Ball, George Jacob
Ball, George, Jr.
Barry, Charles Patrick
Barry, Frederic Gaffney
Barry, William Crawford
Belden, James Lockwood
Berckmans, Prosper Julius A.
Berger, H. H.
Blanc, Albert A.
Bliss, Benjamin K.
Braslan, Charles P.
Breck, Charles H. B.
Briggs, John T.
Brown, Charles and Robert
Burpee, W. Atlee
Childs, John Lewis
Comstock, William G.
Conard, Alfred Fellenberg
Crosman, Charles F.
Crosman, Charles W.
Downing, Andrew Jackson
Dreer, Henry Augustus
Dreer, William F.
Ellwanger, Henry B.
Farquhar, James F.M.
Farquhar, John K.M.L.
Ferry, Dexter Mason
Field, Henry Ames
Gregory, James J.H.
Hubbard, Theodore S.
Kelsey, Harlan P.
Landreth, David, Jr.
Lippincott, Carrie H.
Maule, William Henry
Michell, Henry F.
Munson, Thomas Volney
Musser, Henry L.
Northrup, Jesse E.
Olds, Leavitt L.
Park, George Watt
Prince, William (1725-1802)
Prince, William (1766-1842)
Prince, William Robert
Rawson, Warren W.
Reasoner, Pliny Ward
Rice, R. Niles
Shepherd, Theodosia B.
Stark, James Hart
Sturtevant, Edmund D.
Vaughan, John Charles
Vincent, Richard, Jr.
Weber, Carl Christian
Weber, Henry J.
White, Emma V.
Wilder, Marshall Pinckney
Willard, Stephen F.
Ellyn, Illinois. was born in Milford, Ohio in 1874. At thirteen he
was working in a greenhouse near Cincinnati. For thirteen years he
worked with a leading seed company, a rose grower, and a commercial cut
flower grower. He settled in the Chicago area after serving in the
Spanish-American war. By 1905 he was growing sweet peas and offered
them to the cut flower trade. He built greenhouses in Glen Ellyn,
Illinois and began to develop improved strains of asters, sweet peas, and
calendulas. In 1915, he gathered seed from Orange King calendula
and sent it to a California grower. This crop was so successful that
he was financially able to establish the Geo. J. Ball, Inc. His first one-page
seed list was printed and mailed to growers in 1918. Ball Seed Company
continued to expand and in 1927 they moved to West Chicago. In 1933,
the Ball Trial Gardens were opened. In 1937, George Ball published
the first issue of GrowerTalks, and in 1938 Ball was elected president
of the Society of American Florists. Ball died in 1949 and his four
sons, George K., Victor, Robert, and Carl, took over Ball Seed Co.
The company now owns ten other horticultural firms including W. Atlee Burpee
& Co., and a number of other companies, and the parent company is called
Ball Horticultural Company. Anna Caroline Ball became owner and CEO
of Ball Horticultural Co. in 1995. The Ball family has published George's diary, detailing his daily business plans.
- The History of U. S. Floriculture;@Greenhouse Grower, v17 n10, Fall 1999, pp28-37.
- Taylor, J. M. (2014). Visions of loveliness. Athens, OH: Swallow Press.
(1951-)--was born in
the suburbs of Chicago in 1951. He was the son of Carl Ball, who
was one of four brothers that took over the Ball Seed Company in 1949 when
their father died. In 1963, George started harvesting petunia seed
for his family s business, and he worked for the company in Illinois and
Costa Rica during the summers when he was in high school and college.
In 1971, after studying at Bard College and De Paul University, he joined
Ball Seed as an assistant grower. He rose through the ranks and was
appointed president of Pan American Seed in 1984. In 1991, George
acquired the W. Atlee Burpee & Company and became became CEO and Chairmanpresident. In 1998, he purchased Fordhook Farm in Doylestown, PA, the Burpee family home, which is now designated a National Historic Trust Landmark. George served as president of the American Horticultural Society from 1990 to 1993. He also participated in several international seed relief efforts, providing vegetable seeds to farmers in Rwanda and Iraq.
George Ball Jr. WARMINSTER, Pa.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 Mar 1993: E17.
New York. was the third son of Patrick Barry. He was educated at the
University of Rochester. He entered the nursery business and held
the position of vice-president of the Ellwanger & Barry nursery and
the Barry realty companies after their incorporation in 1900.
(d. 1961) Rochester,
New York. was the second son of Patrick Barry. He graduated from Harvard
in 1900 and joined the Ellwanger & Barry nursery business. When
the nursery closed in 1918, he became the president of the realty company,
and presided over the development of the former nursery s land. He
lived in his father s house until his death in 1961.
New York. Barry was born near Belfast, Ireland in 1816 and was a teacher
in Ireland, but at 21 years old he went to seek his fortune in America.
He arrived in New York in May 1836 and worked with William Prince and Sons,
proprietors of the Linnaean Nursery, Flushing, NY. There Barry got
a solid foundation in American horticulture. In the summer of 1840
he negotiated a partnership with George Ellwanger in Rochester, NY.
Ellwanger & Barry were the proprietors of the Mount Hope Nurseries.
In 1842 Barry wrote an article on Horticulture in Western New York, in
which he criticized the refusal of the judges at the State Agricultural
Society Fair of 1842 to award fruit prizes. In 1844 Barry took the
post of editor of the Horticultural Department of the Genesee Farmer
and continued there for eight years. In 1847 Barry journeyed through
Europe, visiting all the leading nurserymen and studied their methods for
pruning. Shortly after his return he started writing The Fruit
Garden that was published in 1851. In 1849, Barry gave the annual
meeting address to the Genesee Valley Horticultural Society that met at
the Monroe County Agricultural Society s fair. Barry was editor
of The Horticulturist for 1853 and 1854. He was president
of the Western New York Horticultural Society for more than thirty years;
president of the New York Agricultural Society; president of the Rochester
City & Mechanics Savings Bank; Rochester Gas Co.; and Powers Hotel
Co. In 1877 he served as the president of the State Agricultural
Society. He died June 23, 1890.
New York son of Patrick Barry who joined his father in the nursery business
and in 1868 became a junior partner. In 1881 he was elected
president of the American Nurserymen s Association. He was the first
president of the American Rose Society and was president of the Eastern
Nurserymen s Association. After 1890 he served for many years as
president of the Western New York Horticultural Society. After his
father s death in 1890, he became a full partner and president of both
the nursery and real estate companies that were incorporated in 1900.
Wethersfield, Connecticut Established
Wethersfield Seed Gardens in 1820 (or possibly 1811). Belden sold
the company in 1838 to Judge Comstock and his son, William G. Comstock.
Sources: Comstock; AN
Georgia was born near Brussels, Belgium in 1829. Spent his boyhood
on the estates of his father, Dr. Louis Berckmans, who was a noted horticulturist.
He was educated in France and when he returned home to Belgium in 1847,
he spent the next three years working on his father s estates and studying
botany at the Botanical Gardens of Brussels. In 1850 Berckmans came
to the United States, and in 1851, Prosper s father, Dr. Berckmans, brought
his family and a great collection of plants to a farm in Plainfield, New
Jersey. Prosper moved south in 1857 to establish the Fruitland Nurseries,
near Augusta, Georgia by purchasing a half interest in the nurseries of
D. Redmond. The following year he bought the other half interest
and became sole owner. Berckmans imported seeds, cuttings, and plants.
In the later years he grew many different kinds of camellias and plants
suited to the Georgia climate. He became a life member of the American
Pomological Society in 1860 and was elected president in 1887. He
founded the Georgia State Horticultural Society in 1876 and was its president
until his death in 1910. In 1883-84 he went to Europe for the U.
S. government to collect horticultural exhibits for the New Orleans Exposition
of 1884-1885. He was the editor of Farmer and Gardener for
several years. He retired in 1907.
CHSJ-Apr. 1966; Slosson;
New York, New York; branch office
San Francisco, California Established as H. H. Berger & Co. in 1878.
This nursery was one of the first to specialize in imported Japanese plants.
The 1906 catalog gives only the New York location.
Sources: CHSJ-July 1966
Pennsylvania was born in Belgium in 1850, and came to the United States
in the early 1870s. He began as a cactus dealer and illustrated
plant lists with his own woodcuts. His Hints on Cacti, a combination
cultural guide and trade catalog, was published in 1886. It was the
first cactus catalog published in the United States. He expanded
a hobby into the world s largest cactus nursery, and was considered to
be the person responsible for starting the cactus craze of the 1890s.
Other dealers were impressed with his illustrations, and by the 1890s he
was selling thousands of illustrations to American and European companies.
Sources: CP; Mitich;
(1818-1899)-was born in Onondaga, New York, on October 4, 1818. New York, New York. He established a seed, bulb, and nursery firm in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1845. The company was eventually renamed B. K. Bliss & Sons when his sons, Samuel B. and Elijah W., became partners. The operation then moved to New York City. The company also published The American Garden, an illustrated quarterly gardening journal. Benjamin died in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 22, 1899.
Sources: CHSJ-Apr. 1966;
Art Gar; VanRav
Bailey, L. H. Cyclopedia of American Agriculture: Farm and Community. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1910.
Mickey, T. J. America's Romance with the English Garden. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 2013.
Los Angeles; El Monte, California 1925-29 established
John Bodger & Sons Co., a wholesale flower seed business. He
worked with many annuals including, marigolds, asters, zinnias, and larkspurs.
Minneapolis, Minnesota Along
with Jesse E. Northrup established a seed business called Northrup, Braslan
& Co. in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1884. They believed in the hardiness,
earliness, and productivity of northern grown seed, and they saw Minneapolis
as a natural distributing point for a vast undeveloped but promising agricultural
region. The polar bear became a symbol of their business, and represented
their Polar Brand Seeds. Their first annual catalog was published
Massachusetts son of Joseph Breck, vice-president of the Massachusetts
Horticultural Society from 1876-1879, 1882-1900.
