Seventy-two students arrived at the North Carolina College of Agriculture & Mechanic Arts in the fall of 1889, some of them men and some boys no older than 14. They joined six professors for the great educational experiment that would become NC State. But curriculum, class time and homework was a different life for some of the young men who had grown up in the agrarian world of their families’ farms. So the numbers immediately dwindled.
“At the beginning of its 2nd year 18 of its registrants of the first year were together with one new one registered,” wrote L.T. Yarbrough, a member of the first freshman class at A&M College, in a 1943 letter included in his biography file at the Alumni Association. And it was on this day in 1893 that those 19 young men, NC State’s first class, graduated and received their degrees.
Those graduates went on to work in an array of jobs. Frank Floyd worked on linotype machines for Knoxville, Tenn., newspapers before getting into the coal mining business. C.B. Williams became the fist dean of N.C. State College’s School of Agriculture. And S.E. “Doc” Asbury was known as a Renaissance man of Texas A&M University, where he transcended his job of chemist to study Texas’ history, poetry, drama and music.
“A number of ‘green’ country boys arrived on A&M College (New State College) in 1889,” Yarbrough wrote of that first freshman class, “and after four hectic years, all save two left for about as many locations–some never to return.”