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Benjamin Franklin Mudge

A carte de visite of Benjamin Franklin MudgeGeologist.  Born: August 11, 1817, Maine. Died: November 21, 1879.

Benjamin Franklin Mudge was a geologist who, in 1864, was invited to deliver a series of lectures before the legislature. The body passed legislation to organize a state geological survey and decided to make Mudge state geologist, "an honor," he said, was "entirely unsought, yet thoroughly enjoyed." Mudge was elected professor of geology and associated sciences at the Kansas State Agricultural College. He published the first "Geology of Kansas," a 65-page report issued in 1866, and the first geological map of the state in 1875.

Born in Maine in 1817, Mudge grew up in Massachusetts, attending academies there and graduating from Wesleyan University in Connecticut in 1840. Mudge studied natural science and history, but also completed the classical course and studied law. He was admitted to the bar and embarked on a political and legal career, but Mudge always maintained his interest in geology and natural history.

During the summer of 1861, in order to demonstrate his antislavery convictions, Mudge moved his family to Quindaro, Wyandotte County, Kansas, a bustling river town with a reputation as an important point on the Underground Railroad and as a stronghold of the free-state movement during the preceding years.

After leaving the agricultural college in 1873, Mudge collected specimens for Yale University and was named geologist under the State Board of Agriculture. Mudge also was a founding member of the Kansas Natural History Society, which became the Kansas Academy of Science.

Mudge, who gathered the nucleus of the college's mineral collection, was later remembered as one of the foremost pioneer scientists of Kansas. A biographer said he was "Outstanding not only as a great explorer and collector of geological and paleontological specimens," he "also was recognized as an enthusiastic and inspiring teacher and was highly esteemed by the people of the State."

Entry: Mudge, Benjamin Franklin

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: December 1969

Date Modified: February 2013

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