(1794-1873) Boston, Massachusetts established
his business, Joseph Breck & Company, in 1818. He acquired the
England Farmer, and later Horticultural Register and Gardens
magazine, both edited by Thomas Fessenden. He also wrote The Flower
Garden, a book about flower cultivation and shrubbery. He was
one of the founding members of the American Seed Trade Association and
a president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society from 1859-1862.
Breck experimented with different forms of catalogs, for one of his schemes
he packaged a collection of seeds targeted at specific markets such as
the West Indies. His 1840 catalog New England Agricultural Warehouse
and Seed Store Catalogue was a small book, 84 pages in length.
Long essays on gardening were included with the products. Breck attempted
to use horticulture as an uplifting, educational tool. He included
French plant names, listed standard works on horticulture, used illustrations
to improve his readers tastes. The 1840 catalog featured 72 black-and-white
engravings. Breck s catalog may have been his rural customers only
exposure to graphic arts and horticultural literature.
Sources: MHS; Plants;
CHSJ-Apr. 1966; Leighton2;
New York, New York the son of
Thomas Bridgeman who carried on the seed business under the name Alfred
Sources: Bailey; Leighton2
(d.1850) New York, New
York was born in Berkshire, England and came to America in 1824 and opened
a seed store. In 1829, he published The Young Gardener s Assistant
that was later reprinted many times and copyrighted in 1847. The
store was later run by his son Alfred Bridgeman.
Rochester, New York was the proprietor
of the Briggs Seed House, Rochester, New York in 1877. He began as
a clerk in the business thirty years before that. In 1877 he had
20,000 merchants and dealers who sold his seeds. He had a large payroll
with most of his employees being girls who filled orders, made paper bags,
then labeled and filled them, and worked the printing presses. Besides
the Rochester Store there was a store in Chicago and a seed farm in Clinton,
Sources: McIntosh; Parks
Rochester, New York; Chicago, Illinois sometime
around 1852 the firm of Rapalje & Briggs split into two different companies,
the John T. Briggs New Seed Store and the Genesee Seed Store under the
management of John Rapalje & Co. The John Briggs firm later became
known as Briggs & Bros. The Briggs firm eventually had offices
in both Rochester and Chicago. They offered a yearly catalog and
an occasional large floral print. The floral print they issued in
1872 was of exceptional quality.
Sources: NYPA; Parks
York; Ridgeville, Ontario two brothers who started the Brown Brothers &
Company nursery in Rochester, New York. They purchased a farm on
the Niagara peninsula in Ridgeville, Ontario in 1891, and established a
nursery there. By the turn of the century their firm became one of
Canada s leading nurseries. By 1904 the company had 1200 to 1500
men working in Canada alone.
Pennsylvania was born near Edinburgh, Scotland, November 14, 1805.
He was trained at the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens and came to America in
August 1828. He was employed by D. Landreth, and then took employment
with Henry Pratt who owned Lemon Hill probably one of the finest gardens
in the U.S. at the time. He formed a partnership with Thomas
Hibbert in 1830 in a florist business in Philadelphia. They imported
rare plants and flowers, especially the rose. After Hibbert s death
he began a seed business, along with the nursery and greenhouse business
called the Robert Buist Company. He later turned the seed business
over to his son Robert. Buist was know for his roses and verbena
and credited with introducing the poinsettia to the United States.
He was the author of The American Flower-Garden Directory (1832);
The Rose Manual (1844); and The Family Kitchen-Gardener (c1847).
He was active with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, treasurer from
1858-1862 and vice-president for twenty-two years. He died in Philadelphia,
July 13, 1880.
Sources: GM-Dec. 1880;
CHSJ-Apr. 1966; Leighton2;
1849-1926 main office,
San Francisco, California; experiment farms, Santa Rosa; proving grounds,
Sebastopol; nurseries, Sonoma and Alameda Counties; seed farms, Santa Clara
Valley; spineless cactus nurseries, Santa Rosa and Livermore Valley; warehouse
and distributing, Oakland was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts on March
7, 1849. He was an extraordinary plant breeder. Though he was not a strong student in his early education, he went on to study independently and learn from the recent works of Charles Darwin. At 21 he bought
a farm in Lunenberg, Massachusetts and began his 55-year plant breeding
career. He went to California in 1875 after having produced his Burbank
potato in 1873 in Lunenburg. After arriving in Santa Rosa, California,
he established his nursery garden, greenhouse, and experimental farms.
He developed over 800 new types of plants including over 113 varieties
of plums and prunes, roses, giant Shasta daisy, and the Fire poppy.
The 1924 catalog claimed they had 65,000 customers world-wide. Burbank was very secretive of his work. He kept no notes and often destroyed unused material at the end of a growing season. For this reason, much of his work cannot be duplicated. He died on April 11, 1926 in Santa Rosa, California. Burbank was a cousin
of W. Atlee Burpee (his mother was a Burpee).
Sources: Burbank; Dreyer;
CHSJ-Jul. 1961; CHSJ-Jan.
Taylor, J. M. (2014). Visions of loveliness. Athens, OH: Swallow Press.
Pennsylvania; Doylestown, Pennsylvania; Lompoc, California; Swedesboro,
New Jersey when W. Atlee Burpee died on November 26, 1915, his son David,
then 22, dropped out of Cornell University and took over the family business,
W. Atlee Burpee & Company. David was interested in flowers, while
his father had been interested in vegetables. World War I cut off
the company s oversees seed supply and caused a food shortage in the United
States. David began a war gardens campaign, that was to later become
the Victory gardens campaign in World War II. These programs were
aimed at city people and taught them how to grow food during shortages
caused by wartime. After World War II, the company also sent thousands
of pounds of seeds to Allied countries under the Lend-Lease Act.
In the 1930's the company began cross-breeding to produce hybrids that
were healthier and more resistant to disease. The Big Boy tomato
was developed during this time, along with the Ambrosia cantaloupe, as
well as new kinds of petunias, nasturtiums, and red and gold marigolds.
In the 1940s the company created new forms of flowers by altering their
chromosome structure with a chemical called colchicine. This led
to varieties Bright Scarlet and Rosabel snapdragons and Ruffled Jumbo Scarlet
zinnia. In 1954 David Burpee announced his company would pay $10,000
to the first person who could supply seeds that produced a white marigold.
Over the next 20 years, gardeners submitted 8,208 entries, and Burpee spent
over $250,000 evaluating the seeds. In 1975, Mrs. Alice Vonk of Sully,
Iowa was announced as the winner. During the 1960s, David campaigned
to make the marigold America s national flower. In 1970, David Burpee
sold his company to General Foods, the first of a series of non-horticultural
owners, for an estimated $10 million dollars, and in 1979 the company
passed to ITT. David Burpee remained as a consultant until his death
in 1981. In 1991 the Burpee company was acquired by George J. Ball,
Inc., a diversified horticultural family business.
Sources: Kraft; ANBv22;
Pennsylvania; Doylestown, Pennsylvania; Lompoc California; Swedesboro,
New Jersey the W. Atlee Burpee & Company was founded by W. Atlee Burpee
in 1876 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Atlee was born in 1858
in New Brunswick, New Jersey. At fourteen years of age, Atlee s hobby
was breeding chickens, geese and turkeys. He corresponded with poultry
experts worldwide and wrote scholarly articles in poultry journals.
With a partner, in 1876 the 18 year old Atlee started a mail-order chicken
business in the family home with $1,000 loaned to him by his mother.
Poultry farmers from the Northeast knew of his business, and he soon opened
a store in Philadelphia, selling not only poultry but also corn seed for
poultry feed. It wasn t long before his customers started requesting
cabbage, carrot, cauliflower and cucumber seeds. In 1878, Burpee
dropped his partner and founded W. Atlee Burpee & Company, mainly for
garden seeds, but poultry wasn t dropped from the Burpee catalog until
the 1940s. By 1888, the family home, Fordhook Farms, in Doylestown,
Pennsylvania, was established as an experimental farm to test and evaluate
new varieties of vegetables and flowers, and to produce seeds. Before
World War I, Atlee spent many summers traveling through Europe and the
United States, visiting farms and searching for the best flowers and vegetables.
Atlee shipped many of the vegetables and flowers he found to Fordhook Farms
for testing. Those plants that survived were bred with healthier
types to produce hybrids better suited to the United States. Fordhook
Farms was the first laboratory to research and test seeds in this way.
Fordhook Farms specialized in testing onions, beets, carrots, peas and
cabbage. In 1909, Burpee established Floradale Farms in Lompoc, California,
to test sweet peas, and Sunnybrook Farms near Swedesboro, New Jersey tested
tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and squashes. In his travels, Atlee
met Asa Palmer, a Pennsylvania farmer who raised beans, and who thought
he had one plant that was resistant to cutworms. Burpee turned this
bean plant into what is now known as the Fordhook lima bean, one of the
company s most famous items. Another successful plant was the Golden
Bantam sweet corn that the farmer William Chambers of Greenfield, Massachusetts
had grown before his death. A friend of Chambers found some of the
sweet corn seeds and sold Burpee seeds of the corn, and in 1902, Golden
Bantam was featured in a Burpee catalog. Before 1900 most people
thought that yellow corn was fit only for animals, so in order to change
their customers minds, many farmers slipped Golden Bantam corn in with
the white corn they were selling. Within a few years, people in the
United States were converted to yellow corn. Iceberg lettuce was
introduced in 1894 and named for its crispness.
A key in Burpee's
business was the 1863 free delivery system, that required post offices
to deliver mail to residents homes, and in 1896, free delivery was extended
to rural areas. This allowed his catalogs to be delivered directly
to people s homes. Thousands of letters were received annually from
Burpee s customers thanking him for his seeds. Burpee knew that the
key to his business was advertising and the catalog was his advertising
medium. In his first year of business, his catalog was 48 pages,
but by 1915 he was distributing a million catalogs or 200 pages each.
Burpee personally wrote most of the copy of his catalogs. Burpee
set up an advertising department and offered cash prizes for the best advertisements.
