Diary no. I [1], November 14, 1927 to January 29, 1928

ID: SIA RU007148

Creator: Graham, David Crockett

Form/Genre: Fieldbook record

Date: 1927-1928

Citation: David Crockett Graham Papers, 1923-1936

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This field book is a diary from 14 November 1927 to 29 January 1928 documenting Graham's field collecting trips in the vicinity of Suifu (currently Yibin); trip to Kiating (currently Leshan). Graham collects birds, insects, mammals, and reptiles. Mammal numbers range from 7 to 45. Locations in which Graham collected include various localities near modern day Yibin and Leshan. Graham also makes ethnological observations during this trip. No scientific names are provided.

Date Range


Start Date

Nov 14, 1927

End Date

Jan 29, 1928

Access Information

Many of SIA's holdings are located off-site, and advance notice is recommended to consult a collection. Please email the SIA Reference Team at osiaref@si.edu.


  • Animals
  • Entomology
  • Herpetology
  • Birds
  • Mammalogy
  • Ornithology


  • Yibin
  • Sichuan
  • China
  • Leshan


  • Fieldbook record
  • Field notes
  • Diary

Accession #

SIA RU007148

Collection name

David Crockett Graham Papers, 1923-1936

Physical Description

1 field book

Physical Location

Smithsonian Institution Archives


1 Box Folder 3

Diary No. I Nov. 14, 1927 to Jan. 29, 1928 Nov. 14, 1927. Arrived at Suifu about two o'clock. It was necessary to go to the likin office before baggage and freight could be removed from the steamer. Several Suifu friends met me at the steamer (Chinese friends) and several long strings of firecrackers were fired off to welcome me back to Suifu. It took me until nearly dark to get all the freight and baggage up to our compound. Several Chinese friends gave needed help. Nov. 15. Helped Mr. Lovegren get started to Kiating, then attended a big reception to parents of pupils at the Church kindergarten. For supper was invited to a Chinese feast. Nov. 16. Sent a messenger to the Yunnan border to bring the aborigine collector and another old collector, [[red underline]] Chen Gih Uen, [[/red underline]] both of whom I hope to engage as collectors. Nov. 17. Began unpacking the Smithsonian boxes, but was frequently interrupted by many Chinese friends who came to make friendly calls. Nov. 18. Finished unpacking the Smithsonian boxes. The packing was evidently [[underline]] very well done [[/underline]], for everything was in perfect condition excepting that three bottles of formalin had broken. Attended another feast in a Chinese home -- in the home of an old friend. Secured my first specimens. October 19th (sic.) Today I set my first traps for a weasel or a wildcat that has been killing rabbits at the men's hospital. I set two traps for birds, and one for rats. I intend to begin to train my Chinese taxidermist right away. I was invited to a Chinese feast at noon, and a formal welcome by the Church members was held in the afternoon. Anyone who attended that reception, if he understood Chinese, would have no doubt of the sincerity of the welcome which the Chinese have given me. Later--We have caught a female wildcat, the first mammal. Oct. 20 (sic.) This afternoon with the taxidermist I worked on the wildcat skin. I want to train him well now so that when on collecting trips he will do first-class work. My best netter, Chen Ghi Uen, came around. He is now selling medicine, but will begin work collecting in about ten days. Nov. 21. We finished the wildcat, and also a houserat. We did not do a perfect job on either of them, but expect to improve with practice. About eight of Suifu's principle business men gave a sumptuous feast to me and
--2-- to the Chinese secretary of our church's social guild. So far the Chinese have manifested more friendship to me than even in previous times at Suifu. Nov. 22. I went out into the country and secured three birds on which the taxidermist and I are practicing. Nov. 23. Unpacked some of the collecting outfit. It just about takes up one room of our house I keep this room locked all the time. Nov. 24. Secured two birds. Nov. 25. The aborigine hunter arrived with 32 birds and four mammals and five large bottles and several small bottles of snakes. he will have to be instructed during the next few days so he can do a far better kind of work in skinning. Spent the evening labelling and rewrapping the specimens. The snakes look very interesting. There is room for a great deal of improvement in the care of the specimens. Nov. 26. Today we have been teaching the taxidermist Ho and the aborigine collector Yang Fong Tsang how to take care of mammal and bird specimens. There is great improvement, but we have not reached perfection yet. We have been practicing on rats and English sparrows. Nov. 27. Taxidermist and aborigine collector practiced on a rat. Discussed outfit and collecting with aborigine. Nov. 28. Today I shot nine birds in seven shots on which the aborigine