Friday, August 14, 2020

Garden Labor - Renting out Indentured Servants in colonial America


Indentured & Convict Servant Gardeners Rented Out in the Mid-Atlantic & South

Mid-Atlantic & South landowners commonly rented the unused time of their indentured gardeners to others. The practice of renting out servants & slaves with special skills allowed those who could not afford to buy an entire indenture or a slave to have an opportunity to use their expertise in the planning & installation of their gardens or to undertake special projects without a large capital outlay.


In May 1738, Sarah Blakeway advertised in the South Carolina Gazette that she had a gardener to hire out. Blakeway was apparently a planter of some importance in her own right. She often advertised in the newspaper for slaves to hire out, houses for rent, Indian corn and land for sale. In 1741, she announced her intention to leave the province selling her land, slaves, piano, mahogany chairs, beds, and books.

In 1750 Philadelphia, William Sellars in Letitia Court advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette to sell the time of his English indentured servant. The servant had 4 years left to serve on his 7 year indenture, and he understood "gardening very well."

Two years later, another English indentured servant, a 22 year old "gardiner by trade who understands the management of trees" was offered for sale for about 3 1/2 years of the remainder of his contract. Inquiries about buying his time could be made at the Philadlephia New Printing Office.


Occasionally, landowners simply lent idle or unfriendly garden servants to family & friends. In the spring of 1751, in Williamsburg, John Blair Sr. (1687-1771) lent to Peyton Randolph (1722-1775) his gardener, of whom “Mrs. Randolph gave a fine account.”

The servant had a history of picking fights with Blair’s slaves; & in the end, apparently Blair valued his slaves more that his feisty gardener. Shortly after the servant’s return, Blair “ordered the gardener to go, for I couldn’t bear him.”

In 1752, Maryland's Provincial Secretary Edmund Jennings & his wife Catherine of Annapolis, attempted to sell the time of their indentured gardener, noting that he was “an extraordinary good Gardener… understands the laying out of new work or anything belonging to a Garden.”

Even the wealthy rented the services of others’ skilled workers, when they undertook extraordinary projects. Charles Carroll of Annapolis (1702-1782) rented two servant gardeners in 1770. He wrote to his son, “I will give Colonel Sharpes Gardener 3 pounds per month computing 26 Working days to the Month & I will allow the Man who Works with Him 40/ per month if He be a good Spadesman.”

When these particular rented servant gardeners arrived at the Carroll home in Annapolis, the elder Carroll was less that enthusiastic, “Mr. Sharpes…Gardener…I do not like His looks as they are very Scottish, He may buy Rum.”


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Plants in Early America - The Christmas Poinsettia

Christmas poinsettia by Joel T Fry, curator at Bartam's Garden in Philadelphia. (Joel T. Fry, B.A., Anthropology, Univ. of Penn. M.A., American Civ./Historical Archaeology, Univ. of Penn.)

America's First Poinsettia: The Introduction at Bartram’s Garden Poinsettia's first public display was in 1829 at the PHS Flower Show by Joel Fry, Curator, Bartram's Garden - 12/12/2011


"It is a little known fact that the poinsettia was introduced to the gardening world from the Bartram Botanic Garden in 1829. This international symbol of winter cheer was first successfully grown outside its Mexican homeland by Robert and Ann Bartram Carr at the Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia. The plant now known as poinsettia, Euphorbia pulcherrima, is native to the pacific coast of Mexico and has an ancient history of human use. It was almost certainly seen by early European explorers and colonists, but somehow never entered cultivation in Europe. It was re-discovered or at least brought to the attention of the outside world in the 1820s by an American, Joel Roberts Poinsett (1778-1851).

"Poinsett, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, held various diplomatic and political positions through his life, but always continued a strong interest in natural science and horticulture. He first served as a special envoy to Mexico in 1822-1823, and when the new Mexican Republic was recognized in 1824, Poinsett was first U. S. Minister Plenipotentiary. He resided in Mexico from 1825 to early 1830. During this period, perhaps in the winter of 1827-1828 Poinsett encountered the unnamed plant that now bears his name.

