Carl Purpus, Plant Collector in Western America Letters of Carl A. Purpus -- 1897

Transcribed by Barbara Ertter

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  Full Size Image Dudleya purpusii.  

Carl. A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 2/7/1897

[s.n.: 7 February 1897]

Daunt P.O. 7/II 97

Madame Katherine Brandegee

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I am in possession of Your kind letter and also the list since yesterday and send it back again to You today. I was very glad to get the names of those plants so soon and thank You most cordially. If You think it would be good to make sets for sale, I will do so this year, but I have to ask You to be so very kind to recomand me somebody who will buy those sets, to You I will sell none, as I have allready written, but will be happy to collect everything You may desire on my next tour to the Southeast of this State. The collection I have made in Colorado goes to the botan. Museum at Berlin, the others to Kew Garden and Royal Garden and the rest for l'Acadmie Paris. I also send 230 species to Miss Eastwood for a present to the Academy of Sciences. Echeveria Purpusii I will send to You, as soon, as possible.

Very respectfully Yours

C. A. Purpus

  Full Size Image Dudleya purpusii.

Locations: Piute Peaks.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 3/19/1897

[No. 8: 19 March 1897]

Daunt P.O. 19/III 97

Madame Kath. Brandegee.

Dear Madame!

Would You be so very kind and write me, if You think, that I could sell sets of dry plants in this country, and if You will be kind enough to rcomand me purchasers for such. Our spring flora is in full bloom now and I could collect every day, if I could find purchasers for the plants. I also ask You to be so very kind and give me the names of the plants or some of them I have send You for determining last year, if possible. Please write me also, if You wish to have a collection of plants from the Paute peaks region I may leave for this part of the Sierra next week. Miss Eastwood will obtain one also.

Very respectfully Yours

C. A. Purpus.


Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 4/4/1897

[No. 10: 4 April 1897]

Daunt P.O. 4/4 97

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I have to write You again and send You the letter of my friend Miss Eastwood, whom I was asking to recomand me some purchasers for setsof plants, so You will see whom she is recomanding to me. You might have some of those purchasers among those, whom You will recomand to me. Please be so very kind and write me also how much You think I shall ask for on set of plants, my brother sells them at 30 marks--that would be about 7$--for a centurie as the[y] call it in Germany.

Very respectfully Yours

C. A. Purpus

  Full Size Image San Francisco Peaks, Arizona.

Locations: San Francisco Peaks. Argus Mountains. Argus Range. Owens Valley. Piute Peak.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 4/10/1897

[No. 9: X April 1897]

Daunt [?]/4 97

Tulare Co.

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I am so much indepted to You for determining my plants and also for Your promise to garantee me sale of 10 sets of plants, if I will collect in certain regions and acccording to instructions, that I can not sell any plants to You, but will be happy to collect them for You without pay.

As I allready wrote You, I think of going to the most southern part of the Sierra, the Paute Peak region and from there in to the Argus Mountains. Don't you think, this is a good region to collect? I am not married and I am a bachelor and do not discount the future as a married man and wish seriously to collect plants, even if it will take all my time.

Yes I wished I could be in Your part of the state, well I may go there once. I also would like to see Lower California and certain parts of Arizona, as the San Francisco Mountains for example Those regions must be a paradise for botanists. My brother wrote me some time ago, that Dr. Merriam--if I am not mistaken--discovered a new species of fir in those mountains.

Yes I promised You Cacti from Colorado and also from Owens-Valley, but I have to write to my brother who is cultivating them in the botanic Garden in Darmstadt Germany to send them to You, but be so very kind and write me, if You will have those Cacti alive or dry. I send You a magazine in which they are published and also the pictures, but the writing is in German, so You may see how many new species I have collected. Echeveria Purpusii I will send You, as soon, as possible, but could not possibly do so at present, because it is covered by about 8-10 feet of snow yet. I hope You will excuse me. It grows in an altitude of 7-8000 feet on Mt. Moses. You will find the picture of it among the Cacti. Please be so very kind and write me how many plants are included in one set.

Hoping to hear again from You soon

I remain Yours very respectfully

C. A. Purpus

Please be so kind and return that magazine again to me.


Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 4/22/1897

[No. 6 (postcard): 22 April 1897]

Daunt P.O. 22/4 96

Dear Madame!

I will be very glad to collect anything You may desire. There are some very, nice Lupinus and Boraginaceae in that vicinity, but not many Cruciferae. I made allready quite a collection of Lupinus and different Boraginaceae, which I have missed last spring.

Very sincerely Yours

C. A. Purpus

  Full Size Image Erskine Creek drainage, Piute Mountains, California.

Locations: Erskine Creek. Erskins Creek. Havilah. Pa Ute Peak. Piute Mtns. Piute Peak.

Articles that refer to this letter:

  • Report of My Journey in the Southern Sierra Nevada and the Argus and Madurango Ranges: 0080 0110
  • C. A. Purpus: His Collecting Trips in the Sierra Nevada and Owens Valley, California, 1896 - 1898: 0160

Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 5/23/1897

[No. 12-13: 23 May 1897]

Havilah Kern Co.

