy in the employ of assistants, having a strict view to the labor to be done, and a vigorous prosecution of the work."46 Norwood's first progress report in 1853 listed Anthony Varner and Amos H. Worthen as assistants and Henry Pratten as "attached to" the survey. The report further described work completed in twenty-four counties, praised Varner "on his skill as a draughtsman" and Worthen for his work on the "magnificent collection of fossils."47

Norwood did not report again until 1857, a delay that provided the focus for considerable legislative and executive dissatisfaction. Among papers reposited in the Illinois State Library, the Illinois State Historical Library, and the Illinois State Archives, the earliest trace of trouble for Norwood may be found in Governor Joel A. Matteson's message to the "Honorable Speaker of the Senate," in February, 1855. Matteson had, he said, requested the state geologist to remove his office, laboratory, and exhibits from New Harmony to Springfield. "I … suggest," he continued, "that no more money be paid out until a report be made by the state geologist, and that satisfactory to those having the matter in charge, and if not satisfactory, that another be appointed."48 When the requested geological report was not forthcoming, a committee was appointed to investigate the situation. In January, 1857, the committee chairman indicated to the legislature that funding for the geological survey


  • 44 Julia Golden and Matthew H. Nitecki, "Catalogue of Type and Referred Specimens of Crinozoa (Blastoidea) in Field Museum of Natural History," Fieldiana Geology, XXIII (October 22, 1971), 31-51.
  • 45 Broadhead, "Joseph Granville Norwood," 68-74; History of Boone County, Missouri, 917-20; Keyes, "Joseph Granville Norwood," 1-10.
  • 46 Joseph G. Norwood, Report of Progress of the State Geological Survey Communicated to the Illinois Legislature at the Session of 1853 (Springfield, 111., 1853).
  • 47Ibid.
  • 48 "Governor's Message, Geological Survey," Reports Made to the Nineteenth General Assembly of the State of Illinois (Springfield, 111., 1855), 531.
was inadequate, that a large amount of labor had been performed at a comparatively small expense, and that the work had been well done. He concluded, "No just cause of complaint can be urged against the present incumbent, Dr. Norwood, or any of his assistants."49

The progress report that Norwood submitted to the legislature later in 1857 should have helped to corroborate the committee's findings. A number of the difficulties encountered during the survey were, at least in part, the result of inadequate funding, poor legislative and executive planning, and/or accidents of nature. Boxed ready for transportation from New Harmony to Springfield in December, 1854, Norwood's records and scientific apparatus, along with "all the public collections," did not reach their destination until April of the following year because of "the entire suspension of navigation on the Ohio River." When the collections finally arrived in the Illinois capital, no suitable laboratory space was available, and they were eventually placed in the supreme court room "but could not be disposed in such a manner as to allow them to be examined by the corps…."50 Later they were moved to the Senate chamber but were still inaccessible for scientific use. Norwood apparently agreed with the governor that the survey headquarters and specimens "rightfully belonged" in Illinois—given his condemnation of Owen in the Kentucky situation, how could he not—but in view of the eventual disappearance of this first Illinois state collection, one wonders what would have happened had Norwood kept the specimens in New Harmony until they could have been suitably displayed.

Two additional subjects mentioned in Norwood's 1857 progress report suggest further short-sightedness on the part of the Illinois state government. The state geologist had "nearly ready for publication," he said, material that would fill a volume of from one thousand to twelve hundred pages. The legislature had apparently appropriated no funds for publications, for Norwood "respectfully" urged "the propriety of publishing this report at the earliest possible day." He also referred to a number of reports that he had made to individuals and companies during the preceding two years, something that had been impossible under a directive from an earlier governor, who had wanted it "distinctly understood" that all information regarding the geological survey was to be kept "strictly private" and reported only to the executive of the state who "alone" could make it public.51


