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Patuxent Wildlife Research Center


Minna Anthony Common

Minna Anthony Common was born in 1882. Her mother died of diphtheria when Minna was only five weeks old. Her father, Paul Anthony, brought her to Watertown, New York to be raised by her paternal grandmother Amelia Brown Anthony. Growing up, Minna attended and graduated from Watertown High School in 1899. Following high school, she spent the next four years as a first grade teacher at the Brownville-Glen Park school and tutored children on the side.

In June of 1904 Minna married James Allison Common. She and her husband resided in Potsdam, New York and then in the city of Watertown. They spent summers at Thousand Island Park. The Commons had six children Faith, Robert, June, Catherine, Ruth and Vera.*

Minna Anthony Common's interest in nature was cultivated while at Thousand Island Park where her summer courses were conducted. One of Common's teachers was Anna Botsford Comstock, a professor at Cornell University, and it was from her that she received formal education in nature studies. After several summers Common laid out a mile and a half nature trail on a densely wooded hill behind her cottage. The trail, named "Rock Ridges Nature Trail" still exists today.

Mrs. Common was also a talented painter though she had no formal training. In 1947 she wrote and illustrated her first article for the Farm and Garden section of the Watertown Daily Times. Until her death in 1950, she contributed two articles each week, one on birds and one on flowers. Her nature articles had been published in the Watertown Daily Times, the New York Times, the Herald Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor, and magazines such as Bird Lore and Audubon.

Mrs. Common had been the official Federal Bird Observer for the Jefferson County area and kept the National Fish and Wildlife Service informed of bird migrations (now the current Bird Phenology Program). She also conducted the yearly local bird census for the Audubon Society and the North Country Bird Club, which she founded.

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