General William Henry Harrison Beadle

President (1889-1905)

beadle_william.jpgPresident Beadle was born in Liberty Township, Parke County, Indiana on January 1, 1838. His parents, James Ward and Elizabeth (Bright) Beadle, were farmers. James was born in Kentucky and of Scotch/English origin. At one time, James was a Sheriff of Parke County, Indiana. Elizabeth was born in Maryland.

William attended Rockville and entered the University of Michigan, in 1857, specializing in civil engineering. He graduated with A. B. degree in 1861, received his M.A. in 1864, an L. L. B. in 1867, and an LL.D. 1902.

He married Ellen S. Chapman in Albion, Michigan on May 18, 1863. She was a descendant of Moses Rich, a distinguished soldier of the Revolutionary War. Ellen was a widow with two young daughters. William and Ellen had a daughter who lived in California. Ellen died in 1897.

On September 5, 1861, Beadle enlisted in the militia organized in Parke County, Indiana and was mustered in the Union Army as First Lieutenant of Co. A, 31st Indiana Volunteer Infantry, the Wabash Riflemen. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the First Michigan Sharp Shooters. He was promoted to Captain on Nov. 9, 1861. On March 13, 1865 he was honored with an award of Brevet Col. & Brigadier General of Volunteer 'for gallant & meritorious service during the war'. He was discharged on March 26, 1866. He was a personal friend of President Lincoln. After the death of President Lincoln, he was in the honor guard which brought the President's remains across the country home.

After receiving his law degree at the University of Michigan, he practiced law in Evansville, Indiana, 1867, and in Boscobel, Wisconsin 1868-69.

In 1869, President Grant appointed him Surveyor General of Dakota Territory, he served until 1873, when he resigned.

In 1876, he served as Secretary of the Commission to revise the codes and wrote nearly all the 'Codes of Dakota' Territory. He was elected in 1877 to the Territorial Legislature. His other writings were; Life in Utah; Geography, History and Resources of Dakota; and Natural Method of Teaching Geography.

In 1877, he was elected a member of the House of Representatives of the territorial legislature, and served as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

In March 1879, he was appointed Territorial Superintendent of Public Instruction. He served this capacity until April 1885. Under his leadership, laws were passed essential to protect school lands.

The SD Educational Association was organized under his influence, in 1884. General Beadle was the first president, and held that office several times thereafter.

His greatest service to our state was his foresight, statesmanship and perseverance displayed in the preservation of our school lands - the 16th and 36th section of each township.

In 1889, he was appointed President of Madison State Normal School and served until 1905. After retiring as president, he continued as professor of history until 1912.

Beadle County and General Beadle State College were named in his honor. November 27, 1911 was the unveiling of a statue of him in the State Capitol in Pierre, SD. Other statues of him are on the grounds of GBSC campus, in Madison and the National Statuary Hall, Washington, DC. The Beadle Club, an honorary state educational organization was named in honor of him as have been many schools in towns throughout the State.

After retiring from the faculty of Madison State Normal school he lived in the State Soldiers Home in Hot Springs. He died at the home of his daughter (Mrs. Mae Beadle Frink) in San Francisco November 13, 1915. Interment was in Riverside Cemetery, Albion, Michigan next to the late Mrs. Beadle.

In 1970, West Wing was named Beadle Hall after President William Beadle.



Lowry, V. A. Forty Years at General Beadle (1922-1962). Madison, SD:Dakota State University, 1984. pg 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.

Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota, Vol. I, 1904 Page 716, 717,718, 719.

Olson, Bonnie. Historical Calendar of Dakota State University(1881-2007). Madison, SD: Dakota State University.