Tyreeca Stemple Davis

(17 October 1902 – February 1987)


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU) curates approximately 40 vascular plant specimens collected by Hannibal Albert Davis and Tyreeca Stemple Davis. No doubt more will be found as we continue to catalog our collections. The Davises usually signed their specimens “Mr. and Mrs. H.A. Davis.” NCU received many specimens collected by the Davises through the exsiccati of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Club.

Hannibal Albert Davis (left), Tyreeca Stemple Davis (middle), unidentified man (right), ca. 1960. Photograph courtesy of West Virginia University Photographic Services

Tyreeca Elizabeth Stemple was born in West Virginia to David William Stemple (1870-1950) and Bertie Stemple.  In 1910 the family, including Tyreeca and younger sibling, Fritz, were living in Eckert, Delta County, Colorado.  The 1910 census lists David as a “general farmer.”1  In 1920 the family was living in Claquaton, Lewis County, Washington, where D.W. was working as a mill wright.2 By 1925 the family was living in Morgantown, West Virginia and David was working as a carpenter.3

Tyreeca Davis earned an A. B. (1926) and an M.A. (1928; Thesis title “Periodic quadratic transformations, and quartic curves left invariant by them”) in mathematics from Cornell University.

Hannibal Davis and Tyreeca Stemple were married in 1925 in Monongalia, West Virginia, and Hannibal was a member of the mathematics faculty at West Virginia University in Morgantown.

Davis’ botanical interests included Rubus and Viola. Rubus leggii was named by H. A. and Tyreeca Davis in William Clarence Legg’s honor (Davis, H.A. and Tyreeca Davis. 1953. The genus Rubus in West Virginia. CASTANEA 18(1): 1-31). “This species is dedicated to the memory of the late William C. Legg, naturalist of Mount Lookout, Nicholas County, West Virginia, whom we accompanied on several pleasant and profitable field trips” (p. 27-28).

A paper in Castanea in 1982 lists the address for corresponding with H.A. and Tyreeca Davis as “Rt. 2, Box 140, Freeport, Florida,” where they presumably retired after Hannibal retired from the Mathematics faculty at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV.

Tyreeca Davis died in Freeport, Walton County, Florida in February 1987.

Dr. Wayne Davis and Dr. Elizabeth Davis Swiger established the H.A. and Tyreeca Davis Herbarium Endowment at WVA in honor and memory of their parents.

Anonymous (1988) Davis Herbarium Goes to Carnegie Museum. Castanea 53: 83.

The private herbarium of Hannibal A. and Tyrecca E. Davis has been given to the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh. This consists of a 10,000 sheet general collection with emphasis on West Virginia, and 10,000 sheets of Rubus, mostly from eastern North America. The Rubus material is the basis for the Davis’ (with A. M. Fuller) revision of the North American Eubati (Castanea 1967, 32: 20-37; 1968, 33:50-76; 1969, 34: 157-179; 1969, 34: 235-266; 1970, 35: 176-194; 1982, 47: 216-219). Although it contains no types, this is the most valuable collection extant to use in identifying an unknown specimen. For each species the Davises had a “working type”, usually from the type locality or nearby, which they had carefully compared to the type specimen. For many species names the type is too poor to be recognizable: too immature; floricanes only; primocanes only; parcifronds or novirames; a mixture of more than one species, or other such problems. With considerable effort, often observing at different stages of development and sometimes growing the plants, they were able to prepare good material that they were confident represented the species described.

The Davises visited most of the type localities for North American Rubus names, and their collection contains representatives for nearly all names.

All the Davises’ working materials regarding Rubus (notes made when examining types, manuscripts, correspondence, annotated reprints, etc.) have also been deposited at the Herbarium of the Carnegie Museum.


Partial list of publications:

Davis, H.A. and Tyreeca Davis (1953) The genus Rubus in West Virginia. Castanea 18 (1): 1-31.

Davis, H.A., Albert M. Fuller, and Tyreeca Davis (1982) Some comments on Rubus. Castanea 47 (2): 216-219.

Davis, Hannibal A. (1990)  Studies in “Rubus.”  Castanea 55 (1):  22-30.


1.      Ancestry .com  1910 United States Federal Census.  Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2006.  Year:  1910; Census  Place:  Eckert, Delta, Colorado; Roll:  T624_114; Page:  10A; Enumeration District:  0030; Image:  180; FHL microfilm:  1374127.

2.      Year:  1920; Census.  Place:  Claquaton, Lewis, Washington; Roll: T625_1933; Page:  3A; Enumeration District:  131; Image:  369.  Source:  Ancestry.com.  1920 United States Federal Census.  Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2010.

3.      Morgantown, West Virginia, City Directory 1925.  Ancestry.com.  U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 (Beta).  Provo, UT, USA:   Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2011.