Samuel Henry Essary, one of the South's most outstanding men in botany. First Henderson County person to graduate from UT where he later taught, familiarly known as Henry Essary, suddenly died at the home of Florence L. Dennison, April 28, 1935, at about eight o'clock. He had come down from Knoxville, where he has been connected with the University of Tennessee as a teacher and an Agricultural Experiment work for the past 32 years, to the West Tennessee Experiment Station at Jackson, on one of his periodical inspection trips, and spent the night there. On Sunday morning he went up to Trenton to spend the day with his old friend and kinsman, Florence L. Dennison, and shortly after arriving there and while seated in a lawn swing, he was suddenly stricken and died without speaking. His remains were taken in charge by a local undertaker at Trenton and brought to Chesterfield to the home of his sister, Mrs. Florence Lindsey, that afternoon,
In the presence of a large assembly of kindred, friends and admires, funeral services were conducted by Rev. Fleetwood Ball, assisted by Rev. W. F. Boren, after which interment was made in the family lot in Union Church Cemetery where rest his father, mother, and other members of his family.
Mr. Essary was born in the Chesterfield community, Sept. 23, 1870, to J. Larkin Essary and wife, Annie Essary. He received his early educational training in the common schools of the county, later entering Union University at Jackson where he spent three years. He then went to the University of Tennessee graduating from that institution, after which he took a post-graduate course in the University of Michigan. After his graduation, he was elected as a teacher in some college in Northern Missouri, later being elected a president of a girls' school in Georgia.
During his presidency of the girls' school in Georgia, his former instructor, Samuel L. Bane, became ill and was forced to resign his chair of botany at the University of Tennessee. It was then that Mr. Essary was called to take his place. Mr. Essary's health began to fail about two years ago, but he continued active at his work although he expressed a desire to retire at the end of the present session of school and come back to his home at Chesterfield to spend the remainder of his life.
He was never married, but leaves three sisters: Mrs. G. W. Frizzell and Mrs. Florence Lindsey of Chesterfield, and Mrs. Eula Jimmerson [Mrs. Scatterday] of Ridgely, and a number of uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces. Mr. Essary's untimely death was a great loss not only to Henderson County and a great host of friends who knew him intimately but also to the University of Tennessee and the entire county as well, for he was really and truly a great benefactor of plant life, and his services will be greatly missed.
July 19, 1935 - Progress.
A graduate of Henderson County, he graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1897. He took his Masters at the institution in 1907, and also spent some time in study at the University of Wisconsin. He taught at LeGrange College, Missouri, 1899-1901, and at Brenau College, Gainseville, Ga. 1904-1912; became associated in 1904 with the late Professor Samuel M. Bain, head of the Department of Botany of the University of Tennessee and teh Experiment Station, was assistant in teh department until 1919, and was then appointed to a position as station botanist, which he held until the time of his death.
Mr. Essary was recognized as one of the outstanding botanists of he South as a true naturalist and keen observer. He had a deep and abiding appreciation of the beautiful and the good~in nature, music and literature—and a strong sense of loyalty that endeared him to all who knew him.
One of the first achievements in plant improvement work was the development, in cooperation with Prof. Bain of Tennessee to wilt resistant clover, which continues to be the best variety south of the Ohio River. Before its introduction, the growing of red clover in Tennessee and other parts of the South had largely ceased because of the ravages of the plant disease. Two wilt-resistant varieties of tomatoes -Tennessee Pink and Tennessee Red — selected by Mr. Essary, have been of inestimable value to the growers of the trucking area of West Tennessee. Probably his most important contribution to agriculture in West Tennessee No. 76 lespedeza, developed from common Japan clover, and now grown throughout the state as a hay and pasture crop.
For a number of years he had given special special attention to the improvement of cotton by selection and breeding, having made over three hundred crosses with seven of the most promising varieties, in an effort to secure superior strains ~ high yielding and of high quality staple. Thrice cotton, one of the best early varieties has grown along the Northern border of the cotton producing area, was improved and introduced to general use by him. In all his work he maintained a high scientific standard, while achieving results of great practical value, he will long be remembered by both botanists and farmers.
Mountain hiking was one of his hobbies. He was a pioneer in the blazing of trails in the Great Smokies. Pictures of peaks and studies of plant life made by him have been used in books that describe the Smoky Mountains.
Mr. Essary was a gentleman. His unassuming, helpful and sympathetic nature and genial personality won for him many friends. He was a well-loved figure at the University, and will be greatly missed, particularly by his associates in the Experiment Station and College of Agriculture.
Lexington Progress March 19, 1997 by Brenda Fiddler - (From May 3 & July 19, 1935 Progress)