Carl Purpus, Plant Collector in Western America Letters of Carl A. Purpus -- 1898

Transcribed by Barbara Ertter

Home Page Published Biographies Travelogues and Other Articles Publishes by C. A. Purpus Collected Letters of C. A. Purpus Bibliography Site Administration

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Locations: Calmalli. San Domingo.

Articles that refer to this letter:

  • On the Trail, with Purpus, in California: 0410

Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 1/3/1898

[s.n.; missing 2nd page: 3 January 1898]

San Domingo 3/Jan 98

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

The Anita arrived today unexpectedly. The men are going back to San Diego, but I stay here, because I am not ready. The biggest part of my cacti are piled up on the other side of the Laguna and we could not go after them today, the vessel is going back to San Diego tomorrow. I had not come back anyhow, because I am going back to Calmalli this week. I was there last week but only for two days. I found Cacti there in abundance regular forests. I collected all I could collect and sent them back with the team of the Ybarra mining Comp. without charge. I also collected about 100 species of plants mostly shrubs, which are all new to me. There is no better chance to collect a great many cacti that around Calmalli and no better chance to sent to the Laguna and ship them to San Diego than by the Comp. teams, which go the the Laguna every week twice and by the the Comp. Vessel which goes to San Diego every two month. Mr. Swaine the superintendent of the mines a vey nice gentleman who was of great help to me told me the charges on the vessel was 15$ the ton. I am told, that the Anita and also the Carlo Pacheco are coming to Santo Domingo the 15th of Jan. I may have Cacti enough by this time and ask You to made arrangements with the captains of either of those vessels to take me and my collections back to San Diego. I expect one part of my money has come and I beg You to sent me about 40-50$ in Americ. money to pay my expenses. Mr. Drent who was of great help to me, will bring You these lines, please pay him for two days work, he helped me collect cacti. I hope You have received my letter, which I had a chance to sent via Guayman and which told You about the shipwreck. it is a good thing, that we dit not drive on shore farther south, because I might not have been able to find Cacti so handy as I did here. [next few lines in Greek alphabet: Ant. has made a great mistake to gife the vessel in charge of a half Lounatik ...(remainder of letter missing)]


Locations: Calmalli. Guadalupe Island. Magdalene Bay. San Miguel. Santa Domingo. Socorro.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 1/6/1898

[No. 15: 6 January 1898]

Santa Domingo 6/Jan 98

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

Please do not make arrangements with this Carlo Pacheco it suits me better to go with the Anita. I have seen the captain today and he told me, that he would be here again on the 20th. of Jan. but the Carlo Pacheco on the 15th. This gives me at least 8 days more to collect, because the Anita will not sail back till the 23 or so. I need 10-12 days for Calmalli and this is not half enough but if the Carlo Pacheco goes south and I have a chance to go too at a moderate cost--I do not wish to spent much more money, as we have already spent--so I go with her to get the Cacti around Magdalene bay etc. I forgot to tell You, that I got also two Agaves and different Cotyledons One of those Agaves is a beauty and is the one which died in the Garden A. margarit. perhaps. About some of the Cacti I may be mistaken, well You will see. I had sent samples, but time was to short. I go to Calmalli today on the Comp. team, on horse back. The country around Calmalli is a paradise for botanist. I was delighted to see the elephant trees there--I forgot the bot. name--it is a very strange sight. Sent me please about half an ounce wintergreen oil I am doctoring the teamster of the Comp. who has Pleuresy in a kind of a chronic state

I think, that is about all I have to write

Yours very truly,

C. A. Purpus

Mr. Drent is going to Guadalupe Island he will collect Palm seeds there, he also goes to Socorro once and a while and says he has seen a cactus there, which he has not observed anywhere else.

I have not seen O. invicta yet, but hope to find it near San Miguel, I will go there if possible. I expect to find some other Cacti on Calmalli yet. Near S. Miguel is the Expirement-station of an english fibre Comp they may be of some help to us for the future


Locations: Calmalli. Santo Domingo.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 1/16/1898

[No. 16-17: 16 January 1898]

