John Kirk Townsend
290mm x 230mm, 400 pages, approx 350 illustrations (300 in colour), 10 maps, 4
flow charts, 18 appendices and extensive bibliography.
Collector of Audubon’s Western Birds and Mammals
This new book is the first in-depth biography of J.K.Townsend (1809-1851) an ornithologist from Philadelphia who crossed the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River in 1834 and made two visits to the Hawaiian Islands. He returned home with a great haul of bird and mammal specimens: Townsend’s Warbler, Townsend’s Chipmunk, Townsend’s Ground Squirrel, Townsend’s Mole etc. that were used by John James Audubon in the preparation of his Birds of America and Viviparous Quadrupeds.
The heart of this book is an exciting new presentation of Townsend’s Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky Mountains, to the Columbia River, and a visit to the Sandwich Islands, Chili &c (1839). Although there have been several editions of the Narrative this version includes new material from Townsend’s original journal, is the first to be fully illustrated and the first to include Audubon paintings of the very specimens that Townsend collected.
Barbara and Richard Mearns also examine Townsend’s Quaker upbringing, track him on his journey westwards, provide a modern zoological commentary on his discoveries, trace his troubled career, and discuss his association with Audubon and the major contribution that Townsend made to his famous works.
It is essential reading for those with an interest in – early Western travels and the Oregon Trail – the wildlife of the Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest – the history of ornithology and the contribution of Audubon, Bachman, Nuttall and Townsend – the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia and the National Institute at Washington – Quaker naturalists.
“John K. Townsend was evidently a genius whom force of circumstances prevented from reaching his proper place in ornithological annals.” Witmer Stone, The Condor 1916.
|i-x||Preface and Acknowledgements. Abbreviations|
|9-30||Part 1 John Kirk Townsend|
|9-12||1. Townsend and Audubon – two very different characters|
|13-24||2. Townsend’s early life in Philadelphia|
|25-28||3. Townsend and Nuttall set off westwards|
|29-265||Part 2 Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky Mountains, to the Columbia River, and a visit to the Sandwich Islands, Chili, &c. by J.K. Townsend|
|33-50||1. First steps to Independence|
|51-72||2. Independence to Laramie’s Fork|
|73-86||3. Laramie’s Fork to Green River|
|87-98||4. Green River to Fort Hall|
|99-114||5. Fort Hall to Boise River|
|115-129||6. Across the Blue Mountains to Fort Walla Walla|
|131-138||7. Fort Walla Walla to Fort Vancouver|
|139-154||8. Fort Vancouver and the lower Columbia River|
|155-173||9. First visit to the Hawaiian Islands, 1835|
|174-202||10. Return to the Columbia River|
|203-237||11. The Columbia River, 1836|
|238-252||12. Second visit to the Hawaiian Islands, 1837|
|253-265||13. Homeward bound|
|266-317||Part 3 Townsend’s later life|
|266-280||1. Audubon paints Townsend’s birds|
|281-290||2. Townsend in Philadelphia|
|291-306||3. At the National Institute|
|307-317||4. Philadelphia once more|
|318-324||1. Townsend’s natural history collections|
|325-326||2. New birds and mammals in the Townsend collection|
|327||3. Tolmie List, 15th November 1836|
|328-331||4. Derby List. Lord Derby’s catalogue of birds, 16th June 1838|
|332||5. McEuen List. Thomas McEuen and J.K. Townsend, 25th October 1839|
|333-336||6. Townsend’s numbered catalogue of bird specimens|
|337-349||7A. Birds seen and collected by Townsend and Nuttall on the overland journey from Missouri to the Pacific, the voyages between the Columbia River and the Hawaiian Islands, and Nuttall’s visit to California|
|350-354||7B. Mammals seen and collected by Townsend on the overland journey from Missouri to the Pacific|
|355-356||8. Where and when did Townsend collect his Swainson’s Hawks?|
|357-359||9. The Columbia River bird report given by Townsend to the Rev Samuel Parker|
|360||10. Townsend’s controversial seabirds|
|361-364||11. Townsend’s bird specimens from the Hawaiian Islands|
|365-366||12. Townsend’s bird specimens from Tahiti|
|367-368||13. Townsend’s bird and mammal specimens From Chile|
|369-370||14. Nuttall’s bird specimens from the West|
|371||15. Audubon’s Central and South American land birds in The Birds of America|
|372||16. The Edward Harris collection of birds|
|373||17. Townsend’s bat Specimens from the West|
