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John & Sara Lemmon: Early California Botanists, Civil War Survivors and Influential Oakland Citizens
John and Sara Lemmon built a home on Telegraph Ave. in the late 1800s to house their Herbarium--a collection of plant specimens they had collected throughout the American West.  John had served in the Union cavalry and survived the notorious Andersonville prisoner-of-war camp.  He came west to California to recover his health.  While living with his 49er brothers in the Sierra, he was fascinated by the surrounding alpine plants.  Not formally trained in botany, he was dismissed by Bay Area scientists, but persisted in his study.  Many California plants today bear his lemmonii epithet.  He met his wife Sara, who is responsible for the campaign to have the California Poppy recognized as the state flower.  John was a charter member of the Sierra Club and served on the Oakland City Council. He was involved in many civic projects, including planting trees along city streets and developing Oakland city parks.  The Lemmons are important figures in the history of Oakland, and represent a remarkable intersection of Civil War history, the West, the early environmental movement and citizen science.

Brad and Kelly Agnew are a father-daughter co-author team.  Brad is a retired professor of American History, living in Oklahoma, and Kelly is a Biologist teaching at Cal. Their book is available at, where interested viewers can read a portion of the biography.

Aug 12, 2021 07:00 PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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