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Who invented the mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)? On the authorship of the fraudulent 1812 journal of Charles Le Raye

April 1, 2015

The captivity journal of Charles Le Raye was first published in 1812 as a chapter in A topographical description of the state of Ohio, Indiana Territory, and Louisiana, a volume authored anonymously by a late officer in the U. S. Army. Le Raye was purported to be a French Canadian fur trader who, as a captive of the Sioux, had travelled across broad portions of the Missouri and Yellowstone river drainages a few years before the Lewis and Clark expedition (1804-1806), and his account of the land, its people, and its natural resources was relied upon as a primary source by generations of natural historians, geographers, and ethnographers. Based directly on descriptions of animals in the published journal, the naturalist Constantine S. Rafinesque named seven new species of North American mammals, including what are currently recognized as the mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and a Great Plains subspecies of white-tailed deer (O. virginianus macrourus). Unfortunately, Le Raye never existed, and historical, geographical, and ethnographical evidence indicates that the journal is fraudulent. Determining the author of this work is relevant to identifying the sources used to construct it, which may help us to understand the real animals upon which Rafinesque's species are based. Traditionally, authorship of the volume was attributed to Jervis Cutler, but his role in composing the fraudulent Le Raye journal has been called into question. In this paper, I present additional evidence supporting the hypothesis that Jervis Cutler bears primary responsibility for the Le Raye journal and that he had the background, opportunity, and potential motive to author it.