Diary no. II [2], January 29, 1928-May 27, 1928

ID: SIA RU007148

Creator: Graham, David Crockett

Form/Genre: Fieldbook record

Date: 1928

Citation: David Crockett Graham Papers, 1923-1936

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This field book is a diary from 29 January to 27 May 1928 documenting Graham's field collecting trips in the vicinity of Suifu (currently Yibin). Graham collects birds, insects, mammals, and fish. Mammal numbers range from 45 to 87. Locations in which Graham collected include various localities near modern day Yibin. Descriptions of specimen are occasionally provided. Graham also makes ethnological observations during this trip and notes a civil war erupting. No scientific names are provided.

Date Range


Start Date

Jan 29, 1928

End Date

May 27, 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
  • Birds
  • Ichthyology
  • Mammalogy
  • Ornithology


  • Yibin
  • Sichuan
  • China


  • 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 4

Diary NO. II David C. Graham, Suifu, Szechuan, China. January 29, 1928 to May 27, 1928 Jan. 29, 1928. This diary does not contain the more extensive notes I am making of [[margin]] ^[[religious]] [[/margin]] Chinese social and [[underlined]] regilious [[/underlined]] customs, or even of the artifacts I am occasionally picking up. These will probably appear in articles and possibly a book later. I suggest that when the articles reach the Smithsonian Institution, those [[margin]] ^[[Han]] [[/margin]] from the [[underlined]] Nan [[/underlined]] Dynasty tombs, either the Smithsonian Institution wait until I am in U.S.A. on furlough to cooperate with the curators in writing up these artifacts, or that the descriptions be sent to me for perusal before they are published. I am constantly learning things that throw light on these artifacts. (Box No. 58, Mammal No. 45.) Jan. 30. Weather improving. Mailed letter to Dr. Wetmore containing diary. The postmaster states that specimens can be forwarded to Shanghai and advises that they be shipped at once. I packed and labelled some specimens today. (Boxes No.59, 60, 61.) Jan. 31. Netter Chen Gih Uen collected shrimp across the Min River. Feb. 1. Mailed fifteen large boxes of specimens. Collector secured more shrimp and other water specimens across the Min River in the large pools. Packed boxes 62, 63. Feb. 2. A. M. sent Chen Gih Uen to the mountains to trap wild mice. P. M. took a trip across the Min river. Found a fine collecting spot for moths later on. Feb. 3. Mailed five boxes of specimens. There are still four boxes packed but not yet mailed. A bright, sunny day. Feb. 4. Slightly cloudy. Witnessed the great festival called "Welcoming Spring." Took several pictures, but with poor success because of the dense crowds and the narrow streets with shop-roofs overhanging. Feb. 5. Mailed four boxes of specimens, making a total of 63 boxes to date. Mammals No. 46, 47, 48, 49, all mice. A sunshiny day. Feb. 6. The final day of New Year's celebration.
[[ top of page]] - 2 - Feb. 7. Went to Beh Son Chi. Killed eight birds of which two were ruined. Feb. 8. [[handwritten Bien, left margin]] Went to Ngan [[underline]] Biln. [[/underline]] Secured only a few shrimp. Feb. 9. Returned to Suifu. Saw a Chinese straw hut catch fire and quickly burn up. It was an opium den. Feb. 11. Rumors say that civil war is certain to break out soon in Szechuan. If it does, it will bring great suffering to the Szechuan people. Kerosene in Suifu has now gone up to $30.00 a case, while it use to be $8.00. That will to some extent handicap us in the securing of nigh moths. During the next few days I am going to give special training in skinning and taking care of mammals and birds to Chen Gih Uen, the netter. Then I can send him on trips, and he can both trap and net, besides using the lantern at night. The aborigine collect Yang Fong Shan ought to be in with his winter catch soon. He needs more training in order to do better work in skinning birds and mammals. Feb. 12. Spent several hours teaching netter Chen Gh Uen to skin and take care of mammals. Secured mammals No. 50, 51, 52. I want to train him so that he can make excursions for himself, and do his own skinning. Besides I do not want to be too dependent on the skinner, Ho, who might become sick or quit work. I want to five the aborigine Yang Fong Tsang better training, for I am sure that his skinning is still imperfect. I am occasionally securing fish and fixing them in formalin. Feb. 13. Chen Gih Uen got badly chilled while practicing on a bird. He skinned the bird nicely, but later had to go to bed for the day, with a headache. Feb. 14. Chen Gih Uen went to the nearby mountains to trap mammals. It is reported that packages can not be forwarded properly by mail now, because of the disturbed conditions in the Yangtse Gorges. I can go on collecting and await the time when the specimens can be forwarded. Feb. 15. Mammals No. 53, 54, 55. The collector, Chen Gih Uen came in with three wild mice or rats. One was very large. Chen caught them on a steep [[end of page]]