Calmalli 16 Jan. 98

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I have to write You a few lines more. I found that beautyful Mamillaria, which I think might be M. setispina more plentyful, but only in Granit, so I will be able to collect a good many. if it is not yet in cultivation and I hardly think it is, so it will be of great value. I also found an other Mamillaria belonging to the lactescentes, it looks very much like M. missouriensis and is buried like that species in to the ground to the top. it has yellowish white spines, that other one brown. That Cereus, which grows here very plentyful and in clumps and which I mistook to be C. Engelmanni is not that species, but an other one, it has a dark rose colored flower and a greenish red sour[?] spiny fruit. The ribs are very much different from those of other Cerei and more like those of a Echinocactus or Mamill. Should'nt it not be C. mamillatus Engl.? The spines are very stout and sharp like a needle yellowish or sometimes a kind of dark violet, and broad on the lower end. It is a very nice species and no doubt of value. That Cereus, which I took to be C. Pringlei may be an other species. It grows 15-20 feet high is yellowish green with dark brown and very sharp spines. I found only one Echinocactus here, but it is a beauty and sometimes it attains a height of 5 feet. it has small white spines and very big dark red ones the central spines are strongly hooked. You have it in the Garden near the Greenhouse. The fruit is that of E. viridescens, but larger. Mamill. dioica, which You thought was found only along the coast is found everywhere here, in the plains, in the valley and on top of the mountains in all kind of soil. I found it with yellowish spines in Granit and collected some. That other Echinocactus I mentioned to You already grows only in low land around the beach. There is a very small Mamill growing in sand along the beach which I took to be M. Goodrichii, but I think it is only a variety of M. dioica. Ditn't You know, that Cereus giganteus was growing here? I can get a good many small ones of that spec. it sometimes attains a height of 30 feet and more 2-3 feet and more in diameter. I found a good many other things of great interest, also seeds. If I was not to short of money I would make a trip north to get O. invicta etc. I hope my money has arrived now and You will be able to send me about 70-80$ or more in americ. money to pay my expenses. I do not know, if I will come back with the Anita or Carlo Pacheco. I am going to write today to the Captain of the Carlo Pacheco to find out when he will come back again to Santo Domingo our landing place. It is 60 miles from Calmalli. I wrote You already, that I had a fine chance here to collect Cacti and other plants and send them to the beach, so it would be very foolish to hurry back to San Diego with nothing after we have spent all that money. I do not know how much board they charge here, but think Mr. Swain will be reasonable I hope this Gentleman has seen You. He will be of great help to us for the future, so I was very anxious to see him paying a visit to You and Mr. Brandegee. It is a great pity, that I losed my map, but a good thing, that I saved my presses I wrote You already, that Mr. A. made a great mistake to give the vessel in to the hands of such a fool, as that so called captain was. That is no good at all and also a big liar and story teller. I am about sure, that it was his fault, that we got shipwrecked! One of the men told me he was not able to handle a ship. I hope I will not have trouble with those mexican officers in taking cacti etc away from here. Wouldn't it be better to have listens [license?]?

Very sincerely Yours

C. A. Purpus

Send me my mail please and the money with the first chance.


Locations: Calmalli.

Articles that refer to this letter:

  • On the Trail, with Purpus, in California: 0630

Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 2/6/1898

[s.n.;3 pp.: 6 February 1898]

Calmalli 6 Feb. 98

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

Today I received Your letter and also the money. I was very glad to hear from You and thank You ever so much for sending me the money, but I am very sorry, that we had to trouble Mr. Brandegee again. I can't see, whey My brother has not sent me the money, he wrote me in his last letter, that I could have it any time (it is about 5-600$), I expect he is waiting until I am back again in San Diego, well it makes no difference now, and I expect to pay back all the money Mr. Brandegee was so kind to let us have, as soon, as it comes. The Board here is only 1$ (mex.) a day so I do not need to worry about that. and I hope I will collect seeds, plants and insects enough to pay a big part of our expenses, so please do not worry either. I hardly think, that I need half of the money You have sent me except I may hire soembody to take me around and go to explore the Santa Clara Mo. Now about our Cactus business. I think we will do first rate and the same thinks my brother, who does all he can to help us, but he thinks we ought to sent out catalogues, and advertise He is sure, that Mr. Hesse will take the cacti, he got my last years collection, as You will know and is very rich and able to pay right away, so I think it the best to let that Gentleman have the cacti and other things. The Museum in Berlin takes all the Insects, they also wish to have skins of mamals, birds etc, but I can't get them, but Mr. Anthony could. The Professor of that insititution are delighted with my articles in nature and house [Natur & Haus] and the editor of that paper is begging me for more, but I have no time for such things now, as I am to much engaged in collecting. I think I do first rate here, although flowers are very scarce yet. For some things I have to walk 10-15 miles, for example for M. setispina, but I hope to get 1000 and more, also of M. Brandegei which grows here very abundant on certain places. I found two other Cerei, which puzzle me very much. I will tell You why: About 10 days ago I was on a Mountain south east from here, going down a ridge I came to a Cereus a robust looking thing and growing like a chandelier but only 2-3 feet high, it has short black spines and resembles that Cereus I transplanted before I left San Diego. What is it? and don't You know I found only one specimen I went all over the whole region, hunted and hunted, but failed to find an other one. For days afterwards I went in opposite direction in to a sandy plain, crossing these plains I found an other Cereus similar to the first one but the spines are longer and light brown. Again I found only one specimen, again I looked all over the country, went there a second time, but failed to find even a second one. Now what do You think about that? These Cerei have nothing at all to do with C. Schotti or cochal. This is a fact. I took all the joints I could get and packed them 12 miles on my back. I was delighted to find a Ficus about 10 miles from here, it has the most curious growth I ever seen on a fig tree, it comes out of the crevices of big granit rocks I also found it is a caon in Basalt, but very scarce. It has leafes like a Populus balsamifera and a small fig. I bring seeds and one or two living plants. I also found a beautyfull Parasite on a tree which is unknown to me. It has flowers like a Fuchsia wonderful red like Zauschneria. That tree has a very peculiar growht and smells wonderful. The leafs are pinnate and the fruit is a drupa dark violet. on dead or wounded trees I found a gum, which I collected and which may be of value. What is it? Now about that elephant tree. There I made a big mistake--I got mixed up I guess, did not see the forest for all the trees, as we say in Germany--That tree I thought was Veatchia is Fouquieria or the Cirio, of which I got fruit with seeds very few though, and also will bring a good many joung plants, which look like a turnip. It is the most wonderful plants I ever have seen in all my life, but there is an other Fouquieria here with beautyful red flowers, I expect Mr. Brandegee has collected it too. but Veatchia does not grow here, so I will not be able to get that ensenta [or cusenta?], but expect to get the other seeds and plants You wish to have. I also collected and colect all the cactus seeds I can get. Yesterday I found the most wonderful shrub I have ever seen. The seeds are rapped up in a coton like stuff and it looks, as it somebody had little bunches of cotton thrown over it. What it may be I do not know. I also found a Ribes with red fruit, perhaps the one You like to have, and a beautyful suffrutex near Antyrrhinum and similar to that I found on Clemente. I also found a Zephyranthes with yellow flowers. I expect to make a trip north in to the high mountains in Comp. with Mr. Howard. It is running water there also Palms so I hope to get a good many plants. Should not that tree with that Parasite be a Veatchia too? The call it "Torrote" and the gum "Copal". Among my plants is also a Cardiospermum I got seeds of it too it is a woody one. I also found a a kind of shrubby Epilobium or some shrub near it, but it is not yet in bloom. We had a big rain lately so I think the flowers come out now. It is also very warm weather. Cotyledons are very plentyful and I found two species, I also found a very nice Oenothera but only one, is yellow flowers. I got seeds to, so we can plant it in the Garden. I was very glad for the book You have sent me, it will be of great value to me especially the map too. I feel very sorry for Mr. Anthony and I will do all I can to help him if he will collect birds and mamal skins. The Anita goes to San Francisco and does not stop in San Diego so I could not go any how. I probably will wait until next month to come back, if I only have a chance to go with the Carlo Pacheco. I asked the Capitain in a letter, when he was coming again to Santo Domingo but have not got a answer, how it comes I do not know. The mines are shut down today, but that does not effect me at all. The Anita is not coming back any more. Now about my man. I do not know what we are going to do with him. I wrote him some time ago to be ready for that trip in to the desert but if I start from Arizona I need nobody. Now Mr. Brandegee is acquainted with the forest officers in Washington and they need men to help protect the forest reservs. Couldn't or would not Mr. Brandegee be so kind and help him to get a place in perhaps the Tule R. forest reserve? as a kind of a overseer or something of that kind? I can recomand the man very much and he is also intelligent, can read and write english, knows much about forests etc. because he worked in saw mills. He would not come to San Diego, because he likes it better in the mountains. Do not be in a hurry with senting my plants. As soon, as the check comes from Germany, and Mr. Brandegee will be able to collect the money I wish You would pay him back all the money he has let us have, hoping, that we need not to trouble him any more, I will have a very valuable collection and we will have plenty money after selling it. I am out every day most the time I start early in the morning and come back in the evening. I walk 15-20 miles and more pretty near every day. I think I have collected already 3-500 M. Brandegei or more.

