Cain, William Milton “Bill” (B.S., Horticulture, 1917)

Headshot of William Milton "Bill" Cain

William Milton Cain was born, in Waco, Texas, on 17 January 1895, the eldest of five children born to William D. Cain, a postal clerk, and his wife, Mary A. Blocker Cain. William the elder, an influential individual in the Waco Black community, later had the local NAACP Chapter named in his honor for his advocacy on behalf of African Americans in Waco and throughout Texas (Duncan, 2013). The younger William studied Horticulture at Iowa State College, where he lived at the Sigma Nu Fraternity house at 905 Douglas Avenue in Fall 1913, possibly working there as a waiter as Frederick Patterson’s experience suggests was a common employment for cash-strapped Black students at ISC (Patterson, 1991). From spring 1914 until his graduation in 1917, he resided at 1008 Burnett Avenue, the home of local Ames lawyer Chaucer Gory (C. G.) Lee and his wife Emma McCarthy Lee. While at ISC, Bill participated in the Horticultural Club and the ISC Cadet Corps, which he noted when he registered for the World War I Draft in Waco, Texas. According to Frederick Patterson, many male Black students stayed the full four years in the Cadet Corps to receive the subsidy to pay for their education at the school as Patterson did, and as one assumes, Cain did also (Patterson, 1991).

As a member of the Horticultural Club, Cain was on the Apple Judging Team. His membership was the focus of a racist incident during the interstate-judging competition in 1916, when students from Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri competed at the state capitol (“Ames Team Wins,” 1916). The team from Missouri refused to compete against a Black student when they learned about Cain’s membership on the Ames team. Initially, the judges from the state horticultural society, the competition’s hosts, asked Cain to leave the team, which would have allowed Missouri to compete. It’s unclear what transpired after that decision, but the society changed its ruling in time for Cain to compete. Missouri withdrew from the competition and Iowa State went on to win (“Ames Team Wins,” 1916).

After graduation, Cain returned to Waco to be a farm laborer, likely at Prairie View Normal and Industrial College, as The Iowa State Bystander announced that Cain, employed at Prairie View, and his wife had welcomed their first child, a daughter, in September 1919 (Ames News, 1919). It’s unclear what happened to his first wife, but Cain eventually moved north and was employed by the U.S. Government as a railway clerk. He married Fostoria Dewey Logan in Chicago, Illinois, on 2 January 1931. He died 21 May 1977 in Dowagiac, Michigan. Cain was a Methodist at the time of his death. He is buried in Dailey Cemetery, La Grange, Michigan.


Photo Credit: Iowa State University. (1917). 1917 Bomb, p.83. 

Ames news. (1919, 26 September). The Iowa State Bystander. n.p.

Ames team wins: Missouri students draw color line. (1916, 15 December). The Iowa State Bystander. p. 2.

Duncan, Robert J. (2013). Cain, William D., 1867-1939. Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas. Updated 2020. 

Patterson, F. D. (1991). Chronicles of faith: The autobiography of Frederick D. Patterson. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama Press.

Berry, George Othello (B.S. , 1935[?]; D.V.M., 1938)

Graduation headshot of George O. Berry

George Othello Berry was born 15 July 1913 in St. Paul, MN, the second child of George W. Berry, a carpenter, and Bertha Oldham Berry, a waitress in private service. Young George attended Mechanic Arts high School in St. Paul before attending Iowa State College. Though Berry’s undergraduate days at ISC are not currently known to this project, his Northern Pacific Railway personnel file indicates that Berry received a B.S. from Iowa State University (sic), which suggests that he returned to ISC later to embark on a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (Ancestry, n.d.).

As a summer job, after graduating from ISC with a Bachelor’s of Science in 1935, Berry worked as a waiter for the Northern Pacific Railway Company from August to September that year (a job his father also held by that time). His subsequent seasonal employment as a railway waiter–June-September 1936, June-September 1937, June-October 1938, and December 1938-January 1939–carried him through his D.V.M. coursework, which he completed in spring 1938, and also tided him over after graduation, before he was hired as a junior veterinarian with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in January 1939 (Ancestry, n.d.). The Winter 1939 edition of the Iowa State Veterinarian tells us that Dr. Berry was hired to work on Bang’s Disease (aka Brucellosis) with the Bureau of Animal Industry (Kuennen, 2022; “Alumni News,” p. 61). Minnesota was ramping up focus on that devastating disease in farm animals in 1939 as part of a state-federal partnership with the Bureau of Animal Industry (Fitch and Boyd, 1940). 