"As part of his mission to expand cooperation between the two countries, Poinsett shipped plants and seeds between Mexico and the United States. At present there is evidence that four different collections of seeds and plants were sent from Mexico to Bartram’s Garden in Philadelphia in the period 1828-1829. Poinsett was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia in early 1827, and this seems to have cemented his connection with the Philadelphia scientific community and with Bartram’s Garden .In early 1828, William Maclure, a longtime friend of Poinsett, and Thomas Say, a Bartram nephew, travelled to Mexico, visiting Vera Cruz and Mexico City. William Keating, a geologist from the University of Pennsylvania also traveled to Mexico in 1828 to prospect for American mining interests. Poinsett, Maclure, Say, and Keating all arranged for Mexican seeds of plants to be sent to Bartram’s Garden.

"Thomas Say sent over a hundred varieties of seeds from Mexico, “of my own collecting” in a letter to Robert Carr dated July 23, 1828. This list is in large part made up of fruits and vegetables offered in the markets in Mexico, but some trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants from the wild were included, notably several forms of cactus. William Maclure returned briefly to Philadelphia in the fall of 1828, and he brought yet more Mexican seeds and plants with him. This is the most likely route for plants of the poinsettia to Bartram’s Garden.

"Robert Buist, a Philadelphia nurseryman, remembered seeing the first poinsettia roots unpacked at Bartram’s Garden in 1828: “On my arrival in this country from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, in 1828, I paid a visit to the famed “Bartram Botanic Garden,” and there saw two cases of plants which had just arrived from Mexico. Among the contents were the stumps of a strange-looking Euphorbia, which, after a few months’ growth, showed some very brilliant crimson bracts.” (The young Buist soon built a very successful career on the new scarlet plant, and as a result he was credited with the introduction of the poinsettia to Europe in 1834.)

"The paper trail of the poinsettia next appears at “The first semi-annual Exhibition of fruits, flowers and plants, of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society,” held June 6, 1829. This was the first public show of the PHS, a tradition continued today as the Philadelphia Flower Show. One of the noteworthy exhibits was “A new Euphorbia with bright scarlet bracteas or floral leaves, presented to the Bartram collection by Mr. Poinsett, United States Minister to Mexico.” There can be no doubt that this was the poinsettia, now known as Euphorbia pulcherrima. The plant on display, apparently the original sent from Mexico, was still colorful in early June. And while we now take for granted the connection of poinsettias and Christmas, it would take a while for nurserymen to reliably flower the new scarlet plant in time for the early winter holidays.

"A year later, in July 1830 a committee of the PHS, For visiting the Nurseries and Gardens in the vicinity of Philadelphia,” made particular note of the “Euphorbia heterophylla, with its large scarlet flowers,” as well as “some curious species of Cactus, lately received from Mexico” at the Bartram Botanic Garden. At this early stage, the appropriate scientific name for the poinsettia was still in doubt. Poinsettia resembled a known North American native, Euphorbia heterophylla and so for a time it was referred to under that name. Philadelphia nurserymen also used the name “Poinsett’s euphorbia” and around 1832 Robert Buist began using “Euphorbia poinsettia” for the new plant. Between 1833 and 1836 the poinsettia went through a rapid series of scientific names as it was described and published in the US and Europe—first Pleuradena coccinea, then Poinsettia pulcherima, and finally Euphorbia pulcherima. (Although there is still some debate whether some North American Euphorbia species should be split off into a new genus Poinsettia.)

