“I couldn’t help it. I happen to have been born to do it.

I am sure that I would have been a rotten failure doing anything else.”

~ Ends Of The Earth ~

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Personalities ~ Edmund Heller 1875 - 1939

Edmund Heller.  From a lecture brochure Ca. 1912

In 1916-1917, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City sent an expedition under Roy Chapman Andrews to study the zoology of southern China, in particular Yunnan Province.  Andrews' wife, Yvette Borup Andrews, was the official photographer for the expedition.  The Andrews left in March 1916 and were joined by Edmund Heller at Lung-tao, China on July 20, 1916.

After spending some time near Foochow hunting tigers, the expedition left for Yunnan via Hong Kong, Hainan, Haiphong and Hanoi. The route of the expedition in Yunnan took them through Yunnan-Fu, Tali-Fu, Chien-Chuan-Chou, Li-Chiang and the Snow Mountain, Meng-Ting, Wa-Tien and Teng-Yueh Ting. They then crossed the border into Burma making their way to Rangoon via Bhamo and Mandalay. The expedition broke up at Bhamo with the Andrews heading for New York, via Rangoon, Calcutta, Bombay, Singapore and Japan.  Edmund Heller went on to Calcutta, Darjeeling, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canton and Shanghai.
In camp.  Fuchow, China, 1916.  Photograph taken by Yvette Borup Andrews.  As Yvette developed her glass negatives in the field under somewhat trying conditions, it is likely that the fingerprints on the right margin are hers.  This 'safe edge' of the glass negative would not normally be seen when used as a lantern slide or used to print photographs.  This image has never been published.

Detail of Camp Fuchow.  Left to Right: Yvette Borup Andrews, Edmund Heller, Roy Chapman Andrews, Harry Caldwell of 'Blue Tiger' fame. Note that all three men appear to have been in the midst of rolling cigarettes.  Photo by Y.B. Andrews  
This brief biography from Smithsonian Institution Archives :  Edmund Heller Papers

Edmund Heller was born in Freeport, Illinois on 21 May 1875. When he was thirteen, he moved with his parents to Riverside, California, which he thereafter considered his home. As a boy, he spent much time collecting birds and their eggs in the area near Riverside. He was joined in this collecting by Harvey M. Hall, later a noted botanist.
Heller entered Stanford University in 1896 and received his A.B. in 1901. An opportunity arose for Heller to collect on the Galapagos Islands during the Hopkins-Stanford Expedition in 1898, and together with Robert E. Snodgrass, Heller spent 7 months on the islands. In 1900, the United States Biological Survey employed Heller as assistant to Wilfred Hudson Osgood in his Alaskan investigations.
Following his graduation, Heller joined the Field Columbian Museum as western field collector and worked in California, Oregon, Lower California, Mexico and Guatemala. In 1907, Heller accompanied Carl Ethan Akeley on the Field Museum's African expedition.
Upon his return, Heller was appointed curator of mammals at the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology of the University of California. While with the MVZ, Heller participated in the 1908 Alexander Alaskan expedition and made the report on the mammals collected.
Heller spent the years 1909-1912 with the Smithsonian-Roosevelt and the Rainey African Expeditions. 
In 1914, the United States Biological Survey conducted field investigations in Canada to secure information concerning the habits and distribution of large game mammals. Heller accompanied the Lincoln Ellsworth expedition to the Dease River-Telegraph Creek area of British Columbia and later to Alberta.
The National Geographic Society and Yale University jointly sponsored an expedition to Peru in 1915 to explore newly discovered ruins of an Incan civilization at Machu Picchu, northwest of Cuzco. Specialists in various fields were chosen to accompany the party. Heller, as expedition naturalist, supervised the collecting of 891 mammal specimens, 695 birds, about 200 fishes and several tanks of reptiles and amphibians.
In 1916, Heller joined Roy Chapman Andrews and Yvette Borup Andrews on the American Museum of Natural History Expedition to China. 
When Paul J. Rainey, with whom Heller had traveled to Africa, was appointed official photographer for the Czech army in Siberia, he invited Heller to accompany him to Russia. From the summer of 1918 until the end of World War I, they traveled by rail across Siberia to the Ural Mountains and back to their starting point.
In 1919, Heller took charge of the Smithsonian Cape-to-Cairo Expedition. Upon his return, he worked briefly for the Roosevelt Wild Life Experiment Station making a field study of large game animals in Yellowstone National Park. He was then appointed assistant curator of mammals at the Field Museum under Wilfred Hudson Osgood. During his six years in that position, Heller made trips to Peru in 1922-1923 and to Africa from 1923-1926.
Heller's trip to Africa was his last collecting effort. After his return, he resigned his position at the Field Museum and became director of the Milwaukee Zoological Garden, a position that he held from 1928 to 1935. From 1935 until his death in 1939, Heller was director of the Fleishhacker Zoo in San Francisco.

Cover of Lecture Brochure, Ca. 1929.  Collection of Clive Coy

Over the past 30+ years, I have read nearly everything written by Roy Chapman Andrews about his expedition to China with Edmund Heller.  There are several magazine articles, the popular account of the expedition itself was published in a book: Camps and Trails In China, [D. Appleton & Co., 1918] and Andrews' two autobiographies.  I have found it peculiar that Andrews had very little to say about Heller, and always referred to him as Mr. Heller, unlike other persons mentioned who were usually introduced once formally within the narrative, and then referred to by their first name, example Rev. Harry Caldwell, and after simply called Harry.

I would not normally make much of this, except within Under A Lucky Star is this rather suggestive mention of Heller during the Yunnan trip:

I wanted to explore Yunnan, the mountainous province of southeastern China, which margined the Tibetan plateau. The expedition would cost fifteen thousand dollars and I agreed to raise half of it among my friends if the Museum would provide the remainder.
I don't remember where all the money came from. I think Sidney M. Colgate, James B. Ford, Charles L. Bernheimer, George S. Bowdoin, and Henry C. Frick gave most of it. Anyway I got it, and by March 1916 we sailed on the Japanese ship Tenyo Maru. Edmond Heller was the other scientist of the expedition. Heller had accompanied Colonel Theodore Roosevelt on his African trip after he left the White House and was an excellent small mammal collector, although hardly as successful a field companion. 

[Excerpted from Under A Lucky Star.  The Viking Press, 1943.  Page 129]

Does anyone know what Andrews was making oblique reference to?

Click image to view near full size

click image to view near full size