Pitcher & Manda, Short Hills, New Jersey Seed and Plant. William Albert Manda (born 1862 near Prague, Bohemia), Manda says he lived in Iowa as a child. Apparently, he traveled to the U.S. East Coast in 1882, to collect plants for shipping back to Europe. There he took the job as Curator of the Harvard University Botanical Gardens in 1883. He worked there for 5 years, then resigned to join the firm of Pitcher & Manda, Short Hills, N.J. An announcement in the 1888 "Garden & Forest" magazine, stated that the firm was doing business as the United States Nurseries. The partners were James R. Pitcher & William Albert Manda. This firm was famous for its collection of orchids, valued in 1901 at $100,000. The partnership ended in 1895, when Manda published an announcement in "Garden & Forest" magazine that he was severing his connection to Pitcher & Manda & starting a new business at South Orange, N.J., called The Universal Horticultural Establishment. The firm of Pitcher & Manda kept the same name but announced that they were under new management. "Garden & Forest" announced in September 1897 that a firm called the American Bulb Co. was "successors to Pitcher & Manda" & further announced that there would be a public auction held on October 4-7, 1897 to sell "the entire collection of Pitcher & Manda, including 100,000 palms, all the choice collection of ornamental foliage plants; also, real estate, greenhouses, etc." A 1901 San Francisco newspaper refers to the firm holding a collection of orchids valued at $100,000. And a catalog held at Rutger's Univeristy includes the notation that the firm was in business from 1885 & 1904.
William Albert Manda of Pitcher & Manda, Short Hills, New Jersey. In 1909, William Albert Manda was doing business as W.A. Manda, Inc. Reportedly, a statue of him was erected in his honor at his death by the South Orange Garden Club at Meadowland Park in South Orange. At the time of his death in 1933, he had a collection of some 12,000 species of cacti & succulents. His younger brother, Joseph A. Manda had his own nursery business in 1898, which continued as Joseph A. Manda & Son. They dealt in orchids among other things. The 1900 census shows the brothers living next door to each other at 191 Valley Street, South Orange. William was a single man, sharing his household with one of his employees; while his brother Joseph's household contained also their parents & a sister. By 1908, Joseph A. Manda was living at 191 Valley Street, in West Orange. Thomas Capek, author of the book "The Cech (Bohemian) Community of New York" (1921) says that the Manda Floral Co. (landscape architects) and W.A. Manda, Inc. of South Orange, N.J. were both founded by the same Czech florist.
Research by Marlea Graham, California Garden & Landscape History Society. Photos from the Pitcher and Manda catalog.