Sunday, June 11, 2023

Florida Pear Whelk Shell

Recently, I was given to a small bag of seashells that was in the possession of a long time University of Louisville geology professor James Conkin (1924-2017). The shells were found in 1889 by a 17 year old Lucien Beckner (1873-1963). The bag was labeled that the shells were found in Naples, Florida USA. Mr. Beckner was a mentor to Professor Conkin and his natural history collection was left to him upon his death.

While I am not an expert, I think the shell pictured in this posting is a Florida Pear Whelk or Fulguropsis pyruloides (Say, 1822). This species was named by early American naturalist Thomas Say (1787-1834) who is buried in New Harmony, Indiana (several hours drive west of Louisville, Kentucky).

Hopefully, I can identify all the shells in the bag and properly document them and then find them a good home somewhere in Louisville.

 Lucien Beckner was born into an established Kentucky family in 1873. He attended Louisville Military Academy, Centre College, the University of Kentucky and Transylvania College. Later he practiced law in Winchester, Kentucky as well as serving as a newspaper editor there. Next he worked as a geologist at the Kentucky Geological Survey and with Louisville Gas and Electric. He switched careers and worked as an engineer with the Louisville and Nashville Railroad and then helped build a railroad in Ecuador.

In 1933, he became curator of the Louisville Museum of Natural History and Science at the Louisville Free Public Library. He held that position for 26 years helping educate the Louisville area community about natural history. He is buried at Winchester Cemetery in Clark County, Kentucky, USA.