Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Early South Carolina - Gardener & Plant Dealer John Bryant

John Bryant was an English gardener who arrived in South Carolina, sometime before his 1794 marriage to Jane Thornton in St. Phillip’s Parish in Charleston. He first advertised in the City Gazette and the Daily Advertiser on June 6, 1795 as a gardener for hire, but also noted that, “like wise imports, on commission, all kinds of trees, shrubs and seeds, either useful or ornamental, from England, Philadelphia and New York.”

By his April 15, 1796 notice in the City Gazette and the Daily Advertiser, Bryant was importing seed for speculation rather than commission, “just Imported, a small assortment of seeds.” Bryant gained confidence in his buying public as the years passed, and by the December 15, 1807 issue of the Charleston Courier, he was advertising, “A QUANTITY of FRUIT TREES, FLOWERING SHRUBS and PLANTS, of the most esteemed for quality and beauty. The Fruit Trees consist of Peaches, Nectarines, Pears, Cherries, Plumbs and Quinces, of the largest size ever imported, for their age, into this state.”

In 1807, Bryant eventually became the Clerk of Market Hall, where many plants & seeds were sold & exchanged; but in the fall of 1808, Bryant died. His wife Jane kept the garden operating into the spring of the next year. She advertised in the February 13 issue of the Charleston Times “For sale at the late John Bryant’s Garden, upper end of King Street - grafted Peach, Nectarine, Apricot, Plum and Apple Trees; Pride of India…Pine Apple plants…Geranium, and other Green House Plants.” She did not advertise again.

But it seems that someone bought Bryant's store & stock. The Charleston Times of January 16, 1811, announced the opening of a new seed store King Street. The unidentified proprietor advertised: “New Seed and Plant Store, Wholesale and retail 200...220 KING STREET RECEIVED from London an extensive assortment of choice Garden, Field, Flower and Bird Seeds, the growth of 1810. Also, by the ship Minerva, from New York, a large supply of fresh American SEEDS, together with the former Stock of fresh Seeds on hand, making the most complete and extensive assortment of Seeds ever offered for sale in this city. On hand, a large assortment of inoculated FRUIT TREES, among which are all the most approved kinds of Peach, Pear, Apple, Cherry, Plum, soft shelled Almond, Dwarf Pear, Dwarf Apple; Fruit and Flowering Shrubs, Red and White Antwerp Raspberry, that gives remarkable large Fruit, Red and White Currant, English yellow Jesamine, Lilach, with a large assortment of Plants, Garden Tools, Flower Pots, Hyacinth Glasses, Bulbous Roots, Split Pease, Oat Meal, Flour or Mustard, Etc.”

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