This competition is what originated the slogan Burpee Seeds Grow in 1890.
The 1891 catalog was the first to feature engravings made from photographs,
and by 1901 this process was done by machines. Burpee s move to photography
changed the whole industry and the hand-drawn illustration in catalogs
disappeared. In another break with tradition, Burpee eliminated cultural
information and put in testimonial letters and plant descriptions.
At Atlee s death in 1915, the company had 300 employees, and it was the
largest seed company in the world. At that time the Burpee company
distributed over 1 million catalogs a year and received 10,000 orders a
day. Sources: MHS;
(1830-1911) Rochester, New
York was born in Maine, Jan. 22, 1830. He started in the nursery
business in Chase s Mills, Maine in 1857 with his two brothers, Ethan A.
and Martin V. B. Chase. In 1868 he and Ethan moved to Rochester,
New York where they organized under the name of Chase Brothers Nursery
Company. He was the president of the firm.
Park, New York Childs was born on May 13, 1856. He acquired a few
acres and set up his business as a seedsman and florist at age eighteen,
after one year as a florist s helper on Long Island. He was known
internationally for his monthly magazine Mayflower, a magazine of
gardening and home adornment. It appeared from 1885-1906, 23 volumes
in all, with a circulation of half a million copies. He wrote Guide
to Lily Culture that had seven editions, the last one was published
in 1888. By 1892 he had several hundred acres with glass houses,
seed beds, seed stores, Victorian gardens, and a rail spur, canal, and
farm. He established the village of Floral Park to provide for services
and housing for his business. Eight thousand orders arrived each
day from around the world. By the turn of the century, Childs had
set up a seed house in Pasadena, California, and raised geraniums, freesia,
and amaryllis bulbs. Another farm in Suffolk County, New York, was
devoted to the wholesale florist business and grew gladioli, cannas, and
dahlias. Many exotic plants were the subjects of his chromolithographs
in his catalogs.
Sources: HG; CP;
Judge Comstock and his son , William G. Comstock bought the firm Wethersfield
Seed Gardens from its owner James Lockwood Belden in 1838. In 1845
Comstock took Henry Ferre as a partner. Comstock, Ferre & Co.
was incorporated in 1853. This was one of the first houses in the
trade to have nationwide distribution, through the frontier-riding of William
G. Comstock. The company focused on vegetable and herb seeds.
In 1871, Stephen F. Willard began working for Comstock as a traveler
and delivered seed to general stores in the Northeast using a horse and
wagon, and in 1889, he became president of the company.
Sources: SW1; Comstock;
Grove, Pennsylvania was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1835.
He descended from German Quakers who were part of William Penn s Colony
in 1683. He worked on his father s farm and learned the nursery business
from Thomas M. Harvey. Conard formed the firm of Conard & Brother,
but some time after 1862 he started a nursery business with Charles Dingee
under the name Dingee & Conard. The business had two greenhouses
and the establishment was known as the Harmony Grove Nursery. About
1867 the firm started propagating roses under a new system introduced by
Antoine Wintzer. Conard conceived the idea of disposing of their
rose stock through the mail. Their first catalog offered bedding
plants, shrubbery, bulbs, seeds, and roses. About 1892 Conard separated
from Dingee and along with Antoine Wintzer joined with S. Morris Jones
in 1897 to become Conard & Jones Co. The new company continued
with the growing and distribution of roses and flowering plants.
As another specialty, they worked on the improvement of the canna.
Conard died on December 15, 1906.
22, 1906; Bailey; CHSJ-Apr.
New York Crosman was born in Vermont in 1802 and moved to New York in 1818
and settled in a Shaker settlement. Crosman was a peddler of seed
grown in a Shaker community in Columbia County, New York. The Crosman
Company was established in 1838. Crosman then became a partner with
Michael Bateham in his seed business. They developed a seed
garden but a year later the partners severed their relations. Crosman
took the garden and Bateham took the seed store. In November 1842,
Bateham sold the store to Crosman. In 1852, C. F. Crosman was listed
a the owner of American Seed Store in Moore s Rural New Yorker.
At his death in 1865, his two sons, George and Charles, took over the business.
By 1880 the Crosman firm had become one of the largest seed houses in the
world. Their original seed plots had expanded to 1,200 acres.
The firm became known as the Crosman Brothers and in 1901 received a gold
medal at the Pan-American Exposition.
Rochester, New York the son
of Charles F. Crosman. He and his brother George took over his father s
firm in 1865. He initiated discussions which led to the founding
of the American Seed Trade Association at a meeting in New York City on
June 12, 1883.
New York Downing and his brother Charles Downing operated the Downing Nursery
at Newburg, New York. They specialized mostly in fruits. Their
father was a nurseryman as well. Andrew Jackson was America s
most influential landscape gardener of the period. In 1841 he published
his Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening when
he was twenty-six years old. It was the first, and still one of the
best American books on the subject, and has had a greater influence on
American horticulture than any other similar volume. His book Cottage
Residences also appeared in 1841, and in 1845, with his brother Charles,
he published simultaneously in London and New York the book Fruits and
Fruit Trees of America. In 1846, he became an editor of The
Horticulturist. In 1850 he visited the great estates of England,
and saw for the first time the landscape gardening of Europe. In
1851 he was chosen to lay out the grounds of the Capitol, the Smithsonian
Institution and the White House, in Washington, D. C., but he died
before the project could be completed. He died by drowning on July
28, 1852 when the steamer, Henry Clay, caught fire on its voyage to New
York City. He was the first great American practitioner of what was
known as the English or natural school of landscape gardening. He
gave inspiration to Frederick Law Olmsted, the next great genius in American
Sources: Plants; Woodburn2;
CHSJ-Apr. 1966; HG;
New York Brother of Andrew Jackson Downing and operated the Downing Nursery
with his brother. At age thirteen he worked part-time in his father s
nursery. At age twenty he started his own nursery business.
From 1834 until 1839 his brother was a partner in the business. He
was a pomologist, he ran commercial and test orchards for pears, apples,
and plums. Fruits and Fruit Trees of America published by
his brother Andrew was largely the work of Charles and he continued working
on it and revised it many times. Sometime after 1850, he sold
the nursery to the Saul family, and it was operated under the name of The
Highland Nurseries. A. Saul was in charge, but a brother James Saul
represented the firm on the Pacific Coast at Commercial Nurseries in San
Francisco. The Saul family continued to specialize in fruits but
listed many ornamental trees and roses.
Sources: MHS; Woodburn2;
CHSJ-Apr. 1966; HP;
Pennsylvania was born in Philadelphia on August 24, 1818. He was
the son of a German immigrant cabinet maker and opened his seed and florist
store, Henry A. Dreer, Inc., in 1838. Dreer saw the need for demonstration
and experiment farms. From 1839-1850, his nursery was on the estate
of William Hamilton, known as The Woodlands. His six small greenhouses
were at 35th Street for twenty-three years until 1873 when they were moved
to three hundred acres at Riverton, New Jersey. He was a pioneer
in introducing color printing to the trade in his bulb catalog for 1865.
That catalog contained an illustration in six colors, printed from electros
reproducing the original wood cuts. He wrote frequently for The
Saturday Evening Post. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Horticultural
Society and was treasurer from 1862-1873. He died in Philadelphia,
December 22, 1873. His son William F. Dreer carried on the
business in Philadelphia and Riverton, New Jersey. The business was
incorporated in 1892.
Sources: Plants; Bailey;
1966; SW1; GT;
Pennsylvania Was born in Philadelphia, November 11, 1849. He carried
on the business of his father Henry A. Dreer after his father s death in
1873. He made numerous trips to foreign countries to study growing
methods and to establish relationships with foreign seedhouses. He
was an active member of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, treasurer
from 1887-1888 and from 1898-1899. He had extensive private gardens
at his three residences in Rosemont, Pennsylvania, Santa Barbara, California,
and Woodstock, Vermont. He died in Vermont, September 8, 1918.
Sources: Bailey; PHS1
New York Ellwanger was born in Gross-Heppach in Wurtemberg, Germany on
December 2, 1816. In 1830, he apprenticed himself for four years
to the leading nurseryman and florist in Stuttgart. In 1835, he set
sail for America. He traveled to the home of relatives in Ohio, but
stopped in Rochester. After spending the summer with his relatives
in Ohio, he returned to Rochester to seek employment. William A.
Reynolds and Michael Bateham who owned the Rochester Seed Store and Horticultural
Repository hired him in the spring of 1836. In 1838, Reynolds and
Bateman suffered a huge loss after a failed experiment with mulberry
trees. The nursery was put up for sale, and in January1839, Ellwanger,
their manager, offered to lease the nursery and buy the remaining stock.
Ellwanger formed a partnership with Thomas Rogers, a mulberry tree salesman
from the east. By May of 1840 Ellwanger bought out the interests
of Rogers and joined with Patrick Barry, a more experienced nurseryman,
who had newly arrived from Ireland. This new establishment was called
Mount Hope Nursery. Their first catalogs were issued in 1843.
In December 1844, Ellwanger went to Europe in order to increase the nursery s
stock. He went to England, France, and Germany and collected buddings
and graftings from different nurseries, and stuffed his bags with the catalogs
and other publications of the leading horticulturists of the day.
Shortly after his return the nursery issued a second and larger catalog
where he had adopted the London Horticultural Society s method of listing
plants and describing their features. The fruit department was their
specialty. Ellwanger married in 1846 and had four sons. His
son William D. was an active member of the firm. By 1851, the seven
original acres in the nursery of 1841 had grown to one hundred acres.
In another five years it had grown to four hundred acres, and by 1871 there
were six hundred and fifty acres. By 1851, there were also nurseries
in Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio and Toronto. In 1900, Mount
Hope Nursery won a gold medal diploma at the Paris Exhibition for their
display of 118 varieties of pears. Ellwanger died on November 26,
1906. The Mount Hope Nursery closed in July 1918.
1, 1906; FlorEx-Dec.
