Sunday, April 30, 2017

Early South Carolina - Buying directly from local plantation owners

Buying directly from local plantation owners in South Carolina


In the September, 1745 issue of the South Carolina GazetteRichard Lake advertised for sale at his plantation on the Ashley River, “Lemon Trees with Lemons on them, in boxes, Lime Trees and Orange Trees in Boxes, and several curious Plants in Pots, also variety of young Fruit Trees, particularly white Mulberry and Orange Trees.”

In January of 1749, Lake advertised his entire plantation for sale in the South Carolina Gazette. He used his large & diverse orchard & kitchen gardens as an advertising enticement. He stated that it had a very large garden both for pleasure and profit. It contained all sorts of fruit trees consisting of many thousands, a great deal of fine asparagus, and all kinds of kitchen-garden stuff, a young nursery with a great number of grafted pear and apple trees, thousands of orange trees, and several lemon and lime trees in tubs and boxes, with fruit on them.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Cole's Seed Catalog from Pella, Iowa

Charles Nicholas Cole's Seed Store, Pella, Iowa

Aart Kool (1814-1892) married Heiltje-Hendrika "Henrietta" de Booy (1824-1901) in Pella, Iowa in 1848. Kool arrived in Pella, Iowa in 1847, with a group of Dutch emmigrants who moved to North America because of discontent over religious and economic matters. Aart KOOL, who farmed near Pella, anglicized the family name to Cole. The couple had a son Charles Nicholas Cole (1848-1947) who gained a reputation as a seedsman in Chicago working for the Vaughn Seed Company & then to New York & to Memphis to work for 2 more seed compamies. In 1870, he returned to Pella to establish Cole's Seeds with his wife Etta Kruger Cole (1856-1953). He was joined by his brothers & the business was called Cole Bros Seed Company for several years.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Early Seed Dealers & Nursery Owners - Fredericksburg, Virginia

Dealers in Fredericksburg, Virginia

Another businessman, George French, appeared on the scene in 1798, importing seeds from London for sale in nearby Fredericksburg. The competition in the Richmond & Fredericksburg area may have nudged Peter Bellet to look for a more permanent & lucrative base of operation.


Apparently, on one of his trips to Richmond, Bellet ventured east to Williamsburg &found the quiet of its ordered streets & gardens a great relief from the mud & hassle of Philadelphia  Baltimore. In late 1793, he dissolved his partnership in Philadelphia & moved to a 5-acre plot in Williamsburg.


After Peter Bellet settled in Williamsburg, he immediately expanded his stock & began referring to himself as a nurseryman, & from that point on, he ceased proposing to lay out &tend the gardens of others. In the winter of 1799, he advertised from his property on Gallows Street, now known as Capitol Landing Road, that he was still selling imported flower bulbs.


Bellet quickly fit into the Williamsburg community. Local gardener Joseph Prentis was one of his early customers. Prentis’s brother-in-law, Peter Bowdoin wrote from his plantation, Hungars, asking him to purchase plants for a friend at Bellets nursery & offering to expedite the transaction: “My boat will go to the Capital Landing for the purpose of bringing a number of Trees from Bellets.” Bowdoin also asked Prentis to give him plants from his personal garden but added, “if you have not as many to spare as will make fine beds, supply the deficiency from Bellets.”


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Philadelphian William Henry Maule’s Vegetable Catalog

Henry Maule was born on April 14, 1828 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. & died in 1902. He took over the Philadelphia lumber company established by his father Caleb Maul (1790-1844). Henry's son William Henry Maule (1858-1913), took control of his grandfather's & father’s lumber & seed company in 1882, after partnering with his father for several years. When the father/son seed business originally began in 1877, it originally catered to market gardeners & farmers who supplied local consumers with their fresh vegetables. The world of seed publishing was fascinating to the young businessman & much of his energy went into expanding the seed & bulb end of the business, handing off the lumber-related duties to his brother Charles Price Maule (1856-1920). In 1885, W H Maule came up with the idea of publishing a colorful, beautifully illustrated catalog to showcase the vast variety & quality of his products. In 1889, Maule took it to the next level. Instead of appealing to the distribution of his product to dealers, he would target the common independent farmer, the gardening hobbyist, & anyone who had a mailbox could now become a potential lifelong customer. To entice the general public, Maule would include a packet of free samples with every catalog & offer cash prizes for the largest orders. William Henry Maule Co.'s catalogs often featured farm & field scenes. This idea skyrocketed the seed company into nationwide fame. Maule’s Seeds (later called the William Henry Maule Company) was the 1st in Philadelphia to use this business model & helped make the city into the seed capital of America, causing the spawn of at least a dozen similar outfits. (The Landreth Seed Company was the 1st large seed distributor, having set up shop at 12th & Market in 1784; Burpee Seeds, Maule’s contemporary & competitor, was founded in 1876.) By the time his father died in 1902, William Henry Maule had 560,000 regular customers, distributed over 5 million seed catalogs, given away more than 3 million seed packets, & awarded $30,000 in cash prizes. Over that time, the company had moved to larger & larger quarters. From a rented space on the Delaware riverfront in the 1880s, to a cast iron beauty at 1711 Filbert in the early 1890s, to a 7-story modern office building at 18th & Market at the turn of the 20th Century. The 18th & Market warehouse was named “Maule Building.” Maule eventually set his sights on building a much larger headquarters that would end the need to move every decade. In 1909, Maule acquired a string of properties on the 2100 block of Arch Street & spent the next few years working on what he hoped would be the William Henry Maule Company’s final home. This new $100,000 headquarters would not only house the company’s offices but also warehouse the immense variety of seeds, bulbs, & plants the Maule Company distributed across the country. It would have a footprint measuring 60′ x 111’8″ & rise 8 stories. Construction began in 1912 & was completed by the end of 1913. The building was quite prominent on the skyline at the time, as few other buildings in the immediate area matched its height. On September 6th, 1913, around the same time the new building was about to open, the 55-year-old William Henry Maule died from what was then known as a “stroke of apoplexy,” a term used at the time to describe any number of afflictions that appeared to cause sudden death. Once opened, the new Maule Building would continue William Henry Maule’s business model. New catalogs were published every year for the next 3 decades. Unfortunately, William Henry Maule’s dream of the entire operation running out of this one building didn’t last. By the end of the 1920s, the Maule Company moved out of the Maule Building & leased office & warehouse space at the Nicetown home of the W. A. Burpee Company, a competitor whose progenitor, W. Atlee Burpee, had partnered with William Henry Maule’s father, when the Maule Lumber Company 1st expanded to include seeds. Burpee had already surpassed the Maule Company’s success in 1915. In 1946, the Maule Company sold 2100 Arch Street for $145,000 & used the money to purchase a new office/warehouse in Clinton, Iowa, creating a second distribution point for all deliveries west of Ohio. Despite this major expansion, the company didn’t last. In 1947, the Maule Company merged with the W.A. Burpee Company, with whom they had already been collaborating for about a decade.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Traveling Seed Dealers

Traveling Seed Dealers

The independent seed dealers & nursery owners converging on the mid-Atlantic area immediately after the Revolution usually were immigrants rather than native-born & European rather than English. A Frenchman, Peter Bellet, was one of the first commercial seedsman & nurseryman appearing in Maryland’s written records specifically offering garden plants & seeds directly to the public.


Bellet’s evolution from itinerant seed peddler to economically successful nursery owner typified the general trend of commercial seed & plant marketing during this period. Beginning as a traveling seedsman based in Philadelphia, where he operated a seed store, Bellet eventually settled in Williamsburg. He continued to advertise throughout the mid-Atlantic after his relocation to the old Virginia capital & sold plants to Maryland & Virginia gardeners for twenty years.


As a traveling seed salesman, Philadelphia-based Peter Bellet advertised in Baltimore in December of 1785, that he was visiting the French section of the town for a brief period & had for sale an extensive variety of flowers & seeds “not know before in this country.” Bellet was lodging in the hear of the town, at The Sign of the Lamb tavern on Charles Street, where he offered prospective customers a printed catalog listing the names & colors of his bulbs, which were imported from Amsterdam. He carried more practical kitchen garden seeds with him as well.


