NEGenWeb Project
Resource Center
On-Line Library





ceeded Professor Nicholson who had given nearly a quarter of a century of service to the institution. F. J. Alway in 1906 became station chemist and also professor of agricultural chemistry. There were many who rendered splendid service to the college in the chemistry work of the station and college, among them being R. W. Thatcher, now director of the Cornell and Geneva experiment stations, associated with Cornell University.

   Entomology. - The department of entomology likewise had a long period of development. It dates back to 1887 when Conway McMillan was elected to the position of entomologist. But even before that time, from 1871 to 1878, Samuel Aughey, professor of natural sciences, had given attention to some of the troublesome pests then found in the state. In April, 1888, Lawrence Bruner was called from the United States Department of Agriculture to succeed Mr. McMillan, who had resigned. It was some time before any regular courses were offered in entomology. In the fall of 1888, students in the botanical seminar asked Professor Bruner to outline a course, and, aid them in obtaining some knowledge of insect fauna. In 1890 entomology was offered as a regular course in the Industrial College, and in 1895 the department of entomology and ornithology was established.

   At first Professor Bruner made his headquarters in University Hall, then in Nebraska Hall, and later in Mechanic Arts Hall, on the down town campus. From 1893 to July 1, 1895, H. G. Barber was his assistant in the experiment station, and, immediately following Mr. Barber's resignation, W. D. Hunter, now located at Dallas, Texas, in charge of the southern field crop investigations of the bureau of entomology, was appointed instructor in entomology and assistant entomologist in the experiment station, which position he held until 1901. J. C. Crawford, Jr., and W. Dwight Pierce acted as assistants to Professor Bruner between 1901 and 1904. In 1906 ornithology was transferred to the department of zoology and the name of what




remained became the department of systematic and economic entomology. The systematic part of the work was again moved to Nebraska Hall, while the economic part was moved to the farm, where it was housed in Experiment Station Hall. On July 1, 1907, Myron H. Swenk, who had been assistant in the department since 1904, was made assistant entomologist in the experiment station and was placed in charge of the instructional work in entomology given at the farm, he being located on the farm campus while Professor Bruner remained on the city campus. The department of entomology carried on important work in connection with the experiment station, and in the farmers' institute courses, and had from time to time subsequent to 1901 received appropriations from the state because of the fact that the professor of entomology was also state entomologist.

   Animal Pathology. - The department of animal pathology is one of the oldest in connection with the college, dating back to the eighties, when Doctor Billings carried on his experiments with hog cholera. Doctor Billings returned to the college again in 1891 and carried on his work for about two years. He was succeeded in 1894 by Dr. Albert T. Peters. Much of this work was in connection with the experiment station, rather than the college, but some courses were also offered. For many years there was a small laboratory and animal house on the farm campus. Dr. J. H. Gain, who had graduated from the Chicago Veterinary College in 1894, and had practiced in Texas for three years, became a member of the department in 1901. Dr. L. B. Sturdevant began giving instruction along this line in the School of Agriculture in 1903, and for several years was associate professor of animal pathology. A new building for the department was erected in 1908 and was occupied beginning with the year 1909.

   Dairy Husbandry. - The department of dairy husbandry had its beginning along with the School of Agriculture. Prof. A. L. Haecker in 1896 was made assistant in agri-




culture. The erection of the old dairy building in 1896 apparently marked the real beginning of dairy work. The department of dairy husbandry became an independent department about 1900. Professor Haecker remained with the department thruout the years mentioned in this chapter.

   Animal Husbandry. - The department of animal husbandry was organized in 1897. C. H. Elmendorf, a retired Hereford breeder, gave his services without pay in order to get the department under way. In 1899, E. A. Burnett, then professor of animal husbandry in the Agricultural College of South Dakota, was called to Nebraska. Professor Burnett, later to become Dean Burnett, had graduated from the Michigan Agricultural College, and had served at that institution as an instructor. During the first two years Professor Burnett handled practically all of the instructional and experimental work of the department, and at the same time was superintendent of farmers' institutes.