My best regards to Mr. Brandegee and Barrows.

Yours very sincerely C. A. Purpus

I sent You a sample of M. setispina and an other M. which I think is M. Goodrichii.

13 Feb I was on a tour east today and found a Prunus (plum) not ilicifol. and good many other shrubs, which may be new. I also seen a good many of that beautyful ficus all in Granit.

That beautyful Parasite grows also on a Rhus or a shrub, which belongs to Rhus genus. Mr. Mclean was very silly, that he went to Alasca. I expect he comes back broken down. I found today two flowers of that in clumps growing Cereus, they are very nice, but that Cereus has more ribs like a Opuntia, than a Echinocactus or a Mamill.

My brother likes to have the description of Spiraea lucids and arbuscula by Greene in Pittonia and also the newly described Ericaceae the cold[?] regions of North America because he has to write a monographe about them for the dendrolog. society. Could You get it for him? We have to get seeds of that Abies arizonica, which that great? man? "Merriam" has discovered in Arizona, the are crazy for it in Germany.


Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 4/21/1898

[18: 21 April 1898]

Daunt P.O. 21 Apr.


Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

We are going to leave tomorrow. I had to stay a few days longer, because Noller had to feed his animals with barly a few days, sothey will be able to stand that trip better. It is plenty time any how yet, because I think there is some snow left on Greenhorn Pass, although it is very little snow in the mountains this spring. It was snowing in the mountains yesterday, but it melted away again. On the south side of the hills there are hardly any flowers at all, but lots on the north and shadet sides. I send You some seeds with this letter Diplacus etc. I also send You a monograp. of the Cacti which I had here without knowing it. A friend of mine send it from the east some time ago. I keep Yours, because it is marked. I collected some plant around here also Krynitzkia. I hope to find a letter from You at Argus.

Very sincerely Yours

C. A. Purpus.

  Full Size Image Sclerocactus [Echinocactus] polyancistrus. Full Size Image Indian Wells, California. Full Size Image Eriogonum kennedyi var. purpusii, Argus Range, California. Full Size Image Cow skeleton, Nevada.

Locations: Argus. Argus Range. Big Pine. Darwin. Greenhorn Pass. Independence. Indian Wells. Keeler. Lone Pine. Mojave. Owens Valley. Panamint Mountains. Salt Wells. South Fork Kern River. Slate Range. Walker Pass. White Mountains. Sierra la Sal. Rio Colorado.

