Charles F. Vanderford joined the university’s agriculture faculty in 1889. Prior to joining UT, he had served (1860–65) in the Confederate army. As a member of the 45th Tennessee Infantry, he was severely wounded twice. He then joined the ordnance department, where he was elevated from captain to major in 1865. Later, he farmed in Rutherford County; served as postmaster at Florence Station, Tennessee; and obtained a merchant’s bond and loaned money (1873–78). He was a pioneering agronomist, although he never had the advantages of college training.
Professor Vanderford collected and preserved soil profiles representing the major soils of Tennessee. In 1897, as secretary of the UT Agricultural Experiment Station, his paper “Soils of Tennessee” was included in the Bulletin. The soil profiles were used as part of the exhibit at the Paris Exposition of 1900—a year following his death—and won a gold medal. He was the first person in the United States to take a soil monolith. A Tribute Honoring Major Charles F. Vanderford, written by Harvey B. Vanderford and Florence Vanderford Davis, was published by the Mississippi State University Department of Agronomy in April 1980.