Wilbur Fisk Massey (1839-1923)

Wilbur F. Massey was born to James A. and Anne Parker Massey on September 30, 1839 in Onancock, Virginia. He began his studies at Washington College in Maryland and in 1857 entered the Dickinson College class of 1859. Massey was elected to the Belles Lettres Society before leaving Dickinson after one year. The following year, he became engaged in railway construction work on the Northern Missouri Railroad in Missouri and Iowa.

When the Civil War broke, Massey returned to Virginia and served in the Virginian armed forces. His whereabouts during the war and the years following are not clear, but he is next documented as the first secretary, examiner, and treasurer of the new system of public schools in Kent County, Maryland. This must have been around 1872, when Maryland, relatively slow to establish a full public school system, mandated the state system. At the same time, Massey ran a florist and nursery business in the area. This enterprise became successful enough for him to relocate it to Baltimore. Massey began to combine his two interests as a teacher of agriculture and horticulture soon after. He taught these subjects at the Miller School at Albermarle, Virginia in 1884 and in 1889 moved on to become one of the first faculty members at the new North Carolina State College in Raleigh, then known as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts. Massey served this institution for a dozen years, while at the same time directing the nearby North Carolina Agricultural Experimental Station. In 1903, he became the editor of Practical Farmer, published in Philadelphia. Massey held this position for three years before retiring to Salisbury, Maryland to concentrate on writing. Massey contributed numerous articles to farm journals and published several influential books in his field, including Practical Farming (1907) and Massey's Garden Book (1911).

In April 1861, Massey married Sarah Phoebus of Somerset County, Maryland. When she died, Massey married her sister, Aurilla Phoebus, in April 1876. He became the father of eight children from his two marriages. Massey remained a Democrat in politics. Wilbur Fisk Massey died in Salisbury on March 30, 1923. He was eighty-three years old.

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Dickinson College Archives
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