Articles that refer to this letter:

  • Report By C. A. Purpus On His Expedition To The Desert Areas Of Southern and Western Nevada, Northern Arizona, And Western Utah: 0020
  • C. A. Purpus: His Collecting Trips in the Sierra Nevada and Owens Valley, California, 1896 - 1898: 0300 0310 0320
  • On the Trail, with Purpus, in California: 0430 0440

Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 5/9/1898

[s.n., 2 pp.: 9 May 1898]

Argus Inyo Co. 9/5 98

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

We got to the Argus Range thursday last week and I found Your letter with Mr. Vornberg. Yesterday I received Your other letters and was ever so glad to hear from You and Mr. Brandegee. I also got the papers, film etc. and Mr. Jones publications and a letter. I thank You ever so much for sending the paper it comes very handy for pressing plants after we have read it. I am very sory to say, that there is no flora in the desert and none in the Argus and I am badly dissapointed. the only shrub I have seen in bloom is Your Purshia glandulosa which is covered with flowers and very beautyful. The dryness in these mountains is simply awful I have never seen anything like it. They had neither rain nor snow this winter. I have made a very poor collection, but a fine collection of Cacti. I went out collecting the next day and got a good many E. polycephal. among them a highly interesting variation with white or very light strawcolored spines 14 in one clump, a perfect beauty. Yesterday we have been out collecting E. polyancistrus, Echinoc. Engelmanni and O. rutila? Some of E. polyancistrus have buds, so You will see them in bloom. Today we are going down to the camp and pack the cacti and send them off so You will have them soon. It is no trouble to ship Cacti from here, because there are teams going back and forth to Indian Wells and teams coming from Owens Valley and going to Mojave, which take everything they can get to that place. They all pass Indian Wells. We are going to leave tomorrow morning for Darwin and go from there to Keeler Lone Pine and big pine over the White Mo. in to Nevada and east to Utah. I am anxious to get there, as soon, as possible. We can not travel via Panamint and slate range, because there is no flora at al and no feed for the animals hay is 50$ a tonne, which we can not pay. Sometimes we may not be able to get it at all, but coming back I intend to go that way and also through the Argus to get more Cacti and the bulbs of Caloch. Kenedyi which has not come up at all on acount of the drought. We expect to see water spouts in these Mo. and after that the flowers come up in profusion, so I may have a good fall collecting. I found it the same way 2 years ago going to Owens Valley in Octob. I have made a good colection on South fork of Kern and found a few plant on Walker pass among them a Arabis, which is new to me and a Malvac. which I do not know. E. polyancistr. is very scarce they most of them are dried up. how that comes I do not know I have seen more last year, perhaps Alverson has been after them last fall. It is a great pity, that there is no flora in these Mountains this year. I had made a fine collection of plants I did not get last year. We get to Lone pine sometime this week, please send mail to this place or Independence. We ask on both places and have it forwarded to the next post office. I do not know of any post office in Nevada. At Indian wells I made the acquaintance of Mr. Austin superintendent of the schools in Inyo Co. at Independence. He asked me to see him and his wife, who he says was a enthusiastic botanist. He told me Mrs. Austin had received a beautyful Astragalus from a schoolboy with scarlet flowers he did not know the name. I told him it was very likely Astrag. coccin. Brandegee. Mr. and Mrs. Austin will be very valuable acquaintances also is Geo. Vornberg, a very educated man, who will collect anything we may desire. The seeds of that beautyful Mirabilis I will get next fall but if not Vornberg will collect them some other time. I bring a plant next fall for the garden anyhow. I have send You some samples one with a Cotyledon I found on Greenhorn. I got a letter from the zoologic Garden in Berlin asking for life animals and one from Baron de Saint Paul Illaire (Courtmarshal) for seeds of Ab. Dougl. which have to be collected in Brit.

Colub. Vornberg and Noller will help to get the animals and Noller I am going to send to Brit. Columbia to collect the seeds, because I can't. Mr. Tores[?] can have no plants although he wrote for such. I try the best to press the plants as nice as possible, although it is very hard sometimes on the road. Coming through the desert I had spread some plants our to dry near Salt Wells, covered with rocks. There came a whirlwind and away went one bundle sky high I got the plants and paper again but not in good shape I was raging made about it. We get along first rate. They had rain in Owens Valley, so I hope to make a colection going through there. I write again from Keeler or Lone Pine. My best regards to Mr. Brandegee and Barrows. Very sincerely Yours C. A. Purpus

Maps will be of great value to us.

I packed the Cacti, as good, as I could. packing material is not to have in this Godforsaken country I had to pay 75 cent for that box--it is awful.

It is a great pity to see the cattle starve to dead on the desert, but it is a frolic for me to see the sheep die there will be about half of them left next fall which is a good thing.

I do not know if we have to cross the Rio Colorado going to the Sierra la Sal, but will find it out soon by Vornberg, who has been all over that country.

I think it will be best, if You write to Agent in Mojave that You pay the freight otherwise he may not ship the Cacti.

  Full Size Image Palmetto, Nevada. Full Size Image Gold Mountain area from north end of Death Valley, California.

Locations: Allida. Dead Valley. Gold Mountain. Mount Magruder. Mt. Palmetto. Palmetto Mine. Stonewall Mountains.

