Transcribed from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar.

Agricultural College.—The official title of this institution is the "Kansas State Agricultural College." The Congress of the United States, by an act approved, July 2, 1862, entitled, "An act donating public lands to the several states and territories which may provide colleges for the benefit of agriculture and mechanic arts," granted to the State of Kansas upon certain conditions, 90,000 acres of public lands for the endowment, support and maintenance of a college. The leading object of such colleges was to be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies, and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life; and when the legislature of Kansas in 1863 accepted the benefits of said act with its provisions, the foundation of the Kansas State Agricultural College was laid.

The location of the college may be attributed to the citizens of Manhattan, which city was founded in 1855 by the cooperation of two colonies, one from New England and the other from Cincinnati. In the New England party were several college graduates who were active in the promotion of education. In 1857 an association was formed to build a college in or near Manhattan to be under the control of the Methodist Episcopal church of Kansas and to be called Bluemont Central College. The charter secured in Feb., 1858, provided for the establishment of a classical college but contained the following section "The said association shall have power to establish, in addition to the literary department of arts and sciences, an agricultural department, with separate professors, to test soils, experiment in the raising of crops, the cultivation of trees, etc., upon a farm set apart for the purpose, so as to bring out to the utmost practical results the agricultural advantages of prairie lands."

By a special act of Congress, title was secured to 100 acres of land, about one mile west of Manhattan, on which the institution was located. The growth of the college was slow and unsteady, because both money and students were scarce. In 1861 when locations for a state university were discussed, the trustees of Bluemont Central College offered their site and building to the state but their offer was refused. In 1863 when Kansas accepted the act of Congress giving land for an agricultural college, said college was established in Riley county, provided that the trustees of Bluemont College cede its land to the state in fee simple. The Agricultural College was organized that same year with a board of trustees consisting of the governor, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, the president of the college ex officio, and nine others to be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the senate. Later the board of regents was reduced to seven members. Four departments were named, to-wit: Agriculture; Mechanic Arts; Military Science and Tactics; Literature and Science.

From 1863 to 1873 the development of the college was much as it would have been, had the trustees of Bluemont College remained in control. The department of literature and science was fostered while the departments for which the school was especially founded were practically ignored. The first faculty consisted of Rev. Joseph Denison, president and professor of ancient languages and mental and moral science; J. G. Schnebly, professor of natural science; Rev. N. O. Preston, professor of mathematics and English literature; Jeremiah F. Platt, principal of the preparatory department; Miss Bell Haines, assistant teacher in preparatory department, and Mrs. Eliza C. Beckwith teacher of instrumental music. The first catalogue gives the names of 94 students in the preparatory department and 15 in the college. Fifteen students graduated in the period from 1863 to 1873. In 1867 a large boarding hall for students was erected by parties in Manhattan. It was a failure financially. The college was urged to buy it and did at a cost of $10,000. In 1868 about 200 varieties of forest and fruit trees were planted. In 1871 a new farm of 155 acres was purchased for $29,832.71 in scrip. The city of Manhattan, fearing the agricultural college would be consolidated with the university at Lawrence, gave $12,000 (the result of a bond election) toward the purchase.


An act of legislation in 1873, reorganizing the state institutions, resulted in the appointment of a new board of regents. It elected Rev. John A. Anderson of Junction City to the place vacated by President Denison, who resigned the same year. Mr. Anderson changed the policy of the college immediately. Through him and the board who supported him, the Kansas State Agricultural College started on the mission it was intended to fulfill. Mr. Anderson believed in industrial education, and the reasons for his radical policies were published in 1874 in a "Hand Book of the Kansas State Agricultural College." Briefly told he thought prominence should be given to a study in proportion to the actual benefit expected to be derived from it; that, "The farmer and mechanic should be as completely educated as the lawyer or minister; but the information that is essential to one is often comparatively useless to the other and it is therefore unjust to compel all classes to pursue the same course of study." That ninety-seven per cent of Kansas people are in industrial vocations, so greater prominence should be given industrial studies. That each year's course of study should be, as far as possible, complete in itself because many students are unable to take a whole college course. Mr. Anderson's views were unpopular but they met the approval of the board of regents to such an extent that they discontinued the department of literature and organized those of mechanic arts and agriculture; the students were moved from the old farm to the new one; workshops in iron and wood, a sewing room, printing office, telegraph office and kitchen laboratory were equipped that industrial training might be given; and fifty minutes of manual training per day became compulsory for each student. After Mr. Anderson had been president three years Latin, French, German were discontinued; the preparatory course was abolished, thus shortening the whole course from six to four years; the grade of work was adjusted and lowered to connect with that done by the public schools.

