Entomologists Visit VHAS, Learn About Mary Treat and Soon-To-Be-Published Biography

Charles Mason, Kenneth Frank, Greg Cowper, Larry Henderson, Deborah Boerner Ein, and VHAS Curator Patricia Martinelli. Photo: Sven Strnad
The group also visited Mary Treat’s gravesite at Siloam Cemetery.

On a Saturday in April, the Vineland Historical and Antiquarian Society (VHAS) welcomed several members of the American Entomological Society (AES) to a lecture about Vineland history, and specifically one of the town’s early residents, Mary Treat. The botanist/entomologist lived here from the mid-1860s to 1919 and conducted her scientific studies—including observations of ants, plants, and spiders—in her backyard on the southeast corner of Park and Valley avenues.

Treat corresponded with all the renowned naturalists of her day, and a total of 15 letters between she and Charles Darwin crossed the Atlantic as they shared research results on carnivorous plants.

“It was a pleasure to host the members of the Society,” said Patricia A. Martinelli, VHAS curator. “They provided some new insight into Mary Treat’s work and we look forward to sharing information with them in the future.”

Joining Martinelli in hosting the AES members was Deborah Boerner Ein, who has spent the last three years researching and writing the first full-length biography of Mary Treat.

“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with this group, who seem as fascinated as I have been with this extraordinary scientist of the 19th century, who lived right here in Vineland,” Boerner Ein said. “In addition, the AES and the experts at Drexel [where vast collections of The Academy of Natural Sciences’ entomological specimens are housed] have been helpful to me in piecing together some of the details of Mary’s life and work. Dr. Jon Gelhaus, and Greg Cowper, for example, found a couple of ‘needles in the haystack’ of the Academy’s collections that were collected and sent there by none other than Mary Treat.”

The visit was coordinated by AES member Larry Henderson, a native of Vineland. He also arranged a Zoom presentation in November 2021 given by Boerner Ein to a broader AES audience.

To learn more about the Mary Treat biography and its release later this year, visit marytreat.com.

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