"In the summer of 1833, the botanist Constantine Rafinesque published the first scientific description of the poinsettia in Philadelphia, for his Atlantic Journal. Rafinesque recorded the brief history of the plant in Philadelphia to date: “The Botanical Garden of Bartram received some years ago from Mr. Poinsett our ambassador in Mexico, a fine new green-house shrub, akin to Euphorbia, with splendid scarlet blossoms, or rather bracts. It has since been spread in our gardens near Philadelphia, and is know in some as the Euphorbia Poinseti; but appears to me to form a peculiar genus or S. G. at least

"In the early 1830s Robert Buist began sending plants or cuttings of poinsettia to Europe, and particularly to his friend James McNab at the Edinburgh Botanic Garden. Buist had trained at the Edinburgh garden, and he returned to Scotland in 1831 to acquire stock for his new nursery business. James McNab also visited Philadelphia, and Bartram’s Garden in the summer of 1834, and probably took the first successful poinsettia plants back with him to Edinburgh in the fall.

"The poinsettia flowered in Edinburgh for the first time in the spring of 1835, but imperfectly. When it flowered again in 1836 it was drawn for Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. The new euphorbia was re-named Poinsettia pulcherrima by Robert C. Graham, Regius Professor of Botany at Edinburgh, in an article prepared both for Curtis’s and the Edinburgh New Philosophical Journal. The modern common name “poinsettia” arose from Graham’s description, and as the plant spread rapidly in cultivation in the UK and Europe it was known under the name poinsettia. Unfortunately for history, Graham relied on Buist’s own incorrect account of the introduction of the plant, and omitted any mention of the Carrs or Bartram’s Garden. (Graham’s new genus Poinsettia has since been returned to Euphorbia.)

"It has long been the story that Poinsett personally introduced the poinsettia first to Charleston, bringing the plant on his return from Mexico, and from there it was discovered or sent to the Carrs in Philadelphia. This is impossible for the poinsettia was shown to the Philadelphia public in June of 1829, over six months before Poinsett returned from Mexico. All available evidence suggests that the poinsettia was first sent to the Bartram Garden in Philadelphia in the fall of 1828. The successful transport of live plants from Mexico to Philadelphia in 1828 was almost certainly due to the fact that a number of friends of Bartram’s Garden were on the scene in Mexico. After the new scarlet euphorbia was introduced to the public in 1829, the plant was widely propagated, and became a popular mainstay of the Philadelphia florist trade. The young gardener, Robert Buist, returned to Europe in 1831 and found the scarlet flower was unknown. Buist was a great popularizer of the new plant, but has undeservedly received major credit for its introduction. When Poinsett began to grow his namesake plant in Charleston after his return, it probably returned to him via the Philadelphia nursery community."

A little more to the tale...

Poinsettia plants are native to Central America, especially an area of southern Mexico known as 'Taxco del Alarcon,' where they flower during the winter. The ancient Aztecs called them 'cuetlaxochitl'. The Aztecs had many uses for them including using the flowers (actually special types of bright leaves known as bracts rather thanflowers) to make a purple dye for clothes& cosmetics The milky white sap, latex,was made into a medicine to treat fevers.

Poinsettias were cultivated by the Aztecs of Mexico long before the introduction of Christianity to the Western Hemisphere. These plants were highly prized by Kings Netzahualcyotl& Montezuma, but because of climatic restrictions could not be grown in their capital, which is now Mexico City.

Perhaps the1st religious connotations were placed on poinsettias during the 17C. Because of its brilliant color & convenient holiday blooming time, Franciscan priests, near Taxco, began to use the flower in the Fiesta of Santa Pesebre, a nativity procession. The poinsettia may have remained a regional plant for many years to come had it not been for the efforts of Joel Roberts Poinsett (1779 – 1851). The son of a French physician, Poinsett was appointed as the first United States Ambassador to Mexico (1825-1829) by President James Madison. Poinsett had attended medical school himself, but was a dedicated, almost obsessive botany-lover.

A German botanist, Wilenow, named it Euphorbia pulcherrima (most beautiful) in 1833, the correct scientific name to this day. The common name we use today was believed to have been coined around 1836. Philadelphia nurseryman Robert Buist 1st sold the plant as Euphorbia poinsettia, although a German botanist had already given the plant the botanical name Euphorbia pulcherima.

