This winter Eloise Butler had again traveled to the East Coast to visit her relatives, as had been her custom since she retired from teaching in 1911. Her residence was at 20 Murray Hill Rd, Malden, Mass.
Her first letter of the year to the Martha and Bill Crone was dated New Year's Day. She discusses the illnesses of her brother-in-law and niece. She writes:
“We have had over the holidays two visitors - - friends who have been a comfort to us, but it has been an extra care for me the chief housekeeper, although we have a very efficient woman who comes every day except Sundays to help.”(1) She then thanks them for the Christmas presents and explains what she did with the American Lotus seeds that the Crones sent her the previous fall. That episode is covered in the 1930 history.(1)
In late March she returned to her rented quarters at the residence of John and Susan Babcock at 227 Xerxes Ave. from where she could walk to the Garden.
Eloise Butler’s first Garden Log note of the season was on April 1st when she wrote:
“Weather warm, no snow on the ground, Season very backward. Hazel and Alder not yet tasseled out. The long drouth and lack of snow have probably caused the backwardness.”
She began planting right away on April 2nd with seeds of Indian poke (Phytolacca). On the sixth, the flowers of Trillium nivale [Snow Trillium] began to open. Then on the 22nd she noted “3 days of cold and showers. Ice formed last night.” On May 7 she planted an unidentified aster from Barksdale WI and named it “Aster who’s it.”
On May 21 she noted in full bloom a Lonicera tartarica, Tartian honeysuckle. This is her first mention of the plant by name, although several generic species “Lonicera” were noted in prior years.
During the Spring Eloise received several large shipments of plants from Robbins' Nursery in Ashford NC; from Barksdale WI; and from Gillett’s Nursery in Southwick MA. Only one species new to the Garden was included, a Longspur violet. Detail below.
Eloise on June 1st noted “on the plateau, north of the office and near a small hawthorn started up a pheasant. Her nest had eleven eggs, one of which had rolled off a little distance from the others. Noted among the cat-tails five nests of red-winged blackbirds. One nest had four eggs -- beautiful blue, scrawled with dark purple Runic inscriptions.”
ON July 28 Eloise noted: “Long drought broken by shower. The weather has been extreme hot as well as dry.” There had been a number of small showers this Summer but this was the only one that exceeded an inch of rain. Summer temperatures were well above normal from the end of May onward.
Nine new species were added this Summer. Four came from Mrs. Cram who was on Isle Royal and always sent plants back to the Garden by mail. Gertrude Cram was a good friend of Eloise and she would later be the same to Martha Crone.
A number of other plants, already in the Garden, came during the Summer in June and July from Grand Marais MN and from Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay Ontario Canada). One might surmise that these also came from Mrs. Cram while making her way to Isle Royal for her annual August visit there. It’s possible also that they were sent by Martha Crone who frequently visited the North Shore of Lake Superior and continued to source plants there after she became curator.
Eloise’s birthday was August 3rd, her 80th. A party was held at her lodgings, the J.W. Babcock House at 227 Xerxes Ave. Two photos are shown here. Eloise sent copies of the birthday photos to the Crones August 14 with this note: "Dear "Cronies". -- I didn't know when you would be able to come into the garden so I am mailing you the snap shots of the joint birthday party. I thought you would (sic) to see how very English Dr. Crone and Mrs. Babcock look with their monocles as they sit at the table. I think that the out-door print is very good, except that the doctor is somewhat obscured by the dark tree trunk."
Above. A gathering of friends on her 80th birthday, August 3, 1931. From l to r: Miss Alma Johnson, frequenter of the Garden; Mrs John Hadden, a former pupil; Mrs. J. W. Babcock, in whose house Eloise lodged while in Minneapolis; Miss Clara K. Leavitt, fellow teacher; Eloise; Dr. W. H. Crone (behind Eloise); Miss Elizabeth Foss, botany teacher at North H.S.; Miss Mary K. Meeker, former pupil; Mrs. O. F. (Edith) Schussler, former pupil; Mrs Crone (Martha); Mrs. Louisa Healy, former pupil. Photo: Minnesota Historical Society, Martha Crone Papers.
Below: Following the outdoor photo above, the gathering moved indoors to the J. W. Babcock House at 227 Xerxes Ave. where Eloise boarded during the time that the Garden was open. The seating arrangement here is: Left side front to back - Mrs. Louisa Healy, Eloise Butler, Mrs. Schussler, Miss Leavitt and Miss Foss. Right side, front to back - Martha Crone, Mrs. Hadden, Miss Johnson, Mrs. Babcock and Dr. Wm. Crone. Photo: Minnesota Historical Society, Martha Crone Papers.
In the Autumn a lot of planting occurred. Eloise obtained 4 new species for the Garden, detailed below. .
Large numbers of other species previously in the Garden came from sources such as: Nowthern, MN; Barksdale WI; Ferndale Nursery in Askov MN; Gillett’s Nursery in Southwick MA; St. Paul, MN; Sarona WI; Glenwood Park; and Fort Snelling, Minneapolis.
IN April she had written an essay that we believe was unpublished, but may have been a letter to the Gray Memorial Botanical Chapter, (Division D ) of the Agassiz Association for publication in the Asa Gray Bulletin. It is titled The Attractiveness of vegetables and common weeds. In it she discusses a strange vegetable, a mis-shapped cabbage, but writes most about why she likes common weeds - at least most. She states: “I cannot help admiring the pariahs of my garden, although competition is so fierce I must needs destroy them. If rare and difficult to cultivate, one would travel miles to see the golden heads of dandelion or the gossamer balls of down when in seed.” (1) Read it all here.
Her last log entries were on October 16 when she planted eleven species from Fort Snelling, Sarona WI, and from Glenwood Park.
When the Garden closed and the office was locked up she departed for the East Coast to visit her relatives as she has done every winter since 1911.
Weather: 1931 was the warmest year in weather history down to the present. Temperatures reached 104 degrees in September. Precipitation was below normal, snowfall was almost non-existent.
Eloise brought into the Garden a number of plants that are not listed today on the Garden census. Many of these were native to Minnesota and a few were not. Here is a listing of most of those plants introduced this year to the Garden for the first time - the common and botanical names listed first are names she used followed by other common names for the same plant and the newer botanical classifications, if any; then follows her source for the material. 1931 is the first year the following list of plants occur in her log. "Native" indicates the plant is considered native to Minnesota (here at European Settlement time) or if introduced, long established. "Non-native" indicates it is not known to exist in Minnesota in the wild. "Introduced" means not native to North America. "Extant" indicates the plant is present in the Garden today. Botanical classification: Over the years Botanists have reclassified many plants from the classifications in use at the time Eloise Butler wrote her Garden Log or when Martha Crone prepared her census. I have retained the nomenclature that Eloise Butler or Martha Crone used and then provided the more current classification as used by the major listings in use today, particularly Flora of North America, the University of Minnesota's Checklist of the Vascular Flora of Minnesota, and as a fall-back source - the USDA Plants Database.
Photo top of page: Eloise Butler and friends at her 80th Birthday Party. Photo courtesy Martha Crone Collection, MHS.
Garden Log - Native Plant Reserve, Glenwood Park, Minneapolis, MN by Eloise Butler
Martha Crone's Garden Log and her 1951 Census of plants in the Garden.
Various papers and correspondence of Eloise Butler in the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society.
Historical Climatology of Minneapolis-St. Paul Area by Charles Fisk.