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Walter Tennyson Swingle

Botanist. Born January 8, 1871. Married: Lucie Romstaedt, 1901. Married: Maude Kellerman, 1915. Died January 19, 1952.

Walter Tennyson Swingle was born in Wayne County Pennsylvania, January 8, 1871,  to John Fletcher and Mary Astley Swingle. When he was two his family moved to Manhattan, Kansas. As a child Swingle helped with chores like herding cattle and cutting wood. As he struggled to overcome a speech difficulty, he developed an avid interest in plants without much formal education. As a teenager Swingle began studying with William Ashbrook Kellerman, a professor at Kansas Agricultural College and Experiment Station. He later became an assistant for the professor.

Swingle studied mycology and plant pathology under Kellerman, who was a pioneer in the study of plant diseases. From 1888 to 1891 he published 27 articles, most co-authored with Kellerman. He received a bachelor’s degree in 1890 and left for a career at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1891. There Swingle began to pursue the study of citrus. He traveled to Eustus, Florida, where he observed orange trees. He published about citrus diseases, the fungi, and a new Florida palm. In 1895 Swingle went to Germany to study at the University of Bonn.

In 1901 he married Lucie Romstaedt. She died in 1910. He married Maude Kellerman in 1915 and they had four children.

In 1943 Swingle joined the University of Miami as consultant of tropical botany. His plant research laboratory was located in Coral Gables.

Swingle died January 19, 1952, in Washington, D. C.

Entry: Swingle, Walter Tennyson

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: January 2014

Date Modified: December 2014

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.