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Thompson gave to Nebraska the best years of his life, from thirty-eight years to fifty-one years of age.
We learn that he was born in Crawford County, Pennsylvania, April 17, 1833. He graduated from Westminster College in 1863. Before graduation, he served as superintendent of the Crawford County schools. He was professor of natural science in the Edinboro State Normal School from 1865 to December, 1867. Later he was engaged in high school work at Pottsville, Pa., and then went to Marshall College, Cabell County, West Virginia, to reorganize it as a state normal school. After three years there he came to Nebraska.
Professor Thompson resigned from his position at the Agricultural College in 1875. For a year he was principal of the State Normal School at Peru, Nebraska, and state superintendent of public instruction in Nebraska from 1877 to 1881. He also filled out the term of Prof. W. W. W. Jones, as superintendent of the Lincoln (Nebraska) city schools, when Professor Jones succeeded him as state superintendent. He again resumed the professorship at the Agricultural College and from that he was called to the professorship of physics at Westminster College in June, 1884. Professor Thompson died October 28, 1896. Dean Bessey paid him this tribute on the occasion of his death:
“We need not go back to those early days and criticize the work of those who were compelled to make educational bricks without straw, and while we may readily admit that mistakes were made, we should none the less honor those who toiled and planned. Time has shown that those who once criticized Professor Thompson's work were themselves as far as he from having the true solution of the problems of that time. As we look back to those days of small things, those days in which the beginnings were made, we are led to honor the man who shrank not from the labor which was laid upon him. As I look over the country and compare the work done by Professor Thompson in this young University, with that accomplished by men in similar positions in other institutions I am constrained to say that Nebraska was very fortunate in having the services of so cultured a man.
"While in Nebraska Professor Thompson organized the State Weather Service, which with varying fortunes has existed to this day, growing in these later years into the splendid service with which almost every Nebraskan is familiar. This work might be honor enough, but to it we may add another. In the early days he began urging the people of the state to engage in farmers' institutes, in which he himself took active part. As I go about the state I frequently find a pleasant memory still lingering of the pleasant face and voice of the dead teacher,
"Personally, Professor Thompson was tall, of pleasant manner and with a scholarly bearing. In his later years his white hair and full beard of almost snowy whiteness gave him a venerable look. A kind face from which looked out the clear, soft eyes which betokened the sympathetic friend, completes the picture of the man who has gone from us."
There was still another man, who, besides Chancellor Benton and Professor Thompson, was listed as a member of the faculty of the Agricultural College. That was Professor Samuel Aughey, professor of chemistry and natural sciences, who officiated in the Agricultural College as well as the academic department. Professor Aughey gave a course in elementary chemistry, inorganic and organic, and also took up the application of chemical science to agriculture. He also offered instruction in geology and botany to students of the Agricultural College. Professor Aughey graduated from Pennsylvania College in 1856 and from 1867 to 1871 was in the employ of the Smithsonian Institution. For several years during his connection with the University of Nebraska he taught the classes in German and “devoted his remaining spare time to the collection of an herbarium of the flora of the state.” He resigned in 1883, becoming territorial geologist of Wyoming.
Annual Reports of the Chancellor to the Board of Regents, Univer
sity of Nebraska. 1872-76.
Annual Reports of the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture. 1873
CALDWELL, HOWARD W. Education in Nebraska. Circular of Infor
mation No. 3, 1902, of the United States Bureau of Education. Catalogs of the University of Nebraska. 1872-77. Nebraska Farmers' Institutes, First Report. University Bulletins,
Series XI, No. 22. University of Nebraska, 1906. Reports of the Board of Regents, University of Nebraska. 1871-81.
The University of Nebraska, 1869-1919.
versary Book. The University, 1919.
THE INDUSTRIAL COLLEGE AND THE
HE fifteen-year period from about 1875 to 1890 was
marked by at least three important developments in the history of the College of Agriculture. One was the changing of the name of the Agricultural College to that of Industrial College and the consequent development of an engineering department within the Industrial College, as well as the reorganization of the work of the college. The second was the founding of the Agricultural Experiment Station with government funds supplied under the Hatch Act. The third important development was the erection of Nebraska Hall, a building to house the Industrial College, on the uptown campus of the University.
At the beginning of this period the Agricultural College was in operation but certainly in none too prosperous a condition. Its biggest attraction still remained the free rooms in the "dormitory" and the labor supplied students on the farm. There were two buildings of consequence at the farm, one the little stone house that was on the property when it was purchased by the University and the other the large frame house, erected in 1875, which was torn down in the fall of 1923.
"At the farm house he [a student] can find a pleasant home, far enough from the city to be out of the way of its temptations to idleness and worse, and yet near enough to enjoy all its literary and public advantages," reads the catalog printed in 1875. "With all of the advantages of quiet and retirement for study, the student has yet the opportunity to be part of a young and growing university.”
The catalog states that “students in this college will be required to work at least two hours each day for five days in the week, unless excused for good reasons. This labor
will be paid for at the rate of from ten to fifteen cents an hour, according to the individual's skill and fidelity. Under this arrangement a faithful student may earn fully half his necessary expenses.
This labor is designed to be educational in its character, and is planned with reference to illustrating and enforcing the lessons given in the class-room."
For a while the students at the farm paid $3 a week for board, which included the use of rooms, partially furnished. Later this seems to have been reduced to around $2 a week. The rooms at the farm house were furnished with a "stove, bedstead, table, two chairs, and a coal bucket.” The occupants of the room had to furnish everything else. The rooms in the dormitory at the farm were listed as being "free" but there was no provision for "self-boarding" at the farm.
The downtown campus of the University was still the headquarters of the Agricultural College for many years. The early catalogs provided that "class recitations in purely agricultural studies will be either at the farm house or at the University building, as may be found most convenient. All other recitations will be made to the regular professors in the academical department." As more ambitious agricultural courses were established, they appear to have been housed in old University Hall, or in Nebraska Hall, erected later on.
An advantage offered to the students of agriculture for a while was the opportunity to teach school during the winter. For a brief period it was the custom in this department to hold school in the fall, spring, and summer. Students could then secure positions in the country schools of the state for the winter. Another purpose behind this plan was the idea that students should have some experience with the actual growing of crops and could be furnished more employment during the summer. This plan was announced in the catalogs published in 1875 and 1876, but Chancellor Benton in his report for 1876 con