HENSHAW, Henry Wetherbee

From Islapedia
Henry Wetherbee Henshaw (1850-1930)
Henry Wetherbee Henshaw (1850-1930)

HENSHAW, Henry Wetherbee (1850-1930), Massachusetts scientist who joined the Wheeler Survey as a naturalist and scientific collector exploring the west (1872-1879), during which time he collected (11 June 1875) and described the endemic Santa Cruz Island jay. He collected a number of birds that date, including several ravens as well. He traveled to Santa Cruz Island aboard the U.S. Coast Survey vessel Hassler. In 1879 Henshaw transferred to the Bureau of Ethnology (1879-1893) where he was also the editor of American Anthropologist.

“In 1884, Henry W. Henshaw interviewed Anacleto (“Aniceto”) Paileletset, a Chumash Indian who was born on Santa Rosa Island ca 1812 but only lived on the island for less than two years before he was taken to Santa Barbara. He was baptized on June 21, 1816, and grew up on the mainland (J. Johnson pers. com.), where he later worked for the de la Guerra family for 72 years (Henshaw 1955). Anacleto probably lived with his parents on the mainland until their deaths. His father Apolinar (Ualanunatste), who is thought to have come from the village L’akayamu located at the west end of Santa Cruz Island, died in 1821 (J. Johnson pers. com.). His mother Beatriz, who came from the village Elehuasqui (Helwashkuy) on the south side of Santa Rosa Island near Ford Point, died in 1825 (J. Johnson pers. com.). Anacleto was about 9 years old when his father died and was about 13 years old when his mother died. Anacleto would likely have been exposed to the Cruzeño and Roseño dialects spoken by his parents for the first 13 years of his life. However, following the death of his mother, Anacleto probably began working for the de la Guerra family. From that point on he would have been exposed to a number of other mainland Chumash dialects and may not have had much additional exposure to the island dialects. At the time he was interviewed by Henshaw, Anacleto was 70-80 years old and was said to have spoken the Barbareño dialect as his usual speech when he wasn’t speaking Spanish. He had apparently not used the Santa Rosa Island dialect on a day-today basis while on the mainland and as a result his memory of this island dialect was heavily influenced by the mainland dialects that he did speak on a daily basis (Henshaw 1955). Henshaw suspected that some of the terms that Anacleto gave him were actually from Barbareño and Ineseño dialects. The transcription of Anacleto’s island speech also includes characters which appear closer to the Cruzeño dialect than to the Roseño dialect (Beeler and Klar n.d.)” (Collins, Paul

Henshaw became chief of the United States Biological Survey from 1910 to 1916, when he retired due to poor health. Henshaw died at age 81 on August 1, 1930. He never married.

Directory of Members, Cooper Ornithological Club, May 1914:

  • H. W. Henshaw. Biological Survey, U.S. Dept. Agriculture, Washington, DC 1909.

Palmer, T. S. Nomenclature of California Birds in Condor 30(5):267-268 September-October 1928:

HENSHAW, Henry Wetherbee. “Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 3, 1850. During his connection with the Wheeler Survey, Mr. Henshaw collected extensively in southern California. Later he was connected with the U.S. Biological Survey, of which he was chief for six years from 1910 to 1916. He is author of A Report on the Ornithology of Portions of California 1876, Birds of the Hawaiian Islands, 1902, and numerous shorter ornithological papers. Two interesting problems in connection with western birds which he successfully solved were the specific distinction of the Allen's Hummingbird and the demonstration that the woodpeckers known as Sphyrapicus williamsoni and S. alleni were male and female of the same species. He described Larus nelsoni, Selasphorus alleni, Aphelocoma insularis and Melospiza m. montana. In recognition of his work he was made an Honorary Member of the Cooper Ornithiological Club in 1909. His name occurs in that of Chamaea f. henshawi and also two names now not recognized: Astur a. henshawi Nelson (Auk 1884, p. 166), a synonym of Astur atripillus striatulus, and Selasphorus henshawi Elliot, a synonym of S. rufus.”

