Copy of Letter to Dr Deane in reply to his first one respecting the fossil footmarks
Amherst March 15th 1835
It would be a most interesting fact if the suggestions you make as to the impressions on sandstone should prove true. For I recollect but a single similar fact in geology and that is the track of a tortoise on the sandstone of Scotland described in the Am. Journ. Science a few years ago. I am not without strong suspicion however that the case you mention may be a very peculiar structure of certain spots in the sandstone which I have often seen in a red variety of that rock. The layers of rock having this structure sometimes present an appearance resembling the look of a lion. But I am satisfied that it is not the result of organization though I confess myself unable to say precisely from what principle it has resulted- But perhaps the case you mention is part of the rock: and I should be quite glad to see the
The true origin of these appearances I have not yet seen given- Oct. 1843 E. N. Infer to No. 1793 of the State Collection of mine in Amherst College
Edward Hitchcock made a copy of one letter in full and portions of two other letters that he sent to James Deane. In the first letter, dated March 15, 1835, he finds Deane's hypothesis that marks in stone appear to be bird tracks interesting but wonders if the supposed tracks might be odd spots in the sandstone and he says he can't say for certain until he sees the specimens. He did visit Greenfield at an unknown date to examine the stones, and became immediately convinced that they were birdlike tracks.
In the excerpt dated Sept. 15, 1835, Hitchcock says that he plans to submit an article to the January 1836 issue of American Journal of Science, and assures Deane that he will acknowledge him for "first discovery." In the excerpt of the letter dated Sept. 21, 1835, he agrees that the tracks were made by birds, but says they will have a hard time convincing geologists of this.