Articles that refer to this letter:

  • C. A. Purpus: His Collecting Trips in the Sierra Nevada and Owens Valley, California, 1896 - 1898: 0370
  • On the Trail, with Purpus, in California: 0470

Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 5/28/1898

[s.n.: 28 May 1898]

Allida 28/5 98


Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

We had to stay here pretty near 8 days--I mean at the Palmetto Mine--because one of the animals had a very sore neck, which is not yet healed, but we leave tomorrow for the Amargosa desert and las Vegas etc. I have been on Mt. Palmetto, Magruder etc also in dead Valley. I must say that the whole mountain range is a perfect paradise for botanists at the right time and I guess I got here just in time, although for the high mountain flora it is much to early. I have made a wonderful collection and one of the most interesting I have ever made. It is a great pity, that my time is so limited. In dead Valley I have found a beautyful Pentstemon, flowers deep red and about 2-3 feet high. afterwards I found it also near the mine. I send You some plants of it tomorrow by mail as samples. I also found a Pentst. similar to P. Palmeri, but different in leaves and habitus. E. polyancistrus is more plentyful here than anywhere else and I sent You a box today full of the nicest spec. I could get with flowers. I also found C. mojavensis C. Engelm. O. pulchella, O. rutila the last one by 10,000 yet. E. polyan. by 6-8000 and almost hardy. What do You think about that. You find all these Cacti in the box I also sent a box with dry plants. I found ab. a dozen Krinytzkias, a Rosaceae (shrub) which I do not know--leaves fascicled like those of P. fasciculat, but flowers small greenish yellow, what is it? In a Caon near dead Valley I found a Celtis (C. occident perhaps). I also found Lewisia rediv. and sent a sample of it it is very abundant on Mt. Palmetto. I also got some beautyful Astragali, one in dead Valley.

Very sincerely Yours

C. A. Purpus

I have very valuable acquaintances here Mr. Mr. Conell[?] and Leominsko[?].

That Rosac. is not Coleogyne of course! I expect You have sent mail to Big Pine etc. I write today for it. It is a great pity that I can not go in to the Stonewall Mountains but they are out of my way.


Locations: Big Pine. Amargosa Desert. Candelaria. Dead Valley. Gold Mountains. Oriental. Pahrump. Palmetto Range. Stateline Mine. Saint Thomas. Sierra la Sal. Saint George.

Articles that refer to this letter:

  • C. A. Purpus: His Collecting Trips in the Sierra Nevada and Owens Valley, California, 1896 - 1898: 0380 0390
  • On the Trail, with Purpus, in California: 0480 0490

Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 6/2/1898

[s.n.: 2 June 1898]

Oriental P.O. Nevada 2/6 98

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

We are near Oriental in the Gold Mountains northeast of Dead Valley and leave tomorrow for the Amargosa Pahrump etc. We camp at the Stateline mine, which is shut down for many years and I have rooms to dry my plants, to separate them etc as large, as Your herbarium and this is a very great accomodation because outside I could do nothing the wind is blowing sometimes so strong, that it takes our plates away, since yesterday the wind is going down and also the cold. A few days ago it was fearful cold again I do not know how it comes. In the building where I dry my plants I have about 8 tables. I hardly think, that I will find an other place like this. Mr. Stewart who is watching the property of the Compagny is a very nice man and he takes a pleasure to help me in my work he is also a very valuable acquaintance for the future. He brought me some nice variations of C. Engelmanni after one spec. he sent out a squaw to get it. He also knows places where is thousands of Calochort. aureus or C. Kennedyi V. aur. On account of the very dry season it has not come up this year, so he will have them collect for us next year by squaws. He sent out a squaw after it but she could not find a single stem. I have made a other very interesting collection. The flowers are very plentyful on certain places, although it is very dry. I found a good many plants, which are new to me. The whole mountain region east of dead valley although very dry seems to be a wonderful country to botanize. I have found a very interesting Gilia in Trachyt, which seems to be very local and scarce. it is a Annual. The leaves are thick like those of a Sedum, violet, the flowers small and light violet too. It may be a new species. I also found 2 different Arenarias,Astragalus, Oenothera with small yellow flowers very nice and lots of other things. Please let me know what the last number of my plants is, I forgot to write it down. The best thing is to sent mail now to St. Georg Utah. Do not sent paper. I got a piles of old newspaper from Mr. Stewart I have not got my mail yet. The stage goes only once a weak to Candelaria. If I get a box I sent another bundle of plants and also Cacti.

Yours very sincerely C. A. Purpus

It is a big difference between these mountains and that Big sheep Pasture called Sierra Nevada, here are no sheep at all, because they can not come them in and that is the reason I make such a fine collection.

E. polyancistrus is about as plentyful, as it is in the Palmetto Range.

I am sure to get a very interesting collection of plants, Cacti etc anyhow, which is also of great value.

N. b. I am short on money. I have not got the mail from Big Pine yet, please sent some money to St. Thomas Nevada but not as a money order which are allways sent to bigger places where we do not go.

I had no other paper than this. I do not know, if we get to the Sierra la Sal because the roads we took and have to take are in a horrible condition and partly very sandy so we have to travel slow.