The Poinsettias is native to southern Mexico& Mesoamerica, unlike today’s commercial cultivars,grow into straight& tall trees. Often these trees can reach heights up to 10 feet tall. Through selection& breeding by growers, many cultivars have been developed in the United States& Europe.

After its introduction in Philadelphia, the poinsettia was shipped around the country during the 1800's, usually as an outdoor plant for warm climates. Around 1920 in southern California, a horticulturist named Paul Ecke became thenext key person to promote the poinsettia. He felt this shrub growing wild along roadsides would make a perfect Christmas flower, so set about producing these in fields in what is now Hollywood. A few years later, due to the commercial & arts development in Hollywood, he was forced to move south to Encinitas where the Paul Ecke Ranch continues to produce poinsettias today. Through the marketing efforts of Paul Ecke and his sons, the poinsettia has become symbolic with Christmas in the United States. An Act of Congress has even set December 12, the death of Joel Poinsett, as National Poinsettia Day to commemorate man and his plant.

Notes: Joel T. Fry has served as curator for Bartram’s Garden, the home of John and William Bartram in Philadelphia, PA,

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Hannah Weinberger, the 1st female Winemaker in Napa Valley

Hannah Weinberger / Photo from the St. Helena Public Library

The Wine Enthusiast tells us that Napa’s modern wine industry began in the 1960s, but viticulture and winemaking were integral to the economy before Prohibition. Women had worked growing grapes and making wine for centuries before Hannah Weinberger earned the distinction of becoming California’s first female winemaker during the 1880s.

Weinberger’s husband, John, was shot dead in March 1882. As a result, she assumed control of his winery and filled his role as director of the Bank of St. Helena. In 1889, she crossed the Atlantic to appear at the World’s Fair in Paris as the only California female vintner to win a silver medal in the wine competitions...
Little is known about Weinberger’s early life. She was from Ohio, listed as Hannah Rabbe from Cincinnati, and she married John Christian Weinberger in 1871. This is according to Mariam Hansen of the St. Helena Historical Society, who created a timeline of her life in 2016.

The Weinberger property grew to 35 acres before John was “murdered by a disgruntled employee who had been making unwanted advances to daughter Minnie,” Hansen says. An 1889 ledger from Wines and Vines of California, noted Hannah Weinberger, along with 17 other women, on their list of cellar masters and vineyardists.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Garden Fences for Gardens, Yards, & Fields

In early America, just as it had been for centuries, a fence was a structural barrier built of wood, or other materials, used to define, separate, & enclose areas like fields, pastures, yards, & gardens.  Fences were mandated by the local & colonial governments in many of the British American colonies in the 17C & 18C.
1742-46 attributed to William Dering, Anne Byrd Carter.  Brick walls were usually confined to enclosing the grounds of public buildings. Most homes & gardens were "well paled in."  These brick wall fences had balustrades of wood atop the wall.

Some of the earliest legislation in the colonies were directives for fencing in cultivated grounds & other spaces requiring protection from animal & human intruders. Land in early America was often refered to as "well-fenced," "under a good fence," & "within fence."

1787 Ludwig Gottfried von Redeken. Farmer working in his field near the Moravian settlement of Salem, North Carolina.

In 1623, the Virginia General Assembly declared "that every freeman shall fence in a quarter of an acre of ground before Whitsuntide next to make a garden."
Jonathan Welch Edes (American artist, 1750-c 1793-1803) Overmantle Captain David Thacher’s home in Yarmouth on Cape Cod. Showing men drying cod on racks with the entire operation surrounded by fences.

