368 History of Wake Forest College
men chosen knew little of chemistry and on that account were
unwilling to undertake the work, while the salary of $800 a year was
too small to attract the teacher who had the necessary training.
At this meeting of June, 1854, the Trustees voted that the Professor
of Chemistry, when obtained, should take care to give a course on the
application of Chemistry to
doubtless being aware that
plans for such a course had been begun at the State University two
years before and were now maturing. The importance of a department
of Chemistry to the College and of its providing instruction in
Agricultural Chemistry was recognized also by the youthful T. H.
Pritchard, who graduating in 1854 immediately became the agent of
the College. In a letter which appeared in the Biblical Recorder of
September 14, 1854, he declared that the prompt endowment of the
College was imperative to provide "right away" a chair of Chemistry
that its students might have a knowledge of that "most practical and
important of all the physical sciences," and that thus the College
might provide the scientific farmer which the age was
Since the committee appointed in June, 1854, had not been able to
find a Professor of Chemistry, the Board in October of that year asked
a committee consisting of J. S. Purefoy and S. S. Biddle to procure
one. Probably in accord with their recommendation, the Board at its
meeting in June, 1855, unanimously elected William Gaston
Simmons Professor of Chemistry, Mineralogy and Geology, at a
salary of $800 a year, a position which he accepted and held until
1886 when he gave up his work in the College. Mr. Simmons had
graduated at Wake Forest College with the degree of Bachelor of Arts
in 1852. After graduation he had been a law student at the State
University. Though he had no special training for the work which he
was appointed to take up, he had that universal ability which enabled
him soon to
Proceedings, p. 100.
We shall see below that Pritchard never lost this view of the importance of
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