Hardy Bryan Croom

Hardy Bryan Croom

Lenoir County, North Carolina, USA
Death 9 Oct 1837 (aged 40)
At Sea
Burial Body lost at sea, Specifically: off of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
Memorial ID 109655359 · View Source
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Hardy Bryan Croom was born in Lenoir County, North Carolina on October 8, 1797. He was graduated with an A. B. degree at the University of North Carolina in the class of 1817; he also received an A.M. degree from that institution in 1820. He derived a handsome fortune from the estate of his father, William Croom. In 1821 he married Frances Smith, the daughter of Nathan Smith, a wealthy citizen of New Bern, NC. He had large planting interests in Lenoir County, NC and represented that county in the state senate in 1828. He resigned his seat in the senate to go to Florida to look after investments. In 1831 he sold his plantation in Lenoir County and removed his plantation negroes to Florida. He divided his time among the enjoyment of his family circle, the care of his estate and his literary pursuits. Geology, mineralogy and botany were his favorite subjects. He was a member of the Philosophical Society of SC, a corresponding member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and of the New York Lyceum of Natural History. He was interested in the flora of Florida. In 1832 he obtained a plantation in Florida on the west bank of the Apalachicola River near Marianna. He also purchased and began the development of a plantation in Leon County, which he was induced to purchase "on account of its desirable location for a family residence, being but three miles distant from the City of Tallahassee, the capital of the Territory, in the centre of good society, pleasantly situated on the border of Lake Lafayette, and combining many advantages for a permanent family seat.

It was in passing from this plantation to the one near Quincy that he discovered one of the rarest of coniferous trees, which he named Toreya taxifolium. There are four species of this tree, of remarkable distribution, according to the "New International Encyclopedia," second edition. All the species are very local and very widely separated, occurring in restricted localities in China, Japan, California and Florida. After Mr. Croom ascertained that it was the first discovered in the United States of this species of coniferous tree, he desired that it should bear the name of Dr. John Torrey, a famous botanist of that time living in the city of New York, with whom he had collaborated in botanical work. Mr. Croom also discovered in Florida the botanically curious little plant which Dr. Torrey named Croomia panciflora in his honor.

On October 7, 1837, Hardy Bryan Croom, his wife Frances, and their three children, Henrietta Mary, age 15, William Henry, age 10, and Justina Rosa, age 7, boarded the steam packet, Home, bound from New York City to Charleston. Heavy seas off of North Carolina – effects of a hurricane – resulted in the boat springing leaks of such magnitude that the combined efforts of the crew and the passengers to bail the water were in vain. In the darkness and raging wind of the night of October 9, 1837, Captain White commanded that the Home be beached to save the passengers and crew. The Home grounded in the breakers off of Cape Hatteras about 100 yards from shore. Very quickly the in-coming waves broke up the steam packet. None of the Croom family was among the 20 passengers and 20 crew, including Captain White, who reached safety that night. A copy of a published account of the tragic loss of the Home is included elsewhere in this book.

Hardy Bryan Croom died at a relatively young age and we can imagine that he very likely would have made many more contributions to the sciences, particularly in the field of botany, had he lived a normal life span. At the time of his death, his name was well-known in many scientific circles; however his name was to become known to an even larger extent in legal circles after his death. Lawyers and judges would debate the loss of the steamboat Home and Mr. Croom's death for the next 20 years.

Copied from the Florida Law Journal, Vol IX, May 1935, No.5.
This family (below) was lost at sea in 1837 off of the coast of North Carolina, but has a memorial obelisk at an old church downtown Tallahassee.

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Plant Memorial Trees



  • Maintained by: 47117651
  • Originally Created by: W. C. Daniel
  • Added: 28 Apr 2013
  • Find a Grave Memorial 109655359
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Hardy Bryan Croom (8 Oct 1797–9 Oct 1837), Find a Grave Memorial no. 109655359, ; Maintained by 47117651 (contributor 47117651) Body lost at sea, who reports a off of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.