-3- mountainside. The large rat had nothing but wild grass in his stomach. The aborigine collector, Yang Fong Tsang is now overdue. It may be that there are robbers along the route so that he can not get out. If so, he will probably keep on collecting and bring out his whole catch later. Feb. 16. The collector, Chen Gih Uen, today collected fish, securing two or three good specimens. There is a strong movement among students and farmers to oppose the forced planting of opium and the collecting of opium taxes from farmers who do not plant opium. Feb. 18. Collector Yang Fong Tsang came in with 15 mammals, 56-68, including a young leopard, 27 birdskins, and 14 bird bones. I think he should get more, and if he does not, I may cut his wages or discontinue employing him. My present intention is to continue using him at least until next summer's collecting is over. Feb. 20. Yesterday I took care of most of the specimens brought in by the aborigine collector, Yang Fong Tsang. He has improved [[underlined]] some [[/underlined]], but still needs further training. I am taking him with me and training him daily hoping to help him get nearer perfection. Today I passed through one of the most beautiful places in the Suifu perfecture. We dropped by boat from Suifu forty li down to Shui Liu Chi, then went sixty li overland to Gi Tien Ba. On the way we passed through a most beautiful and interesting ravine. In some places sheer, bare, perpendicular cliffs were exposed. In one place there is on the side of a cliff a fortified place or citadel, which is almost inaccessible, where apparently the populace has in the past escaped from robbers or soldiers. In some places there are terraced and cultivated hillsides. Much of the way there were woods. There must be at least twenty waterfalls along the bed of a creek, some of which have natural caves under them. In this canyon or ravine is a kind of a tree that I have seen elsewhere. It is like a giant fern, expecting that the central tree or [[margin]] ^[[stalk]] [[/margin]] [[underlined]] stalls [[/underlined]] is permanent like a tree, and grows to be fully ten inches in diameter and twenty feet high. One leaf I measured was eleven feet long. I took one picture, and took pieces of the wood and samples of the leaves or twigs, secured four birds, and allowed the aborigine to practice on them. Feb. 21. Mammal No. 69, Traveled from Gi Tien Ba past Muh Jia Pin to Li Duan Tsang. Killed three birds on which the aborigine collector may practice.
- 4 - A sunny day. Met many friends at Gi Tien Ba, at Muh Jia Pin, and at Li Tuan Tsang. At the last place the children were first afraid and ran away, but later became very friendly. Feb. 22. Mammal No. 70, a mole. Wend to Ngan Lin Chiao. Met many old friends. Secured one bird. Feb. 23. Travelled from Ngan Lu ^[[Lin]] Chiao to Gi ^[[Li]] Chuang on foot 110 li, or about thirty miles, all on foot. Secured only one bird. The road was in many places muddy and slippery beyond description, due to a rain last night. Feb. 24. Travelled from Li Chuang to Suifu, securing four birds. I found that the thieves have dug a small hole through our brick wall. It looks as if they were trying to get in. I'll have to be on the watch, and the watch-dog will be of invaluable value. I will notify the police headquarters tomorrow and see what they will do. Today I wounded a duck that escaped. Feb. 25. Chen Gih Uen returned with eleven wild mice and a few insects. Mammals No. 71-81. Feb. 26. Chen Gih Uen came in with a small catch of insects. Packed some specimens. Feb. 27. Chen Gih Uen came in with a wild rat and insects. Mammal No. 82. At present we have no communication with the outside world. Not even letters get through the Yangtse [[underlined]] g [[/underlined]]orges [[margin]] ^[[G]] [[/margin]]. We have to do the best we can with the materials we have on hand, and keep collecting the specimens awaiting the day when the specimens can be forwarded. I am using the shotgun shells very sparingly, for there is no telling when we can get more. I am daily^[[,]] almost^[[,]] taking anthropological measurements, but bones are impossible and collecting them would raise a riot. Feb. 28. Chen Gih Uen brought in two wild mice. Mammals No. 83-84. March 1. During the last few days we have had some excitement. Students of a middle school at Chengtu killed their principle and threw him into a well. At least 14 were executed. It is said that one thousand and four hundred fled home for fear of execution. Two Suifu students
