Library of the Gray Herbarium

Library of the Gray Herbarium




Charles Fay Wheeler was born on June 14, 1842, in Mexico, N.Y., and was educated at the academy in that town. After enlisting in the Civil War and being discharged for a disability, he spent some time exploring nature and studying plants. For one year, 1866-1867, he studied medicine at the University of Michigan. He settled in Hubbardston, Michigan, setting up a drug and book store, and marrying Katharine T. Holbrook on March 4, 1869. Wheeler continued to study botany in his spare time and eventually accumulated some 7000 herbarium specimens. In 1881, he and Erwin Frink Smith coauthored a Catalogue of the phaenogamous and vascular cryptogamous plants of Michigan; indigenous, naturalized and adventive. Wheeler was appointed an instructor at the Michigan Agricultural College in 1889, after he had kept store for 22 years. He received a B.S. from the College in 1891 and published a Michigan Flora with W.J. Beal in 1892. Wheeler remained at the Michigan Agricultural College until 1902, serving as assistant professor and consulting botanist to the Experiment Station and continuing to contribute to publications on the Michigan flora. In 1902 he left for Washington, C.C. to become the expert in charge of Economic Gardens at the Bureau of Plant Industry of the U.S.D.A. Wheeler died in Washington on March 5, 1910.


American Men of Science, 1906.
Beal, W.J. "Charles Fay Wheeler." Report of Michigan Academy of Sciences 12 (1910: 14-15.)


Scope and Content:

The Wheeler papers consist primarily of documents pertaining to the genus Carex. There are two parts to the collection:

1.) a relatively unorganized group of papers contained in two folders, consisting of random notes, some lists of Carex collections, and a half-dozen letters, 1897-1906, from L.H. Biley, Frederick Coville, William C. Cusick, George Kükenthal, S.B. Parish, and C.O. Rosendahl.

2.) a card file with cards listing species of Carex, A-Z; also a few cards for species of Cyperus, Eleocharis, Rynchospora, Scirpus and Scleria.



The Wheeler papers were probable sent to M.L. Fernald at the Gray Herbarium by Katharine Wheeler, Charles' widow, in 1910. There is a letter from her in the Semi-Historic file, dated Oct. 24, 1910, in which she mentions having sent her husband's sedges and some cards.


Container Listing: (BOX AK)

Folder 1:

Miscellaneous notes, including: 1 sketch; seeds of Carex crinita, Md.
1906; postcard from L.H. Bailey, Dec. 19, 1905; small maps of U.S.
showing distribution of different genera; letter from S.B. Parish, Dec. 11,
1906, with a separate of an article by Parish; various lists.

Folder 2: Mostly lists of different collections of Carex, Cyperaciai, etc., intermingled
with letters from: Georg Kúkenthal (1897), C.O. Rosendahl (Feb. 1903),
Frederick Coville (n.d.), William C. Cusick (June 13, 1903).

Card File: Carex, A-Z; also some Cyperus, Eleocharis, Rynchospora, Scirpus,


Indexed in Main File under:
Wheeler, Charles Fay


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