Locations: Kingman. Amargosa Desert. Ash Meadows. Charleston Mountains. Muddy. Pahranagat Range. Sheep Mountains. Saint Thomas. Vegas Desert. Beaver Dam Mountains. Saint George.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 7/4/1898

[s.n.: 4 July 1898]

St. Thomas 4/July 98

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I got here today and we are on the way to St George and the Beaver dam Mount, but I expect I can get any farther this time. We had to go over horrible sands, nobody has an Idea, so we had to proceed very slow. I am very sorry, because we ought to have the hardy Cacti. My brother writes, that him and Prof Schenk of the high school [university] have made a petition to the Ministerium [government department] (You know what that is) and I expect we can introduce the Cacti next year He writes it is to late this year any how. Now about the money, that matter will be arranged very soon It could not be fixed some so I will have plenty money to pay all expenses do not be alarmed. I am sorry to say that there is nothing to collect in the deserts and valleys this year. I have been in the Charleston Mo. but only a few days, it is a pity, that I could not stay longer, because it was fine collecting there . I found M. deserti O. chlorant. and an other beautyful Mamill the most beautyful in flower I have ever seen. There are also beautyful Oenotheras which are of great value, but I could not get seeds of them. If there is no good collecting in the Beaverdam, we go north to the Pahranagat etc. We had to cross horrible deserts, so for example the Amargosa, then the Vegas desert. It was no collecting these mt, because the[y] had no rain. I collected a few things at Ash meadows so Oxystylis in bloom and seeds than Argemone Meriami, but only plants. I found also nice collecting in the Sheep Mount. on the way to Vegas. I think I found some new plants there so for example a shrub which belongs to the Philadelphus genus flowers in a false umbl. I also found Chilopsis. I guess I have about 500 Numbers now. My brother writes that Dammann[?] is all right, so he can send things to him. The garden takes Cacti and also does Prof. Schumann, who is helping to get the petition through. I send two boxes of plants and Cacti from Vegas I hope You will get them allright. I do not know, how it comes, that You did not get the Cacti from Argus, will write to Vornberg about it today. The high school takes also all medical plants and the gum of the cones of Sequoia, which they are analyzing just now. I send an other box today to Kingman Arizona from here. I guess I have money enough to do me for a while.

Please excuse my bad writing. I was in a hurry.

My best regards to Mr. Brandegee

Very sincerely Yours

C. A. Purpus

I send You also E.Wisliz. leConte which I found on the east slope of the Charleston Mo. and other E. which I got on the Muddy it looks like E. Wisliz. but has different spines a you will see

  Full Size Image St. George, Utah.

Locations: Beaverdam. Charleston Mountains. Pahranagat Range. Panaca. Virgin River. Virgin Range. Beaver Dam Mountains. Juniper Mountains. Saint George.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 7/10/1898

[s.n.: 10 July 1898]

St. George 13/7 98

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

We got here today and I found Your letter and money order. Everything is allright. We came over the Beaver dam Mount. from Beaverdam On the Western slopes I found E. Johnsoni very abundant, so I would have able to collect a wagonload, if we had had room enough on the Wagon. They had no rain here, so my collect. from this part of Utah will be a very small one. I will try to get M. tetrancistra. Mr. Johnson wrote me where to find it on Your request. I see no use of going any farther east, because it will not pay, so we turn around and go north to Panaca through the Juniper Range Pahranagat etc. There is no collecting in the Beaver Dam so it is of no use to go there and spend money for nothing. Coming up the Virgin River I made a short trip in to the Virgin Range I made a very small collection, but found a few things which may be of interest for Example a Ptelea and different other plants which I do not know. If I knew, that the flora was such a poor one here I had stayed in one of those northern mountain Ranges and collected there, but we are here now and I can do nothing. I sent You an other box with cacti and plants from here, hoping You will get it allright. That Mamillaria I found in the Charleston Mo. is very likely M. radiosa. I found one in the Beaverdams similar, if not the same. I collected also Agave utahensis, as You will see, and seeds of the same. It is very hot here and I got sick coming through the Virgin River Country by drinking that bad water. I am over it again now. I hope to have better collecting north. I am going after M. tetrancistra today hoping to find it. I expect our petition will be granted, so we can send Cacti to Germany. I am very sorry about the dead of Your friend, who was he? I expect to write You an other letter in a few days, if we stay here long enough, if not from Panaca Nevada.

Very sincerely Yours,

C. A. Purpus.


Locations: Manwell. Highland Range. Lida. Pahranagat Range. Palmetto Range. Panaca. Diamond Valley. Juniper Mountains. Pine Valley. Pine Valley Mountains.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 7/17/1898

[19: 17 July 1898]

