Lucia Summers, 1835-1898
First Resident Botanist in the Pacific Northwest
Lucia Summers was a pioneer botanist in the Pacific coast states between 1871 and 1898. She experienced the Northwest landscape just as it was beginning to be altered by the first settlers. At the age of 34, she arrived in Seattle with her husband, the Reverend Robert summers (the first Episcopal priest in Seattle) in 1871. At that time, Seattle was a village of about 1,500 people. Lucia was well-educated and an accomplished linguist and musician. She traveled extensively with her husband, collecting specimens which she sent to botanists back East as there was no herbaria in the region at that time.
Lucia was born in Hartland, Vermont on November 22, 1835. Her given name was Susan Ann Noyes. Her nickname Lucia was probably to honor her father’s deceased first wife. Her father Benjamin Noyes was a master carpenter and sufficiently affluent for Lucia to receive an advanced education, unusual for a woman at that time. The Noyes were a long-established New England family, but sometime in the 1850’s they left for Hannibal, Missouri. It was there that she met her future husband, Robert Summers of Kentucky. They married July 17, 1859.
The couple apparently spent time touring Europe before settling down in Kentucky. Once they removed to the Northwest, they remained there until moving to San Luis Obispo, California for the last several years of their lives. They both died in 1898. Robert was 70, Lucia 63. After Lucia’s death, Phoebe Hearst, a regent of the University of California, purchased Lucia’s herbarium and donated it to the university. Lucia’s specimens sent back East are found in herbaria at the New York Botanical Gardens, Yale University and Harvard University.
The source is a paper done by Edward R. Alverson, who was with The Nature Conservancy in Eugene, Oregon.