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Ferdinand Rugel was one of the most interesting, but least known, of the botanists who worked in the southern United States before the Civil War. A German pharmacist deeply interested in botany, he came to Virginia from Switzerland in 1840. His plan was to collect plants, insects, and mollusks for R. J. Shuttleworth, a British botanist long a resident of Bern. At first Rugel intended to spend only a few years in the botanical exploration of the Southern Appalachians. In 1845, however, he married in eastern Tennessee (where he had fixed his residence), and here he remained the rest of his life. He raised a large family, most of whom later migrated to Dallas County, Texas. It was here that his widow, Laura Bell Rugel, lived with her children for the last ten years of her life.

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