Diamond Valley 17/7 98

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I have been on the Pine Valley Mountains yesterday it is about 20 miles walk from here. The flora is allmost like that of Colorado and the slopes and meadows are covered with flowers especially Pentstemon Frasera, Calochortus, Gilia etc. but there are a good many which I dit not see in Colorado at all and which seem to be confined to the Utah mountains, so for example a Pentstemon (suufrutex) which is a very nice one and which I have seen nowhere else. I made a pretty good collection. In the lower country is nothing at all or very few flowers on sheltered places I hope to make a nice collection going northwest. They had more rain there and a man who came that way told me, that the mountains were covered with flowers. We are going over the Juniper and Highland Ranges to Pahranagat as I have already told You. The expenses are more, as I thought the would be, but still I expect to get out allright. It is very warm here, but not so hot as I found it in St. Georg the water is better too. We are going to leave for Pine Valley the day after tomorrow and proceed farther on northwest. I hope to get over the desert allright. We can have very little water, but I expect we do not need so much, as we did in the Vegas and Amargosa deserts, because we do not have more than between 20-30 miles between water in the Amargosa we had 50 miles to go with out water and in the Vegas the same. We are going back via Lida and Palmetto Range, because I have to collect seeds there. I collect all the seeds I can get Pentstemon and everything Tomorrow I collect Cowania Mexicana on the Mountain slopes, which is of value because I think it is hardy. I have not found M. tetrancistra yet and I think it goes farther south. That man would not tell me where to find it. I found an Opuntia in the mountains, which has the flowers like O. basilaris, but has spines. I write more from Panaca.

Very sincerely Yours C. A. Purpus.

That place Manwell is in San Bernardino Co. I send there two boxes of plants. Milford is in Utah on a branch of the Union Pacif.


Locations: Benett Spring. Charleston Mountains. Gold Mountain. Highland Peak. Highland Range. Hyko. Lida. Pahroc Range. Pahroc Spring. Palmetto Mountain. Ralston Desert. Sheep Mountains. Stateline Mine. Cane Springs Mountains. Diamond Valley. Juniper Mountains. Mountain Meadows Mountains. Pine Valley. Saint George.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 8/1/1898

[s.n., 2 pp.: 1 August 1898]

Pahroc Spring 1/8 98

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

We got here today and proceed tomorrow to Hyko. The last letter I wrote You from Diamond Valley and I expect You have received it. From Hyko I intend to cross the Ralston desert, if possible. The heat is fearful and crossing such a desert without a good amount of water is dangerous. I got a 20 gallon barrel, which I hope will do. I stopped two days at Benett spring 28 miles from here from there I made a short tour in to the Highland range and Highland Peak. The collection I have made was not a big one but I guess a good one. The Peak is 9700 feet high and about 12-15 miles from the spring, so I made about 30 miles that day a foot. I found a Abronia on top of the mountain, which is new to me, the same shrub (Philadelphus species) or close to it) I have met in the Sheep Mount. Different Eriogonum, Pentstemon, etc. etc. I also saw C. mojavea which seems to grow everywhere in the Western Utah and Eastern Nevada Mount. Around Benett spring I found M. deserti, I collected a good many and asked Mr. Smith who lives there to collect for us if we need them. from Pine Valley north of Diamond Valley I made a trip in to the Cane spring Mo. and got a good many plants which are new to me. We stopped there on the place of Mr. Mandsleys, a very nice family. They are willing to collect too if we need their help. I have seen only M. radiosa around there. I also made a nice collections going over the Juniper Mountains between Utah and Nevada (Panaca), so I think I will have about 6-7000 specimen. I had twice as much if it was not so dry, but we have to be satisfied. I collected a good many seeds too, Cowania mex. at 5-6000 and 6-7000, Falugia paradoxa at 5-6000, Peraphyll. ramoss. at 5-6000 and higher a good many Pentstemon etc etc. so I guess it will pay us after all We go to Lida and up Palmetto, where I collect some more seeds, Cacti, etc. I got a good many seeds of Agave utah, which I think is new in cultivation. I hope You have received the 5 boxes I have sent from different places. Two bundles of plants are still at Gold Mo. (Stateline mill) in care of good old Mr. Stewart one of the best and most honest man I have even met. The mormons I am glad to say treated me very nice, better as I have expected and better than the gentiles we have met. It is true I think that the Mormon church is a holy terror, but their believers (I do not include the ministers etc) are a good honest people as a rule--If John Riding is not colecting Cacti for us, so Mr. Snow (storekeeper and Mormon) in Saint Georg will find some one else I spoke to him about it. This after noon if the heat goes down a little I make a trip in to the Pahrok range it is a Porphy range and I expect to make a good collection, if the plants have not dried out entirely. I found that beautyful Verbena I have collected in the Charleston Mount. also in the Mountain meadow Mountains and Cane Spring. Mountain meadows is the place w[h]ere the Mormons ? masacred those 100 Emigrants 30-40 years ago, as You will know. I have seen the monument build around their bones. Did You send me some more film and has Nettie got the eggs? I have not received a letter from her since march I guess it was. Around Pahroc Spring grows a good many Celtis very likely C. occidental. I have not seen fruiting specimens, but will look again this evening. I hope to be in Lida in about 10 days if nothing happens to us in the desert. We are about 20 miles from Hyko yet, where I find a post-office to mail my letter. I have got back from the Pahroc Mo. with a small but interesting collection. I have found a very interesting Ivesia [Purpusia saxosa] in the crevices of rocks etc.