8, 1906; URLB; APS-1907;
(d. 1896) Rochester,
New York In 1882, the son of George Ellwanger published the book The
Boston, Massachusetts was
a member of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and in 1912 designed
and built an Italian garden in the first floor of the Horticultural Hall.
Brother of John K. M. L. Farquhar.
Massachusetts established R. & J. Farquhar & Co. in 1884.
He was the president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society from 1913-1915.
He gave numerous lectures on his travels around the world. His brother
was James F. M. Farquhar.
Boston, Massachusetts established
R. & J. Farquhar & Co. in 1884.
(b. 1833) Detroit,
Michigan Ferry was born in Lowville, New York on August 8, 1833.
In 1856 he founded the D. M. Ferry & Co., Detroit, Michigan.
The company merged with the California based seed company, C. C. Morse
Company in 1930 to become the Ferry-Morse Seed Company. The Ferry-Morse
Seed Company became part of France s Groupe Limagrain, considered in 1990
to be the third largest seed company in the world. Ladies should
cultivate flowers as an invigorating and inspiring out-door occupation.
Many are pining and dying from monotony and depression, who might bury
their cares by planting a few seeds... wrote D. M. Ferry in the 1876 Seed
Annual. The vegetable section began with a quote from Plutarch
advising exercise through gardening. Out-door work...must tend to
develop that attachment of the citizen to his home, which is one of the
strongest safeguard of society against lawlessness and immorality.
Chromolithographs illustrated this catalog as well, and lithographs of
the seed farm show different activities, hoeing, weeding cabbage, dinner,
and harvesting. The field workers are almost all women with men supervising.
Ferry invented the commission box, a seed rack for retail display, and
was the first to have brightly colored seed packets.
Sources: SW3; CHSJ-Oct.
1961; cat.-022551; Art
Iowa was born in Page County, Iowa, December 6, 1871. He attended
Western Normal College, Shenandoah, Iowa from 1889 to 1891. He taught
for three winters in a country school and worked part-time as a surveyor
in Page County. It is said that as a five-year old, Henry was inspired
by the 1876 Vick s Floral Guide, and gathered seed from his mother s
garden and packaged them in homemade envelopes and sold them to his aunt.
At age nine he began selling self-harvested seeds. He continued this
business during his college years and the years spent as a teacher.
In the 1890s, he priced his own garden seed lower than Burpee and sold
and distributed them from horseback around Shenandoah, Iowa. In 1899
he produced a four-page catalog with his own hand press. In 1907,
he founded and incorporated, Henry Field Seed Co. in Shenandoah, Iowa.
He moved into the mail-order business, constructed a seedhouse, and sent
out a folksy catalog promoting Seeds that Yield are Sold by Field.
In 1924, he built a radio station, KFNF, on top of his seedhouse
and broadcast country entertainment. In 1930, the company became
known as the Henry Field Co., and in 1938 he retired from active management
of the company, although he retained the title of president until his death.
At the time of his death, he was doing $3,000,000 business annually with
over a million customers. He was the editor of Field s Seed Sense
and a contributor to horticultural and agricultural publications.
He died in Shenandoah, Iowa, Oct. 17, 1949.
Sources: Tucker; NCAB;
Los Angeles, California established
Germain s Seed and Plant Company in 1871. Later the successor was
called the Germain Fruit Company. The firm exported callas, freesias,
amaryllis, cannas and other bulbous plants. In 1884, the firm was
exclusively in the seed business. A 1900 catalog listed tree seeds
including unusual species, many succulent plants, as well as flower seeds.
In 1957, the company combined with Aggeler and Musser Seed Company.
Sources: CHSJ-Jul. 1968
1835-1908 Grass Valley, California was
born in France in 1835 and came to the United States in 1852. He
arrived in California in 1858, and settled in Nevada City in 1859.
He established his Barren Hill Nursery in 1871. In 1968, this was
thought to be the oldest continuously operating nursery in California.
Gillet was interested primarily in deciduous fruit and nut trees.
After the death of Gillet in 1908, his successors offered many ornamentals.
The 1930 catalog offered several conifers that appealed to customers in
Sources: CHSJ-Jan. 1968
Massachusetts was born at Marblehead, Massachusetts on November 7, 1827.
He went to Middlebury College and graduated from Amherst College in 1850.
He began a business of selling high quality seeds in 1850 in Marblehead,
Massachusetts after he sent some winter squash seeds that his father had
raised to a farmer who had requested some in New England Farmer.
His business was called the Gregory Seed Business. He sent Hubbard
squash seeds all over the United States. In 1875 he purchased the
Burbank potato that had just been developed by Luther Burbank. It
was Burbank s first success at plant breeding done while he was a gardener
in Massachusetts. Gregory had over 400 acres in seed farms.
He wrote and distributed many treatises on different agricultural subjects,
and lectured extensively on agricultural and horticultural topics.
He died on February 20, 1910.
Sources: MHS; Plants;
(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;
Painesville, Ohio Jesse Storrs and
J. J. Harrison started a nursery in 1853 known as Painesville Nurseries,
but the name of the company was Storrs & Harrison Co. They sold
fruit and ornamental trees, grape vines, bulbs, small fruits, roses, shrubs,
and hardy plants. In 1904, 1200 acres were devoted to the nursery
(1822-1890) New York,
NY Henderson was born in Scotland in 1822. He came to America in
1843, and worked under Grant Thorburn and Robert Buist. Henderson
began as a market gardener in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1847. During
the Civil War he moved his floral business to South Bergen. By 1890
he had five acres covered by glass. Henderson s contemporaries called
him the father of horticulture and ornamental gardening in the United
States. In 1865 he published Gardening for Profit, the first
book written on market gardening in the United States. It sold 100,000
copies. He followed with Practical Floriculture in 1868.
In 1871 he established a seed company called Peter Henderson & Company.
The company developed vegetables and flowers suited to American conditions.
He began a new era of seed trade merchandising by using a five-color lithograph
in his catalog. His catalog Everything for the Garden featured
a white-haired gentleman. His writing was aimed at teaching good
horticultural practices. He recommended gardening as the best therapy for
invalids. He dictated all of his writing for his catalog to a secretary
while lying down after work hours. He personally answered every letter
he received. In the course of 45 years of business, he sent out 175,000
letters, two-thirds of them were written by his own hand. An account of
his life was published by his son Alfred Henderson. He died in Jersey
City, New Jersey, on January 17, 1890.
Sources: MHS; Plants;
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Was the
partner of Robert Buist. Hibbert operated the first noteworthy florist
shop in Philadelphia. He was known for competing with the Landreths
in introducing azaleas. In 1830, Buist and Hibbert bought M Mahon s
nursery. In 1832 the two partners published the how-to text, American
Flower Garden Directory. Buist carried on the business after
Hibbert s death.
Sources: Plants; Woodburn2;
Richmond, Indiana In 1928, Hill was awarded
the Thomas Roland medal by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for
his skill in originating and growing roses.
(1832-1904) West Chester,
Pennsylvania was born in West Chester, Pennsylvania, November 9, 1832.
He had a great interest in botany and in 1853 built a greenhouse on his
father s property to propagate a collection of flora of the world.
Demand grew for his plants and he began his nursery business called Cherry
Hill Nurseries. He was a regular contributor to the New
York Tribune and wrote Book on Evergreens. He died January
Sources: Bailey; Bryan
New York was born in Cameron, New York. He was an alumnus of Alfred
University. He was a leading grape grower and authority on grapes
in the world. He established the T. S. Hubbard Co. in Fredonia, NY
in 1866. The company was incorporated in 1887. The company
sold grape vines and small fruits. In 1901 they had over 100 acres
planted. They were the first nursery to make the growing of native
American grape vines a specialty. Their business extended to every
state in the union and to foreign countries as well. He drafted the
constitution of the Association of American Nurserymen and was its chief
executive twice. In 1899 he severed his connection with the T. S.
Monroe, Michigan; St. Clair Shores,
Michigan; Detroit, Michigan; Toledo, Ohio came to Michigan from New York
and brought fruit tree stock. In 1947, the Monroe Nursery celebrated
its centennial, it was one of Michigan s first large-scale commercial nurseries
still operated by the family.
-(Jackson & Perkins) -see entry for
Highlands, North Carolina; Linville,
North Carolina Kelsey s nursery was first at Highlands and later moved
to Linville. His specialty was native ornamentals of the Southern
mountain region. He introduced into cultivation Rhododendron vaseyi,
Rhododendron carolinianum, Galax aphylla, and Robinia kelseyi
during the 1870's. The nursery was called Highlands Nursery, the
Kelsey Bros., proprietors.
Sources: Slosson; cat.-024074-024076;
Pennsylvania son of David Landreth, Jr., was the third generation to run
the seed house. He was a partner in the business until it was incorporated
in 1904 as the D. Landreth Seed Co., and was the president of the corporation
until his death. He was chosen chief of the Bureau of Agriculture
of the U. S. Centennial International Exhibition at Philadelphia in 1876.
In 1878, he declined President Hayes offer of Commissioner of Agriculture.
He was the author of Market Garden and Farm Notes (1892), and articles
in horticultural journals.
Sources: Kellen; NCABv24;
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania brother
of David Landreth, who established Landreth & Sons nursery.
Sources: PHS1; PHS2;
(1752-?) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
Bristol, Pennsylvania; Charleston, South Carolina was born in England in
1752. He is credited with establishing the first American commercial
seed company, D. Landreth & Company. The brothers, David and
Cuthbert, arrived from England in 1784 and began as truck farmers supplying
artichokes to French emigres in Pennsylvania. Their early customers
included Washington, Adams, Monroe, and Jefferson. They began growing
flowering shrubs and hothouse exotics in their nursery and greenhouses.
They propagated seeds from the Lewis and Clark expeditions (1803-1806)
which brought native shrubs and plants into the commercial trade.
