Samuel Mills Tracy

(30 April 1847 – 1920)

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU) has cataloged about 120 vascular plant specimens and about 220 fungal specimens collected by S. M. Tracy.  Most are from the Deep South — Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. A large number of NCU’s specimens are from the area around Biloxi and Ocean Springs, Mississippi where Tracy lived in retirement.  As NCU’s collections continue to be cataloged without doubt many more specimens collected by S.M. Tracy will be found.

Tracy’s specimens are distributed widely across herbaria in North America.

Drosera tracyi Macfarlane is named in honor of Samuel Mills Tracy. Photo by John Borom

Samuel Mills Tracy was born to Emeline Newton (1814-1900) and Samuel F. Tracy(1808-1889) in Hartford, Windsor County, Vermont.  When he was 16 his family moved to Bloomington, Illinois, then in 1864 to Platteville, Wisconsin.1  He served in the 41st Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteers during the American Civil War.5  He earned a B.S. in 1868 and an M.S. in 1876 from the Michigan Agricultural College.4  In 1877 he was Professor of Botany at the University of Missouri, and in 1886 published Flora of Missouri1

In 1887 Tracy was appointed the first director of the Mississippi Agricultural Experiment Station in Starkville, Oktibbeha County.  “In 1890, three new experiment stations were established in the towns of Lake (in Scott County), Holly Springs (in Marshall County) , and in Ocean Springs (in Jackson County).  These stations were under the supervision of Dr. J.B. Bailey, F.J. Fairley, and F.S. Earle, respectively.  These three stations ran experiments from 1890 to 1895, after which experimental work ceased,” according to Ryan P. Semmes, Asst. Archivist at Mississippi State University.6  Tracy retired as the Experiment Station director in 1897.  Today the Mississippi Agricultural & Forestry Experiment Station (MAFES) in Starkville is associated with Mississippi State University and has facilities at 4 research centers and 16 branch locations across the State.

After retiring, Tracy and family moved to southern Mississippi.  The federal census of 1900 lists Samuel (profession “Botanist”), wife Martha (b. January 1846), son Edward (b. August 1875; profession “U. States Navy”) and daughters Alice E. (b. July 1879; profession “School teacher”) and Elinor L. (b. January 1882; profession “at school”) living in Ocean Springs, Jackson County, Mississippi.

Tracy donated his library and herbarium to the Agricultural College of Texas, which is now known at Texas A & M University.  The Tracy Herbarium (TAES) at Texas A&M is named in his honor.1

S.M. Tracy died at age 73 and is buried in Hickory Grove Cemetery in Laurel, Jones County, Mississippi.  His wife, Martha Terry Tracy (1846-1904) is buried in next to him. 2, 3


PUBLICATIONS (incomplete list):

Tracy, S.M. 1910.  New farm crops for the South.  Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 35, No. 1, The New South (Jan., 1910), pp. 52-59.  Stable URL:

—.  1893.  Descriptions of new species of Puccinia and Uromyces.  J. Mycology 7(3):  281.  Stable URL:

—.  1906.  Relation of museums to experts.  Science, New Series 23 (580):  232.  Stable URL:

Ellis, J.B. and S.M. Tracy.  1891.  New species of Uredineae.  J. Mycology 7(1):  43.  Stable URL:

Tracy, S.M.  1886.  Catalogue of the phaenogamous and vascular cryptogamous plants of Missouri.  Jefferson City:  Tribune Printing Co.

Nealley, George C., J. Poole, S. M. Tracy, and George Vasey.  1888.  Report of an investigation of the grasses of the arid districts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Utah, in 1887.  Washington, D.C.:  Government Printing Office.

Tracy, S.M. and B.T. Galloway.  1888.  Notes on western Uredineae.  J. Mycology 4(7):  61-62.  Stable URL:

Tracy, S.M. and B.T. Galloway.  1888.  New western Uredineae.  J. Mycology 4(2/3):  20-21.  Stable URL:

Tracy, S.M. and B.T. Galloway. 1888.  Notes on western Erysipheae and Peronosporeae.  J. Mycology 4 (4/5):  33-36.  Stable URL:

Ellis, J.B. and S.M. Tracy. 1890. A few new fungi.  J. Mycology 6(2):  76-77.  Stable URL:

Tracy, S.M. and F.S. Earle.  1896.  New species of fungi from Mississippi.  Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 23 (5):  205-211.  Stable URL:

Tracy, S.M. and F.S. Earle.  1895.  New species of parasitic fungi.  Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 22(4):  174-179.  Stable URL:

Tracy, S.M. and F.S. Earle.  1901.  Some new fungi.  Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 28(3):  184-188.  Stable URL:

Tracy, S.M. and F.S. Earle.  1899.  New fungi from Mississippi.  Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 26(9):  493-495.  Stable URL:

Bergen, Joseph Y. and S. M. Tracy.  1899.  Bergen’s elements of botany; key and flora.  Southern United States ed.  Boston, Ginn & Co.

Tracy, S.M. and B.T. Galloway. 1888.  Uncinula polychaeta B. & C.  Bot. Gazette 13(2):  29-32.  Stable URL:

Lloyd, Francis E. and S.M. Tracy  1901.  The insular flora of Mississippi and Louisiana.  Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 28(2):  61-101.  Stable URL:

Tracy, S.M. 1903.  Cassava.  United States Department of Agriculture, Farmers’ Bulletin 167.  Washington, D.C.:  Government Printing Office.

Tracy, S.M. and H.S. Coe.  1918.  Velvet Beans. United States Department of Agriculture, Farmers’ Bulletin 962.  Washington, D.C.:  Government Printing Office.


  4. Personal communication, Jennie Russell, Michigan State University Archives, Alumni Catalogue.
  5. Civil War Pension Index:  General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934.  Date of filing:  May 3, 1909.  Application #1383172, Certificate #1155892, filed in Mississippi.
  6. Personal communication, Ryan P. Semmes, Mississippi State University based on information found in “The Mississippi Agricultural Experiment Stations:  An Historical Sketch,” by John Wendel Bailey, Mississippi Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin, No. 216, March 1923.