Thursday, June 15, 2017

The seedsman, the slave, and Louisiana Almonds - Richard Frotscher's Garden Manuel from New Orleans, LA

Richard Frotscher's Garden Manuel 1896 New Orleans, LA. Frotscher began to distribute his catalog in the early 1880s. Richard Frotscher was born in Germany in 1833, arrived in the USA by 1860 census in New Orleans, where he lived with his wife Emily Schwalm and their 6 daughters until his death in 1896. The 1926 edition of Steckler Seeds for Southern Climes states that "Frotscher began to 'distribute...pre selected seeds and plants, grown on Southern soil under Southern skies and Southern conditions,' to his clients and his success was immediate. The company was reorganized in 1896. 
The Seedsman, the Slave, and Louisiana Almonds
Around 1846-47, Antoine, a 1st name-only slave gardener from New Orleans, was credited as the 1st to successfully propagate Louisiana pecans at Oak Alley Plantation in St. James Parish. Antoine succeeded in grafting 16 seedling trees with graft wood taken from a tree at a nearby plantation. Eventually, he grafted 126 trees and developed the 1st grafted pecan orchard. By grafting a superior wild pecan to seedling pecan stocks, Antoine created a new pecan plant, an improved variety. Oddly, grafting to select trees for improved pecan production was not pursued again until after the Civil War. In 1877, another Louisiana planter, Emil Bourgeois, also of St. James Parish, revived pecan grafting. Antoine's new pecan, called Centennial, was named as an honor for winning the Best Pecan Exhibited award at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876. Antoine’s plantings lead to the 1st official creation of improved pecans. William Nelson, of Jefferson Parish. Louisiana, established the 1st commercial pecan nursery. He began to propagate the pecan by budding and grafting about 1879. In the experiment he was greatly aided by Richard Frotscher, who was for many years head of the New Orleans seed house. The 1st sale of grafted pecan trees through a commercial nursery was by the seedsman Richard Frotscher and orchard owner William Nelson of New Orleans in the 1880s. New Orleans seedsman, Richard Frotscher, promoted Antoine’s improved variety throughout the South. Frotscher was a German immigrant who was friendly with Antoine’s plantation owner, Hubert Bonzano, another German immigrant and owner of Oak Alley Plantation outside of New Orleans. Frotscher took the promotion of improved pecans even further by spending time educating his customers on grafting, budding and top-working pecans in order to further improved varieties. The fact that pecans were a decidedly Southern crop, along with the strategic position of the Port of New Orleans, helped the pecan become a viable export product. From the shores of Louisiana, up the Mississippi river and through the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, pecans were shipped around the globe. The success of the pecan trade through the Port of New Orleans led to more pecan orchards being planted in Louisiana and other regions throughout the American South.

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