Bullthistle botanist blossomed in Brooklyn

By Donald A. Windsor

Deputy Historian, Chenango County

Local boy makes good. Charles Stuart Gager, a Norwich native with a perfect resume, became the first director of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Born on December 23, 1872, Gager graduated from Norwich High School in 1891, as president of his class. He lived with his parents, Charles C. and Mrs. Gager at 12 Birdsall Street. His father was a tailor in Norwich for over 35 years.

He went on to acquire a BA from Syracuse University in 1895, a BS and MS from New Yor k State Normal College at Albany in 1897, and a PhD from Cornell University in 1902. He became a professor of biology at Normal. He taught at The University of Missouri, Cornell, Rutgers, and New York University.

In 1910, he became the director of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where he remained for 33 years until his death. He published at least 7 books and 23 articles. He built the Garden from scratch, quite an extraordinary feat of vision and enterprise. He died on August 9, 1943, in Waterville, Maine, at the age of 70 years.

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