Dr Cyril George Hopkins

Dr Cyril George Hopkins

Chatfield, Fillmore County, Minnesota, USA
Death 6 Oct 1919 (aged 53)
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Urbana, Champaign County, Illinois, USA
Memorial ID 65136906 · View Source
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Cyril was born on July 22, 1866 in Chatfield, Fillmore County, Minnesota, the fourth child and third son of George and Caroline. He was a first cousin of my grandfather, Burtram Collver Hopkins and his siblings. Cyril married Emma Mathilda STELTER May, 11, 1893 in Brookings County in South Dakota. They had two adopted sons, Jules and Karl Hopkins.

Research into Cyril's background revealed that he was a chemist and prolific writer of some renown. One of his early writings was entitled the 'Chemistry of the Corn Kernel,' which was his thesis at Cornell University. Cyril has been written about in a number of biographies and portraits of scientists and writers.

Cyril was a professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois until his death in 1919 at the early age of 52. Cyril was a very interesting man, who died much too early in life for all the knowledge he could share about our farms and soil management, so very important in that day and even today.

Cyril graduated from South Dakota Agricultural College at Brookings in 1890, and obtained his state teacher's certificate in 1891. He began his college teaching immediately after graduation, serving as Assistant in Agricultural Chemistry at Brookings from 1890 to 1892, then at Cornell from 1892 to1893, where he earned his master's degree. He returned to Brookings as Acting Professor of Pharmacy from 1893 to 1894, which is when Cyril and Emma were married.

In the fall of 1894 he was appointed Chemist of the Agricultural Experiment Station of the University of Illinois. After accepting this appointment he indicated his intention to work for his doctorate degree, which he secured four years later at Cornell. After receiving his doctorate in 1898, he left for Germany where he studied agricultural chemistry at the University of Gottingen from 1898 to 1900. It was his desire to further his studies with starch that took him to Germany, and while there he was appointed Professor of Soil Fertility and Head of the newly organized Department of Agronomy of the University of Illinois, a position that was offered and accepted by cable, and one which he held until his death. In 1903, Cyril was appointed Vice-Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station.

Cyril began experimenting with the ideas he developed regarding soil conservation with the purchase of the most worn-out farm he could find in southern Illinois in 1904. The farm was located in Tonti Township in Marion County, and became known as the Hopkins' Poorland Farm. The purpose of his purchase of this farm was to prove that worn-out soil could be made productive again by applying limestone, rock phosphate and sewing clover and other legumes as cover crops. The farm was divided into 40 acre fields and then numbered for record keeping. Cyril made his farm into a working demonstration farm so that area farmers could learn first hand how his management practices could be used to their advantage. Cyril's classes at the University of Illinois used the farm for field trips, arriving by train in the morning and returning in the evening. The train would let them off at a country road one mile south of the farm and they would walk to the farm.

Cyril's biographical sketch from his memorial held in 1920 at the University of Illinois reads in part ... "he threw himself at once and unreservedly into the problems of the department. In attempting to discover its field of service to the Commonwealth he organized a soil survey of the state, the most comprehensive ever undertaken, and he studied the problem of production from the standpoint of maintaining unimpaired the power of the soil to produce crops. His textbook, 'Soil Fertility and Permanent Agriculture,' embodies the results of his studies both scientific and philosophical, and has long been recognized as a classic."

"It is needless to observe that it was as Professor of Soil Fertility that Doctor Hopkins performed his great service to mankind. This is not the place to speak of that service further than to say that he literally put his life into the problem of permanent agriculture, holding himself at any time ready to meet any sacrifice in the line of duty, and no martyr ever journeyed where duty led more cheerfully than he did...."

Cyril's obituary began with ... "Professor Cyril George Hopkins, of the University of Illinois, died of congestion of the brain complicated by malaria at Gibraltar on October 6, while on his way home from Europe. He had spent a year in reclamation work on worn-out soils of Greece, for which work he had been decorated by the King of Greece [with rarely bestowed Order of Our Saviour], and was returning to his university work."

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Born Chatfield, Minn, Died British Military Hospital at Gibraltar

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  • Created by: Jeanine
  • Added: 3 Feb 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 65136906
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dr Cyril George Hopkins (22 Jul 1866–6 Oct 1919), Find A Grave Memorial no. 65136906, citing Mount Hope Cemetery and Mausoleum, Urbana, Champaign County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by Jeanine (contributor 47391467) .