I write more some other time

Very sincerely Yours

C. A. Purpus.


Locations: Oasis. Ash Meadows. Belmont. Charleston Mountains. Hiko. Hot Creek Valley. Morey Peak. Mount Irish. Pancake Range. Quinn Canyon Range. Stone Cabin. Twin Springs.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 8/10/1898

[s.n.: 9-10 August 1898]

Twin Spring

9/8 98

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

I got here day before yesterday on my way to Stone Cabin and from there to Lida. We are not going by the way of the Ralston desert, because it is impossible but we are going around it. I have made several trips up Mt. Irish where I have made a good harvest I found all the seeds of those beautyful Oenotheras I collected in the Charleston Mountains and got a good quantity of them. I am very glad of it. I also made a good collection of different plants which are new to me. For this country around here it is much to late, because it is very dry, but I found a good many plants which I did not get somewhere else. I have found an other Ivesia perhaps I. eremica which was found by the [Death Valley] Expedition only on one place at Ash Meadows I was surprised to find M. deserti here too, but scarce I also found an Opuntia which resembles O. pulchella, but has a [?-o--y?] stem like a tree Opuntia, perhaps is is a variation of O. pulchella. It is a great pity, that I could not collect in the Quinns Caon Range, because I think it is a fine place for different plants, but we had no feed for the animals so we had to move on. All those Mountains Ranges in this part of Nevada seem to be a Paradise for botanists at the right time. I found a very interesting Bebbia in the Pankake Range northeast from here, which I have seen no where, perhaps it is new. On Mt. Irish I found a Arenaria[?] which is of great interest. it grows on rocks in tufts and has small yellow flowers, which resemble those of an Ivesia. That mountain is a wonderful place to collect in early summer I have six bundles of dry plants to send off which I will sent from Oasis (Mono Co. Cal). I expect I will have about 700 Numbers now. I had 504 today dry and will have more than 200 more when dry I found three more Pentstemons and got also seeds of them two I found on Mt Irish, but not in bloom. I found Cowania mexic. on Mt. Irish at 7-8000 feet alt. and got seeds of it. I was very much surprised to find that beautyful shrub so high and very abundant too. I also found there Cercocarpus intricatus very abundant. I got seeds of it too.

Hot Creek Valley 10/8 [continuation of preceeding letter]

We are on the way to Belmont at Twin Spring I met Mr. Williams on whose place we are camping now a very nice man and valuable acquaintance--his daughter is collecting plants--who invited me to come to his place, so I did and stay here perhaps a few days. I may make a trip up Morey peak the highest mountain in this range, because I think to find a good many plants there. Mr. Williams is going with us to show us the road. I found here M. deserti too and it seems to me that this Cactus is found all over the Central Nevada Mountains, other Cacti I have not seen yet. If it is not to much trouble for You, so I ask You to send me my shoes I have left to Oasis (Mono Co. Calif.) because I am almost shoeless. I expect You have received money, so You have been able to sent me 30-40$ to Oasis. The socks You have made me are pretty near all full of seeds.

Very sincerely Yours

C. A. Purpus

I have made an other valuable acquaintance in Hiko, it is Mr. Louis Stern a man of high education, he studied law at Heidelberg Germany and is justice of peace at Hiko now. he will furnish us all information etc., but I think the acquaintance of Mr. Williams is of more value to us.


Locations: Bridgeport. Mono Lake. Oasis. San Diego. Sonora. White Mountains. Candelaria. Dead Valley. Lida. Mount Magruder. Oriental. Palmetto. Pipers. San Antonia. Silver Peak. Stateline Mine.  

Carl A. Purpus to Katherine Brandegee, 8/30/1898

[s.n.: 30 August 1898]

Palmetto Nevada 30/8 98

Dear Mrs. Brandegee!

We got to Oasis (Pipers) last sunday there I found all your letters and also the money, You were so kind to sent me. I was very glad to hear from You again and thank You for sending the money. I am delighted to hear, that we can ship Cacti to Germany we are allright now, or course I did not doubt it, that we would get permission but was not quite sure of it.--I found Oxystylis again near Silver Peak in the desert in full bloom and was able to collect better specimens. I also found a very interesting Cruciferae near San Antonia, which I kept to be a Clemolla but it is a Cruciferae, on the same place I found a Pentstemon (desert species), but got only seeds of it. Coming up from Silver Peak I have got a good many seeds of that beautyful pentstemon I found in May near dead Valley, which are of great value. I think I have seeds now of about 6-8 different Pentst. which are not yet in cultivation. Today I have been on Mt. Magruder there I found an Opuntia, which resembles O. rutila but spines and fruit are different. I got a good many beautyful specimens of E. polyancistrus and also some fruit but very little, I was to late. I collected specimens joints etc. of all the Cacti I have found, but I did not sent them yet, we brought them with us to Pipers and from there I send them by Wills to Candelaria. I also found seeds of Spirea caespitosa on Mt. Magruder but do not know if they are ripe or not. We are going from here to Lida and Stateline mill to get my plants and Cacti I left there with Mr. Stewart and to collect seeds of that wonderful dark blue Pentstemon I found near Oriental. From there we come back to Palmetto, go to Pipers and over the White Mountains to Mono Lake from there to Bridgeport and over the Sierra to Sonora. I expect I will be back in the latter part of next month. I expect to find C. mojavensis at a high altitude in the White Mountains so it will be hardy.--I am very sorry, that my brother was very sick, my sister sick too and Lascha my niece had Diptheria and had to be taken to the [rest of letter missing]

We can import Cacti from Mexico too of course, if not we get a permission to do so, or send from San Diego.

I collected joints and fruit of that O. of course.

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Date and time this article was prepared: 6/7/2002 7:33:38 PM