Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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HOLBROOK, John Edwards, naturalist, born in Beaufort, South Carolina, 30 December, 1794; died in Norfolk, Massachusetts, 8 September, 1871. He spent his early life in Wrentham, Massachusetts, which for many years had been the home of his father's family, and was graduated at Brown in 1815. He took his medical degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1818, and then continued his professional studies for two years in London and Edinburgh, after which he spent two more years on the continent, devoting much time to natural history, especially in Paris. In 1822 he returned to the United States, and established himself as a physician in Charleston, South Carolina He was chosen professor of anatomy at the Medical college of South Carolina in 1824, and continued to occupy that chair for more than thirty years. Dr. Holbrook attained a high reputation by his lectures, owing to his wonderful knowledge of comparative anatomy, but seldom performed a surgical operation or attended an obstetric case. During the civil war he was head of the examining board of surgeons of South Carolina. Dr. Holbrook's work as a naturalist made his name widely known, His first contribution to science was "American Herpetology, or a Description of Reptiles inhabiting the United States" (5 vols., 4to, Philadelphia, 1842). The simplicity and precision of its descriptions, and the beauty and correctness of its illustrations, attracted attention not only in the United States, but also in Europe. Through it he became acquainted with Louis Agassiz, with whom he afterward maintained the friendliest of relations, visiting him annually during his summer trips to New England. He then began a "Southern Ichthyology," to include descriptions of the fishes of Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, but, after the publication of two numbers, he found the field too extensive, and therefore confined his studies to the "Ichthyology of South Carolina" (Charleston, 1854 et seq.), of which ten numbers made their appearance. In consequence of the civil war this publication was discontinued. He was a member of the American philosophical society and an early member of the National academy of sciences.--His brother, Silas Pinckney, author, born in Beaufort, South Carolina, 1 June, 1796; died in Pineville, South Carolina, 26 May, 1835, was graduated at Brown in 1815, studied law in Boston, and practised at Med-field, Massachusetts He was one of the most popular contributors to the "New England Galaxy" and the " Boston Courier," to which he furnished sketches entitled "Letters from a Mariner and Travels of a Tin Peddler," under the name of "Jonathan Farbrick," and amusing "Letters from a Boston Merchant," and "Recollections of Japan and China." These, with others, were published as " Sketches by a Traveller" (1834). He also wrote the European part of Peter Parley's "Pictorial Geography," and conducted the "Boston Tribune," and a comic paper called the "Spectacles."
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