A Brief History of General Beadle

A Brief History of General Beadle

       There is a statue of him in front of Lowry Hall. He was president of and a professor at DSU long ago (then called Madison State Normal School). His ghost supposedly haunts Beadle Hall. Oh, and there is a hall named after him. However, do you know anything else about General Beadle? 

       General Beadle, or rather, William Henry Harrison Beadle was born in rural Parke County, Indiana in 1838. Raised on a farm, his father wanted him to take over it when William was older. However, Beadle dreamed of something else – being an educator. He went on to study civil engineering at the U of Michigan. The Civil War was calling many men, and he enlisted in the Union army. At the end of the war, he had risen to the rank of brigadier general. After that, he earned his law degree from the U of Michigan, and utilized that law degree in practicing law briefly. 

        With his civil engineering, general, and law experience, he drafted the school lands provision at the South Dakota Convention of 1885. The motivation behind this draft is from his new position of Surveyor General of the Dakota Territory. (Remember, South Dakota was not yet a state at this time.) As far as school lands went, Beadle believed that they were an investment for future generations, and should be sold at their appraised value and never less ($10 an acre at that time). The land boom soon began in South Dakota, and the land in Madison was put to good use, as the need for teachers increased. 

             He served as president of Madison State Normal School from 1889 until 1906. He then became a professor of history until his retirement in 1912. He died in 1915. 

              I have General Beadle to thank for being able to even type this right now. We have him to thank for being able to attend classes here and get our degrees. We have him to thank for Dakota State University. So, thank you, General Beadle. If you see his ghost in Beadle Hall, be sure to thank him in person. 

Jenna Sorsen

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One Comment

  • Kurt Kemper10. Apr, 2017

    He is also the namesake for the DSU Honors Program, so I have General Beadle to thank for part of my job description! Thanks, Jenna, for a great reminder of the General!

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