On this day in 1891, the newspapers carried the obituary of the self-taught botanist and poet Cyrus M. Tracy who had died on September 29th.
Tracy was the Chair of Botany for the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. He is remembered for his work in creating the noble forest park known as Lynn Woods. Three times the size of Central Park, Lynn Woods is a massive green space located outside of Boston. A hidden gem, Lynn Woods, enjoys less public awareness because it is not part of our National State Park system. It features a rose garden, three reservoirs, and a 48-foot-tall stone tower.
In 1850, Tracy was working to secure protection for Lynn Woods, and he formed a group called the "Exploring Circle" with four other residents; they went botanizing in the woods and then shared their discoveries with others. When Tracy wrote his Studies of the Essex Flora - a flora of the area around Boston - he recognized the immeasurable value of Lynn Woods, saying "that a district so near the metropolis" was worth protecting.
In 1891, when Lynn Woods was threatened by development, a Commission report noted Tracy's role in protecting the park:
"His call, his inner inspiration was to teach the people of Lynn that they had in the Woods "an asylum of inexhaustible pleasures." ... He led parties of enthusiastic naturalists to scenes of beauty and grandeur hitherto unseen, save by his eyes. He dedicated hilltops and glens with mystic rites."