- 5 - were executed. A number have returned and have been stirring up the people. A few days ago groups began to appear on the city wall and knocked holes through our brick wall and battered it up. I appealed to the police. They finally got busy and it has stopped, at least temporarily. March 3. Kerosene is $30.00 a case, so I have hesitated to begin using the Smithsonian kerosene in night-moth catching. However, I have decided to begin. The two lanterns provided by the Smithsonian Institution were supposed to be able to burn kerosene, but they can only burn gasoline. It will be exceedingly hard to get gasoline, and probably very expensive, but I'll make the attempt. For nearly two months letters from Shanghai have not been getting through, but yesterday and today a few have arrived. March 5. Chen Gih Uen came in with a large mountain rat. Mammal No. 83. March 6. Today Chinese on the city wall renewed their attacks on our compound wall, coming twice. They did not do much damage, but no doubt they will continue until they do. Yesterday a large flock of great gray cranes flew over and more today. They have been flying this way for fully ten days. In one flock yesterday I counted 167 birds. March 7. More rain. People are beginning to wish for good weather and sunshine. Chen Gih Uen brought in a wild rat. The weather is so cold that practically no insects are being caught. Mammal No. 84. Today the police put up a placard saying they would severely punish any who continue to ruin our compound walls. March 9. There have been no more attacks on the compound walls so far. People are in a very badly distrubed state of mind. Mailed letters to The American Express Company re specimens, and to Doctor Wetmore. A sunshiny day. March 10. Today I went across the Min River to see an old grave, but did not find much interesting. I secured an immense fish with a very long nose, the kind I wrote about to Doctor Wetmore about two years ago. A long bill, with a soft blunt nose. I will measure it and take the best care I can [[underlined]] get [[/underlined]] [[margin]] ^[[of it]] [[/margin]] tomorrow. I got some letters from my family. Today the police caught a boy trying to smash our compound wall and took him to our police station. It seems that they are really
- 6 - trying to protect. March 11. Chen Gih Uen came in not well and with a poor catch. He says the boys on the street call him a foreign slave and one who is destroying his country because he is collecting specimens. He feels upset about it. With many here anything or anybody foreign is an enemy of China and doing a work to destroy China. March 12-15. Took an inexpensive trip to Li Chuang, 60 li down to Yangtse River. Secured 14 birds and 2 small mammals, Nos. 85-86. Some of the spring and summer birds are arriving, but I did not get any uncommon birds. March 18. The communists have become so bold and active that the militarists have begun executing. One young man was executed on the main street of Suifu and is being left there unburied three days as a spectacle to warn others. It is reported that others are being executed in the outlying country. Doubtless the attacks on our compound wall and house have been instigated by communists. They attack foreigners in order to make trouble for the officials. I have sent Chen Gih Uen, well supplied with materials, to Yachow to collect for about two months. There will be a foreigner with him and he will cover a wide district. Yachow should yield excellent specimens. There will be another Chinese helping him, and he will take in the town of Moupin. March 19. Filled boxes 64-70 with specimens. It is not possible to mail these now, as parcels can not at present be carried by the post office to Shanghai. March 20. Today I took a long collecting trip to the Suifu hills. I climbed down to the side of a steep cliff and looked into a deep cave where leopards have been seen. Later I climbed by way of the inside stairway to the top of the black pagoda and stood up on top of it. Secured six birds and some insects. Filled box No. 71, bird bones. Sixteen communists were captured in Suifu yesterday evening. It is reported that the communists were planning to burn the city of Chungking, but that a few hundred were taken prisoners and the plot frustrated. The black pagoda from our house registers 142 degrees. March 21. This is my birthday, but none in Suifu knows it, so it has been very quiet. March 22. Today I entertained at a foreign dinner General Hu, one of the highest officers in Yunnan Province, the two chief military officers
- 7 - of Suifu, the head militia officer of the Suifu District, the two heads of the Suifu Chamber of Commerce, and several Suifu merchants. March 23. Today I learned that my name had been reported in a Chungking Chinese newspaper. This is something foreigners generally prefer to avoid during these times, for unfavorable things are apt to be said. This time nothing unfavorable was said. It was merely reported that I had secured an immense fish and was going to send it to America. Today I packed one box of specimens, box No. 71. March 24. This afternoon I led a science discussion class of Chinese leaders. I was invited to a feast given by all the leading Suifu organizations, including the government schools and official[[strikethrough]] s [[strikethrough]] departments, to General Hu and his staff from Yunnan Province. After this was over we attended a movie. The story, the characters, the scenes, etc., were all Chinese. I also received a letter from Chengtu saying that the West Chinese Border Research Society will renew its activities soon, and probably publish another Journal within the next year. Packed box No. 72. March 26. Packed box No. 73. Wrapped nine boxes for shipping. These can not be mailed now, as traffic