   His first appropriation for livestock was $1,500 which was spent for Hereford cattle. The fact that Professor Burnett about 1901 had become associate dean of the Industrial College and also director of the experiment station made it necessary to secure an assistant. At, this time H. R. Smith joined the faculty. Professor Smith had been a student under Dean Burnett in the Michigan Agricultural College, and later did postgraduate work in the University of Wisconsin. The department of animal husbandry soon became one of the leading departments in the college. In two years Professor Smith became a full professor and was placed in charge, altho Professor Burnett, now associate dean, retained supervision. There were men of more than ordinary ability who were connected with this department during the next several years, up to about 1910, including A. F. Magdanz, C. W. Pugsley, Robert C. Ashby, Ellis Rail, C. B. Lee and H. J. Gramlich. Mr. Pugsley was later to become head of the Agricultural Extension Service of the College, assistant secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture, and finally president of the South




Dakota Agricultural College. Mr. Gramlich, who graduated from both the School and the College of Agriculture, was later to become head of the department of animal husbandry. In 1908, the present judging pavilion was erected at a cost of $30,000, and has served as the headquarters of the department since.

   Agricultural Engineering. - The department of agricultural engineering is one of the newer departments of the college. Prior to the fall of 1904 some work in the farm mechanics line had been given in the engineering shops at the University. In the summer of 1904 the Board of Regents set aside $15,000 for buildings and equipment at the college farm. This money was expended in the erection of a machinery hall and shops building, a red brick structure still standing on the campus, at a cost of $10,500, and in equipping the blacksmith shop. J. B. Davidson, a graduate of the University of Nebraska in mechanical engineering, was put in charge of the work, under the direction of the mechanical engineering department of the University. He gave instruction in forge work, farm machinery, and farm motors. The work was known as farm mechanics, rather than agricultural engineering, however. But after a year Professor Davidson resigned, and soon L. W. Chase, under whom the department grew rapidly, was placed in charge.

   From 1904 to 1907 the department was under the mechanical engineering department of the University, but in 1907 it was made a special department under the direction of the associate dean of agriculture. In 1910 it became known as agricultural engineering, subject to both the Agricultural and Engineering Colleges. In 1907 A. A. Baer became instructor in carpentry. O. W. Sjogren, the present chairman of the department, became associated with it about this time.

   Agricultural Botany. - Botany of course was an old subject but with the development of agricultural work the department of agricultural botany grew up at the farm.




   The first botany to be taught at the farm was that in the School of Agriculture. The teacher of the first classes was Miss Cora Frances Smith, later Mrs. George O. Smith, Jr. This laboratory was located in the old dairy building. The teaching of botany in the school was carried on mainly by teachers sent out from the city campus.

   In 1905 the work in agricultural botany was placed upon an independent basis with the appointment of Dr. F. D. Heald as professor of agricultural botany and station botanist, succeeding in the latter position Doctor Bessey. The headquarters of this department were in the new Agricultural Hall. Doctor Heald resigned and Dr. E. Mead Wilcox was elected to fill the vacancy beginning September 1, 1908. Among those associated with the department in the later years of this period were Prof. R. E. Stone and Prof. G. H. Coons. Plant pathology by this time was becoming almost a subject of its own, and in fact, constituted a great part of the work of this department, especially in an experimental way.

   Agricultural Education and Agricultural Economics. - Instruction in agricultural education and in agricultural economics had its beginning in the School of Agriculture. In 1900 Prof. A. E. Davisson was given the title of director of the School of Agriculture and professor of agricultural education, the latter title apparently being awarded to give him University standing. In 1901 his title was changed to principal of the School of Agriculture and professor of economics therein.

   With the establishment of the Teachers College in 1908, one branch of its work under Professor Davisson was given over to agricultural education. In the catalog published in 1909 one will find listed in the curriculum of the newly established College of Agriculture, a department of agricultural education. This work was under the direction of Professor Davisson and included one course in agricultural economics and one course in agricultural pedagogy. The course in agricultural economics dealt with such questions




as the factors of agricultural production, the organization and size of the farm, the forces and conditions which determine the prices of agricultural products, etc. The course in agricultural pedagogy was designed to afford instruction in methods of teaching agriculture to rural and high school students.

   Other Departments. - There were many other departments that contributed to the agricultural courses of the Industrial College, as well as to the experiment station. Dr. E. H. Barbour and Dr. G. E. Condra contributed instruction in geology and geography, and Doctor Barbour was also a member of the experiment station staff. Prof. G.. A. Loveland and Prof. G. D. Swezey offered instruction in meteorology and filled positions on the experiment station staff. In fact, there were always a number of courses that were on the border line of agriculture and of which full use was made.

