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Patuxent Wildlife Research Center


Edward Avery McIlhenny

Edward Avery "Ned" McIlhenny was the son of Tabasco brand pepper sauce inventor Edmund McIlhenny, and was a Louisiana businessman, explorer, and conservationist in his own right.

*McIlhenny was born in 1872 on Avery Island, Louisiana. Growing up, he was educated by private tutors before attending Dr. Holbrook's Military School in Sing Sing (now Ossining), New York. McIlhenny then went to Lehigh University for college, where he joined Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He soon dropped out of school to join Frederick Cook's 1894 Arctic expedition as an ornithologist. In 1897 he financed his own Arctic expedition to Point Barrow, Alaska, where he helped save over a hundred stranded whaling fleet sailors including Japanese adventurer and entrepreneur Jujiro Wada. In 1898, his brother John joined Teddy Roosevelt's "Rough Riders," and so Edward Avery "Ned" McIlhenny assumed the presidency of the family business, manufacturing Tabasco Sauce. His tenure lasted 51 years and in that time he expanded the company, making turning it from a local success to a country-wide household name.

McIlhenny is also touted for saving the Louisiana population of Snowy egrets from the brink of extinction. At the time there was a high demand for the egret feathers for use in women's hats. In order to protect the Louisiana's snowy egrets he ventured into the swamp, caught eight young egrets and raised them in a cage over the small lake on the island. They grew, mated, and flew away, returning the next year. McIlhenny unknowingly had created Louisiana's first wildlife preserve.

McIlhenny had many interests besides the family business including exploration, writing poetry, hunting and horticulture.

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