Later in 1939, after securing a full-time position with the U.S.D.A., Dr. Berry married Thelma E. Sayles in Hennepin County, MN, on 22 June. The newlyweds were living with George’s parents in St. Paul, MN, at the time of the 1940 Census. By the time of the 1950 Census, the couple had divorced, and Dr. Berry, continuing his work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was married to Rozelle. The couple had three children (“Berry,” 1993).

Dr. George Othello Berry died 22 March 1993 in Hennepin County, MN, and is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Maplewood, MN.


Photo credit: Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. (1938). [Graduation portrait of George O. Berry]. Iowa State University. Retrieved from

Alumni news. (1939, winter). The veterinary student. Iowa State University. Retrieved from (n.d.). U.S., Northern Pacific Railway company personnel files, 1890-1963 for George Othello Berry, File Number 174619.

Berry. (1993, Mar. 23). Star Tribune, p. 16. Retrieved from

Fitch, C. P.,  and Boyd, W. L. (1940, June). Brucellosis or Bang’ s Disease of farm animals. (Bulletin 348). University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station. Retrieved from 

Kuennen, Brad, ISU Veterinary Medicine early graduates of color, University Library, Iowa State University,. Retrieved from

Wells, William Tecumseh “Billie” (B.S., Agricultural Education, 1925)

Headshot of William Tecumseh Wells

William Tecumseh “Billie” Wells was born 9 September 1891 in Solgohachia, Arkansas, to Isaac Lee Wells and Jane Gorman Wells. After graduating from Solgohachia High School, William became a self-employed farmer, according to this World War I Draft Registration Card. Enlistment in the Army for service in World War I on 27 October 1917 meant two more years away from post-secondary education. Wells was discharged on 2 May 1919. Later that year, on 24 December, he married Aubra McKindra and returned to the farm.

Wells attended Prairie View Normal & Industrial College (now Prairie View A & M University) in 1921-22, where he was in the junior Division of Vocational Agriculture. Following that, from 1923 to 1925, he attended Iowa State College, where he was a member of the Agriculture Club (Iowa State University, 1925) as well as the Alpha-Nu Chapter of Alph Phi Alpha by 1924 (Tutt, 1924). During his time in Ames, Wells lived at 200½ Main Street. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agricultural Education from Iowa State College in 1925. At the end of January that year, Wells filed for divorce from his first wife on the grounds of desertion during his time at ISC, an undoubtedly difficult situation for him as he completed his studies. When the divorce was granted, Wells married Doris Aline Hutchison on 23 March 1925.

By the 1930 census, William and Doris had moved to Taft, Oklahoma, where he took a job as a teacher and Superintendent for the Farms of the State Hospital, Deaf, Blind, Orphans, and Girls Reformatory. Known as the DB&O, the orphanage housed more than 300 African American children in the mid-1930s (“Preserving a Bit of Oklahoma’s History,” 2007). In 1935, Wells attended the banquet held for Iowa State Alumni at the inauguration of Frederick D. Patterson as President of Tuskegee. By 1946, Wells is listed in the Muskogee, Oklahoma, City Directory as a “rehabilitation officer,” and by 1957, he was a teacher at the Manual [High] School in Muskogee, where he taught until at least 1959.

William T. Wells died on 6 January 1977 in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and was buried in Booker T. Washington Cemetery, Muskogee, Oklahoma.


