Emory Delmont Alvord

Emory Delmont Alvord

1899 – 1959

Emory Delmont Alvord, known as “Africa’s first agricultural missionary,” was born in Utah March 1899. He attended Washington State College (now Washington State University), graduating 1915 with a degree in agriculture.  Alvord captained the college football team in 1914, and received his Master’s degree in Agronomy in 1918.  Upon graduation, he married Bernice Mapes of Nebraska (b. 1891).  In 1921, the Alvords volunteered as missionaries with the American Board of Commissioners at Mount Silinda Mission in Southern Rhodesia. As director of agriculture, Alvord introduced improved agricultural methods such as use of fertilizers, crop rotation, soil conservation and irrigation.

In 1926, he left the mission to take up the position of Director of Native Agriculture for the Southern Rhodesian government and is credited with helping to revolutionize agriculture within the country. He retired from the government in 1950 and returned to missionary service founding the Alvord Agricultural School at Chikore Mission, which offered Africans a three-year course in agriculture.

After the school closed in 1955, the Alvords continued with the Methodist Missionary Society at Waddilove Mission near Marandellas, Southern Rhodesia.  For his contributions, Mr. Alvord was made an officer in the civil division of the Order of the British Empire, 1948. He died in Salisbury (Harare), Southern Rhodesia May 1959 (age 60).  Mrs. Alvord died in Salisbury1979.


  • Mark Loomis