Harris, Joseph–(d.1892)–Rochester, New York–came
from England where he had received training in experimental farming.
He settled on a farm in the town of Gates, west of Rochester in 1849.
Harris bought the Genesee Farmer from James Vick in 1856 and had
a widely popular column called “Walks and Talks on the Farm” in which he
made public the results of the work of his experimental and seed farm.
In December 1865, Harris sold Genesee Farmer to Orange Judd and
Company of New York, who merged it with the American Agriculturist,
but Harris continued his popular column. In 1863, Harris bought the
141-acre farm in Gares and named it Moreton Farm. In 1879, he opened
the Harris Seed Co. at Moreton Farm. He offered a 44-page catalog
free of charge. He sent out 30,000 copies. In 1880, he built
his first seed house, and by 1890 the mail-order business was so profitable
that a postal station was established at the farm. When Harris died
in 1892, his son Selah took over the company. By the end of the 1890s,
Moreton Farm was the largest of its kind of seed farm. When World
War I began, Moreton’s lack of dependence on European sources for seeds
made it one of the top companies in the nation. When Selah Harris
died in 1931, his sister Margaret Harris Sheldon took over the company.
In 1937, the Joseph Harris Company bought the old Vick seed farm.
Joseph Harris, the son of Selah became president of the company in 1949.
In 1976, the Celanese Corporation purchased Moran Seed and in 1978 Harris
Seeds, and formed the company called Harris Moran Seed Company based in
Hayward, California. Plant breeding was the company’s primary focus.
In 1985, Lafarge Coppee bought Harris Moran Seeds, and at that time it
was considered the third largest North American producer of vegetable and
Sources: URLB; Naylor/RHS;