Bellet’s first Maryland advertisement reflected the preference for Dutch flowers among the middle & upper economic groups in the early republic. Bellet also brought with him “elegant artificial flowers & feathers suitable for the Ladies.” Bellet called himself a “florist & seedsman” on this trip & advertised his flowers as “rare & curious.”


Anatony Antonini, selling artificial silk flowers adorned with birds cast in wax John Thomas Smith. Vagabondiana. London, 1817

Seedsman Bellet’s plant stock became more expansive during successive selling trips. On a journey through the mid-Atlantic almost ten years later, in early 1793, Bellet advertised roots & seeds “collected from Europe,” & he offered to send orders to Europe as well. At this point, Bellet was still based in Philadelphia & had entered into partnership with another European seedsman, M. Kroonem.


They were also promoting stock that was more difficult to move from place to place than seeds & bulbs, such as trees & shrubbery, & had begun cultivating their imported European seed in Philadelphia soil. Bellet was offering a surprising number of varieties of flowers, especially roses, for sale. Bellet &Kroonem called themselves “florists, seedsmen, botanists, & gardeners” &, as Bellet had done earlier, advertised their extensive plant varieties as “curious.”


On this selling trip, his first taken as a partner, Bellet traveled his usual loop from Philadelphia to Baltimore to Richmond & back. In Richmond he took lodging at Hyland’s Tavern, where he again had on hand a free printed catalogue of his stock for prospective clients. To earn enough to support himself, Bellet also hired out to graft & inoculate trees & lay out flower gardens as reasonable rates. His partner, Kroonem, remained in Philadelphia to mind the store & tend to the nursery garden.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Early South Carolina - Trading seeds & plants with other gardeners

Trading seeds & plants with neighbors & botanists

In warm, nearly tropical South Carolina, naturalists Mark Catesby (1682-1749) & John Bartram (1699-1777) both visited the intriguing colony, increasing botanical awareness in the area. Catesby & Bartram took samples of new plants they found and traded them with others, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.
John Bartram, the Philadelphia gardener, explorer, & botanist, regularly sent plants to English merchant & botanist Peter Collinson (1649-1768). His famous garden at Mill Hill contained many American plants.


South Carolina gardener Martha Logan ((1701-1779) carried on a lively correspondence with Philadelphia botanist John Bartram. Bartram wrote to his English mentor Peter Collinson in May of 1761, that she was “an elderly widow lady who spares no pains on cost to oblige me: her garden is her delight and she has a fine one; I was with her about 4 minutes in her company yet we contracted such a mutual correspondence that one silk bag of seed bath repast several times.” 

Dr. Alexander Garden (1746-1802), who practiced medicine in Charleston, made important contributions to plant identification later in the 18C. Garden also traded seeds & plants with others interested in botany on both sides of the Atlantic. He is most remembered for the gardenia named in his honor by Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who established the modern system of plant classification.


Everyday gardeners, gentry & common folk, traded both useful & ornamental seeds & plants with each other regularly throughout the 18C in South Carolina.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

1898 John Salzer Fruit Catalog La Crosse, Wisconsin

A timeline of the life of seedsman, John A. Salzer and the company he created in La Crosse, Wisconsin 

1823 - John Adam Salzer was born in Dettingen, W├╝rttemberg, Germany on December 28, 1823 to John G. Salzer, a nurseryman and fruit-raiser. 
1846 - Immigrated to the United States. 
1849 - Married Wilhelmina Joerris. 
1866 - John Salzer the pastor of the German speaking Methodist Church in La Crosse. He served in this position until 1869. It was reported that he delighted in jaunts into the country, where he could see the fields of grain and fruit trees.
1868 - The "John A. Salzer Seed Company" in La Crosse, Wisconsin is established. 
1884 - "The collection of plants owned by Mr. Salzer is estimated at $20,000 value and the transactions of the house, which reach all over the United States, will amount to over $40,000 per annum. This is the largest house of the kind in the Northwest, outside of Chicago, and Mr. Salzer also owns seed farms where he grows seeds for his large seed trade in St. Vincent, Minnesota, and Bath and Groton, Dakota, also has control of a small seed farm for growing celery, lettuce and beet seeds near Sacramento, California. Handsome and complete catalogues of plants and seeds have been prepared by Mr. Salzer, which can be obtained upon application, German or English edition as desired. Since 1881 the business has been largely increased owing to the liberal use of printer's ink. The high estimation in which this house is held has been secured by the enterprise and liberality of the proprietor and the superior excellence of the plants and seeds sold by him as well as the skill and exquisite taste displayed in the arrangement of cut flowers in various novel and unique designs." 
1884 - In this year, he purchased a family cottage in Minnesota that he named "Ferndale." He and his family may have camped at that site in Minnesota for some years before he purchased Ferndale as a summer camping ground and retreat. Many guests also came to visit and the primitive cabin was improved upon each year. 
1886 - The company is incorporated.  
1892 - On January 22, John A. Salzer dies at 68 years and 25 days and is interned at the Oak Grove Cemetery in La Crosse, Wisconsin. 
1892 - Henry Salzer, son of John, takes over the seed company and runs it until his death in 1917. 
1919 - First service of what was to become the La Crosse Municipal Airport began on November 29, on leased land that was was once a Salzer Seed Company cornfield. Service was abandoned in 1922 but resumed in 1928 at which time the city council voted to purchase the land. 
1920 - As early as 1920, they claimed they were the largest mail-order seed house in America. 
1922 - The company was printing and distributing 1,000,000 catalogs per year. 
1945 - The family sold the business. 
1958 - The company closed. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Early Seed Dealers & Nursery Owners - Williamsburg, Virginia

Dealers in Williamsburg, Virginia

Traveling Peter Bellet was not the town’s first seed merchant or seed trader. John Custis (1678-1749) was a prominent citizen of Williamsburg with an impressive garden. He sent seed to John Bartram, the Philadelphia naturalist & botanist. Bartram told Peter Collinson that Custis’ garden was 2nd only to that of John Clayton, the English born Virginia naturalist of Gloucester County. Custis also sent seeds across the Atlantic to Peter Collinson (1694-1768), who was a wealthy English Quaker woolen merchant &botanist.


Williamsburg gardeners Thomas Crease & James Nicholson, who worked consecutively at the college of William &Mary from 1726 until 1773, supplemented their income by selling seeds & plants grown in the college’s botanical & kitchen gardens, as did James Wilson after 1779.


Terraced Kitchen Garden at the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg


William Smith advertised trees he was growing in his nursery in Surry County in the 1755 Williamsburg newspaper, as did Thomas Sorsby of Surry County in 1763.


Orchardist William Smith offered, "Hughs’s Crab, Bray’s White Apple, Newton Pippin, Golden Pippin, French Pippin, Dutch Pippin, Clark’s Pearmain, Royal Pearmain, Baker’s Pearmain, Lone’s Pearmain, Father Abraham, Harrison’s Red, Ruffin’s large Cheese Apple, Baker’s Nonsuch, Ludwell’s Seedling, Golden Russet, Nonpareil, May Apple, Summer Codling, Winter Codling, Gillefe’s Cyder Apple, Green Gage Plumb, Bonum Magnum Plumb, Orleans Plumb, Imperial Plumb, Damascene Plumb, May Pear, Holt’s Sugar Pear, Autumn Bergamot Pear, Summer Pear, Winter Bergamot, Orange Bergamot, Mount Sir John, Pound Pear, Burr de Roy, Black Heart Cherry, May Duke Cherry, John Edmond’s Nonsuch Cherry, White Heart Cherry, Carnation Cherry, Kentish Cherry, Marrello Cherry, Double Blossom Cherry, Double Blossom Peaches, Filberts Red & White."