collector practiced. The old collector Chen Gih Uen arrived with a small collection ready to begin work. He had some insects he had collected on the way. He begins work tomorrow. I received today a letter from Dr. Wetmore and the first letter from my family since leaving Victoria. Nov. 29. Yang Fong Tsang the aborigine today started home to renew collecting, and today Chen Gih Uen renewed his work of collecting. He will net and trap. Today I also wrapped my first package of specimens, three mammal skins and some small snakes collected by Yang Fong Tsang. Box No. 1. Nov. 30. Purchased a live mammal, resembling a coon. It was very fat, and it was a very hard job to get the fat off the skin. The skinner worked over half a day on this specimen and I spent all the time I could spare. (mammal No. 7) Dec. 1. Mailed the first box of specimens. Dec. 2. Mailed boxes two and three. Collector Chen came in with four rats he had end page.
--3-- trapped on a nearby mountain and some insects. I looked into the box where two bottles of formalin were broken en route. The packing was so well done that I do not see how they got broken. I hardly see how a better job of packing could have been done. Dec. 4. Mailed box No. 4, snakes. Dec. 5. Mailed box No. 5, snakes. Thieves have been trying hard to break into two mission safes which are in another compound. They injured the safes but did not get in. It confirms my conviction that my good watchdog is much responsible for the safety of the Smithsonian collecting outfit. Dec. 6. Today I spent the whole day collecting on the Min River about six miles above the city. We walked all thew ay. It rained a good deal, and the rocks became slippery and the road muddy. I used the fishnets and the shotgun. I had very poor luck. There are practically no fish in the small streams. I saw some fish-ducks filling up on tadpoles!! While I was on furlough one of the rubber boots sprung a leak. My right foot was soaking wet the last half of the day. Boxes six and seven have been mailed. Dec. 8. Today carpenters began making boxes in which to ship specimens. I expect to get quite a few made for future use. Yesterday Chen Gih Uen went off for a three days' collecting trip. Dec. 10. Carpenters still making boxes. Chen Gih Uen returned with specimens and went off collecting again. Dec. 11. Got boxes 9-18 ready for mailing. They contain birds, mammal bones, insects, snakes, etc. Dec. 12. Mailed boxes 9-16. Mammal No. 10. Dec. 13. Spent the day on the mountains showing Chen Gih Uen how to trap small mammals. Scared up a leopard, the first wild one I have seen. I had only a shotgun and it was loaded with No. 10 bird shot, but I sent that after him. Dec. 14. Very busy all day. With no other foreigners here, my duties are somewhat more numerous and exacting than in past years. Schools, hospitals, churchs, and the station sub-treasury all take time. Dec. 15. The collector Chen Gih Uen came in with two wild rats. He said the small mousetraps did not seem to hold them--many of them were set off, but the rats, escaped. I gave him ten rat-traps. Mammals No. 11-12. Dec. 16. The collector trapped mammals No. 13 and 14.
--4-- Dec. 17. Mammals No. 15, 16, and 17. Word has come that Miss Crawford, a nurse, is on the way from Shanghai to Suifu. She can take over the Suifu sub-treasury work, of which I will be glad. I am trying to purchase a cheap dog to use as bait for the leopard, but have not succeeded. Dec. 18. The collector brought four mountain rats. They look interesting. I have dogs in sight with which to bait the leopard traps. I may try it tomorrow night. mammal No. 21. Dec. 19. Went to the nearby mountains with the four bear-traps, the high-power rifle, and the revolver to set the traps for a leopard. Slept on the floor with my clothes on. No leopard came. Dec. 20. Came into the city early. Four mountain rats. Mammal No. I left one bear trap and a decoy dog with the collector so he could set the trap for the leopard. The collector Chen has really learned how to collect small mammal.s When he has learned how to skin them well he can go on distant collecting trips. I have not yet really begun collecting fish, but will soon. I will have to purchase a tub to pickle the fish in. Two pounds of absorbent cotten have arrived from Chungking. There is only poor grade cotton here that is not good for wrapping bird skins. A threatened civil war in the province has been averted. Mammals 22-23,24,25,26. Dec. 21. Spend the day going to Beh Son ^[[Sou]] Chi, 40 li west of Suifu. Secured four birds, one of which was a strange duck with a bright red bill and a golden brown head. Mammals No. 27,28. Dec. 22. Government school students have been holding anti-Christian meetings and making speeches on the street. Some of them threw stones over the city wall into our yard. Dec. 23. Chen Gih Uen came in with five mountain rats and two birds. One bird was badly spoiled by the trap, so I threw it away. Mammals 29-33. Today I entertained