   The library at the farm had been growing gradually for a number of years. Miss Edna C. Noble, in charge at the present time, first became associated with the work at the farm in 1904. At that time the library occupied quarters in Experiment Station Hall and consisted of some 5,000 books, mainly reports. Today (1924) the library has between 16,000 and 17,000 books and subscribes to some 600 periodicals. The library is now housed in Agricultural Hall.

   It perhaps would not be amiss to state that it was in this period, from 1891 to 1895, that General John J. Pershing was at the head of the military department of the University.

   By the time the year 1908-09 came around there were two main agricultural courses being offered in the Industrial College. One was known as the general agricultural group and the other the technical agricultural group. The general agricultural group for the first year embraced animal husbandry, dairy husbandry, chemistry, French or German, botany, rhetoric, and military drill. The second




year the course embraced horticulture, animal husbandry and animal pathology, physics, rhetoric, mathematics, geology, and military drill. The third year there were soils, field crops, forestry, general meteorology, English literature, and elective courses. The fourth year embraced political economy and agricultural economics, and elective courses.

   The technical agricultural group the first year embraced chemistry, agricultural subjects (in this classification were included agricultural botany, agricultural chemistry, animal husbandry, field crops, forestry, horticulture and soils, botany, rhetoric, French or German, and military drill. The second year the course included agricultural subjects, science, French or German, rhetoric, and military drill. The third year it embraced agricultural subjects, science, and language or literature. The fourth year it included agricultural subjects (including thesis), agricultural economics, and electives.

   The course offered in home economics has already been described. In 1909 the Legislature reorganized the Industrial College, creating the College of Agriculture and the College of Engineering, but this will be left for our succeeding chapter.

   The college farm had prospered greatly in these eighteen years and now handled a large part of its own instruction. The catalog for 1909 announced that instruction in agricultural botany, agricultural chemistry, agronomy, animal husbandry, dairy husbandry, entomology, home economics and horticulture was given at the college farm. The general cultural and academic courses were naturally given on the downtown campus. The University downtown and the college farm had been brought in close touch by the construction of a street car line to the latter in 1903. The farm was now well provided with buildings, as readers have no doubt judged from the mention from time to time of new structures erected. There were now the old dairy building, Experiment Station Hall, Agricultural Hall, the




small horticultural building, the home economics building, the judging pavilion, Machinery Hall, and the veterinary building, besides those serving as barns, sheds, etc.


   Nebraska agriculture may be said to have come into its own in the eighteen years from about 1890 to 1908. The effect of drought became less severe, land prices rose, farmers began to get ahead financially, and the state became more prosperous. Naturally the Agricultural Experiment Station played a large part in such a development. It found the demands on its services no longer limited to a few isolated lines of activity, but, embracing the whole field of agriculture. These were years of new crops for Nebraska, such as alfalfa and winter wheat. Sugar factories were established. More attention was given to the raising of stock. With the establishment of the North Platte Substation in 1904, the station began to work out successful plans of operating the western Nebraska farm.

   Financially the station was better off. The Adams Act of 1906 provided another $15,000 a year of federal money, in addition to the $15,000 provided by the Hatch Act of 1.887. The Adams Act provided that $5,000 should become available on June 30, 1906, and that this should be increased $2,000 a year until in 1911 the full $15,000 would be available then and each year thereafter. The spending of the money provided for in the Adams Act was limited, however, to original research and could not be used for general administration, printing, or popular demonstration purposes. There was more liberality in the spending of the Hatch funds.

   To gain a brief estimate of what the experiment station was accomplishing during this period, one should turn to the report of the experiment station for 1904, enumerating some of the outstanding achievements up to that time:

   Before any beet sugar factories were erected, the station proved "the adaptability of our soil and climate to beet




raising. The results of these experiments were important factors in the establishment of three beet sugar factories."

   The winter wheat area of the state was developed largely thru the work of the station. "In 1900, the seed of hardy strains of Turkish Red and Big Frame wheat was sent to four hundred farmers in northern Nebraska and in southwestern Nebraska west of the 100th meridian. . . . The increase in winter wheat production of 10,000,000 bushels per year in this state since these experiments were undertaken has, we believe, been largely due to the results secured from these experiments."

