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Charles F. and Lucy Hartt



Charles Frederick Hartt was the eldest son of Jarvis William and Prudence Brown.  He was born, on August 23, 1840, in Fredericton, New Brunswick, educated at Horton Academy, Wolfville, Nova Scotia, and at Acadia College, Nova Scotia.  He also taught a year at the Young Ladies High School in St. John.  Later, he went to Cambridge to study in the Agassiz Museum, (Geology).


Charles married Miss Lucy Cornelia Lynde of Buffalo, New York, in 1869.  They had two children, Mary and Rollin.  Both children became writers.  Rollin wrote at least seven articles for Atlantic Monthly, between 1899 and 1900, that are available on the Cornell Library web site.


Charles Frederick Hartt was a man of unusual abilities.  From an early age, C. Fred Hartt (as he was usually known) manifested geology and paleontology, and he made extensive collections in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

In 1862, he was appointed one of the geologists of the Thayer expedition to Brazil.  In 1868, he was appointed Professor of Natural History in Vassar College and Head of the Department of Geology in Cornell University.  He was also a skilled linguist and an authority on the legendary lore of all countries.  His success was due to his natural ability and untiring industry.

Brazil was his greatest interest.  In 1870, C. Fred organized the largest of his expeditions, taking with him another professor and 11 Cornell students.  On this and a subsequent expedition, he worked in the Amazonas.  In 1874, he submitted a proposition to the Brazilian government for a geological survey of Brazil. And, in 1875, the Geological Commission of the Empire of Brazil was organized with Professor Hartt as its chief.  For the next three years, he directed expeditions working in many parts of the country and set up a museum to house all the scientific specimens collected.

In the spring of 1878, after he returned to Rio de Janeiro from an
exhausting inland expedition, he died of yellow fever on March 18, 1878, at the age of 38, cutting short a brilliant career.

He is remembered as a broad-minded naturalist.  It is not difficult to sum up Hartt's influence upon geological work in Brazil, for, with very few exceptions, all the work of this character which has been done in that country since 1874 is traceable, either directly or indirectly, to the impetus given it by Hartt.  -- Source:  Dictionary of Canadian Biography, volume 10 (University of Toronto Press)


Charles Frederick Hartt faced many personal versus professional decisions in his short geological career. Torn between his perceived professional career advancement and the well-being of his family, Hartt chose his career each time.  Hartt's career focus began when he accompanied his teacher, Louis Agassiz, on the Thayer Expedition to Brazil in 1865. In 1868, he became the first geologist at the new Cornell University, and married Miss Lucy Cornelia Lynde of Buffalo,  New York; a son was born and then a daughter.  At Cornell, Hartt organized the Morgan expeditions to Brazil in 1870 and 1871, and letters written at this time illustrate the dilemma facing him and his difficult decisions.  Letters to Lucy emphasized his love for her and their family and mentioned the dangers and hardships he was facing.  Yet the public writings about the trips give a picture of great adventures, science in the making, etc.


For a brief time, his family joined him at Rio after he organized the Brazilian Geologic Commission in 1875.  Lucy then became pregnant with twins and wanted to leave.  Hartt would not or could not leave his work, so Lucy took the children and left.  Upon her return to Buffalo, she lost the babies.  Lucy never again contacted her husband directly -- his decision to put geology first had cost him dearly.  This final blow came during the last years of his life, and no doubt contributed to his early death.  Yet, had he not chosen to go to Brazil, would we be writing about him?

An interesting biography, written in 1874, of Charles Frederick Hartt can be viewed at the following link:  Virtual American Biographies

Children born to Charles Frederick Hartt and Lucy Lynde Hartt:

Rollin Lynde Hartt Born November 20, 1869 Ithaca, New York Married twice.  He is listed as a writer.
Died June 17, 1946  
Mary Bronson Hartt Born March 23, 1873 New York City, New York Unmarried; living with her mother in Buffalo according to the 1910 census.  A writer and a correspondent for the Boston Transcript.


According to the Copyright office, a son, John F. Hartt, renewed the copyright on one of Charles F. Hartt's books in 1950.  [Information on the living deleted]

Sources, contributors, and researchers