Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Newberry, John Strong
NEWBERRY, John Strong, geologist, b. in Windsor, Conn., 22 Dec., 1822; d. in New Haven, Conn., 7 Dec., 1892. He was graduated at Western reserve college in 1846, and at Cleveland medical college in 1848, after which he spent nearly two years in study and travel abroad. Early in 1851 he settled in Cleveland, and there began the practice of medicine, which he continued until 1855. In May of that year he was appointed acting assistant surgeon and geologist to the exploring party under Lieut. Robert S. Williamson that was sent to examine the country between San Francisco and Columbia river, and his reports on the geology, botany, and zoölogy of northern California are contained in the sixth volume of the “Reports of Explorations and Surveys to ascertain the most Practical and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, made in 1853-'6” (Washington, 1857). He accompanied Lieut. Joseph C. Ives in the exploration and navigation of Colorado river. Entering at its mouth, the party ascended it by steamer 500 miles to the entrance of the great cañon, and spent nearly a year in exploring the cañon above this point. His observations formed the most interesting material that was gathered by the expedition, and fully half of the “Report upon the Colorado River of the West explored in 1857-8” (Washington, 1861) was written by him. On the completion of this work Dr. Newberry was assigned to an expedition for the exploration of the San Juan and upper Colorado rivers under the command of Capt. John N. Macomb. In this service he spent the summer of 1859 in travelling over parts of southern Colorado, Utah, northern Arizona, and New Mexico, studying a large area of country that was before unknown, but has since proved to be rich in minerals and to be covered with the traces of an ancient civilization. This information, whose publication was long delayed, was incorporated in a “Report of the Exploring Expedition from Santa Fe to the Junction of the Grand and Green Rivers” (Washington, 1876). He was elected a member of the U. S. sanitary commission on 14 June, 1861, although still on duty in the war department. His medical knowledge and experience in the army led to his becoming an important member of that commission. The first sanitary inspection of troops in the west was made at Cairo, Ill., by him, in connection with Rev. Henry W. Bellows and Dr. William H. Mussey. In September, 1861, he resigned from the army and became secretary of the western department of the U. S. sanitary commission, having supervision of all the work of the commission in the valley of the Mississippi, with headquarters in Louisville, Ky. The first distributing depot in the west was opened in Wheeling, W. Va., on 8 Oct., and was the source from which the hospitals at Wheeling, Clarksburg, Parkersburg, and other military points were supplied with a large part of their equipment. Dr. Newberry organized the whole of the comprehensive machinery of the commission in the large section that was committed to his care, and by his practical suggestions and enthusiasm stimulated the formation of the tributary societies. From 1 Sept., 1861, till 1 July, 1866, he expended more than $800,000 in money, and distributed hospital stores that were valued at more than $5,000,000. During this time the names of more than 850,000 soldiers were collected and recorded in the hospital directory in Louisville, Ky., and food and shelter were given in the various homes of the commission to more than 1,000,000 soldiers, for whom no other adequate provision was made. A full account of this work is given in his report of “The U. S. Sanitary Commission in the Valley of the Mississippi” (Cleveland, 1871). After the war he was appointed professor of geology and paleontology at the Columbia college school of mines, and took charge of that department in the autumn of 1866. This chair he afterward continued to hold, and during his connection with this institution he created a museum of over 100,000 specimens, principally collected by himself, which serve to illustrate his lectures in paleontology and economic geology. It contains the best representations of the mineral resources of the United States to be found anywhere, as well as many unique and remarkable fossils. In 1869 Dr. Newberry was appointed state geologist of Ohio, which office he filled during the continuation of the survey, and made reports on all of the counties of the state. The results of his work are given in nine volumes, of which six are on the geology, two on the paleontology, and one on the zoölogy of the state, with a large number of geological maps. After the completion of that survey he was associated in the work of the New Jersey geological survey, and reported “On the Fossil Fishes and Plants of the Trias,” and “On the Flora of the Amboy Clays” of that state. In 1884 he was appointed paleontologist to the U. S. geological survey, and had charge of parts of the fossil botany and fishes, concerning which he prepared a monograph on the “Paleozoic Fishes of North America,” and on the fossil plants of the cretaceous and tertiary rocks of the far west. Dr. Newberry was consulted as an expert with reference to mining property, and he travelled extensively for that purpose through the mining districts of the United States. During the World's fair in Philadelphia in 1876 he was one of the judges, and in 1867 he received the degree of LL. D. from Western reserve college. In January, 1888, the Geological society of London conferred on him its Murchison medal. He was a member of scientific societies, both in the United States and Europe. In 1863 he was named by congress one of the corporate members of the National academy of sciences, and in 1867 he was president of the American association for the advancement of science, delivering his retiring address on “Modern Scientific Investigation; its Methods and Tendencies.” He held the office of president of the New York academy of sciences since 1867, and was also president of the Torrey botanical club. Besides the volumes that have been mentioned, Dr. Newberry's separate papers contributed to various sources include upward of 200 titles, chiefly in the departments of geology and paleontology, but also in zoölogy and botany.