DICKSON, RAY ESTHER
DICKSON, RAY ESTHER (1889–1950). Ray Esther Dickson, water and soil conservationist and agricultural scientist, son of Henry J. and Esther (Halliburton) Dickson, was born in Claude, Texas, on June 1, 1889. After high school in Greenville he graduated from the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University) with a B.S. in agriculture, taught vocational agriculture in Cooper High School for a year, and in 1914 became superintendent of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station at Spur (see AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION SYSTEM), a position he filled until his death.
Dickson, a protégé of Arthur B. Conner, sought to discover and adapt agricultural principles to increase crop production in the semiarid area surrounding Spur. He pioneered in early feeding trials of grain sorghum with John McKinley Jones and cotton and sorghum variety experiments with Robert E. Karper and John Roy Quinby (see COTTON AND COTTON CULTURE, SORGHUM AND SORGHUM CULTURE). Dickson's work on pasture improvement led to a mesquiteqv and brush control research program with principles that applied throughout Texas. His most significant contribution was in soil and water conservation. As a result of a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station project carried out with A. B. Conner and Daniel Scoates, Dickson developed the concept of "syrup-pan terraces," terraces that capture water during rains. Representative James Paul Buchanan learned of Dickson's experiments, visited Spur, and, assisted by Dickson and Conner, wrote an amendment appropriating funds for soil-erosion investigation and regional soil-erosion experiment stations. With help from John Marvin Jones the amendment passed and started a major federal program of soil and water conservation research and the Soil Conservation Service. In 1915 Dickson married Lillian Grace of Spur; they had two children. Dickson was a member of the First Christian Church. He died in Lubbock on June 26, 1950, and was buried in Spur Memorial Cemetery.
Gladys L. Baker et al., Century of Service: The First 100 Years of the U. S. Department of Agriculture (Washington: GPO, 1963). Dallas Morning News, June 29, 1950. Irvin M. May, Jr., "Southwestern Agricultural Experiment Stations during the New Deal," in Agriculture in the West, ed. Edward L. and Frederick H. Schapsmeier (Manhattan, Kansas, 1980).
Image Use Disclaimer
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.
For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml
If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Irvin M. May, Jr., "Dickson, Ray Esther," accessed May 31, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fdi23.
Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on October 28, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Get Texas history every day,
with day by day
Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles