John Kirk Townsend

August 10, 1809 - February 6, 1851

Townsend, John Kirk, ornithologist, physician (Aug. 10, 1809-Feb. 6, 1851). Born at Philadelphia, he became a physician and surgeon and at the same time pursued his avocation of naturalist. He was eager to explore the western country and joined Nathaniel Wyeth's second expedition to Oregon, leaving Independence, Missouri, April 28, 1834, with the annual fur trade caravan and by June arriving at the Green River rendezvous, from there going on to Fort Vancouver, Washington. Townsend became post surgeon until 1836, after a few months in Hawaii. He explored the lower Columbia River, visited Walla Walla and the Blue Mountains completing his bird collection and left by way of Cape Horn November 30, 1836, arriving home a year later. His book: Narrative of a Journey across the Rocky Mountains to the Columbia River. . ., appeared in 1839. He also published Ornithology of the United States of America a year later. Townsend died at Washington, D.C.