Photograph of John M. McBryde
Photograph of John M. McBryde
Born Jan. 1, 1841, in Abbeville, South Carolina, of Scotch immigrant parents. Entered sophomore class at South Carolina College in 1858 at the age of 17. From there, entered University of Virginia, where he was a student at the outbreak of Civil War. In Jan. 1861 returned to Abbeville and joined a Confederate volunteer company. Volunteered for service in Virginia. Served in cavalry; contracted typhus. Upon recovery entered Confederate State' Treasury Department in Richmond. Two months later was assigned to War Tax Office, where he was later made a division chief. At close of war, farmed in Buckingham County, Virginia, until 1867, when he moved to 1,000-acre farm near Charlottesville and took an active part in organizing a Farmers' Club. Published many scientific articles, leading to an appointment as professor of agriculture and botany at the University of Tennessee. Was offered a chair at the reorganized South Carolina College. Two days after his arrival at South Carolina, was elected chairman of the faculty. Elected president of South Carolina College in May 1883. Declined offers to direct Texas Experiment Station in 1886 and to become president of the University of Tennessee in 1887. Succeeded in raising standards at South Carolina, which became a university in 1887. During state political disturbances in 1891, agricultural work was taken away from South Carolina and transferred to Clemson, and the university reverted to a college. McBryde, greatly disturbed, decided to accept an offer in 1891 to become president of VAMC at age 50. Turned down later offers to become assistant secretary of agriculture under President Cleveland, to become president of the University of Virginia, and to become president of Sweet Briar Institute. Retired in Blacksburg in 1907 and devoted time to research and writing botanical articles. In 1907 named first president emeritus of VPI and received VPI's first honorary degree, a doctor of science. Died at age 82 on March 20, 1923, while visiting his son in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Source: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Historical Data Book: Centennial Edition, ed.Jenkins Mikell Robertson, Bulletin of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, vol. 65, no. 4, 69-70.
Historical Photograph Collection, Special Collections and University Archives
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“Photograph of John M. McBryde,” VT Special Collections and University Archives Online, accessed September 22, 2020, http://digitalsc.lib.vt.edu/items/show/12782.