Thure Kumlien – great Wisconsin naturalist

Thanks to Eric Rossborough for this interesting article on the life of Thure Kumlien,  one of the great naturalists of the 19th century.

Kumlien was trained at the University of Uppsala in Sweden (Linnaeus’ university) and homesteaded near Lake Koshkonong.  But, as the article says, he was more interested in observing and collecting in the natural environment than in farming, of which he knew “little or nothing.”

He was reclusive and few people in the area knew of him.  He didn’t travel or write much.  He published just one article, lamenting the loss of wild flora in his region.  He was renowned as an expert on birds and plants, and made much of his living hunting specimens for museums.

His  legacy:

  •  professor at Albion College and teacher of Edward Lee Greene, renowned botanist
  • Greene named the genus Kumlienia in his honor
  • knew Willard North, father of the author Sterling North (from nearby Edgerton), and appears in “Rascal” one of the greatest novels ever with a raccoon protagonist
  • many of his collections from the vicinity of Lake Koshkonong are in the great museums of the world, including the Milwaukee Public Museum