is not open below Chungking, but they can be mailed later. It is reported that British and Japanese gunboats are going to escort merchantile ships to Suifu. I think this is contrary to even the old treaties. At any rate it is apt to raise a hornet's nest and we here are quite apt to get some stings. Measured two Chinese with anthropometric instruments. March 27. Sent in financial report No. 5. Secured a few insects. March 28. Today I took the anthropometrical measurements of nine Chinese women. There was an experienced nurse helping take the temperatures, etc. Secured a few insects. March 29. Took a short hunting trip, securing three birds. Saw about thirty soldiers bringing in four bandits. I have had the carpenter make trays for carrying birdskins on collecting trips so as to avoid pressure on the skins. This should make unnecessary spoiling the skins through pressure.
- 8 - March 31. Caught a few insects. April 2. Received a letter from Chen Gih Uen saying he had arrived at Yachow and was on his way to Moupin; he is now busy collecting but he will tour the Yachow district rather than remain at present in Moupin. April 4. I received a letter from the American Express Company today saying they had only received seven boxes. The rest will probably arrive all right [[underlined]] in time [[/underlined]], but I'll have inquiries made. April 6. I secure a few insects each day. I am exceedingly busy at present, but do what I can. In about two weeks I hope to take a trip of about three weeks, possibly more, when I should get many specimens. The aborigine should be in with a two-month's catch in about ten days. Three men were executed (brigands) today. April 7. Secured some insects. April 9. Spent the afternoon collecting insects and secured some that look interesting. The city postmaster says that many of my packages of specimens are at Chungking but that they will ultimately reach Shanghai safely. April 12. I have been daily collecting such specimens as I could. These have been my most busy days at Suifu but hereafter I will be freer and will be doing more collecting. Today I mailed some films to Dr. Wetmore. Mammal No. 87. April 16. Today I gave anthropometrical measurements to six Chinese. I expect to do more collecting of biological specimens hereafter. I have been tied down with special meetings and conferences here in Suifu. There is a beetle in Szechuan, which, when attacked, emits a vapor or smoke that has an unpleasant smell. There is also a sound. Tonight I pursued one and when about to take hold of it with my hand, it emitted the vapor. It seemed to burn my fingers, as though hot, but there was no after effect. The beetle is yellow and black. I have sent in specimens before and will send in more. The length is approximately an inch. Later--Next morning the skin on my finger had turned brown on the spot where, if I remember correctly, the gas from the beetle stung or burnt me. I may be mistaken about this, but I do not think so.
- 9 - April 18. I secured some interesting-looking insects today, mostly small ones. Robbers are operating in the country in all directions from Suifu. Last night three Chinese members of the China Inland Mission Church were robbed in in their bungalow on the Suifu hills. They were tied and beaten. I expected to go up there in a day or two. April 25. Packed boxes No. 73 (rats), 74 (rat and bird skeletons), and 75 (the great fish) today. It is reported that the specimens at Chungking in the Post Office, 59 boxes, have not been forwarded to Shanghai. I will soon mail more boxes. Twelve are now ready to mail, almost, and more can quickly be packed. There has really been a sort of rebellion against exhorbitant taxes which resulted in a battle at Li Chuang. Over fifty were killed outright, and more than one hundred more are said to have died of their wounds. The country has been so disturbed that it has been wise to stay in the city. April 26. Packed box No. 76, insects. Box 77. April 28. Went out for a short hunting trip. April 29. A guest from Kiating kept me busy, but I secured some insects. May 1. Received Doctor Wetmore's letter stating that the Moupin trip is approved and the money assured. I'll begin planning right away. Today three were executed on the river bank. I heard that two were robbers and one a communist. Mailed fourteen boxes of specimens to the Smithsonian Institution, most of them large, boxes Nos. 64-77. May 2-5. Took a trip to Ngan Bien. Got two varieties of fish, and two varieties of fly-catchers. May 6. A box of specimens arrived from Yachow, collected by the netter Chen Gih Uen. I picked the specimens all over and dried them. This is box No. 78. Filled box No. 79 with specimens secured at Suifu, mostly insects. Box no. 80, small fish. May 7. Filled box No. 81, fish. May 8. A rainy day. Straightened out Smithsonian letters, etc.
