Professor William W. Girton

Acting president (1901-02)

girton_william.jpgWilliam Girton was the acting president while President Beadle was on leave to regain his health.

Born in Lincolnshire, England on April 10, 1850, William was the son of John and Mary (Hubbard) Girton, both were also born in England. His father farmed in England until 1850 when he came to America, locating in Florence, Michigan, where he continued to farm until his death in 1885. His wife moved with their two boys to Wisconsin. Mary died at the home of her eldest son in Winchester, Tennessee November 3, 1893.

William Girton received his education in public schools of Sauk County, Wisconsin . In 1868, he entered an academy at Spring Green for two years and then at Sextonville, Wisconsin.

In 1870 he started teaching career at a school district near Reedsburg, Sauk County.

In April 1871, he entered State Normal School at Platteville, Wisconsin graduating in 1874.

From 1875 to '76 he was principal of the graded schools at Muscoda Wis. and from there he went to Vinton, Iowa, where he held the office of assistant superintendent of State School for the Blind for one year.

On August 1, 1877, he married Miss Frances Richmond (born 1851) of Green County, Wisconsin. Miss Richmond was a native of Belturbel, Ireland. Their family consisted of six children: Lee Richmond, Daisy M., Susan M., Edith A., William T., and John F.

From there he was principal in schools at Harlan until November 1880. He was superintendent of schools of Shelby County, Iowa until 1883. He founded Shelby County Republican at Harlan, Iowa and continued as editor and publisher until1886 when he sold his newspaper property.

In 1886 he came to Dakota Territory. In December 1886 he organized the Vilas Banking Company, at Vilas in Miner County, South Dakota and was President of it for 3 years. He established Miner County Farmer.

In 1889, he was appointed Deputy Territorial Auditor of the last Territorial Legislature. He also served as the Chief Enrollment Clerk of the joint commission which was in charge of the settlement of accounts between North Dakota and South Dakota.

In 1892 he was elected county Superintendent of schools for Miner County.

In 1896, he became a member of the faculty of State Normal School in Madison, SD as well as the chair of geography and civics. He was the first secretary of the Normal and also served as Registrar. He was prominent in Normal institute work and the State as Secretary for the Regents of Education.

Between 1901 and 1902, in the absence of President Beadle, he was appointed acting president of the State Normal School.

The Girton House which was first an emergency hospital then overflow dormitory and later made into a home for the President of the college was named after William Girton.



Lowry, V. A. Forty Years at General Beadle (1922-1962). Madison, SD:Dakota State University, 1984. pg 17, 18.

Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota, Vol. II, 1904 Page 1578,1579, 1580.

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