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Walker Bowman

Chemist, Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station, 1889-1891

From - Barringer, Paul Brandon, Garnett, James Mercer Jr., and Page, Rosewell. 1904. University of Virginia: Its history, influence, equipment and characteristics with biographical sketches and portraits of founders, benefactors, officers, and alumni.  Page. Volume 2. Lewis Publishing Co., New York.,138pp.


William Bowman, Chemical Engineer, of New York City, was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, March 15, 1864, the son of Nathaniel Robert and Matilda (Wilkes) Bowman, both of whom traced their ancestry to old and honored families of England, who settled in the State of Virginia during the seventeenth century.


Walker Bowman received his preliminary education from the public schools, and this was supplemented at the private school in Lynchburg, Virginia, taught by Woodville Latham, and the Bellevue High School.  He then entered the University of Virginia from which he was graduated in 1884 with the degree of Master of Arts, after which he went abroad and pursued a course of study at the German Universities of Goettingen, Heidelberg and Berlin, receiving in 1888, from the latter institution the title of Doctor of Philosophy, in Chemistry. Upon his return to his native land, Mr. Bowman was elected Chemist to the Agricultural Experiment Station, Blacksburg, Virginia, which position he held from 1889 to 1891. He then established a Chemical Laboratory in New York City, which he continued to conduct up to the year 1893, when he was called to the Chair of Chemistry in the Ohio University. He served in this capacity until 1896, when he located in Louisville, Kentucky, and accepted a position as Chemist of the Louisville Spirit-Cured Tobacco Company. In 1900, Mr. Bowman took up his residence in New York City, where he has since resided, and since that date has devoted his attention exclusively to Chemical Engineering, his business office being located at 39 Cortlandt Street, New York City. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, the Society of Chemical Industry, and the New York Chemists' Club. In politics he adheres to the principles of the Democratic party.

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VPI Faculty - 1900

From University Archives: Harry Downing Temple Photograph Collection - VPI faculty in 1900.


VAMC Faculty - around 1890

From Alwood Family Archives: Photo taken in 1890 by W. B. Alwood on the porch of Horticultural Hall. This was likely a significant occasion with two members of the Board of Control (BOC) Executive Committee visiting the station - possibly the dedication of the building, which was completed around this time. The Executive Committee was the Institute's administrators - among its members were the President and two BOC members. The visit may have corresponded to appointments made of two people in the photograph, W. D. Saunders (station director) and H. M. Magruder (superintendent). In the photo was David Oliver Nourse, the first station animal scientist (wrote the first station bulletin on animal management); Charles Ellis, DVM, station staff veterinarian (1888-90); J. Thompson Brown, BOV, 1889-1904 (executive committee member and later, rector, 1900-08, 1912-21); C.E. Vawter, rector of BOV - the first to be reappointed in 1890 to two consecutive terms (1889-1900); William D. Saunders, professor of dairy science and head of the experiment station in 1890, and; Henry Magruder*, station superintendent. Brown and Vawter worked as a very powerful team - they brought a great deal of change to the Institute over the years.


*This is a rare photo of Henry Minor Magruder, who was one of the agricultural experiment station's greatest critics until he was appointed by the Virginia Board of Agriculture as superintendent of farms and equipment in December 1890. His was a short tenure as he died of a heart attack in June 1891. Magruder was charged by the Board to travel the state to demonstrate practical solutions to farmers. As such he was credited for doing some of the earliest Extension work in Virginia. Although he must not have had much time in this official capacity, his concept of Extension was planted long before Seaman Knapp persuaded the USDA to initiate the first agents in the states to eventually form the Cooperative Extension Service (which came about officially in 1914). As for practicing Extension methods, W. B. Alwood had been bringing practical solutions to the public since his arrival at VAMC in 1888. The first publicly documented Extension activity by a VAMC faculty member (Alwood) was published in the Charlottesville Chronicle in 1889. The article recorded Alwood's demonstration of the use of Bordeaux mixture to grape growers gathered at the Albemarle County (VA) courthouse square.


VAMC Faculty - 1878-79

From University Archives: 1877-79 - Harry Downing Temple Photograph Collection - Sitting (left to right): President C.L.C. Minor, Charles Martin, M.G. Ellzey, V.E. Shepherd, Gray Carroll. Standing (left to right): J.H. Lane, W.R. Boggs.


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