Biography of Edgar E. Hartwig, Soybean Breeder for the U.S. South (1913-2018)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-04-5

Publication Date: 2018 Dec. 23

Number of References in Bibliography: 356

Earliest Reference: 1937

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Brief Chronology of Edgar Emerson Hartwig

“One of the most widely known and successful soybean breeders in the world, Dr. Hartwig was respectfully and appropriately referred to as ‘The Father of Soybeans in the South’” (obituary in Soybean Genetics Newsletter, May 1997, p. 3-4).

1913 Aug. 26 – Edgar Hartwig is born in Wheaten, Traverse County, Minnesota, the 11th and last child of Frederick Wilhelm Hartwig and Mary Elizabeth Schultz (See family group record near front of book).

1937 June – He receives his bachelor of science degree (with a specialty in agriculture) from the University of Minnesota (Outstanding Achievement dossier from Univ. of Minnesota, 1977).

1939 Feb. – He receives his master’s of science degree in agronomy from the University of Illinois at Urbana.

1939 April 12 – Dr. Hartwig, now a graduate student, is inducted into Sigma Xi, the scientific honorary at the University of Illinois (Daily Illini. April 13, p. 3).

1939 April 20 – Dr. Hartwig is initiated into Gamma Sigma Delta, the agriculture honor society of the College of Agriculture, University of Illinois (Daily Illini. April 21, p. 3).

1939 June 25 – Marriage to Winifred Ivern Barber, probably in Illinois; we have been unable to find the exact location. She was born on 21 May 1912 in Lac Qui Parle County, Minnesota, the daughter of Galen Delos Moyer Barber and Cleo Pocahontas Garceau. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, in 1934 she earned a degree in home economics and a minor in science and sociology. Winifred also attended graduate school at Columbia University in New York City, where she studied family living (obituary in Delta Democrat-Times, Greenville, Mississippi, Jan. 24).

1940 April 8 – In the U.S. Census of Urbana, Champaign County, Illinois (site of the University of Illinois): Edgar E. Hartwig is the head of household and Winifred is his wife. Note: He is mis-indexed on Ancestry.com as "Hartvig." He is age 26 (born in Minnesota) and she is age 27 (born in Minnesota). He had 6 years of college. In 1935, he had been living in St. Paul, Minnesota. He had worked 24 hours per week in plant breeding research in the year preceding the census. He had worked 50 weeks the prior year. He earned $900 the previous year. He had no other outside income. His wife, Winifred, had 5 years of college. In 1935, she had lived in Ortonville, Big Stone County, Minnesota. She did not work outside the home.

1940 – Edgar Hartwig appears in the Illio, University of Illinois yearbook. He is shown (p. 179) as a member of Alpha Zeta, a professional fraternity for students of agriculture.

1940 – 39,000 acres of soybeans are grown in Mississippi and harvested for beans (rather than hay or forage) (Soybean Bluebook, 1962, p. 29).

1941 Feb. – He receives his Ph.D. degree in agronomy from the University of Illinois at Urbana. His Ph.D. thesis is titled “Genetic studies in the genus Meliolotus.” This genus of legumes includes several species of sweet clover.

1942 – Dr. Edgar Hartwig appears in the Illio, University of Illinois yearbook. He is shown (p. 208) as a member of Alpha Zeta, a professional fraternity for students of agriculture.

1942-1943 – He is Assistant Agronomist / Pathologist at the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station and at the Watermelon & Grape Laboratory, both in Leesburg, Florida (obituary in Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, 12 May 1996, p. 16).

1943 – Dr. Hartwig begins his work with soybeans as research agronomist for soybean improvement research with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Station in cooperation with the North Carolina Agricultural Experiment Station in Raleigh (obituary in Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, 12 May 1996, p. 16).

However the earliest document we have seen showing that Dr. Hartwig is involved with soybeans is dated 17 Jan. 1944. He is working at the North Carolina Experiment Station in Raleigh (RSLM No. 108).

1943-1948 – He is Research Agronomist, USDA, North Carolina State College, Raleigh, NC.

1944 Jan. – Dr. Hartwig is in Stoneville, Mississippi (apparently for the first time), from Feb. 29 until early March as part of the Southern States Soybean Conference, U.S. Regional Soybean Laboratory (RSLM No. 108, list of attendees).

1947 Nov. – Dr. Hartwig writes “Soybeans in North Carolina,” his first article in Soybean Digest (p. 11-13). It begins with an excellent history of the subject. His title is given as: Associate Agronomist, U.S. Regional Soybean Lab., Bureau of Plant Industry, Soils & Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural Research Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

1948 Sept. – Dr. Hartwig writes “Breeding Soybeans for the Southern States,” his 2nd article in Soybean Digest (p. 28-29). On the cover of this issue in large letter is written: “The Soybean Moves South.” More than any other single person, Dr. Hartwig is responsible for this move – as soybeans replace cotton, which is still plagued by the boll weevil.

