Samuel Botsford Buckley, geologist and naturalist, was born at Torry, New York, on May 9, 1809. He graduated from Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, in 1836. In 1837–38 he gathered botanical collections in Virginia and Illinois. He served as principal of Allenton Academy in Alabama in 1839–40. In the early 1840s he collected twenty-four new plant species in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. This resulted in the naming of a new genus, Buckleya, for him. He also obtained the seventy-foot skeleton of a zeuglodon in Alabama. He studied medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1842–43. In 1843 he discovered thirteen new species of shells on a collecting trip in Florida. He worked on a farm in New York and in a bookstore in Ohio until 1858, when he returned to Tennessee and North Carolina to do work in geology.
In 1860–61 Buckley was assistant geologist and naturalist in the Texas Geological Survey under Benjamin F. Shumard and subsequently under Francis Moore. He lived in the North during the Civil War and from 1862 to 1865 was chief examiner in the Statistical Department of the United States Sanitary Commission. In 1871–72 he was agricultural and scientific editor of the Austin State Gazette. He received a Ph.D. degree from Waco University in 1872 and, when a second Texas Geological Survey was organized in 1874, became state geologist, a post he held until 1877. Buckley's Preliminary Report of the Geological and Agricultural Survey of Texas was published in 1866. He also contributed several articles to the 1867 Texas Almanac. He published a first and second Annual Report of the Geological and Agricultural Survey of Texas (1874, 1876). In 1881 he prepared several articles for the Library of Universal Knowledge. Buckley prepared a natural history of Texas, but it was never published; nor, apparently, were accounts of his botanical trips in Texas. Some contemporaries criticized his research as careless, partisan, and unscientific. Texas geologist Anton R. Roessler, in his published rebuttal to accusations made in Buckley's geological survey report, charged that Buckley took false credit for several geological discoveries and that some of his collections were merely reassembled existing ones.
Buckley was married four times. Charlotte Sullivan of Naples, New York, whom he married in 1852, died in 1854. In 1855 he married Sarah Porter of Naples, who died in 1858. Probably during the early 1860s he married Mary Huttner. In 1864 he married Libbie Meyers of Elbridge, New York. Sources indicate that Buckley fathered three children. According to his will, one daughter survived him. Buckley died in Austin on February 18, 1884.