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SINGLEY, JOHN ALLEN (1850–1908). John Allen Singley, naturalist, was born in August 1850 in Pennsylvania. His mother died when he was a small boy, and he received little formal education. Singley left home at an early age and arrived in Texas about 1876. About 1877 he was married to Fannie Lancaster, a union to which a daughter was born. After coming to Texas, Singley taught at a country school while studying medicine. In 1880 he was living on a farm in Leon County; by 1884 he had moved to Giddings, where he began to publish his observations on natural history and to provide mail-order specimens of birds' eggs and skins. From 1888 to 1894 Singley was employed as an assistant geologist by the Geological Survey of Texas under Edwin Theodore Dumble. His contributions, published in the survey's Fourth Annual Report (1892), were on the "Artesian Wells of the Gulf Coastal Slope" and "The Natural History of Texas" (Part 1, "Texas Mollusca," and Part 2, "Texas Birds"). The mollusk section of Singley's report consisted of an annotated list of 569 species and represented the first comprehensive list of Texas species ever to be assembled. Singley also accumulated an extensive collection of Texas mollusks, which consisted of about 6,000 specimens of 300 species collected from over 900 localities. Both his Texas and general collections were eventually sold to George W. Brackenridge, who donated them to the University of Texas. Two snails, Euglandina singleyana and Zonites singleyanus, and a bivalve, Sphaerium singleyi, were named in Singley's honor, though the first and third of these, because of changes in taxonomy, no longer bear his name. Singley's report on the birds of Texas consisted of annotated lists of species observed in Lee County, on Galveston Island, at Corpus Christi, and on the lower Rio Grande. The observations from Lee County represent the first reports from that region, whereas those from Galveston Island provide historical information on those species of ducks and shorebirds sold in the city markets. Between 1884 and 1894 Singley also published at least seventeen short articles on birds in such journals as Ornithologist and Oologist, Ornithologists' and Oologists' Semi-annual, Sunny South Oologist, Bay State Oologist, and Young Oologist. Singley was a charter member of the second Texas Academy of Scienceqv, founded in 1892, and is also believed to have been a member of the Texas State Geological and Scientific Association. Singley's interest in natural history diminished after 1894. He left Giddings sometime in the early 1900s after selling his large library of natural history books. He died on May 18, 1908, in Sonora, Mexico. See also BIRDS.

Samuel W. Geiser Papers, University Archives, Southern Methodist University. Harry Church Oberholser, The Bird Life of Texas (2 vols., Austin: University of Texas Press, 1974). Frederic William Simonds Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Texas Academy of Science Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Stanley D. Casto

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Handbook of Texas Online, Stanley D. Casto, "Singley, John Allen," accessed October 20, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.