The following tribute was written by Bain’s
collaborator and co-author, Samuel Henry Essary,
and it appeared in Phytopathology 10(4): 185-188 in 1920. The photograph (above) is from this article.
Samuel McCutchen Bain
was born at Eagleville, Rutherford County, Tennessee, January 14, 1869, and
died at Knoxville, Tennessee, January 30, 1919. He was reared on a farm and educated in the
public and private schools of his neighborhood. He received the equivalent of a classical
college course in Eagleville School, but his scientific education was
obtained for the most part by independent study. He studied French and German under the
instruction of Miss Evelyn Franklin, whom he married at Henderson, Tennessee,
June 6, 1891.
Early in life he developed a love for the
sciences, particularly botany. With
the few books he had at his command, he commenced the study of the flora of
the neighborhood. Before his
graduation, he was asked to give courses in the sciences in Eagleville
School, where he showed great proficiency and ingenuity in the construction
and handling of apparatus in teaching chemistry and physics. In 1890 he was called to Union University
at Jackson, Tennessee, to assist in the teaching of sciences and French. He soon took up the study of the flora of
that section and the collecting of material for his “Plantae
Tenessei Occidentalis.” During a vacation in 1892, he took a portion
of his collection to the University of Tennessee to compare it with the
specimens in the University herbarium [TENN].
Doctor F. Lamson-Scribner, who was at that
time Professor of Botany in the University, was greatly impressed with his
work, and asked him to return the following year (1893) as his
assistant. A short time later Doctor
Scribner left the University, and Professor Bain was
made Instructor of Botany and Geology and Assistant Botanist in the
Agricultural Experiment Station. He
was advanced in position gradually and was made Professor of Botany in the
University and Botanist in the Station in 1901. He continued his studies f the flora of the
state, and added very materially to the University
herbarium. In his Experiment Station
work he soon became interested in the preparation and use of fungicides. After several years of intense study and
experimenting, he published in 1902 his bulletin on “The Action of Copper on
Leaves,” which gained for him wide notice among the agricultural workers of American
By 1904 he was appointed Special Agent and
Collaborator in Cotton Breeding Experiments in the boll weevil investigations
of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
He devoted one-half of his time to this work for a number of years,
working in West Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas. While he was actively engaged in this work,
he brought out the well known “Trice Cotton,” which is now grown very
extensively in the South. He spent
more than a year in studying the oil content of cotton seed, the results of
which have never been published.
About the time of his appointment in the U.S.
Department of Agriculture, he became interested in the selection of plants
resistant to disease. He selected and
propagated a strain of red clover resistant to anthracnose, a disease which
had well nigh put an end to the growing of red clover in the State. This selection work had much to do with
restoring the growing of red clover in Tennessee. He soon started on a comprehensive scale
the selection of other crop plants resistant to specific diseases, but this
work was greatly hindered by illness during the latter years of his
life. Several projects along this line
were unfinished at the time of his death.
Professor Bain was as successful a teacher as an
investigator. He never sought after
large classes; but he had the ability to draw about him a small band of
deeply interested students, who were inspired by is earnestness and devotion
to his subjects, as well as by his cheerful and lovable disposition. No teacher ever had more loyal pupils. He believed in teaching Botany as a pure
science, believing that the practical application of the subject would take
care of itself. As he had never had a
teacher of Botany himself, he developed his own peculiar methods of presenting
the subject. Through his wide study
and his own researches, he was able to give his students instructions fully
up to the standards set by other institutions. Many of his pupils have been called to
teaching and station positions in other institutions. He published a number of papers on
botanical subjects, and there are several unfinished manuscripts among his
files. Some years ago, he began a
paper, “Southern Contributions to Natural History,” which was never
finished. He left a valuable collection
of pictures of the plants of the Tennessee mountains, among which are a
number of color photographs unexcelled for their beauty. He was a pioneer in the development and
application of the autochrome process of color
photography in this country.
As a man, Professor Bain was noted for his
unfailing good humor and optimism. He
was under all conditions polite, genial, kind, and good-natured. Even during the years of his ill health, he
never lost the spirit of good cheer.