  • 49 "Reort [Report] of the Committe [Committee] on the Geological Survey of the State of Illinois," Reports Made to the Twentieth General Assembly of the State of Illinois (Springfield, 111., 1857), 1-3.
  • 50 Norwood to Governor William H. Bissell, in Reports Made to the Twentieth General Assembly of the State of Illinois, part A, p. 4.
  • 51Ibid., 4-6; Governor Augustus C. French to Joseph G. Norwood, September 25, 1851, Augustus Chaplin French Correspondence (RS 101.9) (Illinois State

Not mentioned in the official papers are the deaths of Varner and Pratten and the absence of Worthen, who assisted James Hall of New York in the first state geological survey of Iowa from 1855 to 1857. The loss of all three of his assistants, albeit at various times, would have had an incalculable impact on Norwood's ability to carry out the Illinois survey. Varner had not turned in his field notes for a year before his death in 1854, "rendering it necessary" for Norwood to be with him during his illness and occasioning some delay.52 In 1857, fearing that Pratten was going to die of erysipelas —as he did a few days later—Norwood wrote a mutual friend, "If he does leave us, to me it will be like losing my right hand."53 One wonders if the state geologist knew that Pratten, the year before, had also considered leaving the Illinois project to work with Hall. Pratten had remained in Springfield, "one of the most miserable places I have ever lived in," only because he feared that he would be unable to support his new wife elsewhere.54

Norwood had obviously reached a turning point in his career. Whether or not there was "just cause" for his dismissal as state geologist, by 1858 the move was inevitable. The Illinois governor's report to the legislature in 1859 confirmed: "From the unsatisfactory progress made … and from the fact that nothing in relation to the survey had ever been published or even presented for publication (with [one exception]) it was deemed essential to reorganize the corps. This was done last spring (March 22, '58) and A. H. Worthen was placed at its head."55 One final irony seems to typify Norwood's career. In December, 1857, Hall had written Norwood from New York: "I have no opposition to you, nor will I do anything to affect your position. If it is in any way possible for me to help you to bring before the public the results of your labors of so many years past I shall be most happy to do so…." During the same month, however, Hall, commenting to other geologists that the governor of Illinois contemplated replacing Norwood with "a more efficient man," had provided supporting letters for two other aspirants for the position of Illinois state geologist, one of whom was Worthen.56


  • Archives, Springfield). Accompanying Norwood's 1857 progress report is a report to Norwood from H. A. Ulffers, the Illinois state topographer, who gave a memorable description of the headquarters of the Illinois Geological Survey at that time: "The geological room in the armory building cannot be warmed so as to keep up an even temperature—water actually freezing within ten feet of a red hot stove." Ulffers to Norwood, in Reports Made to the Twentieth General Assembly of the State of Illinois, part B, pp. 7-9.
  • 52 Norwood to Robert Peter, April 11, 1854, Robert Peter Letters.
  • 53 Norwood to Fielding B. Meek, May 4, 1857, Fielding B. Meek Papers, 1843-1877, Record Unit 7062 (Smithsonian Institution Archives, Washington, D.C.).
  • 54 Henry Pratten to Fielding B. Meek, March 11, 1856, Meek Papers.
  • 55Illinois, Senate Journal (1859), 22-23.
  • 56 Published versions of these letters can be found in John M. Clarke, James Hall of Albany, Geologist and Palaeontologist, 1811-1898 (Albany, N.Y., 1921), 283-86.

Approximately fifty years after Norwood's discharge from the Illinois survey, a curator of the Illinois Museum of Natural History wrote something of a vindication of the first Illinois state geologist: "In behalf of Dr. Norwood it might be noted… that even his talented successor did not bring out his first report until 1866—that is after eight years in the office, having Norwood's seven year's [sic] collections to build upon and an especial appropriation of $21,000 for printing, etc., as well as his own fourteen years' experience. This does not detract from the credit of Worthen but implies that Norwood was expected to make bricks without straw."57 In 1853 David Dale Owen had described the Illinois collection amassed by Norwood as "the finest collection ever made in the same length of time, on any survey that has come within my notice…"; it was, he said, a collection "rich in minerals and fossils; some of rare beauty and perfection…."68 Four years later G. C. Swallow, Missouri state geologist, had characterized it as very large and, "when properly arranged and set up in a suitable room," certain to be "a source of pride and gratification" to every citizen of the state.59 At the end of the nineteenth century museum curators were still "surprised" at the collection's size.60