Nurseryman Thomas Sorsby had available, "Best cheese apple, long stems, Pamunkey, Eppes, Newtown pippins, Bray’s white apples, Clark’s pearmains, Lightfoot’s Father Abrahams, Sorsby’s Father Abrahams, Lightfoot’s Hughes, Sorsby’s Hughes, Ellis’s Hughes, New-York Yellow apples, Golden russeteens, Westbrook’s Sammons’s, horse apples, royal pearmains, a choice red apple, best May apples, Sally Gray’s apple, Old .England apple, green apple, Harvey’s apple, peach trees [Prunus persica], and cherry trees."


In 1759, the Governor's Palace gardener placed the following ad in the Virginia Gazette,"Just imported in the Good-Intent, Capt. Reddick, and to be sold Cheap, for ready Money, by the Subscriber, living at the Palace, in Williamsburg; where Gentlemen may depend on being well served, with the following Garden-Seeds, by - Their humble Servant, Christopher Ayscough.

"Six-week Peas, Charlton Hotspur Peas, Marrowfat Peas, Nonpareil Peas, Spanish Morrotto Peas, Sugar Dwarf Peas, Windsor Beans, Long-poded Beans, White Blossom Beans, Green Beans, Nonpareil Beans, large English Turnip, early Dutch Turnip, early Dutch Cabbage, Sugar-Loaf Cabbage, Battersea Cabbage, large Winter Cabbage, Red Cabbage, Yellow Savoy Cabbage, Green Savoy Cabbage, early Colliflower, late Colliflower, Colliflower Brocoli, Purple Brocoli, curled Colewort, Scarlet Raddish, short-topped Raddish, white Turnip Raddish, black Turnip Raddish, white gass Lettuce, black Gass Lettuce, brown Dutch Lettuce, Nonpareil Lettuce, Silesia Lettuce, white curled Endive, white Spanish Onion, English Onion, Leek, Chardoon, Italian Celery, white Mustard, Garden Cresses, Winter Cresses, Charvel, Clary &c."


In Williamsburg, shipments of seeds arriving from England were also sold in local shops. In 1773, a Virginia Gazette notice announced, "JUST arrived, in the Unity, Captain Goosley, and to be sold at John Carter's storefor ready Money, a Variety of fresh GARDEN SEEDS, namely, Early Golden Hotspur Peas, Early Charlton Peas, Ledman's Dwarf Peas, short Sugar Peas, Dwarf Marrow Peas, Long Pod Beans, Windsor Beans, Canterbury Dwarf Kidney Beans, Silver Skin Onion Seed, Carrot Seed, white round Turnip Seed, Salmon Radish Seed, Spinnage, solid Celery, curled Parsley, curled Cress, Early Dwarf Sugar Loaf Cabbage, large ditto, large English Ditto, best Colliflower Seed, purple and green Brocoli, white Coss Lettuce, Silensia."

When early peas became the rage in the 1770s, 2 stores in Williamsburg, Greenhow StoreRobert Nicolson Shop, which did not often sell seeds, offer peas for sale among their general merchandise lines.

James Wilson was the gardener at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg. In 1774, he placed an ad in the local paper, "Just Imported, and to be SOLD by JAMES WILSON, Gardener at the College, the following SEEDS, which are all fresh and the best of their Kinds,

PEASE - Earliest, best Charlton, Golden Hotspur, Nonpareil, Marrowfat, Green Rouncival, Spanish Moratto, and Glory of England.


BEANS - Mazagon, Long Pod, Windsor, Early Hotspur, and White Blossom.


CABBAGE - Early Yorkshire, Early Bottersea, Early Sugar Loaf, White Dutch, Red, and Large Hollow.


TURNIP - Early Dutch, Norfolk Early Green, and Round Red.


RADISH - Salmon, Short Topped, White Spanish, and Black-


Green and Yellow Savoy, White and Purple Brocoli, Early and Late Cauliflower, Red and White Beet, White Mustard, Round Leaf and Common Cresses, Solid Celery, London Leek, Early Carrot Skiret, Lettuce Seed of all Sorts, fine Spinage Seed, Cucumber Seed of Different Kinds, and a great Variety of other Seeds, too tedious to mention."


When gardener James Stewart, who was also a dyer & weaver, returned in 1775 from several months in England, he offered seeds & roots of dye plants for sale to his fellow Virginians with instructions on their cultivation & the manufacture of dyes for linen, cotton, & woolen fabrics.


Joseph Hornsby, who lived in Williamsburg in the Peyton Randolph house from 1783 until 1796, purchased from Bellet just before moving to Kentucky. When he decided to move West, Hornsby began gathering up seeds & small plants from his own garden & sorting them into labeled bags. Those plants that he could not easily remove, he purchased from Bellet to plant in his new garden in Kentucky. In his Diary of Planting &Gardening, in March 1798, he reported that he had sown the seeds from Bellet, & “the Plants were very fine.”


Bellet used the same technique to sell his flower stock. He appealed to the immediacy of the senses rather than the memories of his prospective customers, in the days before color-illustrated advertising. Bellet also offered flowering shrubs & ornamental trees as well as more practical fruit trees & vegetable seeds.


In the fall of 1799, Bellet’s newspaper advertisements listed prices for the first time, & they noted that he was still importing seeds & plants from London. The ad promised that he would prepare a new catalogue for potential clients in the coming spring. By 1799, Bellet has also added grafted fruit trees to his stock.

Bellet’s next public notice appeared in October 1800. Now permanently settled in Williamsburg, his business was developing into a regional nursery & seed distributorship. How seeds, trees, & shrubs were shipped to mid-Atlantic gardeners who placed orders was not specified in the newspaper notices. By 1800, Bellet was collecting & saving seed from his own Virginia beds & offering them for sale to the public in addition to his usual imported seed stock. He offered to sell seed by the pound or by the box.


Nurseryman Bellet expanded his base of operations southwards to Norfolk. He completed his 1801 catalogue during the slow winter months of 1800, & offered it to prospective buyers at the store of a French merchant named Bonnard, at the Norfolk Market. Bellet advertised in the fall of 1801, that he had 8,000 growing trees for sale plus his usual supply of flower &vegetable roots & seeds. His nursery stock consisted of 1-4 year old varieties of grafted trees including 46 apples, 44 pears, 30 peaches, 18 plums, 10 nectarines, 10 apricots, 20 cherries, 4 almonds, 5 mulberries, and 5 walnuts. He had imported 80 varieties from Normandy alone.


By 1803, Bellet’s stock of fruit trees at this Williamsburg nursery had grown to 20,000; and he had regular sales agents in both Petersburg & Richmond who would accept orders for seed & plant stock. His agents in nearby towns were given their own supply of free printed catalogues. 


In an 1803 advertisement Bellet offered to sell his trees wholesale, retail & on credit. So large was his stock that he was proposing to supply “country stores” with seeds & plants for resale “on the most moderate terms.” Store owners intrigued by the idea could apply to Bellet directly at this nursery in Williamsburg or to his Richmond agent, said the ad.

Bellet had increased the size of his 5 acre nursery in 1804, by buying 15 acres of adjoining land. Here he planted even more trees, but apparently his health & energy were beginning to fail. After 10 years in Williamsburg, Bellet decided to return north. In the winter of 1804, he offered for sale his 20-acre nursery of “well-manuered” land plus his gardening tools, eight slave gardeners, & livestock.




By now his stock of fruit trees had grown to 100,000, but he had allowed his seed supply to dwindle to only “a small quantity,” & he had bought no new perishable stock. Bellet’s intention was to sell his stock, slaves, &tools before May 1, 1805, or put them all up for sale at public auction on that date, after which he planned to sell any remaining plant stock “on lower terms than usual” & then more to New York State. Orders for any part of the property or the whole could be left with Bellet’s agents in Richmond or Petersburg. Bellet had sold 5 acres of his nursery & was attempting to dispose of his last two slave gardeners, when he placed his final newspaper notice two winters later, just before he died in Williamsburg.

