The Elephant in the Room (and what happened to it?)

When you stalk someone long enough you may start to think you know everything about him.  Then he comes up with something new.

I have been stalking Henry Webster Parker.  He’s dead now, so he doesn’t mind.

H.W. Parker is the person whose name is on the original description of the Poweshiek skipperling, now called Oarisma poweshiek.  I have read a lot of what he wrote, and have been under the impression that his wife Helen was a better naturalist, especially when it came to invertebrates.

Today I ran across a small clipping of an article originally published in Science Vol 16, Number 405 (1890).  The author of the article was Erwin H. Barbour.

It describes some fossil remains of a woolly mammoth found in Grinnell, Iowa, which were dug up.  H. W. Parker helped stabilize the fossils by preserving them with a hardening mixture.  Several bones were mentioned, as was an eight foot long tusk.  Also mentioned was the fact that a large well was dug in order to supply water to the Iowa Central Railroad, within a half mile of the original site, and that a smaller tusk was left in the walls of the well because it could not be dug out without collapsing the well.

So I wonder what happened to the bones and the tusks?  Is the one still buried somewhere in Grinnell?  What happened to the Parker Museum of Natural History?

About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
This entry was posted in Henry W. Parker, Iowa History and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Elephant in the Room (and what happened to it?)

  1. Judy says:

    I am also trying to find out what happened to the Parker Museum. My dad is interested in Parker’s ornithological activities. I left a reply on one of your older blogs…looking for some sources of info on Parker that you may know of that aren’t listed in your references. Thanks, Judy

    • I recently sent an email to one of the professors at Grinnell College about the mammoth tusks. There were some other conversations about the museum. They thought that when the college destroyed Main (the building the museum was in) in the 1960’s that the contents of the museum, including the mammoth bones, were simply left in the building and buried with the debris of the building. We never appreciate what we have until it is gone.

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