23/5 97

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I thank You most cordially for Your kind advise and also for Your kind invitation. I think of coming to pay You a visit after I am through with collecting, if nothing unusual will happen. I was very glad to learn, that You received the Echeveria. I am allready on my tour through the Southern Sierra and we are in camp on Erskins Creek on the foot of Pa Ute Peak in a highly interesting and beautyful region. A great many of the plants I have colected are new to me. I found an other Echeveria, which is alltogether different from E. Purpusii it grows on Granit and limestone rocks and has smaller leaves and stroh colored flowers. Thinking it might be new to You I will send You some, as soon, as possible. Th. also grows an Opuntia in the mountains around here, which I think is O. basilaris, it has deep rose-colored flowers. If You like to have one, I will be ever so glad to send it to You. If nothing happens so we are going in to the Argus Mountains this week, where I hope to find a great many nice and rare Cacti, as Echinocactus horizonthalonicus etc. anything of Cacti You might desire I will send You. On top of Mt. Laura a limestone-peak I found a Glossopetalon which I think might be Gl. spinescens. I also found a Prunus which may be P. andersonii Gray. About the Colorado plants I wrote to my brother, who has my Colorado collection. It is a pity, that I did not ask Mr. Brandegee or Miss Eastwood to determine the collection instead of Prof. Coulter. I have a man, who is colecting some bulbs of Fritillaria pluriflora for me and as soon, as I will be back to Springville I send You all You wish.

Very respectfully Yours

C. A. Purpus.


Locations: Argus Mountains. Argus Range. Havilah. Madurango Peak. Mount Laura. Piute Peak. Station.

Articles that refer to this letter:

  • Report of My Journey in the Southern Sierra Nevada and the Argus and Madurango Ranges: 0280

Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 6/24/1897

[s.n.: 24 June 1987]

Havilah 24/6 97

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I found Your very esteemed letter in hot springs near Havilah coming back from my tour into the Argus Mountains and I am very sorry, that I did not receive it before my departure, because I had hunted more carefully for plants, seeds etc. You like to have. I found a highly interesting mountain region and the same I have to say about the flora. for a great many plants I came to late especially for Annuals in the lower region but not withstanding I have made a good collection. I expect I will have some rare specimens among them. I collected four different species of cacti and send them to You for Express from Bakersfield by my friend Mr. L. B. Hobson--we are camping on his ranch--18 miles from Havilah on the foot of Piute Peak. Excuse me, if the cacti are not packed careful enough, but we are in the wilderness. I also send You seeds of an Astragalus I have found here, but hardly think it is the one You wish to have. I send You the plant also after a while and You may decite. I did not collect any Cylindropuntias, because the[y] are simply horrible to handle, but had sure paid more attention to them had I received Your letter before we departed. That cereus I send You is collected on the foot of Madurango Peak near a place called station (inhabited by those miserable Basks) betw. 5-6000 feet. Echinocactus tetrancistrus I collected in the northern Argus Mo. at 5-6000 and Echinocactus horizonthal. in the same range between 3-4000 feet. We are going to Havilah to collect Opuntia Treleasei, if that one I send is not the right one. I am also very glad to get acquainted with You and also with Mr. Brandegee personally.

Very respectfully Yours

C. A. Purpus

  Full Size Image Looking toward Broder Cabin and Farewell Gap, Sierra Nevada, California.

Locations: Broder's Cabin, Mineral King. Farewell Gap. MineralKing.

Articles that refer to this letter:

  • Report of My Journey in the Southern Sierra Nevada and the Argus and Madurango Ranges: 0300
  • C. A. Purpus: His Collecting Trips in the Sierra Nevada and Owens Valley, California, 1896 - 1898: 0210
  • On the Trail, with Purpus, in California: 0340

Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 9/8/1897

[s.n.: 8 September 1897]

Broders Cabin n Mineral King 8/9 97

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I am very busy in collecting plants and it looks, as if I could not get through finding plants which are new to me in these beautyful mountains near litte Kern R. Last week I found a very interesting Eriogonum, it looks like a Polygonum but is woody and grows in Gravely soil (Granit) and some days ago I discovered a beautyful Saxifraga in the mountains west of Farewell Gap at an altitude of 11-12000 f. it has the leafs like a Sedum and looks much like S. azoides of the Alps, but has white flowers. I was very much surprised to find also an Adiantum on rocks above timber line. it looks some like A. pedatum and seems to be very scarce and a Fritillaria at 11,000 feet of which I have saved some bulbs for You.

I am very anxious to know some more about that tour down to those Islands and would be very thankful to You for information, because I would like to go very much. Hoping to hear soon from You

I remain Yours very respectfully verte!

C. A. Purpus

I had a very bad experience with Capt. Gale who is superintendent of the Park, as he was about ready to turn me and my man, who helps me collecting out of the park, although I had a letter of introduction to him by the General from last year.


Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 9/29/1897

[14: 29 September 1897]

Daunt P.O. 20/9 97

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I have just returned from my tour into Sequoia Park with a fine collection and found Your kind letter on my table. I am delighted with Your kind offer and will accept it with the greatest pleasure, but I have not yet decided, if I shall go collecting Cacti this winter or make that trip with the Whaler. I will come to San Diego next month and we can talk it over. I allmost think, it was better for me to go with the Whaler and collect Cacti next winter. I wrote You about my new finds I have made. I am sorry, that You did not get the Iris, I will take some with me coming down next month.

Very respectfully Yours

C. A. Purpus.


Articles that refer to this letter:

  • On the Trail, with Purpus, in California: 0620

Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 10/8/1897

[No. 11: 8 October 1897]

Daunt P.O. 8/X 97

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I am going to leave for San Diego on the 14th of Octob and will be there on the 15th. I would hate it very much to miss the whales, because I have decided to take that trip to the Galapagos Island, but I do not wish to be paid in money but with a collection.

The man Mr. Fred. Noller, who has been with me in the mountains this summer, whishes to help me colecting cacti not on this tour though. He is a faithful and active man and I am sure I will be able to collect twice as much assisted by him, so I expect You will not object We are traveling very cheap, so the expenses would not be much more, but if You think it is to much expense I am willing to pay the man. I thought of sending my Photo, but can't find time to develop the pictures.

Very respectfully Yours

C. A. Purpus.


Locations: San Domingo.

Articles that refer to this letter:

  • On the Trail, with Purpus, in California: 0400

Carl A. Purpus to Katharine Brandegee, 12/19/1897

[s.n., 2 pp.: 19 December 1897]

San Domingo 19 Dec. 97

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I have to write You a very sad and bad news. We go shipwrecked near San Domingo at Lagoon head. How it happened I do not know, but we know that much, that the chain broke and we drifted a shore. The sea was very high but a dead calm. One of the man Mr. Drent a dutchman went on deck early in the morning about 5 o clock I guess and came back shouting "for gratious sake we are right in breakers!" Everybody ran on deck I jumped out of my bed, but the man told me to go back again to pack up my effects. The next thing was a hard shock after that one after an other one in quick succession. I packed up my sack and Mr. Brandegees pick and left my things in the bunk and ran on deck again, mean while one of the man went in to cabin and came back right away and told us the water was coming in and the cabin half full of water. After that the vessel turned to one side I was scared to dead, because I thought she would tip over, but she did not. the men told me afterwards it was imposible I did not know it. Not knowing what I was doing I left my satchel and everything in the cabin and if it was not for the men I had lost everything. Meanwhile the men got the boat ready, while we were hanging on the deck, our mexican officer sick with fright, but we got in to the boat after that. the men ran for our baggage packed it in to the boat and one of them took us a shore while they others packed the provisions on deck, what the could get and brought it a shore by and by. the vessel had settled and the very heavy breakers washed it on shore slowly. Yesterday the men went through the ship and got some more things out of the vessel and we packed it on shore. Today the vessel is so close on shore, that we can get in on dry ground, the heavy sea washed it in. I think the bottom of the shooner was no good, because the first shock made a hole and the water came in, but I may be mistaken--it was not on rocks, but on sand--. I lost my provisions, the baskets, Mr. Brandegees map and some other things. The men lost there clothing to safe ours. They all they could to bring us a shore in safety and I am under great obligation to them. The captain has let down and saw that nice little shooner helplesly washed on shore a play for the breakers, which swapped over the deck. We are going out collecting tomorrow, we had to much to do to safe the crop. The first night the men had to sleep on the beach to keep the coyotes away while I slept in the cabin. The coyotes are very numerous and it is a good thing, that we found the cabin to have the provisions on a safe place. They tried to get in the night before last, so I had to get up and fasten the door. I hope my letter will reach You after new year. I sent my best regards to Mr. Barrows, he will be surprised about that shipwreck.

Very sincerely yours

C. A. Purpus

A few days afterwards.

I was on a cactus tour today around a crater and found

Cereus Brandegeie

C. maritimus

C. colchal

Echinocactus spec. resembles E. polycephalus

one spine very long and hooked

M. Goodrichii ? very small and allmost wrapped

up in white spines with brown hooked spines

two shrubs in bloom

one with beautyful bright red fl.

and an other with pink (Malvac)

I also have seen a Agave but dead. I found these cacti in one morning and expect to find more tomorrow I collect only good specimens and take shoots no heads, because I think it a bad habit to cut heads, if one can get shoots which grow so much better. Of those Cerei I can get a good many. Will try to get in to the foothills under all circumstances.

Opuntia spec. but not O. invicta may find it yet.

and tell me what You think about it

I will not come back without cacti I get a man and animals from the comp. to go inland.

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Date and time this article was prepared: 6/7/2002 7:33:36 PM