BLAKE, Eli Whitney Jr.

From Islapedia
Eli Whitney Blake, Jr.
Santa Cruz Island Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma insularis)
Drawing by Eli W. Blake, Jr., December 1888
SBMNH Channel Islands Archives

BLAKE, Eli Whitney Jr. (1836-1895), Connecticut-born Yale graduate (class of 1857), chemist and physicist with an interest in ornithology. Blake’s great uncle (his grandmother’s brother) was Eli Whitney, inventor of the cotton gin and arms manufacturer. In 1860 he married Helen Mary Rood, and they had two children, daughter, Alida Gouverneur (1861-1938), and son, Eli Whitney Blake III (1867-1902). Blake remarried in 1881 to Elizabeth Almy Ellery Vernon.

From 1868 to 1870 Blake was professor of physics at Cornell University, and from 1870 until 1895 Blake filled the chair of physics at Brown University. In 1881 Blake’s daughter, Alida (1860-1938), married Barclay Hazard for whom the genus, Hazardia, the Santa Cruz Island endemic, is named.

In 1886, Blake visited Santa Cruz Island twice (July 4-24 and August 6- September 3). On his first trip, he noted:

“Santa Cruz Island is owned by a stock company and is used as a sheep ranch; the herders constitute the only human inhabitants... Our camp was in a canyon near Platt's Harbor, on the northern side of the island.”

As a result of Blake's fieldwork, he later published two papers in Auk, the first of which includes an annotated list of 28 bird species, and the second of which is a brief discussion of the island flycatcher. A few of his specimens are located at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Blake died at age 59 of “digestive disease” in New Haven, Connecticut. He and many members of the family are buried in Oak Dell Cemetery, Peacedale, Rhode Island.

Blake collected on:

  • Santa Cruz Island (1886)


Island Collections~
Santa Cruz Island Eli W. Blake, Jr. NMNH August 27, 1886 USNM-109703 Eremophila alpestris insularis Birds
Santa Cruz Island Eli W. Blake, Jr. NMNH August 27, 1886 USNM-109704 Eremophila alpestris insularis Birds