ND Ag Hall Of Fame Inductees

Oscar H. Will

Oscar H. Will

Oscar H. Will was called North Dakota´s Pioneer Seedman.  He was born on a farm Near Pompie Hill, New York in 1855.  He came to North Dakota in 1881 and was employed at Fuller Green House in Bismarck.  He purchased the Fuller Green House in 1882 and established the first nursery in North Dakota.  He soon started his experiments with native corn varieties that had been grown for hundreds of years by the Mandan and Arikara Indians.  He developed and offered two varieties which proved to be his most successful: Pride of Dakota Flint and Gehu Yellow Flint.  They were offered continuously in the Oscar H. Will Seed Company catalogs until 1959.  Around 1886 a Hidatsa man, Son of a Star, gave him a bag of beans.  From those beans he developed and introduced in 1896 the Great Northern Bean which is still cultivated and available in many grocery stores today.  He had a crew that floated the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers as far as Glasgow and Billings, Montana, gathering young trees and shipping them by flatboat or rail to Bismarck.  In 1885 he shipped an order of 800,000 trees to Crookston, Minnesota.  Mr. Will sold 2 million trees to the Northern Pacific Railroad which his work crews planted between Mandan and Jamestown to replace snow fences.  He sold corn to the Northrup King Seed Company.  His seed catalog offered many varieties of corn, oats, wheat, rye, flax, millet, clover, alfalfa, barley and buckwheat as well as vegetable garden seed, flower seed and nursery stock.  He also offered insecticides, fertilizer, sprayers poultry supplies, drills, cultivators and plows.  Mr. Will always credited Native American seed sources in his catalog which included many varieties of squash, dark and light colored beans, sweet corn, soft yellow and flint corn.  He was a real seedman.

Year Inducted: 2008

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