Among the most important specimens that should be located in the Illinois collection today are twenty-five of thirty-one type specimens figured in three publications by Norwood and Pratten and explicitly described by them as belonging to the state collection.61 Of the twenty-five, only one remains in any of the three parts into which the collection was divided apparently sometime after the turn of the century. The disappearance of all but this one, the Chonetes maclurea Norwood and Pratten, ISGS (ISM) 4571-1/5, remains a mystery.62


  • 57 Alja R. Crook, A History of the Illinois State Museum of Natural History (Springfield, 111., 1907), 9-10.
  • 58 Quoted in Norwood, Report of Progress of the State Geological Survey … 1853, p. 12.
  • 59 G. C. Swallow to Wesley Sloan, in Reports Made to the Twentieth General Assembly of the State of Illinois, part C, p. 10.
  • 60 Quoted in Broadhead, "Joseph Granville Norwood," 74n.
  • 61 Norwood and Pratten, "Notice of Producti Found in the Western States and Territories with Descriptions of Twelve New Species," Journal of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, III, 2nd ser. (August, 1854), 1-22, Plate I; Norwood and Pratten, "Notice of the Genus Chonetes, as Found in the Western States and Territories, with Descriptions of Eleven new Species," Ibid., 23-32, Plate II; Norwood and Pratten, "Notice of Fossils from the Carboniferous Series of the Western States, Belonging to the Genera Spirifer, Bellerophon, Pleurotomaria, Macrocheilus, Natica and Loxonema, with Descriptions of Eight New Characteristic Species," Ibid., Ill (June, 1855), 71-77, Plate K.
  • 62 Lois S. Kent, Type and Figured Fossils in the Worthen Collection at the Illinois State Geological Survey (Illinois State Geological Survey Circular 524; Champaign, 111., 1982). The other six type specimens belonged to the private collections of Pratten and Ullfers. Shortly after Pratten's death, his cabinets of fossils and minerals and his collection of birds were officially appraised by Norwood and Ulffers in the amounts of $800, $150, and $700 respectively. Appraisement Bill of the goods,

The fate of David Dale Owen's collections of duplicate specimens, reposited in state and federal capitals, suggests that Owen may have been justified in keeping types and superior specimens in his own New Harmony cabinet. Whether or not he "did better" by Kentucky and Arkansas, as Norwood hoped, the collections that Owen left for those states were soon lost, as were the two he shipped to Washington. Owen understood that he was employed by states and the federal government for practical results, not fine collections. In an introductory letter published with his 1852 report, he wrote: "it has been my aim during the entire conduct of this exploration, to make the strictly practical and business portion of the Survey the chief end and object of our operations. Scientific researches, which to some may seem purely speculative and curious, are essential as preliminaries to these practical results. Further than such necessity dictates, they have not been pushed…." In another report he reaffirmed, "time enough will remain to institute inquiries (which a liberal policy forbids us to overlook) of a less productive and more abstract character; inquiries which are interesting in a scientific, rather than a commercial point of view."63

Norwood, on the other hand, was ready to use state funds for a survey done "thoroughly and Scientifically." His publications, which are primarily paleontological, reflect the balance that he struck between practical and scientific geology. In fact, in this regard both Norwood and Worthen, his successor in Illinois, stood closer to the James Hall school of geological survey than to that of Owen.64

After working closely together for several years, Norwood's and Owen's careers diverge after 1853. Owen, in fact, does not appear to have commented about Norwood's troubles in Illinois, nor is there anything to suggest that he was aware of Norwood's accusations at the outset of the Kentucky geological survey. Other bits and pieces of their lives also make for interesting reflection. Given the restrictions placed on Norwood regarding the release of geological information


