Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/859

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839
SKETCH OF ALEXANDER WINCHELL.

On the Importance of the Study of Natural History, read before the State Teachers' Association in 1856, he advocated the introduction of that subject into the Union schools and the lower classes of the colleges. In the fall of 1857 he opened a class in comparative osteology. A geological survey of the State of Michigan having been ordered, he was commissioned as its director, and began, in 1859, with one assistant, the examination of the southern part of the lower peninsula. He fixed the position of the salt waters of East Saginaw to within two feet of their actual level, and in his report, published in August, 1861, fully anticipated the vast development of the salt interest in the Saginaw Valley. The official survey was suspended by the breaking out of the civil war, but the paleontological investigations were carried on privately. Prof. Winchell pointed out the gypsum bed near Tawas, which had been pronounced barren, but has proved marvelously rich; studied the "Marshall group" and its relations with the Chemung; investigated the cherry slug and currant worm; published numerous geological papers and an address on the soils and subsoils of Michigan, in which he insisted on the agricultural value of the pine lands; studied the oil-producing regions of the United States and Canada; and published a report on the Grand Traverse region, and a paper on the fruit-bearing belt of Michigan, in which attention was first called to the influence of Lake Michigan in ameliorating the climate of the State and prolonging the growing period. The Geological Survey of Michigan was reorganized in 1869, and Prof. Winchell was again appointed its director. He had learned much during the interval since the survey was suspended, as our enumeration shows, in his private travels for economical surveys, of the rock structure and physical features of the State. In 1871 he had prepared a preliminary report; but hostile political and personal influences had been working against him, and the appropriation for printing the report failed to pass the Legislature. He resigned his position, and the report, embodying the results of two seasons of field work in the lower peninsula, largely remains unpublished. A part of the material intended for it was condensed for Walling's Atlas of Michigan, and these memoirs were afterward collected in a volume, accompanied by topographical, geological, and isothermal charts.

In 1873 Prof. Winchell was called to the position of Chancellor of Syracuse University. He held it only for about one year, when the anticipated financial resources of the institution having shrunken considerably in the actuality, and he having been asked to take part in public efforts to augment the endowment, he resigned it. He had been told that the authorities of the institution had been attracted to him by his scientific reputation,