Itinerant seed huckster Peter Bellet’s astute marketing tactics had expanded his mid-Atlantic business from a nursery of a few seedlings to 100,000 trees in little more than a decade of residence in Williamsburg.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Early Seed Dealers & Nursery Owners - Richmond, Virginia


Dealers near Richmond, Virginia

In this bustling new capitol, Richmond, Peter Bellet had competition for the gardening business. In the spring of 1791, Southgate’s General Store advertised fresh, imported garden seeds. Twenty years earlier, garden seeds were being offered at Campbell's Store in Richmond, and also at Miles Taylor's Store in 1775. Taylor was selling seeds imported from Italy.


In the 1760s, William Wills of Richmond & his asscociate John Donley in Petersburg, offered imported garden seeds for sale at their stores. Also in Petersburg, A. Adams advertised seeds that he had for sale in the Virginia Gazette and Petersburg Intelligencer on February 24, 1797. In 1798, Stratchan & Maury of Spotsylvania County were offering grafted apple trees for sale in the same publication. Joseph Davenport offered seeds for sale in his Petersburg store in 1803. By 1803, Samuel Bailey was selling grafted apple trees in New Kent County.




The spring of 1792, a seed dealer named Minton Collins was importing flower roots and seeds from London & offering them for sale at the Shot Factory, at Richards Denny’s store near the market house, & at James Dove’s on the main street. In the fall of 1792, Collins consolidated his stock at Denny’s store & had imported new seeds & flower roots to sell to his growing clientele. By the next spring, he had collected enough capital to open his own shop, devoted solely to garden stock. In 1793, Collins introduced the West India Burr Gherkin (Cucumis anguria), a pickling cucumber plant, originally brought from Angola to the Caribbean by slaves.

Collins’ Seed & Flower Store sat on the north side of Main Street between the post office & the bridge over the James River. He sold retail to the general public & wholesale, or at least “upon moderate terms,” to country shopkeepers from surrounding Virginia communities. By the turn of the century, Collins was also receiving seed from the northern states & had customers in Richmond, Norfolk & Portsmouth.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

1898 Cole's Seed Catalog from Pella, Iowa

1898 Cole's Seed Catalog from Pella, Iowa.  

Aart Kool (1814-1892) married Heiltje-Hendrika "Henrietta" de Booy (1824-1901) in Pella, Iowa in 1848. Kool arrived in Pella, Iowa in 1847, with a group of Dutch emmigrants who moved to North America because of discontent over religious and economic matters. Aart KOOL, who farmed near Pella, anglicized the family name to Cole. The couple had a son Charles Nicholas Cole (1848-1947) who gained a reputation as a seedsman in Chicago working for the Vaughn Seed Company & then to New York & to Memphis to work for 2 more seed compamies. In 1870, he returned to Pella to establish Cole's Seeds with his wife Etta Kruger Cole (1856-1953). He was joined by his brothers & the business was called Cole Bros Seed Company for several years.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Early Seed Dealers & Nursery Owners - Philadelphia


From the middle of the 18C on, gardeners close to Philadelphia could take advantage of local seed & nursery businesses. Although many believe that David Landreth (1752-1836)(who opened his nursery & seed business in 1784) was the first dealer in the area, he was not. John (1699-1777) & William (1739-1823) Bartram had been selling & exporting seeds & plants since the middle of the century from their 1728 botanic garden at Kingsessing just outside Philadelphia. Another early gardener in Philadelphia was James Alexander, who sold vegetable & herb seeds imported from London in Philadelphia in 1751.

From the 1750s through the 1770s, the most successful Philadelphia seed merchant was a Welsh woman, Hannah Davis Dubre (1723-1776) (sometimes spelled Duberry), of the Northern Liberties area two miles from the Philadelphia city limit, on the Wissahickon Road. She & her husband, Jacob Dubre (1719-1768), married in Philadelphia in 1758, & owned 33 acres, which later increased to 50 acres, with a bearing orchard of grafted fruit trees, some meadow land, a large brick house & detached brick kitchen with a pump just outside the door, a barn & several other outbuildings, & a large kitchen garden that included many asparagus beds.





Even after her husband’s death in 1768, “the widow Dubre” kept her garden & business going. From 1754 through 1775 she offered locally grown seed & fruit trees on both a retail & a wholesale basis. She warranted her seeds as “fresh & good: & sold large quantities to local shopkeepers for resale to their clients & to exporters for trade out of the country."
Before 1770, she kept agents in town, including John & Samuel Bissell, John Lownes, & Ann Powell near the Work House on Third Street, to supply both retail & wholesale customers who did not want to travel the 2 miles out of town to visit her plantation. After 1770, she used James Truman, a butcher & meat curer in Elbow Lane near the Harp & Crown Tavern, as her city agent.

By 1766, she was advertising that she could fill large orders for “Captains of Vessels” for exportation to the West Indies “on the shortest Notice.” Over a twenty-year period, Hannah Davis Dubre expanded her operation from a small local seed concern to a large-quantity supply business catering to merchants & international traders.


Peter Crouwells & Co., Gardeners and Florists, in Philadelphia, advertised seeds, bulbs, & roots for sale as far away as the Viginia Gazette in 1786.




In 1780, David Landreth & his family left England for Montreal, Canada, where he intended to establish a seed business. Fairly quickly, the harsh Canadian climate forced him to reconsider; and he relocated to Philadelphia. On January 7, 1784, Landreth started his first garden center on High Street, which is now 1210 Market Street. He chose Pennsylvania; because people appeared to have more free time there, & he believed Philadelphia was the center of wealth & sophistication in the United States. David Landreth was joined in Philadelphia seedstore by his brother Cuthbert Landreth (1746-1828) in 1789.


Landreth's Bloomsdale Farm Circa 1847

Initially, Landreth sold seeds in the Gray's Ferry area of  Philadelphia & to several nearby estates; but his business and his reputation grew steadily and soon he numbered George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and even Joseph Bonaparte (Napoleon’s brother who married a Baltimore belle) among his customers.  



Landreth’s Bloomsdale Farm 1852

Landreth once extended George Washington 30 day's credit on his unpaid bill. Jefferson in great detail describes his purchases from the Philadelphia brothers in his Monticello diaries. He purchased & planted various fruit trees at his famous Virginia estate after visiting the horticultural hothouses located in Gray's Ferry.


But, in the end, The most important of the new garden entrepreneurs was Bernard M'Mahon (1775-1816), who came to Philadelphia from Ireland in 1796, to establish a seed and nursery business. "He enjoyed the friendship of Thomas Jefferson...the Lewis and Clark expedition was planned at his house...(he was) instrumental in distributing the seeds which those explorers collected."

In 1806, M'Mahon wrote The American Gardener's Calendar, which was printed in 11 editions between 1806-1857. A Philadelphia newspaper called the book "a precious treasure" that "ought to occupy a place in every house in this country."


M'Mahon's main motive in writing was to expand his profitable nursery enterprise. Almost all of America's earliest indigenours gardening books served as the liason between the nurseryman & an emerging middle-income group of home gardeners. An increasing leisure time & interest in the craft grew, there were not enough trained professional gardeners to go around nor the funds to employ them.


By 1806, M'Mahon understood the proud new country well enough to appeal to guilt and national hubris in his efforts to sell his readers on the concept of pleasure gardening. In his introduction, M'Mahon lamented that America had "not yet made that rapid progress in Gardening...which might naturally be expected from an intelligent, happy and independent people, possessed so universally of landed property, unoppressed by taxation or tithes, and blest with consequent comfort and affluence."


M'Mahon concluded that one reason for this neglect was the lack of a proper reference book on American gardening, a situation which he volunteered to rectify. In 1804, his catalogue of seeds included 1,000 "species."

