William was born in Liberty Township, Park, County, Indiana. William Beadle was named in honor of General William Henry Harrison who was the former Governor of Indiana and a close relative. When it was time for William to pursue higher education he decided to attend the University of Michigan in 1857 where he received his degree in law. After college he was commissioned on September 4, 1862 into the Union Army as a 1st Lieutenant. However, he became ill and was later discharged on March 4, 1862 but was well at the time of his discharge. After some time he entered the Veterans Reserve Corps as a Major on June 13, 1864 and was discharged two years later on March 6, 1866 as a Brigadier General. In 1869 President Grant appointed him the, “Surveyor General of Dakota Territory,” which he held for four years. From March 1879 to April of 1885 General Beadle was appointed to the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction which was his greatest service to the Dakota Territory during this time. Four years later he was appointed to the spot of President of Madison State Normal School. When he took the office of Presidency in August of 1889 at the Normal School; the faculty consisted of 8 instructors, 2 supervisor’s teachers, 191 students in the Normal School and 80 in the Model Department which was the grade school. During this time he recognized a need for adequately trained teachers in an agricultural territory. He also felt that it was essential that the teachers be able to handle rural children. After six years he stepped down from the Presidential position in 1905 but continued on as faculty until 1912. In addition to being the President of the University he assisted in organizing the South Dakota Education Association. 4 After he retired from teaching at the then State Normal School the school decided to change their name to General Beadle Teachers College in dedication to the beloved President, faculty member, General and teacher. In addition to the school being named after him Beadle County was also named after him. There also stands a statue of the General currently on the west side of campus and there also stands a statue of him at the capital in Pierre, South Dakota. 5 General Beadle led a great and productive life when it came to everything that he did and few will ever be able to simulate what he accomplished. In many individuals minds the General would be considered one of the pioneering educators of Dakota State. After his many years of great service William Henry Harrison Beadle lived out the remainder of his life at his step-daughters home in San Francisco, California until he passed away on November 18, 1915. 4 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. 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 on the faculty as professor of history until 1912. This was the oldest Normal School in the state. Beadle County and GBSC 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 11-13-1915. Interment was in Riverside Cemetery, Albion, Michigan by side of 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,
Olson, Bonnie. Historical Calendar of Dakota State University
(1881-2007). Madison, SD: Dakota State University.