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), was the son of Humphrey Posey and Mary Eveline
(Harrill) Lynch. Little is known about his early life. Kemp Plummer
Battle’s 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.
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,
Curriculum North Carolina UNC
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