In 1875 the Mechanics' Hall was erected; in 1876 Horticultural Hall and the Chemical Laboratory; in 1877 the main part of the present barn was constructed (it was finished in 1886); and in 1879 the main hall, named in honor of Mr. Anderson, was built.

In 1878 Mr. Anderson resigned, and from Feb. to Dec., 1879, M. L. Ward was acting president of the college. Shortage of money made it a difficult year. The legislature of 1877 having voted "that not over $15,000 of the interest on the endowment fund shall be used to pay instructors and teachers in said college until debts of said college be paid in full, and until said college shall refund to state all moneys advanced by the state to pay for instructors and running expenses of said college." The debt had been decreased during President Anderson's administration but was not cleared until the state legislature passed an act liquidating it.

George Thompson Fairchild, who succeeded Mr. Anderson, entered upon his duties as president of the college in Dec., 1879. He had been an instructor in the Michigan Agricultural College, so came well prepared to improve the college at Manhattan. He believed in a school that would combine the culture of a classical education with the usefulness of manual training. He rearranged the course of study to combine theory and practice, added literature, psychology, etc., divided the school year into three terms, inaugurated a series of lectures, and appointed committees to take charge of the various branches of school life.

In 1890 the Federal government passed an act for the further endowment of agricultural colleges established under the provisions of an act of 1862. The act provided, "the sum of $15,000 for the year ending June 30, 1890, and an annual increase of the amount of such appropriation thereafter for ten years by an additional sum of $1,000 over the preceding year, and the average amount to be paid thereafter to each state and territory shall be $25,000, to be applied only to instruction in agriculture, the mechanic arts, the English language, and the various branches of mathematics, physical, natural and economic science, with special reference to the industries of life and to the facilities for such instruction."

In 1907 the income of the agricultural college was further increased by what is known as the Nelson amendment to the agricultural appropriation bill. "In accordance with the act of Congress approved July 2, 1862, and the act of Congress approved Aug. 30, 1890, the sum of $5,000, in addition to the sums named in said act, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1908, and an annual increase of the amount of such appropriation thereafter for four years by an additional sum of $5,000 over the preceding year, and the annual sum to be paid thereafter to each state and territory shall be $50,000 to be applied only for the purposes of the agricultural colleges as defined and limited in the act of Congress approved Aug. 30, 1890, provided, that said colleges may use a portion of this money for providing courses for the special preparation of instructors for teaching the elements of agriculture and the mechanic arts.

A valuable adjunct to the Agricultural College is the Experiment Station. Some experiment work in forest planting was commenced by the college as early as 1868. In 1874 experiments in the cultivation of tame grasses were started by Prof. Shelton. These were followed by experiments in subsoiling, feeding, etc., but all work was carried on in a small way at the expense of the college until Congress passed the Hatch bill in March, 1887, providing for the organization of a station for experiments along agricultural lines in each state. This station was located at the Agricultural College by the state legislature and the management vested in a council consisting of the president, the professors of agriculture, horticulture and entomology, chemistry, botany, and veterinary science. The Hatch bill provided for an annual Congressional appropriation of $15,000 for experimental work.

In 1906, another appropriation was made for the Experiment Station, under what is known as the Adams act, which provided "for the more complete endowment and maintenance of the agricultural experiment stations," a sum beginning with $5,000, and increasing each year by $2,000 over the preceding year for five years, after which time the annual appropriation is to be $15,000, "to be applied to paying the necessary expenses of conducting original researches or experiments bearing directly on the agricultural industry of the United States, having due regard to the varying conditions and needs of the respective states and territories." Under the Adams act only such experiments may be entered upon as have first been approved by the office of experiment stations of the United States department of agriculture. In 1908, the legislature of Kansas appropriated $15,000 for further support of the Experiment Station.