all the head military, civil and business leaders of the city excepting one who did not appear. They included the civil magistrate or mayor, the head military officers, the head tax collector, who is a relative of the military governor of the province, the president and vice president of the chamber of commerce, and others. These all took dinner with me, and were very friendly. Dec. 24-25. The government school students have been raising Ned. They have been making anti-Christian speeches and putting up anti-Christian placards on the streets. They went to the Catholic Church and broke some lights. The Catholics gave them a clubbing. Fearing the students would raise a mob, the Catholics assembled in force to fight if necessary. This anti-Christian
--5-- demonstration is probably general in Szechuan in the government schools, but disapproved by the officials and a majority of the Chinese. Mammals 34-35. Our church had a fine Christmas time in spite of the students. Dec. 26. I went to Li Chuang nearly 20 miles down the Yangtze river. Killed two white cranes. Mammals 36-39. Dec. 27. Killed a yellow duck and small birds. Mammals 40-41. The students made trouble at the China Inland Mission Church, and also at the Catholic Church. They made no trouble at all at our church. There is some possibility that the more liberal policy of our church, and the work of our schools and hospitals have to some extent commended themselves to thinking Chinese in Suifu. Dec. 26. Two mammals, Nos. 42-43. Packing for the Kiating trip. Dec. 29. Sent Chen Gih Uen to another district where he can secure clams and shrimps. I secured another Hua Miao garment like the one I took to the Smithsonian Institution in 1926. It cost me $8.00 Mexican. This one is said to be worn by men. I expect to get a fine new suit within a couple couple of months. This fills up box no. 20 since my arrival in Suifu, 1 1/2 months. Dec. 30. Packed boxes 21,22,23. Hope to fill two more tomorrow. Spent much time packing for Kiating. I will go to Kiating, stay for a week, then return to Suifu. Two men will be netting and trapping at Kiating and on the way there. Jan 1. Got up early. Sent the baggage to the boat. I had to go to the city gates and open up the boxes for inspection by soldiers. The boat went on ahead. After leading the service in the Church, I walked about five miles, and got on the boat. Killed five birds, one a duck which was useless. Jan 2. Went through a district where birds are few. Reached Gioh Chi after dark. Jan 3. Picked up some good-looking fish. A beautiful warm, sunshiney ^[[sunshiny]] day. A.M. got two small birds. Picked up the skeleton of an owl, the claws of which are missing. Later--One who lives in China is not apt to lack thrills. About dark our boat struck a rock. Soon afterwards it was found that the boat was filing rapidly with water. The boatmen said it was unimportant. A little later I ^[[dumfounded]] took a look for myself. The water was pouring into the boat. The boatmen were dumbfounded and were doing nothing, excepting that one man was bailing out water with a small wooden bailer. He was losing ground, and the boat was filling rapidly. I got a boatman to get down in the water and stop the leak as well as possible with his feet. I got a stand-oil tin and we began
--6-- to dip out water rapidly. Even then the issue was doubtful for a while, so I had coolies carry the Chinese women off the boat to shore on their backs. Then the bedding and baggage were carried off. We got onto another boat and went to the next wharf. Most of this was after dark, and we got to bed about twelve o'clock. We were lucky to get off safely and with dry skins and baggage. Jan. 4. This morning I killed two sand swallows. This afternoon with three Chinese I went overland to some pools and small creeks where I hoped some specimens might be secured. We secured lots of shrimps, three frogs, three snipes, and a small fishing bird. The boat I am now on was nearly sunk today in my absence. Chinese friends on the boat laid to and bailed out water until the leak was under control. The leak is now fairly well repaired. The boat ran into a hidden rock. Jan. 5. Bad luck followed us again today. The mast was pulled down by the pulling-rope of another larger boat. It took at least an hour to fix it. Then the boat turned tail twice on a bad rapid and was in danger of smashing on the rocks. It was apparent that the boat was being poorly managed. We are told that the captain is not familiar with the river here. He has gone ashore to worship the boatman's god, Wang E [[underline]]Prisah [[/underline]] ^[[Pusah]] so as to get his help tomorrow. Jan. 6. The boatmen lost over an hour because they tried to cross the river where it was impossible to cross. Tonight we are 20 li. from Kiating, where we should arrive about noon tomorrow. Jan. 7. Arrived at Kiating at twelve o'clock. The foreign conference was in session in the afternoon, and I attended. In the evening a Chinese candidate for ordination was examined. I killed a gull just as we arrived at Kiating. There are no gulls at Suifu. Jan. 8. Chen Gih Uen set his traps but secured no mammals. I hope to secure some fish tomorrow. Jan. 9,10. Very busy days in conference with little chance to collect excepting through the collectors, who have secured some fish and many insects. I have bought a vase from an old Chinese grave, and have secured some broken Han Dynasty pottery. Jan 11. A full day in conference. Today I had one collector in the old burial tombs. He brought back a load of broken pottery, some of which is of interest, but he secured none of the finest specimens I am hoping for. Most of them have been carried away, but there is hope that there are better specimens in some of the caves that have been closed by accident. If I go
--7-- to Moupin next summer, I will try to spend several days digging in these caves on the way back. I now have trace of two more of the vases like the one bought yesterday and I expect to get them. I also expect to purchase some wax images or idols that are made here and are peculiar to this city--these images are of various gods and goddesses, made of white wax. Jan. 13. Chen Gih Uen came in with some fine specimens from the burial tombs. Some of these were glazed, which is unusual in these caves,--most of the cave goods are unglazed. A chicken sitting on a hen's back, the nose of a dog, the feet and leg of a horse, images of human being^[[s]], etc., were included. I am planning to leave for Suifu early Sunday morning, arriving Monday morning. There have been two conferences going, the Chinese and the foreign, but I have managed to secure some good fish and other specimens, and some valuable relics. Jan. 14. Chen Gih Uen brought in many more relics from the burial tombs, mostly Han Dynasty or at least before the Tang Dynasty. Some had a greenish glaze, which is rare in the cave tombs. The collection seems exceedingly interesting. I also purchased a fine, large vase of the Ming or Manchu Dynasties, probably taken from a tomb. I loaded my things on the large boat to start for Suifu. I have engaged a small boat to go as far as Chien Way so as to shoot ducks and other specimens. I regard the tomb specimens as very good and interesting. Jan. 15. I secured a small boat in order to shoot birds along the river between Kiating and Kien Way or Chien Way. The larger boat is too clumsy for shooting. Killed 7 birds and wounded several, as we passed just above Chien Way the cave-tombs that Baber visited and called mantsi dwellings. The people who made and used these caves were no more mantsis or aborigines than I am. I think [[underline]] Baber [[/underline]] [[Faber written in left margin]] visited this spot in 1885 and described the caves in an issue of the Royal Geographical Society's Journal soon after (1886). If he had visited the Kiating caves instead of hurrying on to Mt.[[underline]]Orvier [[/underline]] [[Omei written in right margin]] he would have thought differently. We are spending the night at Ma-[[underline]] Siu [[/underline]] [[Liu written in right margin]]-Tsang. Jan. 16. Arrived at Suifu so late that the baggage had to be left on the boat. I will get it off tomorrow morning. I had a letter from my family in Michigan awaiting me in Suifu. Miss Crawford arrived from Chungking also today. She is a nurse in one of our hospitals, the woman's hospital. Jan. 17. Unpacked the Kiating catch. The grave relics make a large and important display. One dish, the Chinese say, is very valuable. I got it at a low price. There are tombs around Kiating that the foreigners have not yet found. They probably contain a large number of such relics. If I can stay at Kiating
--8-- about four days after the Moupin trip, I can secure many more than I now have. Chen Gih Uen has gone to the country to work about eight days. On the way down the river from Kiating I took note of the burial tombs generally called Mantsi Caves. There is a large number of them, of all depths and sizes. I may try to map the river, noting the locations of the caves, in the future. However, there may be some caves away from the river which would, of course, be missed. The tomb specimens I have will fill twenty to thirty boxes. I intend to send the most important of them at least, possibly awaiting instructions about the rest. I expect to begin mailing biological specimens at once. The barometer at Suifu should register 1000 feet, for that is the altitude of the city, but it has been hovering between 1500 and 2000 feet alt. Jan. 18. Sent to the Postoffice boxes 28, 29, 30, and 31. Purchased lumber with which to make a large number of boxes for shipping specimens. As Chinese New Year approaches, all the Chinese are very busy collecting debts and winding up the year's business. At Kiating I secured three wax images, one of the God of wealth, who is worshipped by the Chinese in their homes. That is, the wax image is worshipped. He helps