Brookville Society of Natural History. 21


DR. RUFUS HAYMOND.


BY E. R. QUICK.


That King of whose wisdom and glory the Queen of Sheba asserted "the half was not told" wrote that it is better to go to the house of mourning than to that of feasting. Sorrow is better than mirth. The deep thought, the long reaches of intellect which struggle in the "divine depths of sorrow" bring an infinite good to man that may not be approached by "the loud laugh which bespeaks the vacant mind." So he who undertakes the mournful task of recounting the character and deeds of a dead friend and teacher brings up many profitable memories of the past.

The subject of my sketch, Dr. Rufus Haymond, was born near Clarksburg, Harrison county, West Virginia, on the 5th of June, 1805. In the seventeenth year of his age he commenced the study of medicine at the Philadelphia medical College. Soon after returning home he came West to seek a location in which to practice his humane and time-honored art. It was on a warm, bright day in the summer of 1826, says our informant, that there came into the new and unstudied country of the Whitewater Valley one whose work in science was to lead to the foundation of our organization.

Dr. Rufus Haymond, we are informed, was at that time a dapper young fellow, and, as we know, fresh from the lecture room, dissecting room, and all the associations of university life. Born of a good family in "Old Virginia" and afforded all the opportunities of education then extant in the older states, with a rugged constitution, a sturdy energy and a love of nature, which was, at that time, rarely found where nature was predominant in every nook and corner of the Ohio and adjacent valleys, he was well fitted to the task of studying and recording the changes made by her in the years that were no longer to pass unheeded, as had drifted


A paper presented to the Brookville Society of Natural History, by E. R. Quick.


22 Brookville Society of Natural History.


the former centuries. Centuries whose march had passed over wastes of mighty forests, whose silences have only been broken by the sweep of lost storms, the crash of great trees that only the gnawing teeth of time had weakened, and the cries of wild creatures that fought or fled and gathered food and died and were buried under the wonderful mosses and soft-hued lichens. An ardent worshiper of the silent workings of God's laws, Dr. Haymond saw the slow changes of fauna and flora that were being worked by the white man in the place where growth, death, and decay had occupied the field of what is now improvement, prosperity and hope. His chosen profession of healing the sick and alleviating suffering was not for pay alone, for one of his sayings was to the effect that all a man can use is his board and his clothing, and it is well known that the unpaid bills due him would amount to a fortune not to be despised.

Having drifted by the slow means of travel then extant -- a good horse was his only aid in the journey from West Virginia -- to the small settlement of Brookville, he became thenceforth identified with its interests. He found more than nine-tenths of Southeastern Indiana occupied by a forest that had scarcely heard the sound of the gun and the ax, which ring the death-knell of so much that is dear to the lover of nature. The sound of a falling tree was sad to him, while the report of a gun could be tolerated because it brought near to him that which he could not study without its help. He would only destroy life for purposes of study and identification, except as a hunter, for he was an ardent sportsman. But he once said to the writer, "Do not destroy life without cause, for you know it is only given once." And at the question, "Do you think we have but one?" he replied, "I do not know, perhaps death is annihilation; do you think it is?"

By his interesting notes on the fauna and flora he encouraged younger men to follow up the study and said we should correct the mistakes he had made. As a sample of his opinions in regard to the study of natural history and his manner of encouraging the young to follow it up, we give the following extract from the introduction to a lecture on "Volcanoes and Volcanic Agency," which was delivered, not far from the year 1850, before the Franklin Lyceum in Brookville, having been prepared "for the benefit of the youths who principally compose the Lyceum:"
"If I should be so fortunate in the remarks I shall make this evening


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as to persuade a single individual among you to turn his attention to the study and investigation of natural history or the operations of Nature displayed in her works which surround us at every step we take upon the earth, I shall feel myself well repaid for the small amount of time and labor required in the preparation of this address. I am myself well persuaded that the study of nature is calculated both to make us better and happier -- to draw our minds away from the difficulties which are incident to life, from our own evil passions and the bickerings and strife of those among whom we live -- in short, from the artificial to the natural. The most splendid conceptions of the human mind when carried out by the most consummate art in the construction of any kind of fabric whatever fall so immeasurably short of the amazing perfection of all the works of the Creator, from the greatest of which men have any knowledge to the monad, the ultimate point of animal existence, that those who closely compare them are astonished at the imperfectness of all the works of men and equally astonished at the perfect arrangement and beauty of the works of nature, and are irresistibly led to contemplate more or less the great source and power from whence springs this perfection. All nature, both animate and inanimate, is worthy of your study and investigation, for there is not a stone or pebble upon which you tread in your daily walks which has not an interesting history which the mineralogist and geologist know how to read: not a plant or flower but has a secret history, known only to the botanist; each beast and bird, fish and insect has also its history, read only by the zoologist, ornithologist and so on. Much of this knowledge is in reach of all of you who are young and have sufficient energy and industry to occupy that portion of your time in study which is usually wasted in idleness or thrown away in pursuits that are wholly unprofitable. I do not wish, by any means, to be understood as saying that your whole studies should be directed to the investigation of nature's operations, but that much of your time may be thus profitably employed and that any amount of knowledge thus obtained is calculated in a great degree to refine our feelings and cultivate a chastity of thought scarcely attainable by other means. I have never seen a lady with a single pot of flowers without having a better opinion of her, and I always associate with the love of flowers purity of thought, deep-rooted affection and upright conduct. Our associations are apt to give tone to our char-


