Sunday, November 23, 2014

Early American Seed Dealers & Nursery Owners of South Carolina

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Charles Fraser (1782-1860) Golden Groves The Seat of Mrs (John) Sommers Stono River. Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum, Charleston, South Carolina.


It is difficult to strike just the right balance for a diverse audience of readers. Some are plant historians, who want to know precisely what plants are being sold when.

Other readers are interested in the development of an industry & its marketing tactics of appealing to & changing the needs & desires of their customers. Those readers usually don't care exactly what is being sold, except as it changes from utilitarian to ornamental.

In this posting, I will include more specific plant listings. (I will also ask you to return to an earlier posting for the basics of seed saving, one of the most important ways of having seeds to plant the following year for all 18th century gardeners.)

c 1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Detail of Settee on a Hill at Rice Hope Plantation from One of the Rice Fields. South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. Dr. Read had been a Surgeon in the Continental Line during the Revolution. The name Rice Hope was one of the many such hopeful combinations; there were also a Silk Hope, a Salt Hope & a Brick Hope near the Cooper River.

I want to use the watercolors of Charles Fraser to let us feel the South Carolina landscape around us as we learn how it was being groomed & planted. Thanks to South Carolina native Charles Fraser (1782 - 1860 ) we have a chance to see, through his eyes, the homes & gardens there as he was growing up. Although he was primarily known his miniature portraits, he also created watercolors of historical sites, homes, & landscapes. He painted while working as a lawyer, historian, writer, & politician. Today, many of Fraser's works are displayed at the Carolina Art Association & the Gibbes Art Gallery in Charleston. I will also include a painting by Thomas Corum (1756 – 1811), who taught Charles Fraser to paint.

South Carolina was a world of its own in the early 18th century, and it might be interesting to compare & contrast the marketing of plants & the growth of professional seed & plant dealers there with the more northern colonies.

Trading seeds & plants with other gardeners

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.


1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Arbor for Gatherings. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

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.”

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

Dr. Alexander Garden (1746-1802)
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who practiced medicine in Charleston, made important contributions to plant identification later in the 18th century. 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 18th century in South Carolina.

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) 1803 Richmond, the Seat of Edward Rutledge in St. John's Parish. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. The Richmond house stood on a hill overlooking the Eastern branch of the Cooper River. It had belonged to Colonel John Harleston, one of the oldest Cooper River families. From him it had passed to his daughter Jane Smith Harleston, the wife of Edward Rutledge, whom she married in 1794. The house at Richmond is one of the most typical Low Country plantation houses sketched by Fraser. The high foundation of masonry, the two stories of wood, the high hipped roof, the single piazza with its wide brick stairway flanked by ramps of the same material that flare out at the ground into cylindrical newels-all these repeat themselves endlessly through the Low Country, with only minor local variations. (Mixup in converting slide to jpg caused house to reverse, sorry.)

Ordering seeds & plants from English factors


Whether planting their lands for necessity or pleasure, early South Carolina gardeners were initially bound to write back to England for gardening manuals and for many of the specific plants and seeds they were familiar with from their mother country. But soon commercial seed dealers and nursery owners began importing plants to sell directly to South Carolina gardeners.

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.”

Newspaper advertisements, broadsides, & estate inventories give a fairly accurate reflection of the seeds & plants early South Carolina gardeners purchased in the marketplace before 1820. The South Carolina Gazette was Charleston’s first newspaper commencing publication in January 1732. Most early seed dealers used this newspaper as a vehicle for marketing their wares.

30 May 2, 1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

Buying seeds from ships arriving in South Carolina


The earliest seed dealer advertising there 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 “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 Courier, Tait, Wilson & Co advertised: "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.”


1800 View of Mulberry, House and Street, Thomas Coram (1756 – 1811), The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. This is the earliest known depiction of a plantation house with rows of single-room slave cabins leading to the powerful owner's house.

Buying directly from local plantation & nursery owners in South Carolina



In the September, 1745 issue of the South Carolina Gazette, Richard 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.

