John Marshall Grant

(6 May 1849 – 25 February 1934)


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU)  has cataloged 55 fungal specimens and 99 bryophytes collected by John Marshall Grant, who usually signed his labels “J. M. Grant.”   As more of our collection is cataloged, no doubt more specimens which he collected will be found.  NCU’s mycological collection is available in a searchable database at , and our bryophytes are available in a searchable database at .  It is possible that NCU has vascular plants collected by Grant, but our Washington State holdings have yet to be cataloged.

Other herbaria curating J. M. Grant’s specimens include Cornell University (CUP), Field Museum (F), Farlow Herbarium of Harvard University (FH), Iowa State University (ISC), Miami University of Ohio (MU), New York Botanical Garden (NY), Oregon State University (OSC), Purdue University (PUR), State University of New York (SYRF), United States National Fungus Collection (BPI), University of California, Berkeley (UC), University of Florida (FLAS), University of Georgia (GAM), University of Illinois (ILL), University of Michigan (MICH), University of Washington (WTU), University of Wisconsin (WIS), and University of Wyoming (RMS).

Specimen collected by John Marshall Grant
in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU)

John Marshall Grant’s spouse, Cyrena Jane Brown, was born in 1858 and died in 1934.  According to the 1900 U.S. Census, they had six living children – among them Roy, Leslie, Vernon, Lloyd, Grace Gertrude (1878-1972) and another daughter who became Mrs. Sanders.1  John Marshall and Cyrena Jane Grant are buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Everett, Snohomish County, Washington.1


Jones, George Neville (1936)  John Marshall Grant – Botanist.  The Washington Historical Quarterly.  26(4):  311-312.

John Marshall Grant, pioneer of Washington and amateur botanist, died at his home near Marysville on February 25, 1934, in his 85th year.  He was born in Sugar Creek township, Stark County, Ohio, on May 6, 1849, the son of Michael and Susan (Carr) Grant, and the sixth of eleven children of whom he was the last survivor.  Nominally, he was educated at the local public school.  At the age of nineteen he left home to become a school teacher in Jackson township, Indiana for “$1.66 per day and board.”  In 1870 he moved to Nebraska where he became a farmer and carried the mail and express for the Wells-Fargo Company from Odessa to Loop River during the Platte Indian uprising.

In 1878 Mr. Grant came to Washington and settled across the bay from Fort Steilacoom in west central Pierce County.  In 1880 he moved to Tacoma where he established a nursery business and built one of the first greenhouses in that city.  In 1890 he moved to Port Angeles, staying there for five years before going to Sequim where he lived for about twenty-five years.  He left Sequim in 1920 and moved to Montesano, lived there three years, on Whidbey Island for four years, and finally to Marysville in 1927.

As it is with almost all naturalists, Mr. Grant’s interest in botany and other branches of natural history was evident at an early age.  He has recorded in a diary that when he was a small boy he surreptitiously left his bedroom at night to go out to collect specimens of “bugs and rocks.”  It seems that his “father did not approve of his boy wasting his time on such things.”

The first definite record of Grant’s botanical activities in Washington was in 1880 when he collected seeds f various native trees and sent them to nurseries in eastern United States and in Europe.  C. V. Piper, in his Flora of Washington (Contr. U.S. Nat. Herb. 11, 1906) states that Grant sent some specimens to the Gray Herbarium of Harvard University, “collected in the Olympic Mountains in 1889.”  However, many specimens labeled “Olympic Mountains” actually came from low elevations near Sequim.  Intermittent collections of vascular plants, mosses, and fungi were made at various localities in western Washington until 1925 when Grant made a special collection of flowering plants on the north side of Mount Rainier for the Herbarium of the University of Washington.  After 1925 he did very little collecting.

Grant’s specimens have been distributed to various herbaria, and to private collectors, throughout the world.  He corresponded with and exchanged specimens with botanists in nearly every part of the earth.  Apparently he never published any account of his discoveries but almost any monographic or distributional study concerning western American botany includes his name in the citation of collection data.  He belonged to that small but important group of naturalists who lay the foundation for the more spectacular work of the specialist.

1.  John Marshall Grant.  Find A Grave Memorial #133856997.  accessed on 11 January 2017.