Biography of William M. Fontaine
Prominent Persons in Virginia, Biographies





Fontaine, William Morris, born in Louisa county, Virginia, December 1, 1835, son of James Fontaine and Juliet Morris, his wife, and a descendant of the Rev. James Fontaine, a Huguenot refugee after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, whose son, the Rev. Peter Fontaine, came from England to the Virginian colony in 1715, and made his home in King William county. William Morris Fontaine was reared in the country. and his education was conducted under private tuition until he entered Hanover Academy in 1854, where he was under the personal instruction of Prof. Lewis Coleman, subsequently professor of Latin at the University of Virginia. In this institution he was prepared for entrance to the University of Virginia, at which he matriculated in 1856, and from which he graduated in the class of 1859 with the degree of Master of Arts. The following year he entered upon the duties of teaching at Hanover Academy, and remained there with Major Hilary P. Jones until the outbreak of the civil war, when he entered the Confederate army. Until 1862 he served as second lieutenant of artillery; during the next two years was second lieutenant of ordnance with Jones' battery of artillery; and from that time until the close of the war was first lieutenant of ordnance with Anderson's division at Petersburg, his service in the army ending at Appomattox, April 9, 1865. The observations he had made during the course of his military service determined him to follow scientific lines, and in pursuance of this idea he went to Europe, and there studied mineralogy and geology at the Royal School of Mines at Freiberg, Saxony, remaining there 1869-70.

He was elected professor of chemistry and geology at the University of West Virginia in 1873, and was the incumbent of this office until 1878. He was elected to the chair of natural history and geology at the University of Virginia in 1879, and is still its capable incumbent. He is an author of note in the scientific world, among his publications being: "Resources of West Virginia," 1876, in which he collaborated with M. F. Maury; "Report PP. Second Pennsylvania Geologic Survey," 1880, in collaboration with I. C. White; "Monograph VI., United States Geologic Survey," 1883; "Monograph XV, United States Geologic Survey," 1889; "Bulletin of the Potomac Formation, United States Geologic Survey;" various papers on geologic subjects and on fossil botany, which were published in the "American Journal of Science;" in the "Proceedings of the United States National Museum;" and in the "Annual Reports of the Director of the United States Geologic Survey." In political opinion he has always been a Democrat, and he is a member of the Protestant Episcopal church. He is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, and a member of the Huguenot Society of America.


FROM:
Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography
Volume III
By: Lyon Gardiner Tyler, LL. D.
Lewis Historical Publishing Company
New York 1915



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