Seaman Asahel Knapp

Seaman Asahel Knapp was born December 16, 1833, in northern New York. At sixteen, he attended the Troy Conference Academy (Green Mountain College) at Poultney, Vermont, where he met his wife. He graduated from Union College in Schenectady, New York, in 1856 with Phi Beta Kappa honors. Knapp and his wife went to Fort Edward Collegiate Institute where they both took teaching positions and Mr. Knapp soon became Vice-President (1856-1863). He later served as the assistant manager (1864-1865) of the Ripley Female College (Green Mountain College). In 1866, Knapp and his family traveled west to Iowa.

While in Iowa, Knapp was pastor of a Methodist church, Head of the Iowa College for the Blind, and editor of an agricultural paper. Knapp was appointed to head the agriculture program at Iowa State Agricultural College (Iowa State University) in 1879. He later served a one-year term as Iowa State's second president (1883-1884) before moving to Louisiana and having a distinguished career in southern agriculture.

While at Iowa State, Knapp was the first Chair of Agriculture. He was responsible for developing the agricultural curriculum and conducting early experiments in animal husbandry, dairy industry, and farm crops. Knapp also helped draft the 1883 Experiment Station Bill that was presented to the United States House of Representatives. After leaving Iowa in 1885 he continued to pursue his agricultural interests and is credited for starting the first agricultural demonstration farm at Terrell, Texas.

Knapp married Maria Elizabeth Hotchkiss in 1856 and they had six children. Knapp died April 1, 1911, and was buried in Ames, Iowa, at the college cemetery.

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Resources available online

Seaman Asahel Knapp Papers    

RS 2/2
University Archives, Iowa State University Library