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Liberty's early scientists
Leconte-Woodmanston Plantation
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On Jan. 3, 2009, the LeConte-Woodmanston Foundation will embark on an endeavor to help foster the love of science and nature in our coastal community.
Brothers Louis and John Eatton LeConte, the third generation of a French Huguenot immigrant family to own and manage the Woodmanston plantation, were passionate scientists and explorers. They instilled this enthusiasm for all things natural to their children.
This fourth generation of LeContes in America contributed vastly to the field of science and as a result, the LeConte name is recognizable throughout the country. A pear tree, two birds, three species of plants, four turtles, two mountains, three fossils, a mouse, a lake, a falls, a divide and a glacier all bear the name LeConte.
It wasn’t enough, however, for John and Joseph LeConte, born and raised at Woodmanston, to love nature. They spent their lives sharing this love. They were both professors at the universities of Georgia and South Carolina. After the Civil War, the brothers headed to California, where a school was being established: the University of California.
John served as the institution’s first interim president and several years later, served again. He established the school’s physics department while his brother established the geology department. Over the years, they published hundreds of papers on everything imaginable in the field of science.
In 1892, with John Muir and others, Joseph founded the Sierra Club, and following in his footsteps, his son, Joseph Nesbit LeConte, continued the work of preserving natural wonders. A close friend, famed photographer Ansel Adams, captured many of these marvels to share with the world. Joseph photographed the devastation of the San Francisco earthquake of 1908, served as the second president of the Sierra Club, and was a noted explorer in his own right.
On the first Saturdays of each month through 2009, LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation will host the “Super Saturday” educational program, with activities for all ages. It is our hope to inspire, with this and future programs, a love and respect for the natural world.
LeConte-Woodmanston Plantation is located at 4918 Barrington Ferry Road, Riceboro. For more information, email or, or call Cynthia Miles, program coordinator, at 492-5481. You may also call the office at 884-6500 or visit our Web site at

Evans is executive vice president of the LeConte-Woodmanston Foundation in Midway.
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