Photo credit: Iowa State University. (1925). 1925 Bomb, v. 32 Special Edition, p. 85. Retrieved from

“Preserving a bit of Oklahoma’s history.” (2007, Feb. 20). News on 6. retrieved from

Tutt, Harold L. (1924, June). Alpha-Nu chapter, Des Moines, Iowa. The Sphinx, 10(3), p. 17. ISSUU. Retrieved from

Calloway, Nathaniel Oglesby (B.S., Chemistry, 1930; Ph.D., Chemistry, 1933)

Headshot of Nathaniel Oglesby Calloway

Nathaniel Ogelsby Calloway was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, on 10 October 1907, as one of the five children of James N. Calloway and Marietta (aka Mary E., aka Mamie) Oglesby Calloway. His father had been enslaved when young but had gone on to receive a college degree. Calloway began his studies at Iowa State College in 1926, working toward a Bachelor’s of Science in Organic Chemistry, which he received in 1930. During those undergraduate years, he was a member of the ISC Debate Team. Following his B.S. he enrolled in the Organic Chemistry Ph.D. program at Iowa State, working with Dr. Henry Gilman. Calloway earned his Doctorate in Organic Chemistry in 1933, becoming the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Iowa State. He maintained regular contact with Dr. Gilman via correspondence after completing his degree. Many of those letters are in the Gilman papers in Iowa State University Special Collections. While attending ISC, Calloway lived at 1204 3rd Street, the Walter G. Madison home; 218 Lincoln Way, the Archie and Nancy Martin House; and 2928 Wood Street, the home of ISC alumna Willa Juanita Ewing’s family, the Charles Anthonys.

Dr. Calloway married Henriette Mabel Fulton of Des Moines, Iowa, on 29 August 1933. After graduating, he became a chemistry professor and then Head of the Department of Chemistry at Tuskegee Institute from 1933 to 1935. According to a letter from fellow Iowa State alumnus A. C. Aldridge, Dr. Calloway was present at the inaugural event for Tuskegee’s new President, Frederick D. Patterson, ISC class of 1921 and 1927. In 1936, Dr. Calloway took up a position as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Fisk University which he held until 1940. In 1939, he started looking seriously for jobs in industry, because marital problems led to his position being difficult at Fisk with its strict Quaker administration (Calloway, 1939). Following his divorce from his first wife, Calloway married three more times, his last wife being the former Mary Ann Borucki (“Dr. Calloway Dead” 9). 

Calloway, seeing no opportunities for advancement at Fisk, left the university in 1940, taking up graduate coursework in the University of Chicago’s Pharmacology Department (Calloway, 1940). His work at the University of Chicago went well initially, though Calloway expressed frustration with how little chemistry was actually involved in Pharmacology. In 1941 he won a 2-quarter fellowship in Pharmacology, was able to be employed during the summer full-time to earn money, and then received an assistantship that allowed him to teach in Pharmacology the next school year (Calloway, 1941). By spring 1943, however, the racism present at the school had begun to chafe; he “ran into so much racial prejudice at Chicago University in regard to clinical facilities” that he decided to leave the school for one “more liberal in its attitude” (Calloway, 1943). He graduated with his M.D. from the University of Illinois Medical School in December 1943.

After that, Dr. Calloway went on to be an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Illinois in the 1950s and early 1960s; Chief of Medical Service at the Tomah, Wisconsin, Veterans Administration Hospital from 1963-1966; and the Madison, Wisconsin, General Hospital, from 1966 until his death on 3 December 1979. When not engaged in medical work, Dr. Calloway was a leader in the African American community in Chicago and nationally. According to Notable Black American Scientists, “his role in reorganizing the Chicago chapter of the Urban League [as its President from 1955 to 1959]…helped transform it from an embarrassment for the national organization to one of its most successful chapters” (Krapp, 1998, p. 54). He later served as the National Director of the Urban League from 1959-1962. When he became a Lecturer in the Afro-American Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1970, “his…teachings on genetics and race…helped debunk racist notions of white superiority” (Krapp, 1998, p. 54); Calloway argued that “Often what are called racial differences are social and economic differences” (Krapp, 1998, p. 55). Also in 1970, Iowa State University honored Dr. Calloway with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Unfortunately, Calloway’s life was not without controversy. He was ousted from his Urban League Directorship for distancing the organization from early 1960s’ activism, and later, being accused of over-prescribing dangerous drugs to his patients in Madison (Krapp, 1998).

