Joseph Van der Stegen de Putte (1754-1799)
Joseph Van der Stegen de Putte was a keen naturalist and an alderman of Brussels from 1783 to 1794. From then to 1795 he was the city mayor, before returning to his previous administrative activity. At that time, the region that would become Belgium in 1830 was only a part of France (from 1792 to 1815) and divided in several zones called Departments.
Back to his alderman job in 1795, as I said, Van der Stegen de Putte was asked to design a small botanic garden that would support the science lessons of the newborn Ecole centrale du Département de la Dyle, founded in Brussels in 1797. He soon began to teach natural sciences there, and did so until his death in 1799. He wrote a translation of Systema Naturae of Linneaeus (1796), and Cours d’Histoire naturelle (1797-1799). The botanic garden of the Ecole centrale in Brussels was part of a huge network of similar institutions that benefited from gifts from the famous Museum d’Histoire Naturelles in Paris. In Brussels, J. Dekin was the gardener who took care of the plants and of the school of botany that had been laid out for teaching purposes.