Monday, April 17, 2017

1898 John Bauscher's II Vegetable Seed & Plant Guide from Freeport, Illinois

1898 John Bauscher's II Vegetable Seed & Plant Guide from Freeport, Illinois. Bauschers Floral Shop & GreenhouseThe Florist Business in Freeport was pioneered by John Bauscher Sr. in the year of 1868. Mr. Bauscher came to the United States from France. He started out with a couple small greenhouses in which he raised and sold plants and cut flowers. In the late 1870's his son John Bauscher Jr. entered the flower business with his father, and they in turn kept on expanding the green houses until they had over 100,000 square feet of glass and a total of 15 greenhouses. Some of the greenhouses were 320 feet long. By this time, the Bauschers were in the wholesale as well as the retail flower business. The retail store being located at 20 South Chicago Ave. John Bauscher Sr. passed away in the early 1900's, and the business was then owned and operated by his son John Bauscher Jr., who in turn had 5 sons of his own who all joined with their father in the Florist Business. Their names being Arthur, George, Lester, Clarence C. & John J. In 1920, John Bauscher Jr. passed away and the business was then owned & operated by his five sons and was known as Bauscher Bros. Flower Market Inc. until 1939. By this time Arthur, George & Lester Bauscher had passed away and the business was being carried on by Clarence C. & John J. Bauscher, the remaining brothers. So they decided to dissolve the corporation, & this is when Robert J. Bauscher, the son of Clarence C., joined into the florist business with his father. They continued to operate the downtown retail business known as the C. C. Bauscher Floral Shop. Clarence C. Bauscher passed away in 1950, & the business was then taken over by his son Robert J. Bauscher as sole owner at 18 South Chicago Ave. in downtown Freeport. Robert J. Bauscher being the great-grandson of the founder John Bauscher Sr. The 100th Anniversary of the business was celebrated in 1968 with a total of 4 generations of florists in the same family. Written by Robert J. Bauscher - June 15, 1970

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Emerging Seed Sellers in Early America

Emerging Seed Dealers & Nursery Owners

The method of selling seeds & plants changed dramatically in the Mid-Atlantic & Upper South after the Revolutionary war. The growth of urban economies gave rise to new commercial gardening ventures, nurseries & seed stores, operated by professional gardeners who probably initially imported & then grew their own seed & plant stock. (The Middle Atlantic & Upper South usually includes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., & Virginia.)


Americans, who had traditionally lived on farms & plantations, were moving to the towns & opening up shops to take part in the growing urban economies. They had smaller properties on which to grow their food, but now they also had access to the public farmers markets which sprouted in most urban areas. They were acquiring enough money & stability to plant pleasure gardens on their grounds.


Some of the new professional shopkeepers & artisans also retained staffs to lay out & maintain the gardens of others under contractual agreements. Even rural gardeners, who had traditionally saved seeds & traded seeds & plants with neighbors & friends on both sides of the Atlantic, began to patronize capitalistic seed merchants & nursery owners.


These garden businessmen aggressively advertised their wares to a public increasingly concerned with the status of the ornamental, in addition to utilitarian aspects of their gardens. Leisure time was growing in the new nation, & both the gentry & their less wealthy neighbors could now find the time to indulge in an avocation such as pleasure gardening.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Louisiana Vegetable, Flower, & Field Seed Catalog

Richard Frotscher, seedsman, horticulturist, was born in Leipzig, Saxony, March 15, 1833. He died February 2, 1896. He was trained specially in botany by his grandfather. In 1850, after one of the numerous democratic uprisings among the youth of Germany, he was fled to America. He spent some time in Pennsylvania, & shortly after the Civil War, went to New Orleans, where he became a seedsman & horticulturalist & did much to improve agriculture in the American South. Under his care, certain varieties of southern vegetables were improved. Among his many introductions are the New Orleans Market Cucumber, New Orleans Market Melon, New Orleans Market Eggplant, Frotscher's Superior Large Late Flat Dutch Cabbage, Best-of-all Beans, Southern Willow-Leaved Sewee or Butter Pole Beans, Frotscher's Three-quarter Red Blood Turnip Beet, Frotscher's New Orleans Improved Large Passion Lettuce, Frotscher's Lone Star Watermelon, & Louisiana or Creole Onion. His introductions were numerous in fruit & shade trees & in flower & grass seeds. Systematic pecan-culture was begun by Richard Frotscher. The 3 varieties that he started to propagate & named, & which are recognized standards, are the Frotscher's Egg Shell, Rome & Centennial. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Before the Seed Sellers - Trading Seeds & Plants with Others

Trading seeds & plants with other gardeners

Gardeners interested in botany exchanged seeds & plants early within the colonies & across the Atlantic. John Custis (1678-1749) lived & gardened Williamsburg. 

John Bartram (1699-1777), the Philadelphia gardener, explorer, & botanist, wrote to English merchant &; botanist Peter Collinson (1649-1768) that Custis’ Virginia garden was second only to that of John Clayton (1694–1773), the English-born Virginia naturalist of Gloucester County. Collinson corresponded & exchanged plants with several American naturalists. His famous garden at Mill Hill contained many American plants, obtained from both Bartram & Custis.

Both gentry & middling gardeners depended on trading plants & seeds with others to keep their gardens growing. Even the wealthy Virginian William Byrd (1674-1744) wrote in 1721, “I went to see the Governor to beg that he spare me some bulbs for my garden.”

William Byrd II, like his father, Colonel William Byrd, Byrd was a wealthy planter on his inherited plantation Westover, on the James River in Charles City County. He served as president, of Virginia's Governor's Council, as did his father. He recorded his observations on natural history as well as life in colonial Virginia.  Wealthy gentleman gardener Byrd was looking to decorate his grounds, but most gardeners of this period were still simply trying to plant enough edible stock to survive.

Thomas Jefferson wrote to Benjamin Vaughan Philadelphia May 11. 1791, about some seeds Vaughn had sent him. "Dear Sir, It is rare that my public occupations will permit me to take up the pen for my private correspondencies however desireable to me. This must be my apology for being so late in acknowleging the reciept of your favors of Sep. 21 Oct. 21. Dec. 2. and 16. and Jan. 6. The parcels of Mountain rice from Timor came to hand too late in the last season to produce seed. I have sowed this spring some of the same, but it has not yet come up. I was fortunate in recieving from the coast of Africa last fall a cask of Mountain rice of the last year’s growth. This I have dispersed into many hands, having sent the mass of it to S. Carolina. The information which accompanied this cask was that they have there (on the coast of Africa) 3. kinds of Mountain rice, which sowed at the same time, comes to harvest a month distant from each other. They did not say of which kind that is which was sent to me. The kind which ripens quickest will surely find sun enough to ripen it in our middle states...I am Dear Sir with sincere attachment Your most obedt. & most humble servt, Th: Jefferson"

Seed trading went on throughout the 18C & well into the 19C. Rosalie Steir Calvert (1778–1821) of Riversdale in Prince George's County, Maryland, exchange seeds & plants with her father who had returned to Europe.


In 1806, Rosalie Calvert asked for “some offshoots of your tulips, and above all, some rose bushes.” In 1807, she wrote for, “the double violet, the white and the blue...You have a superb collection of double poppies at the Mick—would you send me some seed? It is such a small grain that you could slip it in a letter.”

The following year, she desired, “the double yellow wall-flower and some little double pinks, too...they make a very fine display.” Of the yellow & puce mallows growing from seeds her father sent, she wrote they were “extremely beautiful and admired by all.” In 1803, Rosalie Calvert also planted a hydrangea from her uncle Joseph, which had not “bloomed yet, but I think I am going to have three small ones.” She also mentioned importing some hyacinths herself directly from Haarlem in 1807.

Seeds went both ways across the ocean, as Mr. Stier requested some American varieties. In 1803, Rosalie Calvert sent her father “some seeds of the tulip-poplar and red cedar trees,” and in 1807, she sent additional tulip-poplar seeds and acorns, and “a few seeds of the fragrant white azalea...the most beautiful wild shrub in Maryland.”

In 1809, she was not able to send tulip-poplar seeds, because of the American government’s embargo on trade with Europe. Somewhat disparagingly she wrote, "Do you still admire this tree more than any other? We don’t find it worthwhile to plant here. For wood for carpentry, it is only good when it is in large forests; trees that have been exposed to the wind are worthless, and they are not beautiful when they are old, having few branches and fewer leaves."

She also offered to “Try to get you the catalogue of Bartram of Philadelphia, who every year gathers seeds of different plants and trees of this country for sale.” She traded bulbs or seeds with her neighbors & friends as well.

