Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/419

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SKETCH OF MOSES ASHLEY CURTIS.

SKETCH OF MOSES ASHLEY CURTIS.

THE Rev. Moses Ashley Curtis, D. D., presents the example of a clergyman who, doing hard pioneer missionary work in the mountains of North Carolina, and caring actively and efficiently for the wants of his parish, brought the botany of his State to a full development. Making that study his pastime and recreation, "he found pleasure in the quiet of the fields and forests, and, without ever a thought of becoming a scientific botanist, amassed a wealth of knowledge and won an exalted position among the botanists of the world." His services to science have, nevertheless, been unaccountably overlooked. Although he was in constant co-operation with the most distinguished specialist in the world on fungi, although he contributed more than any other man to the knowledge of the botany of North Carolina, and particularly of its mountain-region, and was continually consulted and relied upon for information by Dr. Gray and other American botanists, his name does not appear in any cyclopædia or publicly circulated work. Our data for the present account of his career are derived from a sketch of his botanical work prepared by Dr. Thomas F. Wood, of Wilmington, N. C, and read by him before the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society of the University of North Carolina, in 1885.

Dr. Curtis was born in Stockbridge, Mass., May 11, 1808, and died in Hillsborough, N. C., in 1872. He was graduated from Williams College in 1827, and in 1830 became a tutor in the family of Governor Dudley, at Wilmington, N. C. He returned to Massachusetts in 1833, and spent two years in studying for the ministry, under the Rev. William Croswell. He returned to the South in the latter part of 1834, was married in December of that year, and, having continued his theological studies under the Rev. Dr. R. B. Drane, was ordained a clergyman in the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1835. He immediately entered upon mission-work in western North Carolina, from Charlotte to the mountain country as far north as Morganton. Leaving this work at the end of 1836, he was engaged as a teacher in the Episcopal school at Raleigh during 1837 and 1838 and till May, 1839. During 1840 he performed missionary work about Washington, in Beaufort County; then, in 1841, became settled in Hillsborough for six years; removed, in 1847, to Society Hill, S. C, where he resided for nine years; and returned, in 1856, to Hillsborough, which was his home for the remainder of his life.

The first mention of Mr. Curtis's field studies in botany is associated with his residence and tutorship in Wilmington, where he devoted his leisure hours to the examination of the flora of the