  • chattels and personal estate of Henry Pratten deceased, June 8, 1857, Sangamon County Probate Records, Illinois Regional Archives Depository, Sangamon State University, Springfield, Illinois. An accompanying document gives Henry Pratten's date of death as "on or about" May 5, 1857. No trace of Pratten's extensive fossil collection, which contained several type specimens, is known to exist.
  • 63 Owen, Report of a Geological Survey of Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota, xiii; Owen, Report of a Geological Reconnoisance of the State of Indiana; Made in the Year 1837… (Indianapolis, 1938), 4. For a beautiful reprinting of this latter work, with introduction and commentary by Henry H. Gray, see A Geological Reconnoisance and Survey of the State of Indiana in 1837 and 1838 (Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Geological Survey Bulletin 61; Bloomington, Ind., 1987). See also Walter B. Hendrickson, "David Dale Owen and Indiana's First Geological Survey," Indiana Magazine of History, XXXVI (March, 1940), 1-15.
  • 64 Walter B. Hendrickson, "Nineteenth-Century State Geological Surveys: Early Government Support of Science," Isis, LII (September, 1961), 357-71. For information on the James Hall school of geological survey, see Ibid., 367-68.
from the Illinois survey, it is unsurprising that a geologist from outside the state—none other than David Dale Owen—published in 1855 and 1856 commercial reports for two Illinois coal companies.65 And in view of Norwood's disappointment for not having been appointed to head the Kentucky survey, it is notable that his son, Charles Joseph Norwood, born on September 17, 1853, in New Harmony, Indiana, became director of the Kentucky Geological Survey in 1904 and served with distinction.66

Epilogue

As for the dire wolf, prospects for additional recoveries of specimens from the Ohio River are doubtful. The water level, now regulated by dams, is kept at least eleven feet higher than the low water in which the bones were found in the mid-1850s. Some 120 years after Linck's find, however, scientists discovered more dire wolf remains in Indiana, interestingly enough, in Monroe County near Indiana University. "The prize of the 1989 season," according to a correspondent from the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis, "was the recovery of a beautifully preserved skull and jaws, and much of the skeleton of an adult male dire wolf, well preserved in clays dated at 25,500 B.P."67

Based on remains found at Devil's Den in Nevada, the terminal record for Canus dims Leidy is listed at seven to eight thousand years ago.68 In 1854 David Dale Owen indicated that bones from the banks of the Ohio River below Evansville, including those of his and Linck's Megalonyx and the dire wolf, were "comparatively speaking, of a very recent date.".69. In 1870 paleobotanist Leo Lesquereux took wood samples from the river near the Vanderburgh County site. These samples were later carbon dated at an age of 9,400 years, the age accepted with some reservations as the terminal record for Megalonyx..10. Perhaps the Evansville dire wolf lived at about the same time.


  • 65 Hendrickson, David Dale Owen, 146.
  • 66 August E. Foerste, "Memorial of Charles Joseph Norwood," Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, XXXIX (March 30, 1928), 40-47.
  • 67 Paul W. Parmalee, Patrick J. Munson, John E. Guilday, "The Pleistocene Mammalian Fauna of Harrodsburg Crevice, Monroe County, Indiana," National Speleological Society Bulletin, XL (April, 1978), 64-75; Ronald L. Richards, Indiana State Museum, letter to author, January 23, 1994. By far the greatest number of dire wolves found in a single locality, however, are those exhumed at the La Brea Tar Pits along Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. Most of these remains repose in the nearby George C. Page Museum. The total number of individual dire wolves represented at La Brea as of December 4, 1993, was 1,804. Christopher A. Shaw, collection manager, George C. Page Museum, letter to author, December 9, 1993.
  • 68 Bjbrn Kurten and Elaine Anderson, Pleistocene Mammals of North America (New York, 1980), 364.
  • 69 Quoted in Leidy, Memoir on the Extinct Sloth Tribe of North America, 7-8.
  • 70 Meyer Rubin and Corrinne Alexander, "U.S. Geological Survey Radiocarbon Dates IV," Science, CXXVII (June, 1958), 1476-87.


Published by the Indiana University Department of History.