Born 1854, Died 1932
Edgar Everhart was born in Stokes County, North Carolina in 1854. Following undergraduate work at Racine College, he studied with renowned German chemist Karl Fresenius at Wiesbaden and subsequently at the University of Freiburg, where he earned his PhD in 1878. His thesis was titled: "Action of Nitric Acid on Naphthalene Tetrachloride." He returned to the U.S. and taught for a time at the Stevens Institute in New Jersey. He appears to have had no prior connection to Texas or the University when he applied for the position vacated by Mallet.
Everhart was in a sense the true founder of UT's Chemistry Department. He guided the infant department during its first decade after Mallet's abrupt departure. Seeing an imminent need for more laboratory space, Everhart first proposed a separate chemical laboratory building in 1884, and in the interim oversaw the expansion of the chemistry labs in the basement of Old Main. When this location became untenable, he helped to secure the funding for the new Chemical Laboratory building, which was occupied in 1892.
Everhart was a founding member and president of the Texas Academy of Science, and he spoke widely on the importance of higher education, especially in the sciences. (1) He gave public lectures on food safety and toxicology that were well attended and reported in the newspapers in great detail. He was considered an excellent teacher by E.P. Schoch, one of his students: an "unusually inspiring teacher and a very genial personality." Long-time engineering dean T.U. Taylor remembered Everhart as the most popular professor on the young campus: "He was the most effective and useful professor on the campus, not only in his classroom but in the committee room or in Faculty meetings. He had a very level head and was a man of wonderful common sense." (2)
His enthusiasm for outside endeavors, and his outspoken criticism of the state government's reluctance to fund the University adequately, proved to be his undoing. In 1885 he had become embroiled in a dispute with the Governor over the propriety of charging for mineral assay work he conducted for the State. In 1894 another dispute erupted over the disposition of a collection of minerals, this time with the Board of Regents. Following his resignation, Everhart accused board secretary A.P. Wooldridge of "securing the resignation ... by fraud and wilful prevarication." The board denied these charges, countering that Everhart had misunderstood "certain facts known to the board." (3) What these "certain facts" were remains a mystery.
Everhart proceeded to Georgia, teaching for a time at Cox College, and was one of the founders of the Southern College of Pharmacy in Atlanta. In 1904 he took a position as chemist with the Georgia Geological Survey, where he enjoyed a long and fruitful career thereafter. A specialist in geological and mineral chemistry, Everhart also had a longstanding interest in what today is called forensic chemistry. He acquired a wide reputation early in his career for his work and testimony in criminal poisoning cases, and was frequently called upon as an expert witness. He retired due to ill health in 1930, and died in Atlanta two years later, at the age of 78.
1. See for example his address to the Academy of May 14, 1892, "The Educational Need of the South," Transactions of the Texas Academy of Science, 1, 1892, 25-31.
2. Taylor, T.U. Fifty years on Forty Acres. (Austin: Alec Book Co., 1938), 84-85.
3. Minutes of the Regents, January 21, 1894.
Obituaries: Atlanta Constitution, Aug. 9, 1932; New York Times, Aug. 9, 1932.
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