Fraps, George Stronach (1876–1955)

By: Irvin May

Type: Biography

Published: January 1, 1995

Updated: August 4, 2020

George Stronach Fraps, agricultural chemist, son of Anton Wenzel and Margaret Lumley (Stonebanks) Fraps, was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, on September 9, 1876. He attended North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts (now North Carolina State University) and graduated with a B.S. in 1896. After serving as an assistant chemist, Fraps attended Johns Hopkins University, where he received a Ph.D. in 1899. He returned to his alma mater that year and remained until 1903 as assistant professor of chemistry, conducting experiments on the improvement of fertilizers and soils and the adulteration of coffee, tea, and flour. He also served as assistant chemist at the North Carolina Experiment Station during this period and wrote The Principles of Dyeing, published in 1903.

Fraps married Ellen Hale Saunders on June 17, 1903; they had three children. The year of his marriage Fraps accepted the position of assistant chemist at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (see AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION SYSTEM). In 1905 he was promoted to state chemist. He became chief of chemistry at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in 1914 and held this and his state post until his retirement in 1945. He also taught courses in basic and agricultural chemistry at the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Texas A&M University) from 1903 to 1913.

In 1913 Fraps wrote Principles of Agricultural Chemistry. His most important writings appeared as bulletins of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and articles in scientific journals. His principal interests were the composition of soils, especially Texas soils; feeds, irrigation waters, fertilizers, and seeds; cottonseed; forage grasses; digestibility and productive energy in chickens; vitamins; and insecticides and fungicides. In his time Fraps was the most prolific author in the history of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. During his career his major contributions laid the basic foundation for understanding Texas soils. By applying the principles of chemistry to agricultural problems, he began to develop the present vast and diversified area of agricultural chemistry in Texas. In the process he defined many terms in animal nutrition and contributed to a better understanding of human nutrition. He discovered that even a total chemical analysis of the soil provided insufficient information about the soil's productive capacity and, building on this base of knowledge, developed methods for estimating soil fertility. For these contributions Fraps has been called the "father of Texas soil chemistry."

He was honored with the presidencies of the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists and the Association of American Feed Control Officials. In 1927 he served as the United States delegate to the First International Congress of Soil Science. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He died on November 28, 1955, in Bryan and is buried in the Bryan City Cemetery.

Frank Carter Adams, ed., Texas Democracy: A Centennial History of Politics and Personalities of the Democratic Party, 1836–1936 (4 vols., Austin: Democratic Historical Association, 1937). Dallas Morning News, November 29, 1955. George S. Fraps, Scientific Articles, Texas A&M University Archives. A. D. Jackson, Publications of G. S. Fraps (Texas Agricultural Experiment Station Progress Report 958 [College Station, September 1945]). Irvin M. May, Jr., Science and Technology for Texas Farmers: A History of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (MS, Texas A&M University Library, 1981).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Irvin May, “Fraps, George Stronach,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995
August 4, 2020