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Remembering Curtis Lloyd 

“THERE HAS NEVER BEEN an ax in those woods,” Curtis Gates Lloyd once wrote of woodlands that now are the heart of a 1,200 acre Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources management area bearing his name in northern Grant County. 

Lloyd died in 1926, but some of the trees he loved are still standing within sight of a hiking trail through a remnant of the old growth forest. Among them is a giant black walnut that measures some 50 inches in diameter 4.5 feet from its base. And a few yellow poplars may be even larger, says Dave Frederick, a public lands biologist with the department. 

As a youngster, Lloyd, a native of Florence in Boone County, developed what would become a lifelong fascination with botany. He ran errands for a wholesale drug business and spent most of his spare time collecting plants in the wild and corresponding with botanists. With little formal training, but with years of study in the science of botany, he would become an eccentric, internationally known mycologist—devoting most of his research to the study of fungi in many parts of the world. 

“Of all the people we have written about in local history, the person I would like to have met the most is Curtis,” says Ken Stone, retired publisher of the Grant County News

Lloyd’s two older brothers, John Uri and Nelson Ashley, owned a successful pharmacy business in Cincinnati in which Curtis was a partner. The Kentucky Encyclopedia devotes an entire page to the Lloyd brothers, with by far the most space given to John Uri, a scientist and pharmacist who spent some of his early life in Boone County. He authored eight scientific books about medicine and eight novels mostly regarding the folklore of northern Kentucky. 

“Curtis never married and had no heirs, so his share of the family money endowed the (Lloyd) Library,” says Betsy Kruthoffer, the rare book librarian at the four-story Lloyd Library and Museum on Plum Street in Cincinnati. 

Curtis Lloyd also left a trust for management of the northern Kentucky property that now is near Interstate 75, a half-mile southeast of Crittenden in Grant County. He left 24 pages of detailed instructions stipulating that no trees were to be cut or removed and that thousands of flowers were to be planted. He listed the species. However, he set aside only $100 per month for care and maintenance. 

A few years before his death, he erected on the grounds a large granite monument which still stands with this epitaph: “Curtis G. Lloyd: Monument erected in 1922 by himself for himself during his life to gratify his own vanity, What Fools These Mortals Be!” 

On the reverse side: “Curtis G. Lloyd Born 1859—Died 60 or more years afterwards. The exact number of years, months and days that he lived nobody knows and nobody cares.” 

His ashes were scattered across the property that bears his name.

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