Letter from Constantine Rafinesque to Charles Wilkins Short, 20 November 1819



Letter from Constantine Rafinesque to Charles Wilkins Short, 20 November 1819


Letter from Constantine Rafinesque to Charles Wilkins Short, in which he writes of his discovery of new plants in Kentucky. He names a plant after Dr. Short, and asks him for more plant samples.


Short, Charles Wilkins (1793-1863) Papers, 1802-1869, Filson Historical Society






Mss. A S559 f84


[in margin] 124 21a

Dr. Short Lexington 20th Nov 1819 Hopkinsville ---

Dear Sir I was in hopes to hear from you, since you must have [strikethrough illegible] known that I was here. -- I returned last Summer & explored during the Seson part of Kentucky, where I have as usual made many discoveries, as well as on the mountains. I found among many others the following new plants in Kentucky --

Melothria nigra [illegible] [illegible] Cacalia ponniculata Mostly from the Cliffs of the Kentucky River Curnus obliqua Betula rupestris [illegible]

There two last are described in the Western Magazine published here by Mr. Hunt & and club of literary gentlemen. I never heard if you rec'd lately my remarks on the fine [illegible] of plants, you sent me last year. I have since taken the liberty to publish one of them, in the American Journal of Science, under the name of [illegible Myosurus?} Shortii, dedicating the same to you.

Have you collected any thing this year for me? I should be highly gratified to hear it. If so send them on whenever an opportunity shall offer. I shall send you my remarks on them, and shall probably publish them under your name at some future period. Meantime please to remember me in all your future Herboriations.

I have just seen a new species of Gentian, which may be called Gentiana serpentonia. It was sent from Indiana as a powerful cure for rattlesnake's bites, and [insertion] it [end insertion] even throws them into stupor - So it is said.

I have lately found near Lexington the common mistletoe of Kentucky in full blossum, and ascertained that it is an undescribed species, I sh
call it Vircum, it differs from all others by being moical & triandrous. Pray have you more than one species with you.

You have heard of our new Medical School. The Lectures have lately begun, and mine also on Natural History of Botany.

Ms Clifford has found this Summer a great quantity of new fossils, pray are any found in your neighborhood? What are the fishes of your brooks? your land & water shells. What Snakes & Lizards hav you in the Barrens.

If you send me some account of your Natural Curiousities, I may if you like, communicate them to our Literary Club & publish them in the Western Review & Magazine.

Have you any Indian Monuments in your vicinity & which? We have just discovered 2 1/2 miles East of Lexington, an ancient Town of the Alleghanee Nation, surrounded by and earthen wall & an outside ditch, it is 2 miles in Circumference & of an irregular shape.

Mr Clifford is now writing on that subject, he has proved that many of those ancient monuments were Temples; but some were also Forts, Towns, Sepulchral Monuments &. He thinks that the Alleghanee Nation was one of the Mexican tribes, & originary from India, which is likely enough. The name of the Alleghanee was given by the Lenape Indians to the Nation inhabiting formerly the Western States & which they drove away, as [Heckenvelder?] has lately disclosed.

Pray, command me freely, in return for the favours I crave from you. Your first fascicular of Plants was so acceptable, that I long to see another. I want particularly Vernal plants, as I have not visited the Barrens nor indeed the West. States in the Spring or at least in May, except near Pittsburgh.

Have you seen Nuttall's Work. It is a good one, but has some blemishes. I wrote a long review of it, with corrections & I have one to spare for you, if you should wish to have it.
I am now going to publish my Natural history of the fishes of the Ohio, abt. 100 Species of which [?] are new! it shallappear in the Western Magaze. but I shall print some apart to send abroad.

Next year my Travels in the West. St. will appear at Pittsburgh. It [has?] been delayed by the hard times!

I so many new discoveries to publish & so little time to spare since I have to write all my lectures; that I cannot do all what I wish & must now have off from the pleasure of conversing with you.

Believe me Dr Sir respectfully Yours C. S. Rafinisque Prof. Boty. & Nat. hist, in [?] [?]
Prof: Rafinesque 20th Nov. 1819

18 1/2

Dr. C. Short Hopkinsville Christian County


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Rafinesque, Constantine, “Letter from Constantine Rafinesque to Charles Wilkins Short, 20 November 1819,” The Filson Historical Society Digital Projects, accessed July 13, 2024, https://filsonhistorical.omeka.net/items/show/5167.