Liriodendron tulipifera flower

The University of North Carolina
A Department of the North Carolina Botanical Garden


Collectors of the UNC Herbarium

Leander Williams Lynch

The following information was provided to the University of North Carolina Herbarium
by William Burk, Botany Librarian of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Leander Williams Lynch, born on January 31, 1861, in Cuba (former community in north Rutherford County, North Carolina, located at approximately 35.474846 latitude, -82.003993 longitude), was the son of Humphrey Posey and Mary Eveline (Harrill) Lynch. Little is known about his early life. Kemp Plummer Battleís History of the University of North Carolina provides some insight about Lynch who was challenged since infancy with an atrophied left arm. Even so, he left home at twenty years of age to work on a farm and later to teach in a humble school. When Lynch (known as Lee to family and friends) learned that he was eligible for free tuition at the University of North Carolina because of his physical handicap, he enrolled there.

In the fall term of 1884, Lynch entered UNC as an optional student. That October, he was elected a member of the Dialectic Society, which later (April 1887) awarded him a society diploma, as an honor for exceptionally fulfilling and performing his society duties. In the spring of 1885, he became a book salesman, traveling from house to house on foot. The work provided him a further means to support his education. In late summer of that year, he returned to Chapel Hill, where he enrolled as a regular student and became a freshman in the scientific course of studies, which prepared him for the Bachelor of Science degree. He was particularly influenced by the stimulating tutelage of Professor of Natural History Joseph Austin Holmes. Due to his physical infirmity, Lynch petitioned the faculty in August 1886 to excuse him from taking laboratory chemistry. Despite his handicap, he took an avid interest in the plant sciences as demonstrated by his enrollment in classes on general and advanced botany as well as horticulture. According to student records held in the University Archives at UNC, he earned superior grades in all of his botanical courses. His academic interests in botany culminated in a study of the flowering dates of plants in the region of Chapel Hill. On April 12, 1887, he reported on the flowering of fifty species at a meeting of the Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society. A number of plant specimens, which he collected from the vicinity of Chapel Hill in 1887 as well as those collected from his hometown of Cuba in 1886 and 1887, survive in the UNC Herbarium.

Lynch left UNC in 1888, after his junior year and before receiving a degree. He returned to Rutherford County, where he successively held a number of positions: teacher, county surveyor, civil engineer, and insurance agent. On July 4, 1919, at age 58, Leander Williams Lynch died at his home in Forest City, North Carolina. He was survived by his wife Loula Lucinda (Elliott) Lynch, whom he had married on July 28, 1889, and four children. He is buried in Cool Springs Cemetery, Forest City, North Carolina.



Battle, Kemp P. 1974. History of the University of North Carolina. Reprint of original volumes of 1907 and 1912. The Reprint Company, Publishers, Spartanburg , SC. 2 vols. (vol. 2, p. 382)

Grant, Daniel Lindsey. 1924. Alumni History of the University of North Carolina. 2nd ed. General Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 950 pp

University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Faculty Minutes #40106, (Volume 7: 1885-1901, p. 43); Records of the Dialectic Society #40152, Series 1, Minutes (Volumes S-15, p. 242 and S-16, p. 210).

Weeks, Stephen B. 1887. Elisha Mitchell Scientific Society, pp. 421-422. in College record. University Magazine, new series 6: 415-422.

Written by William R. Burk, March 12, 2005; revised May 15, 2005.

†† Curriculum in Ecology†††††††††††††††††North Carolina Botanical Garden†††††††††††††††Biology Department
††††††Curriculum†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† North Carolina†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† UNC
†††††† In Ecology††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Botanical Garden†††††††††††††††††† Biology Department


University of North Carolina Herbarium
CB# 3280, Coker Hall
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280
phone: (919) 962-6931
fax: (919) 962-6930

Last Updated: 3 June 2005