Rose Hill c 1820. Unidentified artist. Charleston Museum, South Carolina. Home owned by Nathaniel Heyward (1766-1851) & his wife Henrietta Manigault (1769-1827), the rice plantation Rose Hill on the Combhee River was home to 152 slaves. Rose Hill is also illustrated in the marginialia of the diary of their son Charles (1802-1866) which is at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston.

Importing experimental plants into South Carolina


During the 1770s-1780s grapes were becoming a popular item in both South Carolina & Georgia, where a friendly competition was growing between the neighbors.

The March 1772, issue of the South Carolina Gazette announced, “Yesterday also arrive here, with Captain John Turner, the ship Carolina Packet, from London…30,000 plants of Vines producing true Champagne and Burgundy Grapes, procured by the Assiduity of Mr. Masnil de St. Pierre (from the French settlement at Longcanes, called now New-Bourdeaux) who has received great encouragement in London, to perfect his scheme of making wines in the province, and obtained from the Society of Arts a Gold Medal.”

By the 1750s Benjamin Franklin had his hand in potential domestic wine production. The May 1, 1783 issue of the Gazette in Savannah noted, “Sometime ago Dr. Franklin sent to South Carolina nine vine dressers from Burgundy, and 1,200,000 sets of plants of vines, to try whether those plants would thrive there. Our merchants do not wish they may.”

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

On September 29, 1774 the South Carolina Gazette was carrying news of another experimental plant. Aaron Loocock was promoting & selling the dying root madder. “Those Gentlemen who chose to make Trial of this valuable and profitable article may depend on not being disappointed of Plants, if they order them in Time, either delivered at my Plantation at Goose Creek, or to any of their friends at Charles-Town, at Five Pounds a Thousand. Printed directions, from experiences in this Province, will be given.”

Evidently Looncook’s were successful, for almost 20 years later in the June 21, 1794 issue of the Augusta Chronicle and Gazette his “printed directions” appeared under this introduction “As the soil and climate of this country is said to be well adapted to the cultivation of that valuable dying-root, Madder, and as the planting, mercantile, and manufacturing interest of the United States may be very much benefited by its cultivation: I make no doubt but that a publication of the following observations on it will be very acceptable…written twenty years ago, by a gentleman in South Carolina…”

On January 9, 1796 in the City Gazette and the Daily Advertiser, Robert Day offered for sale “To Lovers of Improvement Five to Six Hundred LOMBARDY POPLAR TREES, one year old, from ten to sixteen feet high they are the first in America of their age or kind. Also, Two Hundred PLANTS of the large purple sweet WATER GRAPE, One Box, containing Two or Three Hundred PLANTS of the large Cork ASPARAGUS, two years old."

Jacques Burkhardt (1818-1867). Home of Gabriel Manigault.

Emerging professional gardeners, seed dealers & nursery owners in South Carolina


Just as it had in the Mid-Atlantic & Upper South, the method of selling seeds & plants changed dramatically in South Carolina at the end of the century. However, in South Carolina, the change began well before the American Revolution. The growth of urban economies gave rise to new commercial gardening ventures, nurseries & seed stores, operated by professional gardeners who initially imported & then grew their own seed & plant stock.

Plant Dealer & Garden Writer Martha Logan

Martha Logan (1701-1779)
first advertised her gardening wares in November 1753 in the South Carolina Gazette. She offered for sale “seeds, flower roots, and fruit stones at her house” on the Green, near Trotts Point. Martha Logan was the daughter of Robert Daniell, Landgrove and Deputy Governor of South Carolina. She was born December 29, 1704, and married George Logan, Jr. on July 30, 1719. Widowed by 1741, she was keeping a boarding school for children where they would be “carefully taught to read, write, dance and work several kinds of needle-work” in a “pleasant, airy situation” on the green near Mrs. Trott’s point. But her first love was gardening.


Martha Logan wrote a “Gardener’s Kalendar” that appeared until well past the turn of the 19th century in various almanacs. In the March 14, 1768, South Carolina Gazette she advertised seed imported from London: “A Fresh assortment of very good garden seeds and flower roots, with flowering shrubs and box edging beds, now growing in her garden.” Her notice establishes that box was used for edging in pre-Revolutionary gardens.

1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). View from Mr. Fraser’s City Residence from untitled sketchbook, The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. Apparently Fraser lived on King Street with his widowed mother.

