Biography of William M. Jardine

William M. Jardine, Dean of the Division of Agriculture and Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, Kansas State Agricultural College, was born January 16, 1879, on a ranch in Oneida County, Idaho, where his parents, William and Rebecca (Dudley) Jardine had settled as pioneers in 1871 at the time of their marriage. William Jardine was born at Paisley, Scotland, in 1849, and came to this country when fifteen years of age. Rebecca Dudley was born at Willard City, Utah, in 1855, of Welsh parentage. William M. Jardine, their fourth child and eldest son, found it necessary at an early age to assume unusual responsibilities which were destined to give him invaluable experience and an unexcelled practical training. At that time Southern Idaho was an almost unbroken range covered with timber or sage brush. From twelve years of age until he finished his college course, his range of activities included breaking colts, driving horses long distances to market, cutting timber, stacking hay, milking cows, breaking sod covered with sage brush, using horses for power, and performing any and all of the varied services required by ranch life in a new country. The greater part of the three years preceding his first attendance at college was spent on a ranch in Big Hole Basin, Montana, where the sole enterprise consisted in cattle raising with its attendant features of broncho breaking and round-ups, and where, as a supplement, great quantities of prairie hay were yearly cut and stacked for feed.

In mid-winter, the year he was nineteen years of age, he entered the Utah Agricultural College as a sub-freshman. His previous schooling had consisted of a term each winter of from two to three months in the country schools of Idaho. The close of college in the spring found him with funds exhausted. He felt it hopeless to try to continue college work, but during his brief residence, various members of the college faculty had become impressed with his native genius and potential possibilities, and brought forces to bear which subsequently enabled him to return to college. Following friendly advice, he went home, secured a country school with a six months’ term, and at its close, leased his father’s ranch, giving his parents opportunity for an extended vacation, and during the remainder of the year so applied modern and progressive ideas in its management as to astonish his family and friends with its pecuniary returns. The next fall he re-entered college and continued in attendance without further interruption until graduation in 1904 with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. The summer of 1906 he attended the Graduate School of Agriculture of the University of Illinois. September 6, 1905, at Salt Lake City, Utah, he was married to Effie Nebeker of Logan, Utah.

Following the completion of his college course, William M. Jardine, became interested in the possibilities of successfully farming western lands on a large scale through the use of big machinery, such as the traction engine and the combined harvester. He became a charter member of the Utah Arid Farming Company, a Utah corporation, the first organization in that state to test the practicability of so employing machinery. He was manager of the Utah Arid Farming Company during 1905. A few years later he became a charter member of the Northern Pure Seed Company, a Montana corporation operating a tract of several thousand acres of land near Forsyth, Montana, on the Yellowstone River, and was director of the Company from 1908 to 1915. The Northern Pure Seed Company also made a specialty of using large machinery in its operations. In the course of his agricultural work in the West, W. M. Jardine became one of the leaders in introducing and growing profitably on a large scale, hard winter wheat in Montana.

Notwithstanding his great and continued interest in practical farming, the chief activities of W. M. Jardine have been educational. In 1904, while a senior student in the Utah Agricultural College, he became an assistant in the Department of Agronomy; the following year he was made instructor and then professor of agronomy, in which position he continued until the close of 1906. He served as Assistant United States Cerealist in charge of dry-land grain investigations from 1907 to 1910. During this period his residence was in Washington, D. C., but the greater part of his time was spent in the field superintending the work of substations and studying dry-land agriculture in the different western states and in Canada. In 1910 he became agronomist at the Kansas State Agricultural College, and in 1913 was made Dean of the Division of Agriculture and Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station. He was lecturer in field crops at the Graduate School of Agriculture, Michigan Agricultural College, 1912.

The reclamation of the dry lands of the West attracted the interest and attention of W. M. Jardine from the beginning. While connected with the Utah Agricultural College he helped to establish a series of substations for the State of Utah, at which stations the first comprehensive investigations in dry-farming were conducted. Two years later, as expert in dry-land agriculture and Assistant in Cereal Crops in the United States Department of Agriculture, he assisted in the establishment of similar stations in other western states. These stations are now operated by the Department of Agriculture in co-operation with the several states in which they are located.

The work of reclaiming the arid lands of the West was made poseible through the development of the system of farming known as dry-farming, whereby crops are produced without irrigation in areas of limited rainfall. The fundamental principles of this system were developed through studies made at the dry-land experiment stations first established by individual states and later by the federal government. W. M. Jardine has been closely identified with the dry-farming movement from its inception and has become a recognized authority on the subject. He was one of the founders of the International Dry-Farming Congress, has served on its Board of Governors almost continuously, and was president of the organization during the year 1915-1916.

W. M. Jardine has been author of numerous papers on dry-farming and other subjects related to agriculture and of numerous bulletins published by the Utah Agricultural College, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Kansas State Agricultural College. He was elected president of the American Society of Agronomy at its ninth annual meeting, November 13-14, 1916. He is a member of the honorary fraternities, Alpha Zeta and Phi Kappa Phi, and the social fraternity, Beta Theta Pi. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Institute of Social Sciences, the Masonic order, and the Grange. He is a member of the Cosmos Club, Washington, D. C., and the Commercial Club of Manhattan, Kansas.

W. M. Jardine is a comparatively young man whose untiring energy, indomitable courage and initiative, combined with a winning personality, a student attitude, and a unique ability to apply science effectively to the most practical farm problems, have amply merited his rapid promotion in positions of responsibility.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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