HomeOarisma PoweshiekIowa's Biological DiversityButterfly ForecastsHistory of the Butterfly  
  The Poweshiek Skipper Project  
  The History of the Butterfly
Helen Fitch Parker
Henry W. ParkerThe original description of the Poweshiek skipper was published by Henry W. Parker.  At the time, the Reverend Henry Parker
was a professor at Iowa College in Grinnell, Iowa.  The school would later be known as Grinnell College. 
The specimens (thirty one males and 2 females) that were taken were captured on June 21, 1870.  The description was dated June 23, 1870.  By autumn of that year, Henry Parker had taken a job at the Massachusetts Agricultural College, as the school's first chaplain.  So if you take these things at face value, Rev. Parker went out one day in June, saw a butterfly, captured thirty three of them, identified it as a species that was new to science and sent the description in two days later. All of this might have been under time pressure because he probably already knew he was going to take the new job back east.
Henry Parker was a published author and poet.  He had written and published two volumes of poetry prior to taking the job in Grinnell.  He wrote a number of books later as well.  Some are available today, either digitally or as publish-on-demand books.
How cool is it to have a butterfly discovered by a poet?  Pretty cool, I think.  But I don't think that is what happened.
Henry was married to Helen Eliza Fitch Parker who was a prolific write as well.  Her writings are also available on line and as publish-on-demand books. 
Henry's writings were precise and carefully crafted.  He had a very extensive vocabulary and used it to full extent in his writings.  He wrote from what we would consider a very religious perspective today.  His many books and scientific publications only included one other mention of an invertebrate, a simple writing about observations of  the behavior of the white-lined sphinx.
Helen's writings were simpler and more passionate.  She also wrote from a religious perspective.  She wrote three books for a Sunday School audience which were essentially natural history explorations.  One was about sea shells, one about land snails, and one was about a boy who constructed and stocked a home aquarium.
The story will be developed more completely in a thread of The History of the Butterfly.  I think that Helen was the naturalist of the family, although Henry was the professor of Natural History.  They probably collaborated, but in my opinion, Helen was the driving force that found the butterfly.
  Helen Parker
Is there really a Kishkekosh County?
Kish Ke Kosh
What about those other counties?
What city was named after George King?
King City?
Who walked half-way around the world and ate his shoes to survive?
Shoe Eater
Did the poet really discover the butterfly?
Who found it?