The Lemmons: John Gill Lemmon




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The Lemmons:
John Gill Lemmon: Born in 1832 in Michigan, Lemmon was POW during the Civil War and was a rare survivor of the infamous Andersonville Prison Camp in Georgia. Weighing just 90 pounds, he moved to California to recuperate, and he become active in botany, discovering many new plant species (e.g., Aeslepias lemmonii and Oreocarya lemonnii).
Sara Allen Plummer: Born in 1836 in Maine, at the age of 33 Plummer contracted pneumonia and almost died. She, too, moved to California to recuperate, and she, too, became active in botany, also discovering new plant species (e.g., Allium plummeraie and Baccharis plummeraie).
They met in 1874 and quickly discovered their obvious mutual interests. They explored Santa Barbara together for plants, and he named a new taxonomic genus after her, Plummera. They married on Thanksgiving Day, 1880.
The Honeymoon: In spring of 1881, they came to southern Arizona to honeymoon on an exploration of the Santa Catalina Mountains. They tried to reach the upper elevations from the south side (Tucson), but it was too rugged for them. They contracted a guide named E.O. Stratton to help them make the trip on the north side (Oracle). Upon reaching the very top, Sratton named the peak Mt. Lemmon in honor of Sara Plummer Lemmon making the trek. It was quite rare for mountain tops to be named after women, and the name was officially recorded in 1904 by Pima County.
Ultimately, the Lemmons made very large collections of plants throughout southern Arizona; they discovered about 3% of the flora of the entire state of Arizona. On one trip they were stopped by a band of Apaches who demanded to see their stuff. They were allowed to proceed after showing off their specimens and plant presses. They later gave a public talk entitled, “Perils and Pleasures of Botanizing in Arizona.”
John Lemmon died in Oakland in 1908. Sara Lemmon died in 1923, after a full life of accomplishment and achievement.


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