In 1806, she wrote that Richard Tasket Lowndes of Blenheim, Bladensburg, & of Bostock House, also in Prince George's County, Maryland , had a “fine collection” of hyacinths and “each year we exchange some.” She noted in 1809, that Benjamin Ogle II, of Belair, in Bowie, Maryland, “always has a nice collection and we frequently exchange.” She also gave her father’s old friend, Dr. Upton Scott of Annapolis, one of her favorite tulip bulbs, the Marshal of France, in 1806. Scott also traded seeds & bulbs & plants with his watchmaker neighbor William Faris.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was interested in receiving new plants, whether from the far off travels of Lewis & Clark or from a Virginia neighbor. He wrote a letter to W. Fleming on November 28, 1809. "I have received safely... the foliage of the Alleghany Martagon. A plant of so much beauty and fragrance will be a valuable addition to our flower gardens."

Thursday, April 13, 2017

W.W. Barnard Co.Chicago Fruit & Vegetable Catalog

W.W. Barnard Co., 231-235 W Madison St, Chicago, Illinois 

William Wilcox Barnard (1856-1921), son of William Barnard II, founded & operated the W. W. Barnard Seed Co. in the late 1800s. The company was taken over by Ralph Howe, when William W. Barnard moved to California for his health where died in 1921. Ralph Barnard Howe, born in 1882, held a degree in agriculture from the University of Illinois. But the company did not survive the depression years. 

After graduating from Amherst College in 1845, William Barnard II headed west to homestead. He intended to settle in Iowa, but stopped in Chicago where he met Thomas Morgan who owned several thousand acres of land south of Chicago (now known as Morgan Park) Morgan convinced William Barnard II to settle near Chicago.  In 1846, William Barnard II's parents & siblings joined him in Chicago to farm in the area that is now 49th Street & Vincennes Road. William Barnard II married Miranda Wilcox in 1852, & they had 4 children, Alice Sarah (1854), Mary Elizabeth (1855), William Wilcox (1856), & Emma Jerusha. (1859). William Barnard II eventually bought 160 acres in Longwood & built a home for his family at 101st & Longwood Drive.  William Wilcox Barnard's grandparents Alice Emerson & William Barnard also came to Chicago from the Amherst, Massachusetts area. Barnard was a practicing physician for a time. Alice Emerson & William Barnard were married in 1819 & had 5 children, William Barnard II (1821), Elizabeth (1823), Daniel Emerson (1826), Alice Lucretia (1829), & Erastus Ames (1833).

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Before the Seed Sellers - Trading Seeds & Plants

Trading seeds & plants with other colonial gardeners

Gardeners interested in botany exchanged seeds & plants early within the colonies & across the Atlantic. John Custis (1678-1749) lived & gardened Williamsburg. John Bartram (1699-1777), the Philadelphia gardener, explorer, & botanist, wrote to English merchant & botanist Peter Collinson (1649-1768) that Custis’ Virginia garden was second only to that of John Clayton (1694–1773), the English-born Virginia naturalist of Gloucester County. Collinson corresponded & exchanged plants with several American naturalists. His famous garden at Mill Hill contained many American plants, obtained from both Bartram & Custis.

Both gentry & middling gardeners depended on trading plants & seeds with others to keep their gardens growing. Even the wealthy Virginian William Byrd (1674-1744) wrote in 1721, “I went to see the Governor to beg that he spare me some bulbs for my garden.”

William Byrd II, like his father, Colonel William Byrd, Byrd was a wealthy planter on his inherited plantation Westover, on the James River in Charles City County. He served as president, of Virginia's Governor's Council, as did his father. He recorded his observations on natural history as well as life in colonial Virginia.  Wealthy gentleman gardener Byrd was looking to decorate his grounds, but most gardeners of this period were still simply trying to plant enough edible stock to survive.

Thomas Jefferson wrote to Benjamin Vaughan Philadelphia May 11. 1791, about some seeds Vaughn had sent him. "Dear Sir, It is rare that my public occupations will permit me to take up the pen for my private correspondencies however desireable to me. This must be my apology for being so late in acknowleging the reciept of your favors of Sep. 21 Oct. 21. Dec. 2. and 16. and Jan. 6. The parcels of Mountain rice from Timor came to hand too late in the last season to produce seed. I have sowed this spring some of the same, but it has not yet come up. I was fortunate in recieving from the coast of Africa last fall a cask of Mountain rice of the last year’s growth. This I have dispersed into many hands, having sent the mass of it to S. Carolina. The information which accompanied this cask was that they have there (on the coast of Africa) 3. kinds of Mountain rice, which sowed at the same time, comes to harvest a month distant from each other. They did not say of which kind that is which was sent to me. The kind which ripens quickest will surely find sun enough to ripen it in our middle states...I am Dear Sir with sincere attachment Your most obedt. & most humble servt, Th: Jefferson"

Seed trading went on throughout the 18C & well into the 19C. Rosalie Steir Calvert (1778–1821) of Riversdale in Prince George's County, Maryland, exchange seeds & plants with her father who had returned to Europe.


In 1806, Rosalie Calvert asked for “some offshoots of your tulips, and above all, some rose bushes.” In 1807, she wrote for, “the double violet, the white and the blue...You have a superb collection of double poppies at the Mick—would you send me some seed? It is such a small grain that you could slip it in a letter.”

The following year, she desired, “the double yellow wall-flower and some little double pinks, too...they make a very fine display.” Of the yellow & puce mallows growing from seeds her father sent, she wrote they were “extremely beautiful and admired by all.” In 1803, Rosalie Calvert also planted a hydrangea from her uncle Joseph, which had not “bloomed yet, but I think I am going to have three small ones.” She also mentioned importing some hyacinths herself directly from Haarlem in 1807.

Seeds went both ways across the ocean, as Mr. Stier requested some American varieties. In 1803, Rosalie Calvert sent her father “some seeds of the tulip-poplar and red cedar trees,” and in 1807, she sent additional tulip-poplar seeds and acorns, and “a few seeds of the fragrant white azalea...the most beautiful wild shrub in Maryland.”

In 1809, she was not able to send tulip-poplar seeds, because of the American government’s embargo on trade with Europe. Somewhat disparagingly she wrote, "Do you still admire this tree more than any other? We don’t find it worthwhile to plant here. For wood for carpentry, it is only good when it is in large forests; trees that have been exposed to the wind are worthless, and they are not beautiful when they are old, having few branches and fewer leaves."

She also offered to “Try to get you the catalogue of Bartram of Philadelphia, who every year gathers seeds of different plants and trees of this country for sale.” She traded bulbs or seeds with her neighbors & friends as well.

In 1806, she wrote that Richard Tasket Lowndes of Blenheim, Bladensburg, & of Bostock House, also in Prince George's County, Maryland , had a “fine collection” of hyacinths and “each year we exchange some.” She noted in 1809, that Benjamin Ogle II, of Belair, in Bowie, Maryland, “always has a nice collection and we frequently exchange.” She also gave her father’s old friend, Dr. Upton Scott of Annapolis, one of her favorite tulip bulbs, the Marshal of France, in 1806. Scott also traded seeds & bulbs & plants with his watchmaker neighbor William Faris.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was interested in receiving new plants, whether from the far off travels of Lewis & Clark or from a Virginia neighbor. He wrote a letter to W. Fleming on November 28, 1809. "I have received safely... the foliage of the Alleghany Martagon. A plant of so much beauty and fragrance will be a valuable addition to our flower gardens."