The Landreths introduced the garden tomato in 1820, followed by Landreths
Extra Early Pea. Other introductions were the Mexican zinnia and
the Bloomsdale spinach. In 1824 the firm moved to Bristol, Pennsylvania.
Sources: Plants; Woodburn2;
Pennsylvania; Bristol, Pennsylvania made the Landreth seed business the
leading seed house in America. His first business experience
was in Charleston, South Carolina where there was a branch house that flourished
until it closed in 1862 because of the Civil War. In 1828, he succeeded
his father as proprietor of the seed establishments under the name D. Landreth
& Co. The nurseries were under Thomas Landreth.
David, Jr. was a founder of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and
in 1832 published Floral Magazine, America s first horticultural
journal. It featured color lithographs. In 1835, Commodore
Perry took a box of American seeds to give to the Japanese as a gift from
the Landreth company. The Japanese sent back some seeds in return.
In 1847, the Landreth nursery was moved to Bloomsdale in Bristol, Pennsylvania.
Bloomsdale became the most complete seed farm in America and an arboretum
was also established. Burnet Landreth, David, Jr. s son, was
involved with international expositions and societies and wrote for horticultural
journals. The Landreths used patriotism to sell seeds. In one
catalog they offered a jewel case of inlaid wood containing twenty packets
of flower seeds. Vegetables were a specialty, with cooking notes
included. Lithographs of vegetables were a major feature of the early
catalogs. By the 1880s the Landreths were commenting on changing
American values one issue discussed was that practical horticulture was
no longer required in public schools.
Sources: Woodburn2; Bailey;
Minneapolis, Minnesota Pioneer
Seedswoman of America was the title Lippincott chose for herself.
She started a seed business in 1886 out of the necessity of increasing
the family income. By 1896 the business claimed they had received
150,000 orders. A quote from a contemporary publication said the
key to her success is prompt service, best seeds, reasonable prices, beautiful
flowers, by a woman. Most of the lithographs in Lippincott s catalogs
portrayed women or children. Lippincott s approach to marketing through
her emphasis on a woman-owned company led to at least two other seed firms
in Minneapolis beginning business under women s names. Their catalogs
were also similar in size and illustration. Lippincott was convinced
that men owned these companies. Her 1899 catalog stated it is a
peculiar thing in this day and age that a man should want to masquerade
in woman s clothing...I do not advise a life of business for any woman
when it can be avoided. It means self-sacrifice...
Sources: CH; CP;
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania tried
to appeal to the market gardeners farmers who created cooperatives to provide
local consumers with their fresh vegetables. He established William
Henry Maule Co. Maule s catalogs featured farm and field scenes.
In his 1909 catalog was an illustration of a truck farm.
Sources: AH; CH
Pennsylvania was born in London, England on March 21, 1826. His father
was Edward Meehan, the head gardener for Col. Francis Vernon Harcurt, Isle
of Wight. Meehan was self-taught and wrote his first paper when he
was twelve. At fifteen he produced his first hybrid fuchsia.
He was elected member of the Royal Wernerian Society of Edinboro when he
was still an adolescent. He became a student at Kew Gardens and came
to America after graduation on his twenty-second birthday. He was
hired by Robert Buist, Sr. in Philadelphia; was superintendent of Bartram s
Gardens, and later gardener to Caleb Cope. In 1853, he published
his first and only complete book, The American Handbook of Ornamental
Trees, a book about the trees in Bartram s garden. He established
Meehan s Nurseries in 1853. He was editor of the Gardener s Monthly
for thirty years beginning in 1859. In 1891, he founded Meehan s
Monthly. He was appointed State Botanist by the Governor.
He was a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, the
American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Philosophical
Society, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and the Pennsylvania Agricultural
Society. He was the author of Native Flowers and Ferns of the
United States. He was elected to the Common Council of Philadelphia
in 1882 and remained a member until his death. He was a member of
the Germantown school board for eighteen years. He died in Philadelphia
on November 19, 1901.
CHSJ-Apr. 1966; Leighton2;
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was
a Swiss immigrant who started a retail seed business, Henry F. Michell
Co., in an attic on Philadelphia s Market Street in 1890. His brother,
Frederick joined him in 1892 and by 1900 the business had grown prosperous
with a five-story facility with seven product departments and a separate
four-story warehouse. In the 1920s, the brothers expanded into the
wholesale market. In the 1950s, Frederick s grandsons, Henry F. Michell,
III and Frank Michell, Jr., relocated the headquarters to King of Prussia,
Pennsylvania. The company now offers greenhouse supplies, structures,
and equipment. The company is now owned by Henry F. Michell, III
and Henry F. Michell, IV.
Pennsylvania M Mahon came from Ireland in 1796 and began to collect and
export seeds of native American plants in 1800. His catalog of 1804
listed seeds of about 1,000 species. In 1806, he published his book
The American Gardener's Calendar, that was for 50 years the standard gardening
authority in America. There were eleven editions of his book by the
last edition published in 1857. A general catalog of garden plants
was published at the end of the book. He knew Jefferson and his store became
the meeting place of botanists and horticulturists. M Mahon
helped to distribute the seeds collected by the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
M Mahon died on September 16, 1816.
[adapted from blog.biodiversitylibrary.org]
Bernard M'Mahon (spelled M'Mahon or McMahon) shaped American gardening during its formative years in early 19th century. Although M'Mahon left his mark by creating a successful seed and nursery business and writing an early popular horticultural book specific to American plants, accurate biographical information on him is unreliable. Born in Ireland, he came to America between 1796-1798 for political reasons. Botanist William Darlington recalled meeting him in Dilworthtown, Chester County, "In autumn, I think, of 1799", where many Philadelphians went to escape an outbreak of yellow fever. Although it is speculated he had extensive training in gardening while in Ireland, M'Mahon first worked in the printing business for William Duane and the newspaper, the Aurora, beginning in 1800. A few years later he began working in the seed and nursery business, collecting and exporting seeds of America's wild plants to Europe. At the time, native plants from America were all the rage for European gardeners.
He is credited with publishing the first American seed catalog in booklet form in 1804. It is actually more a seed list than what we think of as a seed catalog today. It simply lists plants in alphabetical order under major categories such as "trees and shrubs" and "herbaceous plants." For each plant the scientific and common name is given. No illustrations were included. Printing and publishing in the United States was still very new at this time. Many publishers still sent their works to England to be published and shipped back to the states.
In 1806, while operating his business, he published The American gardener's calendar; adapted to the climates and
seasons of the United States. Liberty Hyde Bailey, in his Cyclopedia of American Horticulture referenced it with:
"He gave America its first great horticultural book." In a sense, it became what we would call a bestseller. The
book was popular for 50 years and went through 11 editions, the last published in 1857, long after M'Mahon's death
It was through The American gardener's calendar that President Thomas Jefferson became acquainted and befriended M'Mahon. Jefferson found the book useful for his gardening and growing food at Monticello. M'Mahon and Jefferson began an exchange of books and seeds that went on for several years. Jefferson asked M'Mahon, along with fellow Philadelphia gardener, William Hamilton, to receive and propagate seeds and roots from plants collected on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery, in 1804 to 1806.
M'Mahon was a friend to many botanists; for example, Thomas Nuttall named a genus of evergreen shrubs discovered in the western U.S. during the Lewis and Clark expedition to honor him. While the name Mahonia is still used frequently in horticulture to identify these shrubs; scientifically, the Oregon grape holly or mountain holly (Berberis aquifolium) is now in the genus Berberis. In the 11th edition of The American gardener's calendar, Jay J. Smith, who handled the revision, wrote a very personal memoir dedicated to M'Mahon which includes a tribute letter by Darlington.
Sources: Plants; Woodburn2;
CHSJ-Apr. 1966; Leighton1;
Everly, Robin. blog post on Bernard M'Mahon. 2015
Santa Clara, California pioneer breeder
in sweet peas, established the C. C. Morse & Co. in 1877. The
C. C. Morse & Co. was the successor to Cox Seed Co. in San Francisco,
California. Morse s son Lester L. Morse, born in 1870, continued
the development of the sweet pea, and he wrote Field Notes on Sweet
Peas. The second edition was published by the C. C. Morse
& Co in 1905 . Frank G. Cuthbertson supervised all the sweet
pea work done at Morse & Co. and wrote the descriptions and notes on
the list of varieties in the publication. In April 1906, the San
Francisco earthquake and fire destroyed the seed company building with
everything in it. At that time they consolidated their business with
the Cox Seed Co. and the Seed House of E. J. Bowen. They continued
all of the departments of the Cox company including the nurseries, retail
store, catalog mail business, wholesale department, and commission box
department. The 1909 catalog has extensive photographs of the
company offices and farms. In 1915, the Morse Exhibition garden at
the Panama-Pacific International Exposition won the Grand Prize.
By 1917, they had sold their nursery department to the Vallance Nursery
owned by the two brothers, John and James Vallance, who had managed the
department for a number of years previously. In 1930, the company
was merged with the D. M. Ferry & Co., Detroit, Michigan to become
the Ferry-Morse Seed Company. The Pacific Coast operations were under
the direction of Lester L. Morse. Lester s son Charles C. Morse continued
the development of flowers.
Sources: SW3; cat.-022551;
1961; CHSJ-Oct. 1961;
Texas was born near Astoria, Illinois on September 26, 1843. In 1906,
the University of Kentucky gave him a Doctor of Science degree. He
established his vineyard business in Denison, Texas. He was an acknowledged
authority on the native wild grapes of North America. In 1890, he
published Bulletin No. 3, Classification and Generic Synopsis of the Wild
Grapes of North America for the Agriculture Department. His book
Grape-Culture was his most important horticultural work. He
died on January 21, 1913.
Los Angeles, California founded
Aggeler and Musser Seed Company in 1896. At one time the firm listed
about one hundred and fifty kinds of shrub and tree seeds, and was a popular
source for seeds and shrubs and trees in southern California. In
1957, it combined with Germain s Seed and Plant Company.