Gardener & Plant Dealer John Watson


One of the most important working gardeners & seed dealers of the last half of the 18th-century in South Carolina was John Watson. He came to the province seeking work as a gardener from London in 1755. By December 10, 1763 he advertised in the South Carolina Gazette that he had imported from London, “a proper assortment of garden seed, flower roots, me, which he will sell reasonably.”

In 1764, when John Laurens built his "large, elegant brick house of sixty feet by thirty-eight," with piazzas on the south & east sides overlooking the marshes & Cooper River. He & Martha Laurens created a 600' by 450' brick-walled botanical garden, containing such exotics as orange, olive, lime, capers, ginger and guinea grass, with the aid of John Watson.

By September of 1765, Watson advertised an expanded line of garden wares advertised in the South Carolina Gazette. Beside garden seeds and flower roots, he offered “…a great collection of fruit trees, Of all kinds, which have been grafted and budded from the best fonts in the province, with a great variety of English grape vines.”

On February 4, 1778, Watson added clover seeds to his offerings. By the November issue of the South Carolina Gazette for the same year, he noted for sale “a great variety of Tulips, hyacinths, lilies, anemanies, ranuculuses, double jonquils” as well as asparagus roots.

His wares became more exotic by his November 28, 1776, notice in the South Carolina Gazette, Watson offered for sale “Sweet Almonds, Filberts, English Quinces, Olives, China double flowering Peaches, Almonds and Pomegranates.”

On January 1, 1778 his ad in the South Carolina and American General Gazette offered “Hazel Nuts Nutmeg, Myrtle flowering Trees….Magnolia or Laurels fit for Avenues, etc. any height from three to twenty, Artichoke.”

John Watson’s last notice appeared in February of 1789, when he offered “seedling cassenas for hedges, tallow trees for exportation.” In March 1789, John Watson died. His sons James Mark and John ran the nursery, until young John left South Carolina in 1802, finally selling “Watson’s Gardens.”

c 1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Rice Hope Taken from One of the Rice Fields. South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

Gardener William Bennet


Another gardener who came from England to South Carolina seeking work was William Bennet. In his initial ad for public work in the South Carolina and American General Gazette on May 13, 1771, he also noted “Seed to be sold,” which he had apparently brought with him from England. In the October 1, 1778, issue of the same publication he was still offering unspecified garden seeds for sale.

In in 1786 & 1787, someone claiming to represent Peter Crouwells, a well-known Philadelphia florist, who had immigrated from Holland, advertised in the South Carolina Gazette on December 11, 1786, “for sale, an extensive variety of the most rare and curious Bulbous Flowers, Roots & Seeds, which have never appeared in this country before they are just imported from Amsterdam…the most choice sorts of Hyacinths, double Jonquillea, Polyanthos, Narcissusses, Tarcetts, Tulips, double Tuberoses, Pasetouts, Carnations, with a great variety of double Ranunculas and Anemonies, a sort of Rose Bushes, etc.” Ladies and Gentlemen could get a catalogue giving the names and colors of all the Bulbous Flowers.

In February of 1790, John Chalvin & Co. Florists and Gardeners, from France” announced that they had brought “from France a great variety of Seed and Plants or flowering trees, lilly roots, jacinths, and crow feet of the scarcest and prettiest qualities; rose bushes of different colours; es also a great variety of pot and herbs seeds” which they had for sale at a very moderate price at No. 8 Elliott-street.

1800. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Brabants on French Quarter Creek, The Seat of the Late Bishop Smith. South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. This plantation lies on French Quarter Creek, a tributary of the Eastern Branch of the Cooper River. The original grant to Francis Pagett in 1704, was later joined a tract granted in 1709 to Daniel Brabant, a surgeon whose name became that of the plantation. It amounted to 3,000 acres, when Elizabeth Pagett married the Reverend Robert Smith, rector of St. Philip’s Church in Charles Town. He became the 1st Bishop of the State of South Carolina, and was the First Principal of the college of Charleston, where Charles Fraser was one of the students.