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

W.W. Barnard Co.Chicago Vegetable Seed Catalog

W.W. Barnard Co., 231-235 W Madison St, Chicago, Illinois 

William Wilcox Barnard (1856-1921), son of William Barnard II, founded & operated the W. W. Barnard Seed Co. in the late 1800s. The company was taken over by Ralph Howe, when William W. Barnard moved to California for his health where died in 1921. Ralph Barnard Howe, born in 1882, held a degree in agriculture from the University of Illinois. But the company did not survive the depression years. After graduating from Amherst Collge in 1845, William Barnard II headed west to homestead. He intended to settle in Iowa, but stopped in Chicago where he met Thomas Morgan who owned several thousand acres of land south of Chicago (now known as Morgan Park) Morgan convinced William Barnard II to settle near Chicago. In 1846, William Barnard II's parents & siblings joined him in Chicago to farm in the area that is now 49th Street & Vincennes Road. William Barnard II married Miranda Wilcox in 1852, & they had 4 children, Alice Sarah (1854), Mary Elizabeth (1855), William Wilcox (1856), & Emma Jerusha. (1859). William Barnard II eventually bought 160 acres in Longwood & built a home for his family at 101st & Longwood Drive. William Wilcox Barnard's grandparents Alice Emerson & William Barnard also came to Chicago from the Amherst, Massachusetts area. Barnard was a practicing physician for a time. Alice Emerson & William Barnard were married in 1819 & had 5 children, William Barnard II (1821), Elizabeth (1823), Daniel Emerson (1826), Alice Lucretia (1829), & Erastus Ames (1833). 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Early South Carolina - Buying seeds from arriving British ships

Buying seeds from arriving British ships

Although the process was never predictable. Farmers, shopkeepers, & craftsmen could buy seed, when it arrived in a general cargo shipment from England from local merchants. When new seeds arrived at a port, eager gardeners & farmers could read about them in the local papers after the 1720s. And their arrival spread by work of mouth for those who did not get a paper & those who could not read. Charleston was a busy port of entry for imported garden items.


Buying seeds from ships arriving in South Carolina

The earliest seed dealer advertising in the South Carolina Gazette was Samuel Everleigh, although his ads weren’t specific. In the December of 1732 issue, he offered for sale “divers sorts of best Garden seeds,” and 3 years later in December of 1736/7, Everleigh again advertised, “Garden seeds fresh and good.” On March 29-April 6, 1739, he offered “Grass and Garden Seeds.”

When young Charles Pinckney opened his “new store on the Bay in the 1740s, he advertised “garden seeds Just imported from London” in the South Carolina Gazette. His competitor, Robert Pringle, whose store was also “on the Bay” advertised garden seeds imported from London.

In 1748, Frederick Merckley & Thomas Shute advertised for sale “sundry sorts of Garden Seeds” which were imported from Philadelphia rather than London. However, England remained the dominant source for plant stuffs.

Samuel Came fist appeared in the February 12, 1753 issue of the South Carolina Gazette declaring that he had “Imported from London, an assortment of useful garden seed, some flower roots and seeds, Windsor and kidney beans, dwarf, marrow-fat and Ormond Hotspur Peas.” Came advertised again in the January 1764 issue that he had “a assortment of Garden Seeds, flower roots, etc.”

The domestic commercial sale of plants continued to grow in popularity. In January 1764, Thomas Young advertised in the South Carolina Gazette that he had imported, “A greet Variety of kitchen-garden and flower Seeds, which are very fresh, having had a short passage; which, with some flower roots, eta. he will salt reasonably, at his house at the west-end of Broad-street.”

In the December issue of the same year, Young was about to move from his house, and he advertised in the South Carolina Gazette“a parcel of seeds to dispose of cheap; also some shrubs, trees, roots, etc. among which are a great number of Cork, walnut, with some chestnut and almond trees, with squill and other medical roots and seeds.”

John Edwards
 came to South Carolina, from New York, in 1764. He advertised in the March 3, 1764, South Carolina Gazette that he brought with him “a large collection of English garden and flower seed” which he had raised himself.


In January of 1765, Lloyd & Neyle advertised that they had just imported from London and Bristol “garden seeds and flower roots, amongst which are the best orange carrots Turkey renunculas roots, Dutch tulips, fine anemones, double poppies, double larkspur.”

In March of 1791, Charles McDonald at 186 Meeting Street advertised “Fresh Garden Seed, a SMALL assortment of Flower and other GARDEN SEED, Just imported from London.”

In the 1803, Charleston CourierTait, Wilson & Co advertised that they had imported: "Early Chariton Peas, London Cauliflower, Dwarf Marrowfat do., Early Cabbage Lettuce Coss, Early Frame do.,Cabbegge of all sorts, Crown, Transparent, and White and Black Mustard, Tail Sugar do., Solid Celery, Dwarf White Kidney Beans, Curled Parsley, Canary and Rape Seeds, Green Curled Endive, Early ad Imperial York, Long Prickley Cucumber, Cabbage, Red Beet, Early Sugar-loaf do., Large Norfolk Turnip, Drumhead do., Round Spinnage, Green Glazed do., Portugal Onion, Battersea do., Garden Cress, Cornish York do., Salmon Reddish, Early Penton Cabbage, Scarlet Salmon Reddish, Red Pickling do., Short Top do., Early Purple Brocoll, Turnips do., Late do., Naples do., Siberian do., London Leek, White do., Choux de Milan, Large Green Savoy, Brussels Sprouts, Dwarf do, White Scariat Runners, Yellow do."

In the next year, Simmons & Sweeny, at the corner of East Bay & Broad Streets, advertised in the January of 1804, issue of the Charleston Courier“JUST received and for sale by the subscribers a few bundles FRUIT TREES, of the best quality; each containing twenty-four TREES, 1 Honey CHERRY, 1 Amber do., 1 Early White Nutmeg Peach, 1 Green do., 1 Early red, or rare ripe do., 2 large yellow Lemon clingstone do., 1 White Blossom do., 1 English Swalsh, (or Nectarine), 1 Green Catherine do., 1 Late October Clingstone do., 1 Red Pine Apple do., 1 Early black Damask Plumbs, 1 Magnum Bonum, or Yellow Egg Apple, 1 large Early Harvest do., 1 large Red Spitzenburgh do., 1 Fall Pippin do., 1 Newton do., 1 Early Sugar Pear, 1 Jergonel, or large flavored Summer do., 1 Vergeline or fine Melting Fell do, 1 Almond, 1 Nectarine, 1 Apricot."

J. F. Gennerick,
 who was selling seeds at 150 King Street advertised in the Charleston Courier on June 18, 1807: “ELEGANT FLOWER ROOTS, RANUNCULUS, Antimonies, Imperical Manager, Blue unbellated Crechum, The Striped Lilly, Scarlet Caledonian do., Double Scarlet do., Dotted Arcadian do., The Two Stage Martagon, Variegated Colechicums, Double do., Broad leafed Poncratium, Purple Fiemanthus, Geurnsey Lilly.”