Minneapolis, Minnesota In 1884,
Jesse Northrup and Charles P. Braslan started the company known as Northrup,
Braslan & Co., as a wholesaler and retailer of agricultural and garden
seeds. They believed in the hardiness, earliness, and productivity
of northern grown seed, and they saw Minneapolis as a natural distributing
point for a vast undeveloped but promising agricultural region. The
polar bear became a symbol of their business, and represented their Polar
Brand Seeds. Their first annual catalog was published in 1885.
In 1887, A. H. Goodwin joined the firm, and it was renamed Northrup, Braslan
& Goodwin Co. By 1889, they had 1,800 acres under contract production.
The company s business increased faster than they had the capability to
manage it. Colonel W. S. King and his son Preston brought in much
needed financial support in 1894, but in May 1896 a fire destroyed a company
building and the company declared bankruptcy. Even during the company s
most serious financial difficulties, the retail and catalog business showed
a profit. Later in 1896, a new company emerged called Northrup, King
& Co. Jesse Northrup was president, Preston King was treasurer,
and Charles C. Massie was secretary. The company struggled with some
remaining debt and a limited supply of seeds, but were able to build a
new building on the site of the fire. The headquarters moved in 1917
to a site where the Great Northern Railway and the Northern Pacific Railway
came together. Most of the long distance shipping was then sent by
railway. Charles C. Massie became president in 1914, after the death
of Preston King and the retirement of J. E. Northrup, with Lyndon M. King
as vice president. In 1918, a branch was established in Salt Lake
City, Utah to produce alfalfa and clover. Maurice Keating was put
in charge of the Utah branch. By 1945, the company had a Pacific
Coast division in Berkeley, California. The company bought G. A.
Klein Seed Co. of Los Angeles in the early 1940s, acquiring Golf Brand
lawn seed. In 1935, they built a seed cleaning plant in Boise, Idaho,
followed by drying plants in Hampton, Iowa, and four locations in Minnesota.
Vegetable breeding intensified during the 1940s and 1950s at the company s
research center in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Northrup King s board
of directors made a public stock offering in the fall of 1968. The
company was purchased in 1976 by Sandoz, Ltd., of Basle, Switzerland.
Madison, Wisconsin L. L. Olds Seed
Co. was established in 1888. Olds was a potato farmer who expanded
into a breeder, grower and retailer of potatoes for seed. The company
expanded its business to become a wholesaler and retailer of all farm,
garden and turf seeds. In 1988, the company was sold to Van der Have
(d.1935) LaPark, Pennsylvania,
Libonia, Pennsylvania, Greenwood, South Carolina At age 16, Park, raised
flowers in a corner of his mother s gardens and sold seeds to friends and
neighbors. The George W. Park Seed Co., Inc. was established in 1868,
and that same year he printed an eight-page catalog. In 1871, Park
started the publication The Floral Gazette, a monthly journal of
floriculture whose name was later changed to Park s Floral Magazine
in 1877. In November of 1905, 400,296 copies of the magazine were
mailed out. The company began as a wholesaler and retailer of flower
and vegetable seeds. In 1882, Park fulfilled a life-long dream of
having a college education. In that year he enrolled at Michigan
State University and graduated four years later with a degree in horticulture.
He traveled across the U.S., Mexico and Europe and during one of his trips
he stopped to visit Mary Barratt. Mary was a South Carolina county
home demonstration agent who had written him for advice. They were
married in 1918, and they moved to Dunedin, Florida. The climate
was not good for the seed business, so they moved to Greenwood, South Carolina.
When George died in 1935, his wife Mary ran the business until his son
George Barratt took over. When George B. died in 1967, his brother
William John Park ran the business. William continued until 1990
when he became Chairman of the Board and was succeeded by his nephew,
J. Leonard Park, and niece, Karen Park Jennings. J. Leonard is CEO
and President, and his sister, Karen is Senior Vice-President, and produces
the numerous Park catalogs.
Sources: GG; CLG;
(d. 1963) Los Angeles,
California started working for Eugene Germain in 1896, and became manager
of Germain s in 1902. In 1903, he resigned and established his own
nursery specializing in California native plants. He grew between
four and five hundred species of native plants. He planted many gardens
using native plants that were adapted to southern California conditions.
In 1960, about a year before his retirement, friends established a foundation
in his honor, the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native
Plants. It offered seeds and native plants in containers. He
died May 6, 1963.
Sources: CHSJ-Jul. 1968
Newark, New York; Phoenix, Arizona;
Medford, Oregon-The business was founded in 1872 when Charles Perkins,
with the financial support of his father-in-law, A.E. Jackson, started
wholesaling strawberries and grape plants from a farm in Newark, New York.
At some point they began selling roses. In 1896 the comany hired
E. Alvin Miller who began hybridizing roses. In 1901 the company
marketed one of Miller's varieties and called the climber Dorothy Perkins.
This rose was so successful that Jackson & Perkins began to focus on
roses as their main product. They participated in the 1939 New York
World's Fair with a display called "A Parade of Modern Roses," which created
a huge interest in roses. Many participants wanted to purchase roses
but they didn't want to have to carry them home. They asked if the
roses could be mailed to them. This started the mail order business
that eventually resulted in over 35 million pieces of garden literature
mailed every year and over 3 million roses and other plants shipped to
customers. After starting the mail order business, they outgrew their
space and headed west, first to Phoenix, Arizona and later in 1966 to the
San Joaquin Valley, California when the company was acquired by Harry and
David. The company is now part of the Bear Creek Corporation and
their headquarters are in Medford, Oregon with their research center in
Flushing Landing, New York at the
death of William Prince (1725-1802), the Prince Nursery was divided between
his two sons, William and Benjamin. Benjamin retained the original
property and named the company The Old American Nursery.
Flushing Landing, New York Linnaean
Botanic Garden (William Prince & Sons, Linnaean Botanic Garden and
Nurseries)-Founded the Prince Nursery in 1737. It operated for 130
years, until about 1865. It was the first major commercial nursery
in the United States. It was responsible for importing plants from
Europe and sending American plants abroad. The nursery was also breeders
of fruits and roses, a leader in perfecting growing techniques, and the
first to advertise ornamentals in a big way. It produced most of
the grafted apple, pear and cherry trees that could be found in the early
Northeastern orchards. They also trained many of the early nurserymen.
During the Revolutionary War, the British General Lord Howe ordered the
protection of the Prince Garden and Nursery. Over 10,000 grafted
cherry trees had to be sold to be used in barrel manufacturing during the
war. After the war the orchard had to be rebuilt. In 1789 President
George Washington visited the nursery. The first know advertisement
of the nursery was dated September 21, 1767. The nursery s
earliest catalog was published in 1771 and was a broadside featuring a
large selection of fruit trees. In 1827, the nursery contained more than
a hundred species of Australian plants, and a year later it had more than
600 kinds of roses. Into the middle of the 19th century, the Prince Nursery
was the largest and best American establishment of its kind.
Sources: Plants; GT;
Landing, New York (William Prince & Sons, Linnaean Botanic Garden and
Nurseries) was the second proprietor of the Prince Nursery at Flushing,
New York, and the one who is considered to be the true founder of the nursery.
Under William the business grew rapidly until the Revolutionary War.
William was the first to grow pecan trees for sale; in 1772, he planted
30 nuts from which he grew 10 plants (eight of these he sold in England).
Many of the shrubs and flowers from the Lewis and Clark expeditions were
sent to the Prince Nursery for propagation and distribution.
In 1828, William Prince published a Treatise on Horticulture.
Before the death of William, the nursery business was taken over by his
sons, William and Benjamin. William called his part of the nursery,
the Linnaean Botanic Garden and Nursery, and Benjamin called the original
location The Old American Nursery.
Sources: Woodburn2; Bailey;
New York (Linnaean Botanic Garden and Nursery) was the third proprietor
of the Prince Nurseries. He continued the work of his father in introducing
foreign trees and plants, and the creation of new varieties from seed.
The Lombardy poplar was imported by this nursery. The catalogs from
1815 to 1850 were ranked as among the standard horticultural publications
of the U. S. William was one of the founders of the New York Horticultural
Society (1818). He died on April 9, 1842.
Sources: Plants; Bailey;
CHSJ-Apr. 1966; Art
Landing, New York (Linnaean Botanic Garden and Nursery) was born November
6, 1795. He was the fourth proprietor of his family s nursery.
He was a botanist and plant explorer as well as a nurseryman. As
a young man he went on plant-collecting expeditions in the eastern states,
and in 1849 and 1850 he collected plants in California. He devoted
his life to grape culture and the improvement and distribution of native
grapes. William Robert, along with his father, published A Treatise
on the Vine (the first good book on viticulture in America) in 1830;
A Pomological Manual in 1831 (contained full and accurate descriptions
of the known varieties of all hardy tree fruits, except the apple); and
Manual of Roses in 1846 (the first good book printed on the rose
in America). He died on March 28, 1869.
Sources: Woodburn2; Bailey;
CHSJ-Apr. 1966; Art
Gar; AN; Hedrick;
(1861-1945) Ukiah, California established
his nursery in 1879. He specialized in California natives.
He started collecting native seeds, bulbs and plants in about 1875 when
he was only in his teens, for a nurseryman in the eastern United States.
He traveled widely as a collector and was a school teacher for a while.
In 1903 collecting native bulbs was his principal work. His first
catalog was published in 1896. He also did landscaping in the San Francisco
Bay area. He was especially interested in native lilies and collaborated
with L. H. Bailey in writing on California bulbs for the Cyclopedia
of American Horticulture. His grandson, Carl Mahurin wrote a
biography of Purdy in 1941 for the Journal of the California Horticultural
Society. He died on August 8, 1945 at 84 years. His children,
Mary Purdy Robinson, Mabel Purdy Mahurin, and Elmer C. Purdy, carried on
the business with his son as manager starting in 1925. The business
was called Carl Purdy Gardens after his death.
