Seedsmen Hall of Fame
Honoring Horticulturalists

John Whitley Nicolson

John W. Nicolson cira 1940John W. Nicolson, 61, internationally known seedsman, died Friday (22 May 1953) at his home in Shenandoah, Iowa while watching a television show. He had been in ill health more than a year.

Nicolson was president of United Seeds, Inc., Omaha, Nebraska; vice president of Gurney Seed Company, Yankton, South Dakota; vice president and part owner of Henry Field Seed Company, Shenandoah, Iowa; vice president of Minnesota Seed Company, Faribault, Minnesota; and president of United Hybrid Growers Association, Des Moines, Iowa.

In recent years his chief interest was in making use of hybrid corn in Europe, where he made frequent trips. He also brought European agronomists here for study of seeds.

Nicolson is survived by his widow; two sons, Dan of Shenandoah, a student at Grinnell College, and Jack of Billings, Montana; one daughter, Mrs. Thomas Smeall of Tacoma, Washington; and five grandchildren.

Born at Marlette, Michigan, (on 8 April 1892) he was educated at Michigan State College. An officer in national seed and nursery organizations, Nicolson was a Shriner, Kiwanian, Country Club member and Congregationalist. He also developed the Maple Hill Addition in Shenandoah.


  1. American Bee Journal, Volumes 83-84, 1943.

  2. The Record, Michigan State College, April, 1944, page 8.

  3. Obituary, Council Bluffs Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, Iowa, May 23, 1953, page 11.

  4. Obituary, New York Times, May 24, 1953.

  5. The Story of Iowa: The Progress of an American State, Volume 3, 1953.

  6. David Nicolson, Grandson, email conversation dated 19 Nov 2013.


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