Sunday, April 9, 2017

1889 Philadelphia Seed Catalog - from lumber company to seed store

Henry Maule was born on April 14, 1828 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. & died in 1902. He took over the Philadelphia lumber company established by his father Caleb Maul (1790-1844). Henry's son William Henry Maule (1858-1913), took control of his grandfather's & father’s lumber & seed company in 1882, after partnering with his father for several years. When the father/son seed business originally began in 1877, it originally catered to market gardeners & farmers who supplied local consumers with their fresh vegetables. The world of seed publishing was fascinating to the young businessman & much of his energy went into expanding the seed & bulb end of the business, handing off the lumber-related duties to his brother Charles Price Maule (1856-1920). In 1885, W H Maule came up with the idea of publishing a colorful, beautifully illustrated catalog to showcase the vast variety & quality of his products. In 1889, Maule took it to the next level. Instead of appealing to the distribution of his product to dealers, he would target the common independent farmer, the gardening hobbyist, & anyone who had a mailbox could now become a potential lifelong customer. To entice the general public, Maule would include a packet of free samples with every catalog & offer cash prizes for the largest orders. William Henry Maule Co.'s catalogs often featured farm & field scenes. This idea skyrocketed the seed company into nationwide fame. Maule’s Seeds (later called the William Henry Maule Company) was the 1st in Philadelphia to use this business model & helped make the city into the seed capital of America, causing the spawn of at least a dozen similar outfits. (The Landreth Seed Company was the 1st large seed distributor, having set up shop at 12th & Market in 1784; Burpee Seeds, Maule’s contemporary & competitor, was founded in 1876.) By the time his father died in 1902, William Henry Maule had 560,000 regular customers, distributed over 5 million seed catalogs, given away more than 3 million seed packets, & awarded $30,000 in cash prizes. Over that time, the company had moved to larger & larger quarters. From a rented space on the Delaware riverfront in the 1880s, to a cast iron beauty at 1711 Filbert in the early 1890s, to a 7-story modern office building at 18th & Market at the turn of the 20th Century. The 18th & Market warehouse was named “Maule Building.” Maule eventually set his sights on building a much larger headquarters that would end the need to move every decade. In 1909, Maule acquired a string of properties on the 2100 block of Arch Street & spent the next few years working on what he hoped would be the William Henry Maule Company’s final home. This new $100,000 headquarters would not only house the company’s offices but also warehouse the immense variety of seeds, bulbs, & plants the Maule Company distributed across the country. It would have a footprint measuring 60′ x 111’8″ & rise 8 stories. Construction began in 1912 & was completed by the end of 1913. The building was quite prominent on the skyline at the time, as few other buildings in the immediate area matched its height. On September 6th, 1913, around the same time the new building was about to open, the 55-year-old William Henry Maule died from what was then known as a “stroke of apoplexy,” a term used at the time to describe any number of afflictions that appeared to cause sudden death. Once opened, the new Maule Building would continue William Henry Maule’s business model. New catalogs were published every year for the next 3 decades. Unfortunately, William Henry Maule’s dream of the entire operation running out of this one building didn’t last. By the end of the 1920s, the Maule Company moved out of the Maule Building & leased office & warehouse space at the Nicetown home of the W. A. Burpee Company, a competitor whose progenitor, W. Atlee Burpee, had partnered with William Henry Maule’s father, when the Maule Lumber Company 1st expanded to include seeds. Burpee had already surpassed the Maule Company’s success in 1915. In 1946, the Maule Company sold 2100 Arch Street for $145,000 & used the money to purchase a new office/warehouse in Clinton, Iowa, creating a second distribution point for all deliveries west of Ohio. Despite this major expansion, the company didn’t last. In 1947, the Maule Company merged with the W.A. Burpee Company, with whom they had already been collaborating for about a decade.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Before the Seed Sellers - Ordering from English Factors

Ordering seeds & plants from English factors

Before the Revolution, many well-to-do colonial gardeners depended on England for much of their seed & plant materials, which the gentry often ordered through British agents in trade for tobacco or other goods, which they had produced & sent to England. One Marylander who ordered his seeds from his English factor was Charles Carroll, Barrister, (1723-1783) who married Margaret Tilghman in 1763.  He was 40, she was 21.  It was the 1st marriage for both.  He had studied law in England, returning to Maryland in 1755 to practice law in Maryland's capitol at Annapolis.  Three months after his arrival back in the colonies, Carroll's father died.  Carrol inherited 800 acres on the Patapsco River in what is now Baltimore.  He began constructing his home, Mount Clare, there in 1756.  While he was alive, the Carrolls used Mount Clare as a summer home, living in Annapolis most of the year.  But they planted Mount Clare for both food and pleasure.  The work was done by some of the 200 slaves they owned.  This is a portion of the order list Carroll sent to England in 1774.

1 Shillings worth of Clary (a spice used to flavor wine)
1 Oz best true Cantlilupe (cantaloupe)
1 Oz best black Galloway mellon (melon)
2 Oz Leopan Lettuce
1½ Oz double violet for Edging
½ Oz of the Painted Lady Gumsartisius
3 lbs best Lucern (alfalfa)
Some broad beans
4 Oz best Spinage (spinach)
1 Oz best Colliflowers (cauliflowers)
1 Oz Cress (plant used in salads)
2 Oz Salmon redish
2 Oz best fresh Early York Cabbage

Whether planting their lands for necessity or pleasure, early South Carolina gardeners also were initially bound to write back to their families or friends or factors in England for gardening manuals and for many of the specific plants and seeds they were familiar with from their mother country. 

Many South Carolina gardeners ordered their seeds directly from England. In the December 19, 1754, issue of the South Carolina Gazette, Captain Thomas Arnott noted that he brought a box of “Tulip, Narcissus, and other Flower Roots” from England “supposed to have been ordered by some person of this province” and that the “person that can properly claim them, may have them.”

Friday, April 7, 2017

1896 Kansas Seed & Plant Catalog began with selling seeds in the founder's bakery

The Kansas Seed Company, operated by Frederick W. Barteldes, both grew & imported seed which it then marketed throughout the plains states. Along with a traveling sales force, the business operated 3 seed stores, one in Lawrence, Kansas; one in Oklahoma City; & another in Denver, Colorado. Born in Germany in 1852, Barteldes died in Lawrence Kansas in 1933. In 1875, Barteldes established the The Kansas Seed Company, building on a concept started by an uncle. In 1867, his uncle Friedo Barteldes, the proprietor of a small bakery on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, decided to add a new line to his business. He bought a few large sacks of garden seeds; and, in his spare time, weighed them out into smaller lots & put them in small paper sacks which he displayed to one side of his bakery's bread counter. The founder's nephew, F.W. Barteldes, came to the firm from Germany in 1874. In 1880, nephew Barteldes purchased a building he called the Kansas Seed House in Lawrence. The business thrived there until 1962, when it moved to Denver. His sons, Otto & Friedo, operated the business for years.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Before the Seed Sellers - Seed Saving

Saving delicate seeds from season to season

Seeds were one of the colonists' most precious possessions. They saved each fall's seeds to plant the coming spring. Seeds were often saved in bags & nailed to a rafters to keep them high enough to protect them from hungry rodent interlopers.

In January of 1773, George Washington signed a 1 year contract with his gardener David Cowan (1742-1808). The contract listed some of the work to be completed & deliberately detailed his seed-saving duties, "he will, work dully & truely, during that time at the business; as also when need be, or when thereunto required, at the businee, empoly himself in Grafting, Budding, & porining of Fruit Trees and Vines-likewise in Saving, at proper Seasons, and due order, Seeds of all kinds." For this he was to receive "Washing, lodging, and Diet."

Cowan was a Scottish-born gardener who came to the colonies to serve Washington at Mount Vernon in 1770; but when the Revolution started, Cowan served as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy. He went on to serve in the Provincial Marine for upper Canada, commanding ships in the Great Lakes, where he later served in the legislature.

The process of saving seeds was never the same from year to year, as it depended on the weather; & there was always an element of risk involved. Excessive warmth & moisture could destroy seeds that had been dried to save overwinter. Heat & high humidity encourage fungi, molds, & bacteria which destroy the seeds' viability.



Colonial families grew most of their vegetables & herbs in the kitchen garden. In the spring & again in the fall, they planted the seeds of their cool weather crops such as broad beans, cabbages, kale, lettuce, mustard greens, onions, parsnips, peas, radishes, spinach & turnips. As the warmer months approached, they set out seeds for their summer crops such as pole beans, beets, carrots, cucumbers, okra, potatoes, muskmelons & watermelons, as well as seeds for their fall crops of squash & pumpkins. Seeds of perennial herbs were tucked here & there in the garden for flavoring food & fighting disease.

The period from the end of January until the middle of March was sometimes referred to as the Six Weeks of Want. Some years this precarious span of time lasted much longer than 6 weeks. By this time, most stored vegetables had been eaten, but planting had not yet begun.

Early spring greens, both cultivated & wild, could satisfy the family's craving for something fresh after months of pickled & salted foods. Throughout the entire growing season, the family preserved vegetables for the winter hoping they would last until the new plants began to appear.

Almost any vegetable could be pickled in a vinegar or salt brine with spices. They preserved some vegetables, like peas & beans, simply by drying them. Most root crops like carrots, beets & parsnips could last for months buried in damp sand in a cellar or yard, if squirrels & rodents did not discover their existence. Pumpkins, squash & onions could be stored in a clean, dry place such as the loft in the farm house, where next year's seeds might also hang in bags waiting for the spring season.

Because seeds from this period were not hybridized, but reproduced naturally through pollination, colonial gardeners attempted to keep their seeds pure & prevent cross-pollination with other species.