“Early Texas Naturalists” will be the title of a presentation by Lonnie Childs, a local retired business executive, on Tuesday February 12 at the Gillespie County Agricultural Extension Building, 95 Frederick Road, beginning at 7:00 PM. The presentation is part of the Friends of the Fredericksburg Nature Center’s Nature Series programs presented throughout the school year. Childs, who holds a B.A. degree from the University of Texas in Austin, will tell some of the fascinating tales of these early naturalists and adventurists as they risked their lives in the pursuit of scientific data.
Childs will begin his presentation by highlighting the hundred year period following the American Revolution when the social frontier of the United States gradually moved westward which also became the frontier of scientific exploration. Early scientific explorers suffered severe hardships of disease, weather and raids by Native Americans as they collected scientific data. Historians suggest that this was the greatest epoch of scientific discovery in our country’s history as these early explorationists examined and documented our diverse natural history.
Childs will cover the period of 1820 to 1880 when the frontiers of Texas were being combed by hundreds of naturalists in search of specimens that would broaden the knowledge and understanding of botany, zoology, paleontology, and geology. Their personal accounts of their travels in Texas provide fascinating reports of their adventures, but also provide a view of the natural landscape prior its alteration by European settlers.
Childs will discuss two of the better known explorers, Ferdinand Roemer and Ferdinand Lindheimer, spent time in the Hill Country pursuing their scientific studies. Roemer, known as the “Father of Texas Geology” traveled extensively and documented his adventures in a book entitled “Roemer’s Texas.” Lindheimer, known as the “Father of Texas Botany,” settled in New Braunfels to edit a local paper, but spent much of his time collecting thousands of plant specimens for leading American botanists. While these two individuals became well known, many labored in relative obscurity.
This free program is open to the public. Anyone with questions about this program, or the Friends of the Fredericksburg Nature Center, should call Jane Crone at 830-990-9823.