ROTHROCK, Joseph Trimble

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ROTHROCK, Joseph Trimble (1839-1922), surgeon and botanist wounded at Fredericksburg during the Civil War. He was professor of botany at the University of Pennsylvania. As a part of the U.S. Geographical Survey under the command of Lieutenant George M. Wheeler, in late spring of 1875, Rothrock spent a week on Santa Cruz Island with Henry W. Henshaw and Oscar Loew exploring the island and collecting botanical specimens. Like many early naturalists, they traveled to the islands with the U.S. Coast Survey expedition. Plant specimens indicate they spent time at both Prisoners’ Harbor and at Forney’s Cove. Rothrock collected the type specimen of Chorizanthe wheeleri on Santa Cruz Island. From 1877-1893, Rothrock was professor of botany at the University of Pennsylvania.


» Wheeler, George M. Report upon U.S.Geographical Surveys west of the 100th Meridian, Volume VI. Botany. 1878.



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.”


March 7, 1878 [The North American]: “Dr. Leidy called attention to a singular stone implement found on Santa Cruz Island, off the coast of California, and presented to the Academy by Dr. W. H. Jones, U.S. Army. The stone is rudely carved to represent the head and a section of the body of a serpent. This specimen, together with a few other stone implements from the same locality, were said by Dr. Rothrock to be of an extremely rare occurrence. Out of thirteen tons of antiquities from Santa Cruz Island, examined by himself and Dr. Yarrow, nothing resembling these relics had been seen. The entire island seems to be a vast receptacle for mortuary relics, and may have been considered a sacred place by the aborigines.”