- 10 - May 9. Sent two packages to the Post Office. Caught some interesting bees or wasps. May 10. This morning I sent a coolie to catch shrimps. This afternoon with the skinner I went across the river to net and to catch water specimens. Secured a good many bees and three eels. Last night five men were killed by a number of men in civilian clothes. There was an attempt to kill an officer, but the offic [[strikethrough]] i [[/strikethrough]] er escaped. The city is excited about it. May 12. It is very hot. [[in pencil]] F [[/in pencil]] The postmaster says that a General at ^[[insertion above letter Y]] F [[/insertion]] Yachi, between Suifu and ^[[insertion above letter Y]] F [[/insertion]] Yuchow, has stopped three boat-loads of parcel post packages among which are about 12 Smithsonian packages. He wants to collect duty on the packages. The postal authorities are refusing to pay the duty, for there are many other such places between Chengtu and Shanghai that will collect such "duties" if possible. The postmaster thinks there is no danger of the packages being destroyed. May 13. I am beginning to get ready for the trip to Moupin. There are brigands in the Moupin District, and these will have to be bribed to protect. If at the last moment I should not be able to collect at Moupin, I would try to collect south of Suifu on the Yunnan Border. I will not mail any more packages until I hear that the "General" at Ya Chi has desisted in his demands for export duty on parcels. This spring I have been handicapped in the securing of lepidoptera, especially night moths. The two 200 candle Smithsonian lanterns can only burn gasoline. I have sent to Chungking for ten gallons of gasoline. If I secure gasoline, I will have greater success in the future. May 14. Filled box No. 82, bird skeletons. May 15. Sent a Chinese to secure water specimens. He was moderately successful. Word has been received that the gasoline is to get here tomorrow. I'll enjoy using it in the lanterns. May 16. The foreign guests from down the Yangtse did not arrive today, but should arrive tomorrow. Then I'll have gasoline for use in the ^[[good lanterns.]]
- 11 - May 18. Reports now that the civil war has actually broken out in eastern Szechuan so that now specimens can not get through. I shall go on collecting, however. May 19. Today I saw soldiers drilling all over the hills. This only happens when war is imminent. Went 25 li west of Suifu on the Yunnan Road and in a swamp killed 9 birds, ten in all, of which there may be 4 varieties I have not received before. Filled box No. 83, insects. May 20. Wrote several Smithsonian letters re collecting, re trans-shipping in Shanghai, etc. Secured some nice insects. I am bothered about the gasoline. After opening a can, I have nothing to put it in. Some way must be worked out. It is impossible to secure a drum in Suifu. May 21. Solved the problem of where to put the gasoline. Used jugs and bottles. I filled the gasoline lamps and began to try them out. One worked all right, but the other sprung a big leak so that I do not dare use it. I am much disappointed. One lantern is giving good satisfaction. I expect to leave for a three-day trip tomorrow. May 25. Today I returned from a trip into the country. It was the 60th birthday of a farmer named Tsen, a church member. All his friends and relatives gave presents, and in return were housed and feasted from one to three days, a few for even longer. I secured eight birds. One of these was taken by somebody. Another was crushed by two coolies. I give the empty cartridges to the one who picks up the bird. Two coolies both wanted the cartridges. In the scuffle which ensued to secure the bird, the bird was crushed and spoilt. It was a common bird. May 27. Have secured two bats and some insects. Moupin is at present robber-ridden. I may or may not get in there. It is said that the forests have been cut down so it will probably be poor collecting at Moupin now. The civil war in the Yangtse Gorges is over for the present. Yang Sen has retreated northward. He may unite with [[underline]] Lin [[/underline]] Chen Ho ^[[pencil insertion]] Liu [[/pencil insertion]], an enemy of the ruling powers in Central Szechuan, which would mean more civil war later.
- 12 - Yang Fong Tsang, the aborigine collector, has not appeared. He is either doing something besides collecting or afraid to come out because of [[underlined]] disturbed [[/underlined]] conditions. ^[[margin insertion]] disturbed [[/margin insertion]] The collector at Yachow seems not to be getting a great deal of specimens. I'll order him down to Suifu if he does not do better. About fifteen boxes of specimens are delayed indefinitely by a military leader between Suifu and Chungking because he wants duty paid on all parcel packages. The Post Office will not give in. All the other packages should reach Shanghai soon. I will begin at once preparing for the summer collecting trip, hoping that I can carry it through successfully. Between now and summer I expect to take a trip south of Suifu. I intend to send specimens hereafter from here to Shanghai as much as possible in the care of friends. That will be more expensive than by parcel post, but quicker. I will forward this Diary at once to the Smithsonian Institution. It will probably help the secretaries understand why delays in the forwarding or delivery of boxes of specimens are sometimes unavoidable.