Saturday, December 4, 2010

4 December 1867: Charles Holmes Herty Is Born

On this day in 1867 in Milledgeville, Georgia, Charles Holmes Herty was born to Bernard and Louise Herty. He was raised in Athens by an aunt. As a chemist, he would revolutionize the turpentine and paper industry in Georgia, and in Athens, he would establish college football at the University of Georgia.

Dr. Herty graduated with a philosophy degree from UGA in 1886, then earned a doctorate in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University in 1890. In 1891, he took a faculty position teaching chemistry with UGA, but also focused on the role of athletics at the college level. He was the University's first Faculty Director of Athletics, and started the first football squad in 1892. He coached the team that year, then went on to help create the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association in 1894, a forerunner to the modern Southeastern Conference.

In 1902, Dr. Herty left UGA after a dispute with department head, Dr. H. C. White, and took a position with the Bureau of Forestry at the United States Department of Agriculture.While there, he created and patented the "cut and gutter system" for collecting turpentine. His system revolutionized the industry by extending the life of the tapped trees, collecting more and higher quality gum for turpentine creation, and preserving the tree so it could be used for lumber once it was tapped out.

In 1916, Dr. Herty took another research and teaching position at the University of North Carolina, and later became an industrial consultant in the late 1920s. In 1932, he established a pulp and paper laboratory in Savannah, where he proved that pine was a viable source for pulp that could be made into newsprint. Using pine for paper helped revitalize the Southern agriculture industry, still suffering from the devestating effects of the boll weevil and the Great Depression.

Dr. Herty received many honorary degrees over the course of his career, served as president of multiple scientific associations, and directed research divisions of the Georgia Department of Forestry. In 1933, the Georgia section of the American Chemical Society created the Charles H. Herty Medal, awarded to a researcher in the Southeast "to give public recognition to the work and service of outstanding chemists." In 2000, Dr. Herty was inducted into the Paper Industry International Hall of Fame, and in 2001, the American Chemistry Society designated his Savannah laboratory a National Historic Chemical Landmark. He even has a Facebook fan page in Chinese.

Charles Herty died in Savannah in 1938, at the age of 70. He is buried in Memory Hill Cemetery in Milledgeville.

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