1949 Jan. – Dr. Hartwig becomes “research agronomist for soybean production research with the U.S.D.A. Agricultural Research Station in cooperation with the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Research Station in Stoneville” (obituary in Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, 12 May 1996, p. 16).

Soybean Digest states (Sept. 1960, p. 8): “In January 1949 he became coordinator of the southern soybean improvement program at the Delta Branch Experiment Station, Stoneville, Mississippi, which position he still holds.”

But Dr. Hartwig himself writes in Soybean News (Jan. 1984, p. 5): "In the fall of 1948, I began working at Stoneville, Mississippi, in a program cooperative with the Delta Branch of the Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. In addition to the research program at Stoneville, I coordinated a program with state workers in the southern states to evaluate breeding lines that were being developed.”

Also in 1949 Dr. and Mrs. Hartwig began to reside in Leland, Mississippi. However in Oct. 1952 they had an attractive home on the “Delta Experiment Station at Stoneville,” Mississippi (Delta Democrat-Times, 26 Oct. 1956, p. 13).

1950 – 358,000 acres of soybeans are grown in Mississippi and harvested for beans (Soybean Bluebook 1962, p. 29). This is a 9-fold increase over 1940.

1951 – Dr. Hartwig becomes curator of the Southern Soybean Germplasm Collection (maturity groups V-VIII) at the Delta Branch Experiment Station, Stoneville, Mississippi. This collection had been started in 1949 by Martin G. Weiss of the USDA and Jackson L. Cartter of the U.S. Regional Soybean Laboratory at Urbana, Illinois; it was America's first comprehensive soybean germplasm collection.

1954 June – Dr. Hartwig’s title is now: “Research Agronomist, Field Crops Research Branch, ARS, USDA, working in cooperation with the Delta Branch Experiment Station, Stoneville, Mississippi and Coordinator of the U.S. Regional Soybean Laboratory research conducted in cooperation with the 12 Southeastern States” (Mississippi Farm Research).

1954 – “He established his leadership in soybean breeding as early as 1954 with the development of the variety 'Lee'. Lee quickly became the leading variety in the south” (obituary in Soybean Genetics Newsletter, May 1997, p. 3-4).

1956 – Dr. Hartwig receives the U.S. Department of Agriculture Superior Service Award.

1960 Sept. – Dr. Hartwig is made an “Honorary Life Member” of the American Soybean Association (Soybean Digest, p. 8).

1960 – 916,000 acres of soybeans are grown in Mississippi and harvested for beans (Soybean Bluebook, 1962, p. 29). This is a 39-fold increase over 1940.

1966 – He is invited to observe and advise on soybean improvement and production research in Brazil. He provided many of his best soybean varieties to Brazilian soybean breeders.

1966 – Dr. Hartwig starts to breed high-protein soybean varieties (Plant Food Review, 1966 winter, p. 13; Soybean Digest, Aug. 1967, p. 38).

1970 – and again in 1971 he observes soybean production and research programs in India and advises research workers.

1971 – Dr. Hartwig receives the U.S. Department of Agriculture Distinguished Service Award. He spent 47 years with USDA’s Agricultural Research Service.

1975 – Dr. Hartwig receives the Special Achievement Award for sustained excellence in Federal service, National Civil Service League.

1996 May 11 – Dr. Edgar Emerson Hartwig, age 83, dies of a heart attack in Greenville, Greenville County, Mississippi. He is buried at Stoneville-Leland Cemetery, Stoneville, Washington County, Mississippi. The couple had no children. At the time of his death, he is a Roman Catholic, as is his wife (obituary in Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Hinds Co., Mississippi, 12 May 1996, p. 16).

1997 Feb. 5 – Dr. Edgar Hartwig's widow, Winifred B. Hartwig, makes a gift of $208,000 to Mississippi State University. It is intended to continue the research of her husband, a longtime university employee and an internationally recognized agronomist and plant breeder.

The gift will establish the “Edgar and Winifred B. Hartwig Endowed Fund for Excellence,” which will support graduate students in the department of plant and soil sciences (Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Hinds Co., Mississippi, 5 Feb. 1997, p. 14).

In April 2013 the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board, representing Mississippi soybean farmers, makes an additional investment in this scholarship fund which “will enhance soybean research, teaching and service at Mississippi State University (MSU) for years to come” (Delta Farm Press, 19 April 2013, Online exclusive).

2009 Jan. 22 – Winifred B. Hartwig, his widow, dies at Greenville, Greenville Co., Mississippi. She was a devout Catholic and a funeral Mass was said for her at St. James Catholic Church in Leland, Mississippi (her former residence since 1949). She is buried next to her husband with both names on one gravestone. Her obituary appears on 24 Jan. 2009 in the Delta Democrat-Times (Greenville, Mississippi), p. 16.

Click here to download the full text to open and read book Biography of Edgar E. Hartwig, Soybean Breeder for the U.S. South (1913-2018)