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and of all who shall come after him. It is most fortunate that he was allowed to approach as near as man ever comes to the completion of his work, and to enjoy the realization of remarkable public advancement along lines which he clearly discerned, forcibly marked out and labored to deeply impress upon this great institution, of whose history his life and accomplishments will always be recognized as an integral part.


Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Chemistry in the

University of California

Eugene Woldemar Hilgard, the "grand old man" of agricultural science, the youngest of nine children, developed a love for the natural sciences in his boyhood days on his father's farm near Belleville, Illinois. He received instruction in mathematics and the languages from his father, his home library giving ample opportunity for reading and study, found time from his farm work for riding and hunting, botanizing and insect collecting, and during a period of ill-health from malaria, read works on chemistry and botany. At the age of sixteen his eyes failed and for a change he was sent to Washington, D. C., to visit his brother Julius, then assistant in the U. S. Coast Survey. Attending lectures on chemistry in the Homeopathic Medical college and the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia, he soon became lecture assistant in the former. In 1849 he went to Germany and entered the University of Heidelberg, but on account of political troubles then existing, went to the University of Zürich, completed his studies in mining and metallurgy in the royal mining school of Freiberg, and later returned to Heidelberg, where he graduated in 1853, with the degree of Ph.D., at the age of twenty. In his graduating thesis he was the first to distinguish and define the four parts of the candle flame and the processes occurring in each. While a student his early desire for investigation and research manifested itself in an experiment on himself with a poisonous dose of arsenic to ascertain its effects; it is needless to say that at the critical moment he took the antidote.

He had intended making the practice of medicine his life profession, but after a two-year course of lectures gave up the plan, as he felt that he could not have human life entrusted to his skill and dependent upon the uncertainties of his correct diagnosis and prescription. He then turned to chemistry, geology and botany as giving a broader, more accurate and more interesting field for investigation and research.

On account of continued ill-health, he went to the coast of Spain and spent two years interesting himself in geological observations. He was an intense lover of music and this happily brought him an introduction to Miss J. Alexandrina Bello, daughter of Colonel Bello, of Madrid, who in 1860 became his wife. In 1855 he returned to Washington, D. C., and fitted up a small chemical laboratory in the Smithsonian Institution, but very soon accepted the position of assistant state geologist of Mississippi. Thus at the age of twenty-two years, well trained in the natural sciences especially chemistry, geology, botany, and physics, with a keen mind, quick and accurate in his observations, and with a remarkable memory, he began his life's work and entered upon the survey with enthusiasm, although the field seemed very unpromising from a geologist's standpoint. With a a traveling outfit consisting of an old ambulance, two mules, and a negro driver, who also was the cook, he explored portions of the state, making observations and collecting material for study. In 1857 the survey was suspended by the legislature, and Hilgard returned to Washington as chemist in the laboratory of the Smithsonian Institution and lecturer on chemistry in the National Medical College.

In 1858 he was appointed state geologist of Mississippi by the governor and resumed his detailed investigations on the geology, botany, agriculture, and other economic features of the state. He found, however, that he had strong opposition in the legislature and among the farmers which must be overcome. To do this he wrote his first report to the governor on the condition of the survey, and placed on exhibition at the State Fair a collection of soils and marls which he used in explaining to legislators and farmers the objects of the survey and its importance to them and to the state. From his previous investigations he was enabled to advise regarding soil peculiarities and needs, and thus won the confidence and support of the masses. Hilgard thus in the very beginning of his great career passed through his “baptism of fire” with lawmakers and the always suspicious farmer, and showed that same ability, skill, determination and personal magnetism that afterward characterized his numerous fights for what he believed to be right and necessary for the cause of agriculture.

One of the chief characteristics in Hilgard's nature was the extreme care, accuracy and attention to detail that he gave to everything that he undertook, and this is strongly shown in the results of the Mississippi survey, which combined observations on the geology, botany and soils of the state. His field notes taken on his trips have been preserved and are interesting reading.

In his movements from place to place in search of geological outcrops he was quick to note the sharply outlined differences in the native tree and plant growth on the several types of soil, and especially the differences in behavior and durability of soils under continued cultivation. He became deeply interested in these observations and determined to make them the subject of special study, realizing that the farmers themselves should secure some benefit from the survey. Mississippi seems to have been especially favorable for such observations, for it was very largely covered with a growth of native timber and had a great variety of soils, from the poor sandy long-leaf pine lands of the coast region, the richer loams and black clays of the interior, to the calcareous lands of the bluff region and the remarkably rich alluvial lands of the river. Thus were begun those studies of the chemical, physical and other properties of soils that became his life work and which, extending to others states and countries, have brought him honors and renown over the entire civilized world.

One of his interesting and valuable observations, and one that aided him greatly in his gelogical work, was that a change in tree growth was an index to changes in geological formations and thus served as a guide to outlines of the latter,

The state university fitted up for him a small chemical laboratory where he made analyses of soils, marls, etc., and here, as he told the writer, he worked all day and far into the night, using one hand in chemical analysis and the other in writing his report, as it was imperative that he should complete the latter and visit Spain. In 1860 was finished and printed his report on the geology and agriculture of Mississippi, an octavo volume of 391 pages in which were given in detail his observations on the geological formations and agricultural features with many chemical analyses of the important soils. This work is still regarded as a standard authority on the geological formations and soils of Mississippi and the southwest. A geological and agricultural map accompanied the report.

During the Civil War the exercises of the University were suspended, and Hilgard as state geologist was placed in charge of the library and equipment by the governor and thus escaped service in the army. He was appointed an agent of the Confederate “Nitre Bureau," and at the

“ siege of Vicksburg was ordered to erect calcium lights on the bluffs for the illumination of the Federal gunboats in their attempt to pass the city. The fleet, however, passed before he could complete the arrangements for adequate light.

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