|374-375||18. Townsend’s attempt to sell mammal specimens in Europe.|
|384-387||Index of birds and mammals|
|x||1. Townsend’s travels, 1834-37|
|34||2. St Louis to Independence, 24th March – 28th April 1834|
|52-53||3. Independence to Laramie’s Fork, 28th April – 1st June 1834|
|74||4. Laramie’s Fork to South Pass, 1st June – 14th June 1834|
|91||5. South Pass to Fort Hall, 14th June – 6th August 1834|
|104||6. Across the Sawtooth Mountains, 6th August – 24th August 1834|
|116||7. Across the Blue Mountains, 24th August – 10th September 1834|
|135||8. The Lower Columbia River, 10th September – 11th December 1834|
|144||9. Fort Vancouver and vicinity|
|159||10. The Hawaiian Islands, 1834-35 & 1837|
|202||11. The Lower Columbia River, 16th April 1835 – 30th November 1836|
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Back to O‘ahu
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Lower Columbia River map
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“... a fascinating read from beginning to end, it is also a work you can happily dip into time and again.”
Leni Martin, Birdwatch (Dec 2007) 186: 57.
“What a marvellous job! Both the writing and the illustrations are superb (including Townsend's writing which no modern person of his age could possibly duplicate). I had, of course, read his Narrative before but it really came to life in your book. ... Thank you both for your dedication to ornithological history and so many sterling contributions to it.”
Storrs Olson, Division of Birds, Smithsonian Institution, email 18 Jan 2008.
“This grand and comprehensive biography of John Townsend is a marvellous contribution to the history of American ornithology, and is the first book to fully document the life of this highly talented but relatively little known biologist. The book also illuminates the many interactions among Townsend, Nuttall, Audubon, and other important American naturalists of the day.”
Paul A. Johnsgard, Nebraska Bird Review (June 2008) 76: 84-85.
“Many thanks for the copy of the Townsend book, which I have dipped into, but it will be quite a while before I will read it thoroughly. It looks like an absolutely magnificent piece of work. When I looked at the leaflet I thought it was a bit on the expensive side, but having seen it I realise that, if anything, it's remarkably cheap!!”
Michael Walters, author of A Concise History of Ornithology, email 2 Oct 2008.
“Yesterday's mail brought your JKT book! And what a book! Never in my wildest dreams could I have come up with anything so beautiful, so resourceful, so scholarly and well referenced & source cited! It is truly magnificent! How fortunate our family is that someone as talented as you two would be so interested in John Kirk Townsend and his life's work!”
Dana Dunbar King (descended from JK Townsend’s sister Elizabeth), email 16 Sept 2007.
“Well, simply wondrous and amazing. Thank you both so very much. I stayed up extra late last night going over the book and now 24 hours later am just getting back to email. Will take some time to read all, but at least I have the rich flavor. The photos and overall layout and design are also captivating. Amazing work and so much due diligence over so many years.”
Donald Townsend Little (descended from JK Townsend’s nephew), email 12 Sept 2007.
“It stands in marked contrast to Townsend’s original Narrative, which contained no illustrations. The lavishly produced edition by Barbara and Richard Mearns makes up for that lack, and it will be consulted by those who have an interest in the natural history dimensions of this famous classic of Western travel”
Paul Lawrence Farber, Oregon Historical Quarterly (2008) 109: 499-500.
“This latest work by Barbara and Richard Mearns is truly a visual feast. The photographs and the skilful design of the book are among its greatest virtues; rarely has an apparent biography been filled with such lovely images ... The work contains a number of items useful to professional ornithologists. Not only do the appendices detail every species collected by Townsend, but a series of flow charts (Figures 1–3 in Appendix 1) diagrams the dispersal of Townsend’s bird collection in the United States and Europe and notes the paths and current locations of specimens held by individuals and institutions. The authors also allow Townsend’s own voice to be heard via extensive quotes from his journals and letters. They clearly pursued the topic with passion and complete dedication ... “
Daniel Lewis, The Ibis (2008) 150: 428.