1941; CHSJ-Jul. 1961;
(1877-19151) West Grove, Pennsylvania a
nurseryman and authority on roses, was born in London Grove, Pennsylvania,
the son of Robert Lewis Pyle, a successful merchant. He graduated
from Swarthmore College in 1897, and was acting superintendent of the College
until Oct. 1, 1898 when he went to work for the Conard and Jones Company
of West Grove, Pennsylvania. Conard and Jones were a mail-order nursery
and seed business that specialized in own-root roses grown from cuttings
and sold while still small. Pyle began his career by making rose
cuttings, but soon was transferred to the office. When Conard died
in 1907, Pyle and his father purchased his interest in the company and
took control of the company. Pyle became president and general manager,
and continued in those positions until he died in 1951. The business
grew rapidly after he converted the business to the sale of two-year-old
field-grown plants on grafted roots. These plants brought a higher
price and they bloomed the first year in the customer s garden. By
1910, Pyle had established Star® Roses, a nationally recognized name.
From 1919 to 1924, Pyle was president of the American Rose Society, and
from 1924 until 1933 he was executive secretary. He was also a trustee
and vice-president of All-American Rose Selections; trustee and president
of the National Association of Plant Patent Owners; a founder of the American
Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboretums, and a member of the Advisory
Council of the National Arboretum in Washington, D. C. He was the
president of the American Horticultural Society from 1932 to 1935, and
a member of the American Society for Horticultural Science. In 1910,
he wrote a pamphlet, How to Grow Roses, that was later expanded
into a book that became the largest-selling rose book of the time and went
through sixteen editions. Pyle traveled extensively looking for new
roses, but his most famous introduction was the Peace rose, patented in
1943 and introduced in 1945. It was the work of the French hybridizer
Francis Meilland. Pyle died in 1951, and in accordance with a prior
agreement his share of the business was sold to his associates, Sidney
B. Hutton, Sr., and Sidney s two sons.
Sources: Hutton; DABsup5
Massachusetts was born in Arlington, Massachusetts, January 23, 1847.
He entered into a partnership with his father in a market gardening business
in 1867, and in1872 he bought out the business. He established
W. W. Rawson & Co. in 1884 when he bought out the seed house of Everett
& Gleason in Boston. The business continued at the same location
until 1897 with Mr. Gleason remaining with the firm for many years.
In 1893, he had a hundred and twenty thousand square feet and fifteen houses
devoted to the growing of lettuce and cucumbers in Arlington, Massachusetts.
He shipped over a hundred barrels of lettuce a week to New York in the
month of December of that year. On March 23, 1906 his establishment
was destroyed by fire, but within eight days he had the lower floor open
for business. He was a member of the Massachusetts Horticultural
Society, and was vice-president for 1904, and was Chairman of the Vegetable
Committee in 1905. He died August 9, 1908.
24, 1906; MHS; Bailey
Florida was born in Princeton, Illinois on May 6, 1863. Reasoner
moved to Florida in 1882 and settled near Manatee. He was joined
by his younger brother Egbert N. Reasoner and together they established
the Royal Palm Nurseries under the firm name Reasoner Brothers. He
corresponded with directors of botanic gardens and plant enthusiasts and
introduced many tropical and semi-tropical exotics. He was the horticultural
commissioner in charge of the sub-tropical exposition at Jacksonville,
Florida, 1887-88. He was also a commissioner at the Cotton States
Centennial Exposition at Atlanta in 1888. He died of yellow fever
September 17, 1888 at the age of 25. The Reasoner family popularized
grafting and distributed many fruit plants (oranges, lemons, mangoes, tamarinds,
pineapples and the world s first pink grapefruit). They also distributed
many ornamentals and exotics such as palms, acacias, and crotons throughout
Sources: Bailey; CHSJ-
Apr. 1966; Slosson; AN
Cambridge, New York started the Jerome
B. Rice Seed Co. in 1832.
(1870-1962) Berkeley, California was
born on October 1, 1870 near Stockton, California. He graduated from
high school in 1890, and worked on his parents farm until 1895.
He then worked for various typewriter firms in Los Angeles and the San
Francisco area. In 1915, he went to the Panama Pacific International
Exposition and saw beautiful dahlias and other plants that inspired him
to start growing dahlias as a hobby. He was a member of the Alameda
County Floral Society in Oakland and exhibited his dahlias at their annual
flower show. In 1920, he saw Professor Sydney Mitchell s irises,
and later he moved to a home adjoining the Mitchell home. There he
grew dahlias, irises and some gladioli. He was awarded a medal by
the Dahlia Society of California in 1919. In 1920, he began to issue
catalogs, and in 1923 he began to introduce varieties of gladiolus.
He eventually bought Professor Mitchell s irises and introduced his own
varieties about 1932-1933. The Salbach Gardens occupied about four
acres. He died on November 2, 1962.
1950; CHSJ-Jan. 1967
Sacramento, California; Davis, California Brother
of John Saul. He worked with A. J. Downing at Downing Nursery in
Newburg, New York. In 1854, he went to California and worked at Commercial
Nurseries in Sacramento. His name appeared on the cover of New Rochelle
Nursery for the year 1854, as the agent of this nursery that was near
Mission Dolores. Late in 1854, he went to work for A. P. Smith of
Sacramento in his floral department. He later managed an orchard
near the present city of Davis, California.
Sources: CHSJ-Apr. 1966
(1819-1897) Washington, DC Saul
was born in Ireland at Carey s Wood on December 25, 1819. He went
with his parents to East Cowes Castle in 1836 and assisted his father in
the gardens until 1841. In 1843 he went to work at Durdham Down Nurseries
and after a year became the manager of the nurseries. In February
1851 he left for America. His brother James met him in Philadelphia,
and then they went to Newburgh, New York where his brother worked for A.
J. Downing. A. Saul and James Saul were affiliated with the Downing
Nursery in Newburg, New York. John came to Washington on May 5, 1851
to take charge of the improvement of Public Grounds which included The
Mall, Smithsonian Grounds, the Capitol and the White House. He remained
with that position until 1853. He began his seed business in
1852. He laid out Harewood , the country residence of W. W. Corcoran
that later became the Soldiers Home. In May 1854, he purchased
Maple Grove Farm, eighty acres, on Seventh Street Road to use as a nursery.
In 1872, his growing business necessitated purchasing more land, a farm
at Brightwood. He published eight catalogs, offering fruits, evergreens,
ornamental trees, shrubs, roses and greenhouse plants. Saul was also
a regular contributor to The Horticulturist, beginning in 1851.
He was the District correspondent for Fruits and Fruit Trees of America.
He was a member of the American Pomological Society and the Society of
American Florists. Saul eventually had twenty greenhouses, and during
the busy season employed fifty men. He died at his nursery on May
1966; Plants; Bailey;
New York, New York Scheepers traveled
for about ten years through the United States as a salesman for a Holland
bulb grower, as well as for Belgian and Dutch plant growers. After
building up a considerable and reliable trade in America, he established
his own business in 1905. In June, 1906, he took in a partner and
the firm became known as John Scheepers & Company. He started
an agency for packing bulbs and plants in Arnhem, Holland. He made
a specialty of lily of the valley.
(1818- 1896) Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania was born in Scotland and worked at Wright & Perry s (later
Veitch s) nursery at Chelsea, England. He was recommended to
Richard Buist by Wright & Perry, so in 1844 he became their foreman
in charge of the greenhouse department in Philadelphia. He later
established his own business with his sons, Robert Scott & Son.
He specialized in rose culture. He died on July 23, 1896 at age 78.
California Mrs. Shepherd was born in Keosauqua, Iowa. She married
W. E. Shepherd of Oskaloosa, Iowa, on September 9, 1866. They had
four children, a son and three daughters. The family moved to California
for Mrs. Shepherd s health in 1873. For financial reasons, she began
to sell objects she had collected in the California woods, including sea
mosses, shells, birds, etc. In 1881, she sent a package of curiosities
to the seedsman Peter Henderson. He encouraged her to start growing
some seeds, because he saw California as a great seed and bulb growing
area. In 1884 Mrs. Shepherd began her career as a professional seed
and bulb grower. In 1892, she had eight acres under cultivation.
Her chief customers were Eastern seedsmen. Some of her specialties
were begonias, Smilax, Calla lilies, Cobaea scandans, Mexican orchids,
and cacti. In 1902, she incorporated her business. She died
on September 6, 1906 at age sixty one.
22, 1906; Bailey; CHSJ-Jul.
1961; Holl; cat.-008830
Rochester, New York; Chicago, Illinois succeeded
the Briggs Brothers seedsmen. Sibley was one of the founders of Western
Union. The 1882 catalog described in detail the new building they
had built for their company in Rochester. It was nine stories and
had three elevators. He also continued the business in Chicago.
Missouri was born on July 30, 1792 in Hutchison, Kentucky. Judge
James Stark, as he was known, was the son of Capt. James Stark from
Virginia. The Starks were originally from Glasgow, Scotland.
Judge Stark was awarded land in Missouri for his military service in the
war of 1812. In 1816, he took scions from the old family orchard
in Kentucky and began his nursery, Stark Bro s Nurseries & Orchards
Co., in Missouri. From this stock, on forty-five to fifty acres,
was established the first commercial orchard west of the Mississippi.
Other fruits growing wild in this area lead him to introduce new and superior
varieties of plum and berries. His business was responsible for the
introduction to the Mississippi Valley and the far West of a large number
of the leading varieties of commercial fruits grown in western orchards.
He died in August, 1874. His descendants carried on the business.
Sources: Plants; Bailey;
Painesville, Ohio Jesse Storrs and J.
J. Harrison started a nursery in 1853 known as Painesville Nurseries, but
the name of the company was Storrs & Harrison Co. They sold fruit
and ornamental trees, grape vines, bulbs, small fruits, roses, shrubs,
and hardy plants. In 1904, 1200 acres were devoted to the nursery
Bordentown, New Jersey,
1881; Los Angeles, California, 1896; Hollywood, California, 1907 established
a nursery of aquatic plants in what is now the Hollywood area in 1876.