An act of the Virginia General Assembly of 1705, intended to protect the gardens from stray pigs, horses & cattle, required the owners of every lot on Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg, to "inclose the said lots, or half acres, with a wall, pales, or post and rails, within six months after the building, which the law requires to be erected thereupon, shall be finished."  The minimum height of the fence was set at 4 & one-half feet & but many were built higher. 
1796 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) Houses on New Milford Green, CT

In 1706, the act of the Virginia legislature authorizing the building of the Governor's Palace allocated 635 pounds for the construction of the garden with these instructions, "that a Court-Yard, of dimensions proportionable to the said house, be laid out, levelled and encompassed with a brick wall 4 feet high with the balustrades of wood thereupon, on the said land, and that a Garden of the length of 254 foot and the breadth of 144 foot from out to out, adjoining to the said house, to be laid out and levelled and enclosed with a brick wall, 4 feet high, with ballsutrades of wood upon the said wall, and that handsome gates be made to the said court-yard and garden."
1787-1791 Edward Savage (American artist, 1761-1817) The East Front of Mount Vernon

By 1776, the wooden fences portions of the fences & walls around the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg needed attention. The Virginia Council Journal reported "Repairing Fodder Houses & paling round Garden."  The "General appoints 25 men to repair fences of park."

Also receiving attention were the wooden fences around the pasture near the Governor's Palace in 1777, "Repairing the pailing and railing Round the Pasture." In order to complete the fence repair the workmen needed "60 foot of plank, 250 nails."
1787-1791 Edward Savage (American artist, 1761-1817) Mount Vernon Detail A View from The Northeast

Many fences were built by slave & indentured servant laborers. 

Gottlieb Mittelberger traveled to Pennsylvania from Germany in 1750, on a ship primarily filled with poorer immigrants who would become indentured servants upon arriving in Philadelphia.
1800 Francis Guy (English-born American painter, 1760–1820) On the Harbor in Baltimore, Maryland, where fences run down to the water & protect those on the pier from falling into it.

Mittelberger observed the working conditions for German immigrant, indentured servants in Pennsylvania & wrote of them upon his return to his homeland. He noted, "Work mostly consists in cutting wood, felling oak-trees, rooting out, or as they say there, clearing large tracts of forest. Such forests, being cleared, are then laid out for fields and meadows. From the best hewn wood, fences are made around the new fields; for there all meadows, orchards and fruit-fields, are surrounded and fenced in with planks made of thickly-split wood, laid one above the other, as in zigzag lines, and within such enclosures, horses, cattle, and sheep, are permitted to graze."
1803 Charles Fraser (1782-1860). Utility fence depicted in A Bason & Storehouse Belonging to the Santee Canal.

Most gardeners could not afford brick walls & chose traditional paling---a picket fence--to protect their kitchen gardens. Occasionally Virginians denoted property lines with rail fences constructed in a zig-zag form. One traveler wrote in 1777, “the New Englanders have a saying, when a man is in his liquor, he is making Virginia fences.”
1800 Felice Corne (1752–1845) Ezekiel Hersey Derby Farm near Salem, Massachusetts. Here is a combination of wooden fences & stone walls.

In Baltimore, Maryland in 1797, fenced gardens divided into quadrants but not terraced & with few other embellishments appeared at 13 Baltimore homes. At least one of these kitchen gardens had a stone wall surrounding its four beds. 
1800 Francis Guy (1760-1820). Bolton From the South Garden Facade falling toward the harbor.  This view of Bolton shows the rectangular fenced kitchen gardens at the bottom of the more formal green terraces.

1804 Chairback by John & Hugh Findley c 1804. View by Francis Guy 1760-1820. Garden Facade of Mt Deposit. Baltimore Home of David Harris (1752-1809)

Few paintings of the garden facades of Baltimore's country homes exist, but thanks to some inventive furniture makers, several chairback paintings of a variety of entrance facade fences remain.
1800 Francis Guy (1760-1820). Imporved Entrance Facade of Bolton.

Most of Baltimore's country seats had fences defining the entrance & garden areas of the property. Fences close to the house were usually painted white.
1804 Chairback by John & Hugh Findley c 1804. View by Francis Guy 1760-1820. Entrance Facade of Grace Hill Home of Hugh McCurdy from 1790-1805 in Baltimore.

1804 Chairback by John & Hugh Findley c 1804. View by Francis Guy 1760-1820. From the North Entrance Facade of Bolton, Home of George Grundy (1775-1825) Baltimore.