He was always ready to offer council, and not afraid to ask advice of
others. My personal recollections of
him are very vivid. His teaching was
mostly out of doors, in the woods and fields.
He took his classes on many long trips around the country. During the long summer vacations, he spent
his whole time collecting and studying the flora of West Tennessee.
Professor Bain was a Fellow of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science, a member of the Association Internationale des Botanistes,
(1900); Member auxiliare (1902), Associe libre (1912) des l’Academie Internationale de Geographie Botanique; member of
the St. Louis Academy of Sciences, member Royal Society of Arts, (1911);
Member Botanical Society of America; charter member of the American Phytopathological Society; charter member Tennessee
Academy of Sciences (1912), and President of same in 1916.
1895. Notes on Utricularia inflata. Bull. Torr. Bot.
Club 22: 478-484.
1895. Some experiments with fungicides
on peach foliage. Tenn. Agr. Expt. Sta. Bull. 8 (3): 35-40.
1901. The injury of fungicides to
peach foliage. Science, new series
1902. The action of fungicides. Bot. Gazette 33:244-245.
1902. The action of copper on leaves,
with special reference to the injurious effects of fungicides on peach
foliage; a physiological investigation.
Tenn. Agr. Expt. Sta. Bull. 15: 19-108.
1902. A simple method for
demonstrating the translocation of starch.
Univ. Tenn. Rec. 5: 259-262.
1903. On the manipulation of sections
of leaf cuticle. J. Appl. Micros. And
Lab. Methods 6: 2160-2161.
1905. S.H. Essary,
co-author. A preliminary note on
clover diseases in Tennessee. Science,
new series. 22: 503.
1906. S.H. Essary,
co-author. A new anthracnose of
alfalfa and red clover. J. Mycol. 12:
1906. S.H. Essary,
co-author. Selection for
disease-resistant clover. A
preliminary report. Tenn. Agr. Expt. Sta. Bull. 75.
1907. Parasitism of Buckleya distichophylla
Science, new series. 24:
268. (Abstract of paper read
before the AAAS, December, 28-31, 1906.)
1907. S.H. Essary,
co-author. Some results in selecting
red clover for disease resistance.
Proc. Am. Breeder’s Assco. 3: 59-60.
1908. Report on the propagation of
resistant clover. Tenn. Agr. Expt. Sta. Rpt. Coop. and Ext. Work 1907/08: 65-67.
1910. An extraction apparatus. J. Indus. And Engin.
Chem. 2: 455-457.
1910. S.H. Essary,
co-author. Four years results in
selection for a disease-resistant clover.
Science, new series. 31: 756.
(Abstract of a paper read before the Am. Phytopathological
1911. A cotton variation with a
self-fertilized ancestry. Amer.
Breeders Mag. 2: 272-276.
1912. Use of the autochrome
plate method in plant pathology. Phytopathology 2: 98.
(Abstract of a paper read before the Am. Phytopathological
Society, Dec. 1911.)
1913. A washing apparatus for mixed microscopis material.
Sci. Rec. 1(1). F. 1913.
1917. The interrelation of plant and
animal pathology. Trans. Tenn. Acad. Scie. 2: 55-65.
1917. Researches on disease resistance
in red clover. Preliminary report.
(Abstract). Trans. Tenn. Acad. Sci. 2: 85.
1917. An irrigation slide for
prolonged observation of living aquatics. (Abstract). Trans. Tenn. Acad. Scie. 2:
1917. A simple device for serating [sic; aerating] aquaria. (Abstract).
Trans. Tenn. Acad. Sci. 2: 88.
Evelyn and Samuel Bain had six
sons: Webster (b. ca. 1892), Henry F.
(b. ca. 1894), Donald (b. ca. 1896), Sherwood (b. ca. 1899), David (b. ca.
1905), and Douglas (b. ca. 1909).1
Ancestry.com. 1910 United States Federal Census
[database online]. Provo, UT,
USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.
2006. Year: 1910; Census place: Knoxville Ward 10, Knox, Tennessee; Roll:
T624_1507; Page: 6A; Enumeration District: 0098; Image: 1127; FHL microfilm: 1375520.