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.



                          MOUNT GILEAD CONSECRATION SONG


O’er thy tall trees grandly rising,
   Ancient Summit, swells our song:
All thy cliffs shall hear the praises
   That to thee so well belong.
Call thy flower, thy birds and breezes,
   Bid them witness what we say––
Gilead lofty, Gilead noble,
   Named of love and peace, today.

When the olden woods primeval
   Shaded once thine airy throne,
Doubtless deadly frays and fearful
    May have stained thine altar-stone:
Such for thee by past and ended.
    This the boon for which we pray––
Gilead lofty, Gilead noble,
    Named love and peace, today.

Here we make thee monumental.
    Here devote thy lifted brow,
Long to prove the holier feeling
    That declares thee sacred now.
Far from thee be all things evil,
    Long as echoes here our lay––
Gilead lofty, Gilead noble,
    Named love and peace, today.



from: “Lynn Writers Who Are Worth Knowing: Cyrus Mason Tracy”
Lynn Transcript
(Jan.28, 1911, p.5).