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.”

c 1799. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). View of a South Carolina Plantation Barn. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

Botanist, Nusreryman, Gardener, & Writer Robert Squibb


Robert Squibb
, botanist, nurseryman, gardener, and writer, had published his catlogue-style book, The gardener's calendar, for South-Carolina, Georgia, and North-Carolina: Containing an account of work necessary to be done in the kitchen and fruit gardens every month in the year, with instructions for performing the same. Also particular directions relative to soil and situation, adapted to the different kinds of plants and trees most proper for cultivation in these states. He called himself a nursery and seedsman of Charleston, South-Carolina. The book was printed by Samuel Wright and Co. for R. Squibb, and recorded in the secretary of state's office, agreeable to the act of Assembly. (Price six shillings.), in 1787.


Squibb had announced his upcoming book with no undue modesty in the Charleston Evening Gazette of July 4, 1786. He declared that his patrons needed a gardening book to fit their particular coastal climate, and English books only mislead them with their instructions.

Squibb offered seeds for sale in the newspaper on August 19, 1795 in an issue of the City Gazette and Daily Advertiser, “THE Subscriber, after many years practice in this state, is fully convinced that garden seeds saved here are much better than those imported and does hereby forewarn his friends and customers against depending on foreign seeds, in particular such as onion, leek, carrot, parsnips, parsley, celery, lettuce, endive and spinage.”

In 1801 Squibb advertised using much the same technique in the Augusta Chronicle and Gazette of the State of Georgia on March 14: “GARDEN SEEDS. THE Subscriber having taken up his residence in Augusta, as Market Gardener, and the saving of Seeds being a branch of his profession, intends from time to time, both to import and save seeds of the very best kinds."

Squibb declared that he was offering his services & plants out of a sense of public responsibility, "He considers it a duty he owes to himself and fellow citizens, to remind them of the numberless impositions that for some years past have taken place in this city, by sale of garden seeds, which from their age of the inexperience of the collectors, have either not vegetated or else produced a degenerated offspring, by which the public have been much discouraged in the cultivation of gardens. To remedy this evil he offers for sale a small assortment of SEEDS collected from his own plants."


However, in 1802, Squibb was back in Charleston at his old garden. Squibb called his garden and nursery, “The Botanic Garden.” In the June 8 1802, issue of the Charleston Times, he advertised, “that he has imported from London, a small assortment of GARDEN SEEDS, in excellent order. Also a few kinds of Seeds on his own saving, equal to any ever saved in this state. Market Gardeners may be supplied with London Salmon Redish Seed, at one dollar per pound.”

Robert Squibb died on April 22, 1806 at Silk Hope Plantation near Savannah, Georgia, and was buried there. However, an ad for the “Botanic Garden” appeared in the Charleston Courier on November 2, 1812, “At the Botanic Garden. A variety of Elegant PLANTS, Such as Liqusiriniums, Geraniums, Cleroaedrems, Rosa Multifloras, double and white Oleanders, Flowering Heaths, Laurustkius.”

Charles Fraser (1782-1860) The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

Gardener & Seed Dealer Charles Gross


Charles Gross
was a gardener on King Street in the 1790 Charleston City Directory, who bought a lot for his garden in Hampstead in 1792. From there he continued to work as a gardener and sold seeds until his death in 1802.


Gardener & Seedsman Edward Otter
Edward Otter was another gardener & seedsman from England who brought garden seeds, peach trees, and Lombardy poplars with him when he came to Charleston In 1803.

1803. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Entrance to Ashley Hall near Charleston, South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. The 2nd Royal Governor William Bull inherited Ashley Hall in 1755. A medical doctor, he never wavered in his loyalty to his King. He left with the British in 1782, dying in London 9 years later. His will states: “I William Bull the late Governour of South Carolina for his Britanic Majestiy do …my worldly goods greatly deranged and lessened in value not by my Fault but by some unexpected contingencies I have met from peculiar situations wherein I have been placed during the late unhappy times in America…my plantation on Ashley River in Carolina where my Grandfather lived died and lies buried where my Father and all his children were born I wish to remain in the possession of one of his Posterity I therefore give to my nephew William his heirs…”

