View of Henry Calver
1870, a number of men were enlisted for the weather bureau
and were placed in training at Fort Whipple (Fort Myer). These
men were instructed in meteorology, telegraphy and also in
the Manual of Signals of the U. S. Army. The first man thus
enlisted as ObserverSergeant was George C. Schaeffer, of Washington,
odd observation stations were established in the principal
cities of the country during the latter part of 1870, each
station being in charge of an Observer-Sergeant, and the organization
was sufficiently complete so that on the 1st of
January, 1871, regular reports of weather observations taken
synchronously at 7:35 a.m., 4:35 p.m. and 11:35 p.m. (Washington
time) were telegraphically reported, in code, to the Washington
office. These coded telegrams contained words indicating the
readings of the barometer, indicating air pressure, the reading
of wet and ry bulb thermometers, indicating temperature and
humidity of the atmosphere, the condition of the weather,
as fair, cloudy, rainy, etc., the direction and velocity of
the wind, and the amount of rainfall during the preceding
twenty-four hours. These code telegrams, received at the Signal
Office, were translated and plotted on blank maps of the United
States, and from the data thus furnished the weather reports
and predictions were prepared.
in the Signal Service on the 1st of December 1870,
without taking the course of study at Fort Whipple, and immediately
was assigned to duty in the Office of the Chief Signal Officer,
as an assistant to a Lieutenant who had then taken up the
study of meteorology, and later I worked as assistant to Professors
Abbe and Maury. After I had worked for some months on the
weather maps, it occurred to me that, in addition to the daily
reports to the press, weekly and monthly summaries of the
weather would be of interest, and I submitted a proposition
of this sort to General Myer. In reply to my suggestions to
Gen. Myer I received a letter as follows:
of the Chief Signal Officer
OF TELEGRAMS AND REPORTS FOR THE BENEFIT OF COMMERCE
D.C., Aug. 21st, 1872
Henry Calver, Observer Signal Service, U.S.A. Office of the
Chief Signal Officer, Washington, D.C.
directed to acknowledge the receipt of your communication
of this date, and to convey to you the thanks of the Chief
Signal Officer for this evidence of your zeal in the Service.
the form of summary you suggest, and desires that you will
prepare one for the current week for publication in the
weekly papers, within easy reach of this City by mail, provided
this labor will not interfere with your regular duties.
must be submitted to the Chief Signal Officer for approval
before leaving the Office.
Howgate, 2d Lt. and Bvt. Capt. U.S.A. A.S.O. and Asst.
with the order thus given I immediately began to write, under
the title of "The Weekly Weather Chronicle," weekly summaries
of the weather, copies of which were forwarded to the Sergeants
in charge of the principal observation stations to be distributed
to the press, and I continued the preparation of these weekly
summaries for several years, with some interruptions for tornado
this time I assisted Professor Maury in preparing monthly
summaries, and these monthly summaries are, I believe, still
published by the Weather Bureau under the title of "The Monthly
Weather Review," first used by Professor Maury.
with the general weather reports, some attention was given
to special reports on tornadoes. In 1873 a very destructive
tornado passed through portions of Iowa and Sergeant James
McIntosh was detailed to make a special investigation and
report on the same, which he did, his report having been published
in the Report of the Chief Signal Officer for that year.
20, 1875, remarkable tornadoes, originating in the eastern
border of Alabama, passed over the States of Georgia and South
Carolina, and I was ordered to visit the scenes of these tornadoes
and make an investigation and report, which I did; my illustrated
report having been published in the Report of the Chief Signal
Officer for 1875.
June, 1877, a very destructive tornado wiped out a larger
part of the town of Mount Carmel, Illinois, and I was directed
to make a special investigation and report of this tornado,
which I did; my report having been published in the Report
of the Chief Signal Officer for the year 1877.
Carmel tornado report was the last work which I did in the
Signal Office, as about the time I had completed my report
I received an appointment in the Patent Office, and in view
of which I obtained my discharge from the Signal Service.
My meteorological work, above outlined, had been very interesting
and I was reluctant to drop it, but the pay was insufficient
and the prospect for the future rather unpromising, while
the Patent Office appointment, together with a regular law
course which I took while serving as Assistant Examiner, enabled
me to fit myself for the profession of a patent lawyer when
I resigned from the Patent Office, which I did in 1883, and
in which profession I have been fairly successful. My interest
in the weather reports has, however, always continued, and
I read the daily weather maps with regularity when they are