Samuel Mills Tracy

(1847 - 1920)

Samuel Mills Tracy, for whom the herbarium is named, provided the nucleus for the development of the present day herbarium with his collection of Gulf Coast plants. A naturalist, botanist, and agronimist, Samuel Tracy devoted his life to the study of plants and thier economic value.

Tracy was born in Hartford, Vermont on April 30, 1847, where he lived until the age of 16, when his family moved to the vicinity of Bloomington , Illinois. In 1864 he moved to Platteville, Wisconsin, where he enlisted in the 41st Regiment Wisconsin Volunteers. At the close of the Civil War he engaged in farming for a year and then entered the Michigan Agriculutral College, where he received his B.S. in 1868 and M.S. in 1871.

Tracy's botanical accomplishments where many. After graduation he became active in commercial horticulture and was the secretary of the Mississippi Valley Horticultural Society. During the 1870's he was editor of the "Practical Farmer" and in 1877 made Professor of Botany at the University of Missouri. Tracy's interest Horticulture continued as he became involved with the State Horticultural Society of Missouri as Secretary from '81 to '82 and as president from '83 to '84. In 1886 he published Flora of Missouri and in 1887 he was chosen as the first director of the Mississippi Experiment Station.

In 1897, Tracy retired as director and moved his family to the Gulf Coast near Biloxi, Mississippi where he continued to research the economic value of plants. Tracy specialized in grasses, many of which became widely utilized in the South. Soon after the move, Tracy began collecting extensivly in the southern states. He collected material in the Davis Mountains of western Texas in 1902 and in La Plata Mountains of Colorado in 1889. Although he collected many flowering plants and some fungi, his special interest was in the grasses, which he donated along with his library to the Agricultural College of Texas.