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STRECKER, JOHN KERN, JR.

Raymond W. Neck
John Kern Strecker Jr.
John Kern Strecker Jr. Courtesy of the T. B. Willis Collection and the Portal to Texas HIstory. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Grave of John Kern Strecker Jr.
Grave of John Kern Strecker Jr. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

STRECKER, JOHN KERN, JR. (1875–1933). John Kern Strecker, naturalist and civic leader, son of Sallie F. (Agnew) and John Kern Strecker, Sr., was born at Waterloo, Illinois, on July 10, 1875. In November 1887 the Strecker family moved to Waco, Texas, from Fort Scott, Kansas. Strecker had only a limited formal education and began his employment period as a stonecutter, his father's vocation. At a young age Strecker began a lifelong interest in natural history, at sixteen he published his first scientific paper-an article on local birds. It was for his scientific publications on amphibians and reptiles of Texas and the Southwest, however, that he became a recognized authority. Strecker began collecting snakes as a hobby in 1893. His interest led to a job as curator of the Baylor University Museum in 1903. He directed the museum's development until his death in 1933, and achieved national and international recognition for the museum through his publications and field studies. Strecker also served Baylor simultaneously as university librarian from 1919 to 1933 and as summer editor of the campus newspaper from 1908 to 1911. Strecker received an honorary M.S. degree at the Baylor commencement in 1925. Strecker's numerous scientific papers were on varied subjects but concentrated on mollusks, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. The monographic treatments of the freshwater mussels (in 1931) and terrestrial and freshwater snails (in 1935, posthumously) have yet to be completely updated. Several newly described species were named in his honor. Besides his scientific writings, Strecker also wrote natural history articles for a Waco newspaper and several popular science magazines. Strecker was well-known on the Baylor campus and in the city of Waco; his scientific trips to out-of-state museums and in-state collecting spots were items of interest in the Waco newspapers. A prominent local politician, Strecker was chairman of the McLennan County Democratic Executive Committee for the twenty years prior to his death. He announced for mayor of Waco in 1918 but later withdrew in favor of a political associate. Strecker was a member of numerous organizations, including the First Presbyterian Church of Waco, Woodmen of the World, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Biological Society of Washington, American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, Texas Academy of Science, Texas Folklore Society, and Texas Game and Fish Protective Association. He served as president of the last three organizations and as head consul of the Texas Woodmen of the World and was a thirty-second degree Mason. Strecker married Mary Robert Boyd of Waco on October 27, 1915; their only child, Robert Kern Strecker (born on November 4, 1920), died a few months after his birth. Strecker died at Waco on January 9, 1933, after an illness lasting several months. In 1940 the Baylor University Museum was renamed the Strecker Museum in his honor.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Dayton Kelley, ed., The Handbook of Waco and McLennan County, Texas (Waco: Texian, 1972). Texas Library Association News Notes, January 1929. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

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Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Raymond W. Neck, "STRECKER, JOHN KERN, JR.," accessed July 03, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fst88.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on January 26, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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