Benjamin Sherwood Hedrick (1827-1886) was born in Davidson County near Salisbury, NC, and graduated from the University with first honors in 1851. While a clerk in the office of the Nautical Almanac in Cambridge, MA, Hedrick took additional science courses at Harvard. In 1852 he married Mary Ellen Thompson; the couple had four sons and four daughters. Hedrick became professor of analytical and agricultural chemistry at the University in 1854. His views opposing the extension of slavery became the subject of newspaper articles that eventually led to his dismissal in October 1856. Leaving his wife and children in Chapel Hill, Hedrick spent several months looking for work and finally found a job in the New York mayor's office. In 1861 he went to Washington, D.C., where he held various jobs in the US Patent Office until his death (Dictionary of North Carolina Biography 3:95;Hamilton, Hedrick ).