John Foy's Seed Store


John Foy’s Seed Store at 184 Meeting Street was especially active in 1810. In the November 14, 1810 issue of the Charleston Times he placed this notice: "A General Assortment of Choice Garden Flower, and Bird SEEDS FLOWER POTS, and some excellent APPLE TREES: ASPARAGIS-Gravesend; BEANS-Long Pod, Mangan, Windsor; BEET-Green, Blood Pled; BROCOLO-Purple, White; BURNET; CABBAGE-Early York, Heart Shaped, Sugar Loaf, early and later Battersea, Drum Head, Red Dutch, Green Glazed, Bergin, Green Savoy; CARROT-Early Mom, Orange, Yellow; CAULIFLOWER-Early and Late; CELERY-Solid, Italian, Chardoon, Chervil: CUCUMBER-Early Frame, Shod Prickly, Long Green roman: ENDIVE-Green Curled, White Curled, Broad Leaf or Bataivian; BEANS-Bush, China, Liver, Yellow, Refugee, RUNNERS-Scarlet, White; LEIUCE-Impoerial, Grand Admirable, Tennis Ball; ONIONS-Silver Skin, Large White. Red; LEEKS; PARSLEY-Double and single; PARSNIPS:PEASE- Early Frame, Golden Hospur, Early Charlton, Dwarf Marrowfat, Pearl and Prusian; Radish-Early Frame Salmon; White and Red do., White and Red Turnip, Saisafy, Sanzonara, Sorrel; SPINACH-assorted; TURNIP-assorted; BIRD SEEDS-Canary, Hopp, Maw, Rape; HERB SEEDS-assorted; FLOWER SEEDS-assorted; a few TULIPS and HYACINTHS; Assortment of most approved PEAR and APPLE TREES. JOHN FOY expects some PEACH and PEAR TREES, and also some APPLE TREES from the Botanic Garden, New-York."

By his December 24, 1810 ad in the same paper Foy added, “A HANDSOME assortment of FRUIT TREES."

c. 1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Mepkin, The Seat of Henry Laurens, Esq., near Charleston, South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. Mepkin was comprised 3,000 acres. John Colleton of England, sold Mepkin in 1762, to Henry Laurens. After the destruction of the house during the Revolution, Henry Laurens built this one in which Henry Laurens, Jr. was living at the time of the sketch. As the latter had married a daughter of John Rutledge, Fraser was again among relatives.

Gardeners, Plant Dealers, & Botanists John Fraser & Sons


John Fraser & his son James were gardeners, botanists, & seed dealers active in Charleston from the 1780s, until James’ death in 1819. James remained in South Carolina during his father’s various returns to England.

In the Columbian Herald of December 17, 1795, James Placed the following advertisement. "GARDEN Seeds, JAMES FRASER, UP THE PATH. Has received 21 John Praiser, Nursery and Seedsman of Sloan Square, Chelsea, near London, per the ship Roebuck, A GENERAL ASSORTMENT OF CULINARY SEEDS."

In the December 6, 1808, Charleston Times, the following notice appeared, “FRASER & SON HAVE received by the schooner Blazing-Star from New-York, several hundred handsome PEACH, NECTARINE and APRICOT TREES a few handsome FLOWERS, SHRUBS, AND PLANTS.”
The June 1, 1806, issue of the Times carried a notice that, “Fraser & Son, Have imported from London, A GENERAL assortment of GARDEN and FLOWER SEEDS, which will be warranted as genuine, and all of the crop of 1808."

In 1810, they advertised, "A variety of English Garden & Flower Seeds; Flowers; Flower Pots; and a few rare Plants, the proper of Mr. John Fraser, botanist, having finished his collection of American plants. The seeds will be put up in convenient lots, for the accommodation of the purchaser. Any Ladies or Gentlemen who wish to be supplied annually with warranted Garden, Agricultural or Flower Seeds, and Roots, or choice Fruit Trees, will please send their orders to the said office, or address them to Messrs. MASERS & SONS Sloan Square, Chelsea, London."

c. 1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Mepkin, The Seat of Henry Laurens, Esq., near Charleston, South Carolina.The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

