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REVERCHON, JULIEN

REVERCHON, JULIEN (1837–1905). Julien Reverchon, botanist and colonist, was born on August 3, 1837, in Diemoz, France, to Jacques Maximilien and Florine (Pete) Reverchon. His mother was the primary source of his education. He began his life-long work of specimen collection as a boy. His family had a long and important involvement in French political and military history, and his father continued the family inclination by participating in the 1848 revolution that overthrew Louis Philippe. His father subscribed to François M. C. Fourier's utopian social philosophy and, after a failed effort in Algeria, decided to join Victor P. Considérant's La Réunion near Dallas, Texas. Julien accompanied his father and left his collection of more than 2,000 plant species with his brother. They arrived at La Réunion in December 1856 and learned of the colony's failure, so they bought a small farm nearby. There Julien worked and studied the local plant life. He married Marie Henri on July 24, 1864, and they had two sons, both of whom died of typhoid fever in 1884. Reverchon's scientific inquiry fell off in the early years of his marriage, as his time was occupied with the farm and his dairy business. By 1869, however, he was collecting again, and during a fossil-finding expedition with Jacob Boll in West Texas in September 1879, he found the plant from which Asa Gray named the genus Reverchonia. Several other botanists also named plant species for Reverchon. In 1885 he spent several months exploring an area of Southwest Texas as yet unvisited by botanists. He contributed to books by Gray and Sprague Sargent, as well as to Garden and Forest, the American Botanist, and the Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. He also contributed specimens to the United States Department of Agriculture and the Smithsonian Institution. He was a member of the Torrey Botanical Club of New York, and during the last ten years of his life was professor of botany at the Baylor University College of Medicine and Pharmacy at Dallas. At his death Rose Cottage, Reverchon's farm, housed more than 2,600 species and more than 20,000 specimens of Texas plants. This, considered the best collection of its kind in the world, was secured by the Missouri Botanical Garden at St. Louis. Reverchon moved to the home of his adopted son, R. M. Freeman, upon his wife's death in 1901, and he died there of Bright's disease on December 30, 1905. He was buried in the cemetery of the old French colony. The city of Dallas named Reverchon Park in his honor.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

S. W. Geiser, Naturalists of the Frontier (Dallas: Southern Methodist University, 1937; 2d ed. 1948). Memorial and Biographical History of Dallas County (Chicago: Lewis, 1892; rpt., Dallas: Walsworth, 1976). George H. Santerre, White Cliffs of Dallas: The Story of La Reunion (Dallas: Book Craft, 1955).

Joan Jenkins Perez

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Joan Jenkins Perez, "REVERCHON, JULIEN," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fre30), accessed April 20, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.