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Lemmon, Sara Plummer (1836-1923) | University and Jepson Herbaria Archives, University of California, Berkeley

Name: Lemmon, Sara Plummer (1836-1923)
Variant Name: Plummer, Sarah

Historical Note:

Sara Plummer was born in New Gloucester, Maine, on September 3, 1836. In 1869, she came to Santa Barbara, where with her little book and stationary shop she soon prominently identified with the intellectual, scientific, and social interests of the community. Indeed, Miss Plummer started the Santa Barbara Natural History Society, and contemplated preparing a watercolor book on California flora. In 1876, she met botanist John Lemmon, who was collecting plants for the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and their love affair culminated in marriage in 1880.

Despite recurrent health problems, Sara and John extensively botanized the West Coast, as well as frontier Arizona (Tucson's Mt. Lemmon is named in Mrs. Lemmon's honor), with Sara producing beautiful art work to accompany her husband's forestry publications. The couple won awards at national expositions.

Sara's talents were manifold. She lectured, taught, sketched, wrote poetry, headed up the West Coast Red Cross during the Philippines war, and was responsible for the designation of the California Poppy as the state flower (1903). She counted among her close friends Clara Barton and Oakland's famous Ina Coolbrith.

When her husband John died in 1908, Sara never fully recovered from the loss. She passed away on January 15, 1923. Sara and John are buried in Oakland's Mountain View Cemetery.

Biographical note written by Richard G. Beidleman, 2007.

Note Author: Richard G. Beidleman

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