William Dobbs Seed & Plant Store


William Dobbs
operated a Seed & Plant Store at 315 King street. He advertised in the December 2, 1811 edition of the Charleston Times: "For sale at wholesale and retail, an extensive assortment of Choice Garden Flowers and Bird seeds, the growth of 1811. Also, a great variety of Double Flowering Hyacinths; double, single, parrot and sweet scented Tulips; Renunculus’s: Ixia Crocata; Persian Iris, white and yellow Narcissus; Gladiolius, Garden Tools, Flower Pors, Hyacinth Glasses. Upwards of 4000 Inoculated Fruit Trees, among which are all the most approved kinds of Apple; Pear, cherry, Plum, Peach, Apricot, Nectarine, Hughe’s Crab, Chinese, and Syberian Apple, soft shelled Almond. Quince, Goosebery, red white and black Currant, Filbert Nut, Antwerp Rapsberry. Ornamental Trees and Shrubs - doable flowering Peach, Cherry, and Almond, spired Fruitrix, Mountain Ash, English yellow Jessamine, dwarf variegated Althed, Venetian Shumach, Guilder Rose, Burgundy and Moss do. Balm of Gilead Fir."


Unfortunately, Dobbs died in the fall of 1812. His inventory of December 3, 1812, gives a glimpse of the property owned by the seeds: “Rose Apple Trees, Rosemary, Squills, Double Tube Roses, Amaryths, Peach Trees, 40 Canary Birds, Seeds, Bird Seed, shovels, spades, bird cages, pees, 2 green Houses and glasses, garden tools, Glasses for Roots, Shelves of Jars with Seeds in them Double Seeds Box”

In October 1812, Dobbs property was put up at auction through ads in the October 13 and 22 editions of the Charleston Courier. “All the Personal Estate and Stock in Trade of WM. DOBBS, late of Charleston, Seedsman, deceased; consisting of a variety of elegant and choice Plants and Shrubs, in boxes and pots, various kinds of Seeds and Roots; Gardening Utensils; a variety of empty Flower Pots; an assorting of Crockery Ware: together with his elegant collection of Singing Birds; consisting of Canary and Mocking Birds; a Glass Case, containing stuffed Birds; empty Bird Cages; a few Botanical Books; Also, his two Green Houses with sashes. ALSO Several hundred choice Fruit Trees, now in the ground.”


Charles Fraser (1782-1860) The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina.

Philippe Stanislaus Noisette (1772-1835) Nurseryman & Seed Dealer


Another gardener & seedsman active in Charleston in the same period was Philippe S. Noisette. Philippe was a member of a distinguished family of nursery owners who had been gardeners to French nobles. He first moved from Paris to Haiti, when he was a young man and fell in love with a dark-skinned Haitian woman whose name was Celestine. In 1794, because of the Haitian slave revolution, he & Celestine relocated to Charleston, where he was offered a position as Superintendent of the South Carolina Medical Society Botanical Gardens.

He was especially interested in the production of sugar cane & ran this ad in the November 14, 1814 edition of the Courier. "P.S.NOISETTE begs leave to inform the Planters of south Carolina that he has successfully cultivated, for some pears past, in his garden at Romney Village, opposite Mr. Turpires farm, the Sugar Cane; and that he has at this moment canes form which Sugar may be extracted. In consequence of this great advantages likely to be drived to this state, from this valuable plant, he offers cuttings for sale, to such as which to increase their wealth, and that of their country, et the rate of Five Dollars for a hundred buds, or eyes. He has also in his garden, a great quantity of FRUIT TREES, grafted by himself of the best kinds from Europe; such as different kinds of Peaches, Nectarines, Apricots, Plumbs, Pears, Apples, Figs and Grapes; as well as many foreign, Ornamental Trees, Shrubs and Plants. Also for sale, a collection of garden SEEDS, FLOWER SEEDS & FLOWER."

Philip Noisette's personal life was as interesting as his professional accomplishments. Because of the miscegenation laws of South Carolina, Philippe was forced to declare his wife, Celestine, his slave. They had 6 children who also became his slaves. The 1830 Federal Census recorded him as a single white man owning eight slaves, who are believed to be his wife & at least five of his six children.