   The Kherson oat developed by the station was imported from Russia in 1897. Prof. F. W. Taylor, who had been connected with both the department of horticulture and the farmers' institutes in Nebraska, brought the oat home from Odessa, Russia. It was found to yield several bushels per acre more than any other variety then grown in central or western Nebraska.

   "Among the most progressive farmers the practice of the methods advocated by this station has resulted in increasing the yield (of corn) as much as ten bushels per acre. It is not too much to say that a continuation of this process of education will result in an average increase of five bushels per acre throughout the state. This will mean approximately 35,000,000 bushels of corn, worth $10,000,000 every year to the farmers of the state."

   The station demonstrated that apple scab could be largely controlled by the use of two sprayings with Bordeaux mixture.

   The station demonstrated that cover crops are of great value "in making more hardy such trees as peaches, Japan plums, etc., which have a tendency to grow too late in the fall," and also protect the ground from freezing in the winter.

   "Experiments in mulching garden vegetables have shown that a straw mulch increases the yield of certain vegetable crops like cabbage, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and pota--




toes over yields which would be secured only by the most intensive methods of tillage."

   "From a study of the forests and forest trees of the state the station many years ago began to urge the planting of trees on the sand hills, resulting in the establishment at the present time of two large Government Reserves on which trees are now being successfully planted."

   Early in this period the station advocated the introduction of clover and alfalfa, which became common forage crops.

   The Nebraska station was the first in America to discover the cause of the killing of cattle by eating green sorghum, which contained prussic acid. This same sorghum was apparently harmless after being cut and dried for hay.

   In 1894 an investigation showed, an annual loss of 17 per cent of the cattle in the range country due to blackleg. The station became the distributing agent for the bureau of animal industry and advocated that stockmen vaccinate their cattle. Hundreds of thousands of doses of vaccine were sent out to the stockmen free of charge. By 1901 the loss from this disease had been reduced to about 1 per cent.

   Six years after the establishment of a dairy department at the experiment station, Nebraska had advanced from twentieth place in the Union to tenth place as a dairy state. The number of dairy cows in the state had increased about 200,000.

   The station was prominent in determining what methods would best maintain and increase the humus in the soil, rotation of crops, etc.

   Feeding experiments with different rations showed the economic value of alfalfa and highly protein foods when fed with corn. Other valuable feeding experiments were conducted from year to year.

   The idea of using alfalfa as a supplement to corn in cattle feeding, which was gradually developed during this period, it may now be said, was of untold value to the state. It helped Nebraska to achieve its present position as a beef







and pork producing state. Before the coming of alfalfa, the popular and common ration was corn and prairie hay. The replacement of the prairie hay by alfalfa resulted in a very substantial lowering of the cost of beef production. One reason Nebraska has never shown economy in feeding silage to fattening cattle is this wonderful combination of corn and alfalfa. Silage has never been produced in Nebraska at a cost comparable with alfalfa hay in beef cattle feeding operations. Alfalfa could also be had at a much lower cost per pound of gain than commercial protein feeds.


   Two big things emphasized during the early years of this period were the experiments carried on with sugar beets and the investigations into animal diseases. "Perhaps more has been done in this Station in leading in a thorough investigation of the sugar beet problem and of animal diseases than in any other two lines of investigation," states the University catalog published in 1899. "No state in the Union has made a more thorough research into the many questions relating to the growth of the sugar beet, and its manufacture into sugar than has Nebraska, and no small portion of the solution of these questions has been carried on under the provisions of the Experiment Station Act, and by means of the funds coming from the general government. Much the same is true of the careful and painstaking and necessarily expensive work that has been undertaken in the investigation regarding the causes and cures for the various diseases of domestic animals."

   It will be recalled that early in the history of the Agricultural College attention was being given to determining the possibility of growing sugar beets in Nebraska. But during this period of some eighteen years three sugar factories were to be established in Nebraska, and. were to lay the foundations for the great development of beet growing in the North Platte Valley later on. Much of the credit for the development of the industry in the late eighties and


Previous page
Names index
Next page

© 2002 for the NEGenWeb Project by Pam Rietsch, Ted & Carole Miller