24 Brookville Society of Natural History.


acter and actions, and as there is perfection and beauty in all of nature's works, that mind which is most constantly active in their investigation can scarcely be devoid of their great principles which adorn human nature."

Thus did the Doctor urge the young forward; and not only in word, but by example. He was as one who had gone just beyond his companions and, entering the gates of a beautiful garden, turned and beckoned them to follow, that they, too, might breathe its perfumes and gather of its fruits. His investigations of nature were pursued all alone, for in those earlier years there were none to assist him in the search for, or identification of a new species. For his liking for science he was an enigma to the ignorant, was ridiculed by the foolish, and even wise men wondered how he could devote so much time and study to something in which there was so little pecuniary profit. Ever good natured, and seeing the ridiculous side of human affairs, he only laughed back at the follies of those who ridiculed him or treated his theories with contempt, and went on his way minding his own affairs and content in the pursuit of his studies. He attained high rank in his profession, also, and his name is mentioned in connection with important committees appointed by the National Association of Physicians, an organization which held annual conventions for general consultation and progress in the years before the crimson flood-tide of the rebellion swept over our land, dyeing its fields and streams with the blood of kindred and breaking all social ties asunder. One who was his neighbor and associate from the time of his arrival in Brookville to his death, in speaking of him as a citizen, says: "He rendered much good service to his county as Clerk to, and Member of the House of Representatives, and in the management of her Agricultural Societies, also in stimulating educational enterprises, and he usefully served the town of his adoption as the President of the first Board of Trustees of the Corporation of Brookville." Coming into the Valley at a date so early he had opportunities for observations that were not neglected. As the years passed by he saw the largest forest loving birds and animals disappear. The deer, the bear, the turkey and the Carolina parroquet were here when he came and all have disappeared during his lifetime.

The first of his publications was a small pamphlet of a few pages, en-


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titled, "Birds of South-eastern Indiana," which was published in the proceedings of the Philadelphia Academy of Sciences in the year 1856. This was a list of species he had observed, added to which were numerous notes, now of much more importance than the writer ever dreamed. About 1867 he received an appointment to accompany a scientific expedition under the direction and in the employment of the United States. This proffered appointment he saw fit to decline, but we find him again brought forward when the geological survey of our state was begun in 1869, when he was chosen to do all the work for Franklin county. In addition to an excellent survey of the geological features of the county he gave an account of archeological remains, a list of the trees growing within its boundaries and a second list of birds and animals, with numerous notes of abundance, peculiarities, etc. After this he was again called to an honorable position for scientific work under the Government and again declined.

During the latter portion of his life, when the infirmities of age had laid their relentless hold on him, he did little in the study of his favorite science, but watched with interest that which others were doing. It can be said for him that none ever went to him to inquire on any subject of which he had knowledge without receiving all the assistance he had to give -- which is more than many men of science do for beginners.

When the Patriarch Jacob bowed before the King of Egypt and blessed him; to the question, "How old art thou?" he made reply: "The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years; few and evil have the days of the years of my life been." Not so with Dr. Haymond. Bright and joyous were many of the days to him, though he had his share of those that were weary and sad; but the days of the years of his life were fraught with much good to the community in which he spent them. And many a careless youth, stopping to scan his footsteps, was lead nearer or further into the paths of science, there to learn of Nature's wonders and stand in awe before her Great Creator.

On a summer day Dr. Haymond came to dwell with the citizens of Brookville and on a summer day, the 29th of July, 1886, peacefully and gently as a store-laden ship glides out of a river's mouth into the wide ocean the generous soul of Dr. Haymond passed into the gates of eternity having withstood the hand of time for eighty-one years. But his work and influence, as does that of all earnest workers, will have its effect in the future till the world itself is no more.

[Note. -- The thanks of the writer are due to Mrs. F. Berry, daughter of the late Dr. Rufus Haymond, Dr. Geo. Berry and to Miss Gertie Quick and others for information contained in the above sketch.]

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