In 1921, the nursery was bought by Harry Johnson who moved it to Paramount,
California and renamed it the Johnson Cactus and Water Gardens.
Sources: CHSJ-Jul. 1968
(d.1899) Calla, Ohio Established
L. Templin & Sons in 1860, and incorporated in 1904. The nurseries
propagated fruits, ornamental trees, and vines. His first catalog
was published in 1881. Templin s three sons took over the company
after his death in 1899. The three sons were R. L. Templin, M. B.
Templin, and W. W. Templin. The 1904 catalog has extensive photographs
of the nursery, testing gardens, seed rooms, greenhouse, and offices with
reading room for employees.
(1773-1863) New York,
New York Thorburn was born near Dalkeith, Scotland on February 18, 1773
and was a nailmaker before he came to America at age 21. Thorburn
arrived in New York in 1794. He sold novelties and hardware in New
York City but found that his flower pots sold better with flowers in them.
Thorburn s was probably the first business of importance in America devoted
to stock seeds. Thorburn began selling seeds in 1805. He began
his business by buying out the seeds of George Inglis who agreed to give
up the market and grow seeds for Thorburn s business. In 1808, his
store escaped destruction by fire after a soap and candle factory next
door to his establishment burned. His business was prostrated in
1814 due to over extending his capital, but by 1816 he had recovered.
The G. Thorburn & Son s catalog of 1822 was the first to be issued
in pamphlet form, and it was the first to include illustrations.
The catalogs of the firm between 1827 and 1844 were destroyed by mice.
He died in New Haven, Connecticut on January 21, 1863. The company
was continued as J. M. Thorburn & Company. It was incorporated
in 1895 with F. W. Bruggerhof as president, having been associated with
James M. Thorburn and the company for over fifty years.
FlorEx-Oct. 13, 1906;
Chicago, Illinois started
out selling nursery stock but began selling seeds when his customers started
asking for seed. He opened his first store, called Vaughan s Seed
Store, in the loop of Chicago in 1876. Later the greenhouse trade
started asking for horticultural supplies, and the Vaughan Seed Company
expanded their business to include those supplies. Vaughan issued
eight different catalogs annually, each one designed for a specific market.
Its Corn and Potato Manual of 1882 addressed its customers in academic
terms to satisfy a growing public interest in scientific agriculture. It
was filled with dissertations on botany, chemistry, and biblical references
to plants. The company was later headed by Leonard H. Vaughan
and then John C. Vaughan II. In the late 1950s, the company bought
the Merion Bluegrass seed market and became one of the dominant figures
in the grass seed market. It was during this time that the company
expanded outside of Chicago to Bound Brook, New Jersey. With the
expansion of the business in the 1960s, the company moved to Downers Grove,
Illinois. At that time they discontinued their home garden catalog
and concentrated on the commercial market. In 1972, the company
bought the Jacklin Seed Co., Inc. of Dishman, Washington. The
company then became known as the Vaughan-Jacklin Corp. Many other
companies were absorbed into the business in the 1970s. In July 1989, Sandoz
Corp. purchased the company, and then Novartis Seeds purchased the Sandoz
Corp. Novartis Seeds is now the world s second largest seed
company. The U.S. headquarters remain in Downers Grove, Illinois.
Today the company operates in three major areas: horticultural plant products,
plastic products, and grass seed production and marketing.
Sources: NB; GG;
(1818-1882) Rochester, New York Vick
was born in Portsmouth, England on Nov. 23, 1818. In 1833, he came
to New York City at twelve years of age and learned the printer s trade.
In 1837, he moved with his parents to Rochester, New York where he set
type for several newspapers. He later owned part of a workers journal
and helped to found Frederick Douglass s North Star. In 1849,
James Vick was elected corresponding secretary of the Genesee Valley Horticultural
Society. Vick was associated with the Genesee Farmer as a
writer and editor from 1849 to 1855 when he became owner and publisher
as well. With Vick as editor, the circulation increased rapidly
and became a more elegant publication. A year later he sold out to
Joseph Harris. On the death of A. J. Downing, James Vick bought The
Horticulturist and moved it to Rochester in 1853. The Horticulturist
was published in Rochester in 1853 and 1854 with Patrick Barry as the editor.
It was devoted to horticulture, floriculture, landscape gardening, and
rural architecture. About this time, Vick started to grow flowers
and then began sending seeds out by mail to the readers of his publication.
In 1856, Vick started Rural Annual and Horticultural Directory,
the first half being a seed catalog and the second half a list of nurserymen.
This was taken over the next year by Joseph Harris who continued it until
1867. In 1860, Vick entered the seed business. In 1866, he established
his seed store on East Avenue, and the site eventually became one of the
best known seed-display gardens in the country. With Vick s
expertise as a printer and his knowledge of chromolithography, he began
in the 1860s to produce a catalog and later a monthly magazine. Vick
issued his first Floral Guide and Catalogue in 1862. His Floral
Guides provided gardening advice, a forum for complaints, and quality
color prints, and eventually reached a circulation of 250,000. Vick s
experience as a journalist helped him to perfect a personal style.
He entertained his readers with anecdotes, published letters he had received,
and had a special section for children. By 1876, the first 46 pages
of his catalog were a general gardening magazine with the price list following.
By 1870 his mail was averaging over three thousand letters and over three
hundred orders a day. As many as 150,00 catalogs were sent out each
year. A staff of more than one hundred worked in the office and packing
house. There were over seventy-five acres of seed gardens scattered
about the city. In 1878, Vick started the paper known as Vick s
Illustrated Monthly which was published by the Vick Seed Company in
Rochester and in Dansville until 1909. This magazine with numerous
illustrations was devoted to floriculture and landscape gardening and was
sold by subscription. Vick printed a set of large prints that were
either sold or given as premiums with large orders. The smaller prints
that came in the magazine were completed by rows of young girls following
a stencil or guide that was drawn by an artist. Vick was probably
the most successful horticultural seedsman, writer, and merchandiser of
his day. The Vick company continued into the 20th century before
being sold to the Burpee Seed Co.
CHSJ-Apr. 1966; Art
Marsh, Maryland located in White Marsh in 1868 and built his first greenhouse
in 1870. He specialized in vegetables and dahlias, chrysanthemums
and geraniums. His company was R. Vincent, Jr. & Sons, his three
sons, Richard A., Thomas A., and John S., were associated with him.
Missouri founder of the Weber Nursery, in Nursery, Missouri, was
an immigrant from Allendorf an der Landsburg in Ziegenhain County of Electoral
Hesse-Kassel, Germany. By March 29, 1834, he was in St. Louis, Missouri
where he married Anna Margarethe Mueller. Weber began farming in
1836 on fifty-two acres.
Missouri (now called Affton) son of Carl Christian Weber, was born Jonas
Heinrich Weber, but abandoned his German name and always went by Henry
J. Weber. Prior to his father s death, he began growing fruit trees
for sale on six acres of the family farm. This was the beginning
of H. J. Weber and Sons Nursery. In his youth, he worked on several
St. Louis nurseries, before managing his father s farm. He married
Emelia Christine Sutter on January 31, 1867, and later considered that
to be the founding year of the nursery. The 1870 federal census listed
him as a nurseryman. In 1877, Henry s siblings sold him their
parcels of the family farm. Weber had eight children, all of the
six surviving children worked in the nursery, with the four sons becoming
their father s partners in the nursery. The nursery eventually became
a large-scale commercial operation. In 1899, Weber purchased 123
acres of Hardscrabble, the original farm of Ulysses S. Grant. The
firm was incorporated in 1903 as H. J. Weber and Sons Nursery, with Henry
as president and his sons officials of the firm. The firm had displays
at the St. Louis World s Fair in 1904. Their first catalog was published
before 1892. In 1925, a fire destroyed the family home and six other
nursery buildings. From 1935 until 1940, the nursery piled up deficits
of more than twenty-five thousand dollars annually. The nursery closed
in 1940, a victim of the Great Depression.
Minneapolis, Minnesota published her
first catalog in 1896. She played an active role in the Minnesota
Horticultural Society, and was elected president of the Women s Auxiliary
in 1903. White was a competitor of Carrie H. Lippincott.
Massachusetts was born in Rindge, New Hampshire on September 22, 1798.
Wilder s father owned a farm and a store and wished him to go to college.
Wilder preferred farming and became a partner in the store with his father
at age twenty-one. In 1825, he conducted a wholesale business in West India
goods in Boston. In 1837, he became a partner in the dry goods commission
house of Parker, Blanchard and Wilder, and continued working with the firm
until it was burned out in the great fire of November 9, 1872. In
1831, he moved to his estate, Hawthorne Grove, and devoted all his leisure
to horticulture. He was a pre-eminent cultivator of the camellia.
He also had a fine collection of azaleas, and he produced a double California
poppy. In 1839, there was a fire in his greenhouse, only two of his
collection of eight hundred camellias were saved, but in 1840 when he gave
a tour to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society members, he had over
three hundred varieties and over six hundred seedlings. Wilder was
the president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society from 1841-1848.
He exhibited at the Society from 1833 through 1886. He was President
of the Massachusetts Agricultural Club, and the Norfolk Agricultural Society.
He was also President of the Massachusetts Agricultural College for twenty
years. He was President for six years of the United States Agricultural
Society. He died on December 16, 1886.
Sources: MHS; Plants;
Wethersfield, Connecticut in
1871, Stephen F. Willard began working for William G. Comstock and Comstock,
Ferre & Co. as a traveler and delivered seed to general stores in
the Northeast using a horse and wagon. In 1883, S. F. Willard became
one of the founders of the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), becoming
president in 1903, and in 1889, he became president of Comstock, Ferre
& Co. Willard s sons, Edward W. and Richard G., succeeded him
after his death. A history of the company was written by Corinne
Willard, the wife of Richard G. Willard in 1980.
Sources: Comstock; SW2;