The work of the station is published in bulletin form, of which there are three classes: The first are purely scientific, the second are simplified to meet the intelligence of the average reader and include all other bulletins in which a "brief, condensed and popular presentation is made of data which call for immediate application and cannot await publication in the regular bulletin series." In addition to these the station publishes a series of circulars of useful information not necessarily new or original. The station has issued 167 bulletins, 183 press bulletins and 8 circulars.

While the main division of the station is at Manhattan it has branches at Fort Hayes, Garden City, Ogallah and Dodge City. The land at Fort Hays is of the high rolling prairie variety and was originally part of the Fort Hays military reservation, which from disuse was turned over to the department of interior in 1889 for disposal. In 1895 the Kansas legislature asked Congress to donate the whole reservation of 7,200 acres to the State of Kansas for agricultural education and research, for the training of teachers, and for a public park, but it was not until 1900 that Kansas secured the land. The work of this station is confined to the problems of the western part of the state. This land is suitable for experimental and demonstration work in dry farming, irrigation and crops, forest and orchard tests. This station is supported by state funds, and sales of farm products.

The station at Garden City is located upon unirrigated upland which the Agricultural College leased from the county commissioners of Finney county for 9 years. "It is an experimental and demonstration" farm operated in conjunction with the United States department of agriculture for purpose of determining the methods of culture, crop varieties and crop rotation best suited for the southwestern portion of the state, under dry land farming conditions.

The stations at Ogallah and Dodge City are forestry stations, and are operated under the direct management of state forester and general supervision of the director of the Experiment Station. The engineering experiment station was established by the board of regents, "for the purpose of carrying on continued series of tests of engineering and manufacturing value to the State of Kansas, and to conduct these tests on a scale sufficiently large that the results will be of direct commercial value." Among the experiments made are those of cement and concrete, Kansas coals, lubricants and bearings, endurance tests of paints, power required for driving machine tools, etc. President Fairchild remained at the head of the Agricultural College from 1879 to 1897. The growth of the institution under his direction was steady and substantial. He was succeeded by Mr. Thomas F. Will. It is said great prominence was given economic, financial and social problems during the presidency of Mr. Will. In 1897 four year courses were established in domestic science, agriculture, mechanical engineering and general science. Mr. Will resigned in 1899, and Prof. E. R. Nichols was chosen to fill his place first as acting president, later as president.

The rapid increase in attendance made new buildings necessary. In 1900 the agricultural hall and dairy barn were erected; in 1902, the physical science hall, in 1906 the granary, and in 1904 the dairy hall, college extension. Until 1905 the extension work of the college was in the form of farmer's institutes held throughout the state, this work being in charge of a committee chosen from the faculty. The small means available made the institutes irregular and the attendance was small. In 1905 the board of regents employed a superintendent to organize the department of farmers' institutes, and in 1906 the department was formally organized. To the appropriation of $4,000 made by the legislature of 1905 the college added $800. The interest of the state in the agricultural extension and the results derived therefrom resulted in an appropriation of $11,500 by the legislature of 1907 to which the college added $1,000. In 1909 the legislature appropriated $52,500 for the department, the policies and plans of which are established by a committee consisting of the president of the college, the director of the experiment station and the superintendent of the division. The department includes the following forms of agricultural extension: Farmers' institutes; publications for institute members; agricultural railway trains; schoolhouse campaigns; boys' corn growing contests; girls' cooking and sewing contests; rural education; demonstration farming; highway construction; movable schools; special campaigns; publications for teachers; correspondence courses (18 courses offered); home economic clubs.

President Nichols resigned in 1909 and Henry Jackson Waters was chosen by the board of regents to succeed him. The Agricultural College now owns 748 acres of land including the campus of 160 acres. The buildings which are built of white limestone number twenty-one. The corps of instructors numbers 165, and the number of students enrolled in 1910 was 1,535 males, 770 females, a total of 2,305.

Pages 32-38 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.