Henshaw Family Information

  • 1876. Henshaw, Henry W. Appendix H8. Report on the Ornithology of the Portions of California Visited During the Field-Season of 1875 By H. W. Henshaw. Pp. 224-278. In: Wheeler, G. M. (ed.), Annual Report Upon the Geographical Surveys West of the One Hundredth Meridian, in California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, New

Mexico, Arizona, and Montana. Appendix JJ of the Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers for 1876. Government Printing Office, Washington.

[original in SCIF archives]

Condor 21: 102-107; 165-171; 177-181; 217-222, 1919
[original series in SCIF archives reprinted as one separate]

Condor 22: 3-10; 55-60; 95-101, 1920
[original series in SCIF archives reprinted as one separate]

[CAS portrait]

  • 1955. Henshaw, Henry W. The Mission Indian Vocabularies of H. W. Henshaw Pp 85-202. In R. F. Heizer, R. F. (ed.), California Linguistic Records Anthropological Records Vol. 15. No. 2. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, 1955

Island Collections~

Santa Cruz Island

5,9,11/1875 NMNH birds

Santa Cruz Island H. W. Henshaw UCLA June 4, 1874 UCLA-13884 Calidris alba Birds
~ trip ~
Santa Cruz Island H. W. Henshaw BMNH 1875 BMNH-1891.3.1.488 Haliaeetus leucocephalus Eggs
Santa Cruz Island H. W. Henshaw NMNH June 3, 1875 USNM-12547 Urocyon littoralis santacruzae Mammals
Santa Cruz Island H. W. Henshaw NMNH June 3, 1875 USNM-72760 Urocyon littoralis santacruzae Mammals
Santa Cruz Island H. W. Henshaw USNM June 4, 1875 USNM-71991 Eremophila alpestris insularis Birds
Santa Cruz Island H. W. Henshaw NMNH June 4, 1875 USNM-72428 Haematopus bachmani Birds
Santa Cruz Island H. W. Henshaw USNM June 4, 1875 USNM-79855 Heteroscelus incanus Birds
Santa Cruz Island H. W. Henshaw USNM June 10, 1875 USNM-72077 Lanius ludovicianus anthonyi Birds
Santa Cruz Island H. W. Henshaw NMNH June 10, 1875 USNM-72428 Sturnella neglecta Birds
Santa Cruz Island H. W. Henshaw USNM June 10, 1875 USNM-79514 Vermivora celata sordida Bird
Santa Cruz Island H. W. Henshaw NMNH June 11, 1875 USNM-72542 Apheocoma insularis TYPES Birds
Santa Cruz Island H. W. Henshaw NMNH June 11, 1875 USNM-72543 Apheocoma insularis TYPES Birds
Santa Cruz Island H. W. Henshaw NMNH June 11, 1875 USNM-79695 Apheocoma insularis TYPES Birds

In the News~

May 31, 1875 [SBDP]: “Personal. We had the pleasure of a call from Dr. J. T. Rothrock, of the regular army, and surgeon of the Wheeler expedition, who is here with a party, including H. W. Henshaw and Dr. Oscar Loew, also of the Wheeler expedition, to make some investigations of a scientific character, and to collect some specimens in Natural History on the Channel Islands.”

June 9, 1875 [SBDP]: “Wheeler Expedition. Members of this party, Dr. Rothrock, Mr. Loew and Mr. Henshaw, are making explorations along the coast, and more particularly in this vicinity, for specimens and obtaining scientific facts in regard to geology, ethnology and topography in general, for the Centennial. The party will visit Santa Rosa Island, and will for some time be engaged there in pursuit of their labors.”

1884: “Mr. H. W. Henshaw thinks that this bird is well named “Wandering Tattler,” and states that it has a very wide range, being found on the islands of the Pacific generally, and from Alaska to Australia Santa Cruz Island is the only place where he has enjoyed an opportunity of meeting with it, though, as he is informed, it occurs on other islands also. Captain Forney, of the Coast Survey, secured quite a number on the Island of San Miguel, where this bird occurs in considerable numbers. It is not at all a bird of the sandy shores, but resorts exclusively to rocks covered with seaweed, following the tide as it ebbs and flows, running back and forth, picking up the worms and marine animals, which are found in such localities in abundance...” [S. F. Baird, T. M. Brewer, and R. Ridgway. The Water Birds of North America in Memoirs of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College, p. 291]