WALLACE, William Allen

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WALLACE, William Allen (1815-1893) was born in Pembroke, New Hampshire, and moved with his family to Canaan, New Hampshire, in 1817. In 1850, he went to California, where he worked as a gold miner, schoolteacher, and newspaper editor. He was editor and proprietor of the Los Angeles Star during 1853-1856, and in 1857 became a correspondent for San Francisco's Daily Alta California, reporting on travels in the West and from Washington, D.C., during the Civil War. Wallace settled in Canaan in 1865, where he conducted research for a town history, published posthumously in 1910.

Wallace collected plants in the Los Angeles area in 1854. Solanum wallacei, also known as Wallace's nightshade, Catalina nightshade, Northern island nightshade, or Wild Tomato, is a perennial plant that produces purple flowers, but otherwise resembles a tomato plant. The foliage and purple-black berries are poisonous. This rare plant is native to canyons and hillsides on two of the Channel Islands of California, as well as Guadalupe Island off Baja California. It blooms in April and May.

Eriophyllum wallacei, the woolly daisy, is also named for him, among others.

Two volumes of holograph manuscript diaries written by William A. Wallace while living in Los Angeles, California, and during visits to his family in New England, are in the Huntington Library.

Millspaugh & Nuttall (Flora of Santa Catalina Island, 1924) note that Wallace collected on Santa Catalina Island “about 1854”. His specimens were sent to Dr. Gray and are now in Gray Herbarium, Harvard.

Wallace collected on:

  • Santa Catalina Island (1859)

Island Collections~
Santa Catalina Island William A. Wallace HUH n.d. GH-443137 Crossosoma californicum Plants
Santa Catalina Island William A. Wallace HUH n.d. GH-363402 Erodium macrophyllum Plants
Santa Catalina Island William A. Wallace HUH 1859 GH-365747 Keckiella cordifolia Plants
Santa Catalina Island William A. Wallace HUH 1859 GH-077433 Solanum xanti var. wallacei Plants