Cyrus TracyCYRUS M. TRACY   (1824-1891)   was born in Connecticut, came to Lynn in 1838, and as a young man, worked for Theophilus N. Breed, the shoe tool manufacturer who created Breed’s Pond in 1843. Tracy was prominent in Lynn’s civic affairs. He was clerk of the Common Council from 1856 to 1869, clerk of the Pine Grove Cemetery Commission for fifteen years, and editor of the Lynn Transcript from 1869 to 1879. He also taught botany at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy for six years. In 1843, along with John C. Houghton, Stephen Poole, and others, Tracy formed the Social Union, a multidisciplinary scholastic club. These three principals and Joseph Rowell became the nucleus of the Exploring Circle, a group devoted to the multi-disciplinary study of Lynn, and now best known for their work investigating and describing the Lynn Woods. From the Exploring Circle came the Trustees of the Free Public Forest, a group created in 1881 and driven by the influence of Cyrus Tracy. Their work resulted in the creation of Lynn Woods. These activities, along with the publication of the brief Studies of the Essex Flora (Lynn: Thos. P. Nichols, 1858), which focuses primarily on the Lynn Woods, make Tracy deserving of the title: Godfather of the Lynn Woods.

As well as being a naturalist, Cyrus Tracy was also a poet. His greatest accomplishment in this vein was the lengthy poem he read at the 1867 dedication of Lynn’s new City Hall, the proud symbol of Lynn’s achievements as a city. Using the pen name Iota, Tracy’s verse appeared regularly in Lynn’s newspapers over the decades, and Local Tracts: A Chapter from our Local Literature (Lynn: H.K. Sanderson, 1886) collects a series of poetic exchanges from 1850 and 1851 between Tracy, Alonzo Lewis, Lynn’s foremost historian and poet of the era, and Joseph Nye, Lynn’s leading writer of occasional poetry. The poet and the naturalist in Tracy come together in his “Mount Gilead Consecration Song,” which was part of the Exploring Circle Camp Day naming ceremony held on Mount Gilead on September 21, 1881. It is described in Nathan Hawkes’ In Lynn Woods with Pen and Camera (Lynn: Thos. Nichols, 1893) which also contains Tracy’s “Elegy for Ebeneezer Hawkes.” Hawkes and Tracy shared an abiding lifelong interest in the Lynn Woods, and both found being in Lynn Woods to be a pleasant and fulfilling experience.



                        ELEGY  FOR  EBENEEZER  HAWKES


                                       . . .

        “O worthy soul!  I seem,
Walking beneath the cliff, to hear the mourn
Of the wood-thrush that misses thee : the horn
        Of bees that drone, and dream,
And wake and search for thee again : the brook
That waits, and cannot dry, till thou art come to look.

        “The wind among the pines
Is come, and whispers thou indeed art dead;
The squirrel tells it to her brood o’erhead,
        The marmot in her mines.
Even the wood-brakes rustling in the breeze,
Seem voicing thoughts of one whom once they sought to please.

        “For thou didst prize them all.
(And he who thus holds Nature, cannot hate,
Not even the faults he may not imitate ;
        God pardon us, great and small ! )
And all this Nature, where thy love was sown
Now bears thee love again, a hundred fold for one.

        “Yet fare-thee-well for this.
Life’s farther doors opes to a broader state,
Where all good eternally are great,
        Eternally at peace.
And thy true soul, through skies or woodlands now,
May walk with life immortal bound upon its brow!”



From:   Nathan Hawkes  In Lynn Woods with Pen and Camera  
(Lynn: Thos. Nichols) 1893.