In 1821 Charleston, records show that Phillipe Stanislaus Noisette, "Botanist of Charleston," stated that "under peculiar circumstances" he became "the Father of Six children, begotten upon his faithful Slave named Celestine." For many years it had been his intention to free his family, but the "passage of the late Law upon this subject" prompted him to seek their freedom now by the passage of a legislative act.

Shortly before his death, in 1835, Philippe petitioned the state of South Carolina for the emancipation of his faithful wife, now his slave, Celestine & their six children. Philippe died without knowing the results of his petition. Philippe’s family was in fact later emancipated and allowed to secure their inheritance & remain in the state of South Carolina.

In 1859, the South Carolina House of Representatives was petitioned to let the "mulatto" children of Philip Stanislas Noisette remain in South Carolina, as free persons of color. By his will Noisette had directed that the children, born of his enslaved wife, Celeste, be removed to some other country, where they would be free. The children, however, were "attached to the laws of the County, and very unwilling to remove."

Intrigue also followed Noisette's botanical accomplishments. An 1889 journal on botany reported the following information, "The Noisette Rose is a daughter of America. She was born one day in the garden of a brave citizen of Charleston, South Carolina, Mr. John Champney. It was obtained by fertilizing a Musk Rose, Rosa Moschata, by pollen from the China or Bengal Rose. Botanists called the new creation Rosa Moschata hybrida, and Rosa champneyana indifferently. But after awhile the name was superseded by that of Rosa Noisettiana in this way: At Charleston there lived a gardener named Philip Noisette, who was of French origin. This man fertilized one of Champney's hybrids, Champney's Pink Cluster, and getting from it another variety sent it in 1814 to Louis Freres, of Paris. The Rose became rapidly famous, and the name of Noisette replaced the first name of Champney, for the new race... The flowers of the Noisette are highly fragrant; they are numerous, double, and charm by the variety and delicacy of their colors." John Champneys, who lived southwest of Charleston, was an import-export merchant, whose trade was so successful, that he had his own wharves on Johns Island.

c. 1796. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). The Seat of James Fraser, Esq., Goose Creek, South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. James Fraser was the older brother of Charles. The house was called Wigton.

Comparison of seed dealers & nursery owners in South Carolina & the Mid-Atlantic & Upper South


The pattern established by the growing South Carolina seed & nursery trade is similar to that of the Mid-Atlantic & Upper South, but there are some significant differences. In the extended Chesapeake region, gardeners & plant dealers dedicated to promoting & selling plants found their most secure footing after the Revolution.

Female Pennsylvania & South Carolina nursery owners & seed merchants successfully began selling both useful & ornamental plants decades before the Revolution. In South Carolina, much seed & plant material was imported from England, both before & after the Revolution.

In the Chesapeake, the earliest seed merchants & nursery owners, appearing after the Revolution, were from France & Germany. After the war, Dutch bulbs & roots found their way into South Carolina as well; and itinerant French seed merchants also peddled their wares in Charleston, but English nursery proprietors continued to own the majority of Carolina businesses.

In both regions, English gardeners & nursery owners came to dominate the local seed & nursery trade by the turn of the century. Both Chesapeake & Carolina garden entrepreneurs offered a full range of stock from greenhouse plants to seeds for field crops, from traditional medicinal herbs to fragrant shrubs by the beginning of the first decade of the 19th-century.

Seed merchants & nursery owners in both areas aggressively advertised their services & stock (at both retail and wholesale prices) in regional newspapers, & sometimes offered free printed catalogues to prospective clients. Gardeners in both regions sold seeds & plants at their nurseries & stores; at local farmers’ markets; and through agents at various locations throughout their regions.

Gardeners from both regions sold seeds & plants imported from Philadelphia & New York, as well as those from their local suppliers. A new nationwide network of capitalistic nursery & seed business was nipping at the heels of traditional garden barter exchanges in the Mid-Atlantic, Upper South, & South Carolina as the 19th-century dawned over the horizon.

1803. Charles Fraser (1782-1860). A Bason & Storehouse Belonging to the Santee Canal in South Carolina. The Carolina Art Association Gibbes Museum of Art, Charleston, South Carolina. This was the storehouse at Simpson's Lock on the canal between the Santee & Cooper Rivers..