people prosper financially. One is of Maitreya, the Buddhist Messiah. He is the future savior of the world. This wax image is sometimes worshipped in homes, and sometimes merely used as an ornament. The third is thought by some to be merely a pretty woman [[left margin]] Kuanyin [[/ left margin]] (Chinese) and by others is considered to be [[underline]] Kuangin [[/underline]] , the Goddes of Mercy. This wax image is sometimes worshipped in the homes, and sometimes merely used as an ornament. There are three other such images in Kiating, one the God of War. If these reach the Smithsonian Institution safely, others may be sent. Jan. 19. Mailed boxes 32, 33, 34, 35. Purchased some old coins for about 3 cents gold. Carpenters are busy making boxes for specimens. Jan. 20. Spent most of the day packing and labelling artifacts secured in the Kiating cave-tombs. Jan. 21. Again spent nearly all the day packing and labelling artifacts from the cave-tombs. I expect to lay aside the less important and only send them if Dr. Wetmore approves. Jan. 22. This is the day before Chinese New Year. I packed several boxes of specimens, all of which are artifacts from Han-Dynasty ^[[*]]. I am realizing that our very success may create a financial problem--that of keeping within our allotment. ^[[* tombs or from tombs not long after the Han Dynasty.]]
--9-- January 23. Today is the old Chinese New Year's Day. Last night firecrackers were exploding occasionally all night, so that is was difficult to sleep. Today nearly 100 people came to wish me a happy New Year. I managed to write out a report on the artifacts secured in the Kiating cave-tombs. [[left margin]]Miao [[/left margin]] The Hua [[underlined]] Miar [[/underlined]] aborigine who sold me that aborigine coat which I sent recently has been staying in my barn with his family because he was too poor to rent a place elsewhere. He seems to have almost gone crazy, and became very brutal to his wife and daughter, so that I had to send him away and to forbid him to come back on the place again. This morning he tried to strangle his little daughter. January 24. Yesterday and today many Chinese came to wish me a happy New Year. I have also spent some time on the streets and in the temples and in the burial grounds noting the Chinese customs. I have taken a few pictures. Last night I developed two films, using film-tanks, and the aprons sold by the Eastman Kodak Company. One apron was mine, and one the Smithsonian's. Evidently the Szechuan climate has been hard on these aprons. Mine completely went to pieces, and the Smithsonian apron cracked in one place. I have now filled fifty-six boxes with specimens, all of which will be mailed by parcel post within a few days. Jan. 25. Rained during the night. Chen Gih Uen returned with an average catch. He has a snake which he thinks is peculiar, but it is in a blue bottle and I can not see it or get it out. He has frogs, snails, shrimps, etc. Mammal No. 44. Jan. 26. Chen Gih Uen went to the neighboring hills [[strikethrough]] to [[/strikethrough]] trap. Jan. 27. Word has come that civil war is certain down the river. I will therefore delay further shipment of specimens until things quiet down again. I am sorry to do so. We will go on collecting. Packed box No. 57, contents man holding two conical jugs, thumb exposed, fingers inside. Pointed bottom. (Illustration). Jan. 28. Chen Gih Uen came in sick with a very bad cold. He has to go to bed until he recovers. Mammal No. 45. Filled box No. 58. pottery. 58, value $3.00. Jan. 29. It is quite cold today. The netter Chen is improving. I visited the site of the old Suifu that existed nearly two thousand years ago. I took a picture of the old pagoda. I climbed up the pagoda to the top on the inside. I visited a number of old tombs of probably Ming Dynasty times. They were empty excepting for refuse recently thrown in. The old pagoda is composed of great bricks 2 1/2 inches thick, 8 1/2 inches wide, and about or nearly two feet long. In the pagoda there are two kinds of arches. The true arch (illustration) and the other arch (illustration). In the burial tombs the shape was square (illustration), about ten feet by
--10-- 3 1/2 feet. The sides and top were covered by true arches made of large brick (illustration). At the rear end was a kind of inset that resembles a shelf. (illustration) It might have been the place to set a vase or even an idol. I encircled for the first time the entire old city. I watched for kitchen middens, but found none. The old city had been surrounded by a high, wide [[strikethrough]] , [[/strikethrough]] dirt wall, which is disappearing because of weathering and cultivation. Length about 1/2 mile, width (of old city) about 1/3 mile. This is the first diary or report book. After reading please send to Mrs. David C. Graham, 215 North Manning Street, Hillsdale, Michigan, with the request to again return to the Smithsonian Institution after she has read it. David C. Graham.