Rafinesque Cottage

Constantine Samuel Rafinesque

Constantine Samuel Rafinesque was born in 1783 in Constantinople. In early infanthood he moved to France, and then Tuscany, to avoid the violence of the French Revolution. Taught by a tutor in Tuscany, he hoped to attend University, but due to the death of his father, had to become an apprentice for the Clifford Brothers in Philadelphia to help his family financially. During this apprenticeship he traveled between Pennsylvania and Virginia, collecting plants and animals and communicating with other naturalists. Rafinesque returned to Italy, this time to Sicily, where he was secretary to the United States consul. He continued to collect plants and animals, and formed a family in Sicily, but after traveling back to the United States, he never returned to see them. Rafinesque traveled down the Ohio River and studied the fish, staying briefly with John James Audubon. John D. Clifford, one of his former employers, offered Rafinesque a position as a professor of botany and natural science at Transylvania University, and Rafinesque accepted. He published many names of plants and animals during this time, but returned to Philadelphia in 1826. Here, he continued to write books on natural studies, gave public lectures, and wrote poetry. Rafinesque is most recognized for his ability to name organisms, and is estimated to have named 6,700 plants alone. Rafinesque died in 1840.

Rafinesque was part of the Great Kentucky Naturalists group of Mountain Lake cottages. Lewis said that he was, “the most widely travelled scientist of his day.”

Eliza Brodie

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