Alan Johnstone

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Alan Johnstone, a native of Newberry, South Carolina, was a Life Trustee of Clemson Agricultural College, and was serving as President of the Board of Trustees upon his death in 1929. He had been elected president when Richard Wright Simpson announced that he would no longer serve in that capacity.


Alan Johnstone, born in Newberry on August 12, 1849, lived in the home of his birth (Coateswood - ed.) all his life. Educated at the Newberry Male Academy, he had prepared to join the Confederate army at age sixteen, but the war ended before he enlisted. He enrolled at Newberry College and then at the University of Virginia. In 1875, he married Lilla Rall Kennerly also of Newberry, and they had five sons and five daughters.

"Johnstone worked actively in local politics, serving as town warden and then on the county school board. In the latter capacity, he turned the local private academy into a public school for white children and opened a public school for African Americans. He organized the Newberry Farmers Oil Mill. A member of Aveleigh Presbyterian Church, he served as an elder and a commissioner to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.)." (Reel, pages 70-71.)

He served one term as a legislative trustee for Clemson, but the next legislature, in 1894, with a strong Tillmanite group, did not return him; however, when D. K. Norris died in 1905, the other life members elected Johnstone as a life trustee on January 23, 1905. He served in that capacity until his death in 1929. When Richard Wright Simpson announced that he would no longer serve as president of the board, Johnstone was elected as its second president and served until his death. (Reel, pages 71, 178.)

"Johnstone was a leading spokesman for the agricultural extension movement and hosted the national 'Father' of the extension movement, Seaman Knapp, and his son Bradford in Johnstone's home. South Carolina Governor Richard Manning asked Johnstone to fill the U.S. Senate seat made vacant by B. R. Tillman's death and later urged Johnstone to run for governor of South Carolina. He declined both because they would take significant time away from his farm and from Clemson.

"Later, Clemson cadets thought highly of Johnstone. At the dedication of Riggs Hall (1928) when he and other trustees emerged from the onetime Prof. M. B. Hardin home, which the school converted into a lodge for the trustees (Trustee House - ed.), the cadets broke into spontaneous cheering. Further, several trustees suggested he be named as Riggs' successor. He died January 5, 1929. Members of the board and Clemson President Enoch Sikes served as honorary pallbearers. Johnstone's widow told President Sikes. 'He went to heaven but he went by Clemson College on the way.'" (Reel, page 71.)

In July 1946, the Board of Trustees named Barracks No. 2 Johnstone Hall in honor of the late president. When a new complex was erected in 1954, replacing Barracks 1, 2 and 3, it, too, was named Johnstone Hall.


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