Because of his family’s long association with Tuskegee University, Dr. Nathaniel Calloway is buried in the university cemetery.

Iowa State College dissertation title: Condensation reactions of furfural and its derivatives

Iowa State University Library permalink:


Calloway, Nathaniel. (1939). Gilman letter, 5 January 1939, Henry Gilman Papers, Iowa State University Special Collections Department, RS 13/6/52, Box 8, folder 8/12.

Calloway, Nathaniel. (1940). Gilman letter, 9 October 1940, Henry Gilman Papers, Iowa State University Special Collections Department, RS 13/6/52, Box 8, folder 8/12.

Calloway, Nathaniel. (1941). Gilman letter, 13 August 1941. Henry Gilman Papers, Iowa State University Special Collections Department, RS 13/6/52, Box 8, folder 8/12.

Calloway, Nathaniel. (1943). Gilman letter, 15 June 1943. Henry Gilman Papers, Iowa State University Special Collections Department, RS 13/6/52, Box 8, folder 8/12.

Dr. Calloway dead at 72. (1979, December 13). Tuskegee News. p 9. Accessed 4 January 2022.  

Krapp, Kristine M., ed. (1998) Nathaniel Oglesby Calloway, in Notable Black American scientists, Gale/Cengage Learning. pp. 54-56.

Biography available at  HBCU Connections at Iowa State University  Nathaniel O. Calloway 

Photo Credit:

Carver, George Washington (B.S., 1894; M.S., Agricultural Science, 1896)

Headshot of George Washington Carver

George Washington Carver was born around 1864 (exact year unknown) to Mary Carver on the Moses Carver plantation in Diamond Grove, Missouri. George’s father was killed in an accident before his son’s birth, so Carver never met his father. George was raised from infancy on the plantation of Moses and Susan Carver, his mother having been lost in a slave raid from which baby George had been returned to the Carvers (Fishbein, 2007).

Carver’s childhood is well documented, so we won’t attempt to cover that aspect of his life in this biography. Readers interested in his developmental years may consult the many biographies of this well-respected scholar.

Imbued with a lifelong thirst for learning and detailed knowledge about flora and plants, Carver left Diamond Grove, where there were no schools for African Americans, to pursue his education. Though frail as a child, he moved to several parts of Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa before attending Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, to study piano and painting. At Simpson College, art instructor Etta Budd recognized Carver’s talent with plants and convinced him to pursue a degree in agriculture. With Budd’s father being the head of the Department of Horticulture at Iowa State College of Agricultural and Mechanic Arts (now Iowa State University), Carver became the first Black student to enroll at the college. During his time at ISC, evidence suggests that he lived on campus in the servant’s quarters in North Hall. After Carver completed his bachelor’s degree in 1894, Professors Joseph Budd and Louis Pammel encouraged him to pursue a graduate degree. Carver was appointed as a member of ISC’s faculty, becoming Iowa State’s first African American faculty member. Then, following attainment of his M.S. in Agricultural Science in 1896, he was invited by Booker T. Washington to work at the Tuskegee Institute. Developing 325 products from peanuts and hundreds of other products from other plants native to the South, Carver’s work gained international reputation.

Passing away in 1948, he received many honors including: the Roosevelt Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Southern Agriculture in 1939; a museum dedicated to him at Tuskegee in 1941; the establishment of the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond Grove, the first national monument dedicated to an African American and a non-president, in 1943; a park named after him in Winterset, Iowa, where Carver lived in 1888, one hundred years later in 1988; an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Iowa State University in 1994; and being inducted into the U.S.D.A.’s Hall of Heroes in 2000. The plaque at the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond Grove reads as follows: “Within this area by act of Congress of July 14, 1943, is preserved the birthplace of George Washington Carver who rose from slavery to become a distinguished scientist and a great force in creating racial understanding.”

Iowa State College Thesis Title: Plants as modified by man (bachelor’s thesis), 1894


Photo Credit: The Bomb

Fishbein, Toby. (2007). The legacy of George Washington Carver. Published for the George Washingtopn Carver All-University Celebration. Iowa State University. Internet Archive. Accessed 30 April 2023.