VISIT TO THOMAS SAY'S HOME
by Roy R. Snelling
Say is rightly described as the "Father of American Entomology".
He published the first text on American insects, the three part
"American Entomology" between the years 1817 and 1828.
was born in 1787 in Philadelphia of Quaker parents and was raised
in that faith. His father was an apothecary and hoped that Thomas
would enter that trade. That didn't take. He was a charter member
of the asssociation that founded the Philadelphia Academy of Natural
Sciences and was a professor of Natural History at the University
Say has been described as a "tall, soft-spoken Quaker gentleman."
Another Philadelphia gentleman, Mr. William Maclure, a scientist and
financial partner of Richard Owen, was Say's friend and financial
mentor. Richard Owen purchased the town of Harmonie, Indiana, from
George Rapp in 1824; Maclure, Say, and others moved to the town, renamed
New Harmony. Say remained there for the rest of his life.
married in 1827. The Says lived in a large frame house, still standing,
for a short time; a photo of that house appears in Entomological News,
vol. 6, page 1. Later Say purchased the house at the corner of Church
and Main streets, now known variously as the "Owen House"
or "Owen-Maclure House". The original wood-frame house was
partially destroyed by fire in 1844; the rebuilt house is a brick
structure. While living in New Harmony, Say taught natural history
in Community Building No. 5. Thomas Say died in 1834 and is buried
in the garden of the Owen-Maclure House. His last paper, describing
some of the common Hymenoptera of the New Harmony area was published
visited New Harmony during the week of 25 June 2002. Through the kindness
of Mrs. Kenneth Owen I was given access to the property during that
time and spent several very pleasant days collecting ants there. I
was amazed to learn that Mrs. Owen actually knew the names of several
of the ant species that Say described in that last paper. In the offices
of the New Harmony Historical Society there is a drawing of Thomas
Say in front of the house. There is now a six foot high brick wall
in front of the house, thus preventing a good photograph of the facade
(houses were built with essentially no front yard and the brick wall
is practically at the front steps).
Date of this version13 July, 2002
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