1804 Chairback by John & Hugh Findley c 1804. View by Francis Guy 1760-1820. Rose Hill. Home of William Gibson (1735-1832) Baltimore Lanvale Street at Eutaw Place.

1804 Chairback by John & Hugh Findley c 1804. View by Francis Guy 1760-1820. St. Paul's Chairity School. Baltimore.

1805 Chairback by John & Hugh Findley c 1804. View by Francis Guy 1760-1820. Woodville. Baltimore Home of Jeremiah Yellott .

Some of the homes dotting the hills above Baltimore's harbor did not have fences on the entrance facade of the home, exhibiting a more natural grounds approach toward their landscaping. Fenced kitchen gardens usually were tucked away at the rear of the house.

1805 Francis Guy (1760-1820).  Bolton in Baltimore from the extended South Garden Facade.  Here, the garden area at the bottom of the formal falling garden terraces had been fenced with a curved picket fencing.

French traveler Moreau St. Mery wrote of the country seats around New York City, when he was there in 1793.  "I have spoken frequently of "pretty" country houses in this description; but when one hears this expression, he must not think that it has the same sense here as it has in Europe, particularly in France.

"In America, a very pretty country house corresponds only to a place moderately kept up on the outskirts of a large French city, and even then one will find in the former neither the good taste which embellishes the European house nor the comforts which make living in it a pleasure.


In America almost everything is sacrificed to the outside view. To accomplish this the fences of the houses are sometimes varied by these six combinations:
1. Planks are laid vertically and close together.
2. Planks are laid the same way, with a space between them.
3. Little narrow boards are laid across without joining.
4. Vertically placed laths are joined.
5. Vertically placed laths are not joined.
6. Laths are placed vertically, but passing alternately on the outside and the inside of cross members.

"Further elegance is obtained by using different shades of paint on lattices and partitions. Doors are handled in the same way." 
1800 Michele Felice Corne (1752–1845) New England Country Seat with rather intricate entrance fencing.

New Yorker John Nicholson suggested a few practical, utilitarian fence designs in The Farmer's Assistant in 1820, "Log-fences are often made on new-cleared lands...White-pine log-fences are very good, and will last 20 years without any essential repairing. Clear white-pine timber may, however, be split into rails, which are very durable. All kinds of wood will last much longer in rails, when the bark is peeled off.
1780 Unknown Artist. The End of the Hunt.

"What are called worm-fences are made with most ease, but require more timber than some other kinds. If, therefore, timber be scarce, post-and-rail fences...ought to be prefered, where good durable posts can be had.
1796 Ralph Earl (American artist, 1751-1801) Ruggles Homestead


"If the posts are too small to have holes made through them, the rails may be flated at the ends and fastened to the posts with spikes.. or with wooden pins well secured.
1816. Charles Willson Peale. Belfield Farm in Pennsylvania.

Utility fences, when painted, were usually reddish in color. More formal fences were usually painted white.
1800 An Overmantle from the Gardiner Gilman House in Exeter, New Hampshire.  This painting shows a combination of wooden fencing & stone walls.

"Post-and-rail fences...arc very good where the soil is dry, and the same may be observed of board fences; but, where the soil is wet, the posts will be thrown out by the frosts. In all cases, the posts ought to be set at least 2 feet in the ground.
Francis Guy (English-born American painter, 1760–1820) Summer View of Brooklyn, NY.  The most unusual thing about these utilitarian town fences is that the artist painted them in the summer & in the winter with and without folks working around them.

"Red-cedar is best for posts. Locust, chesnut, butternut, and black-walnut are also good. Good oak will also last pretty well. Burning the ends of the posts which go into the ground, so as to make them black, will make them last longer...

1817-20 Francis Guy (English-born American painter, 1760–1820) Winter Scene in Brooklyn, NY

"It is advisable to have a close high fence round your kitchen and fruit-gardens. This, in the first place, renders every thing within it secure from Pillagers; and also serves to keep out fowls. Another, benefit consists in keeping off the strong cold winds of the Spring, which are very injurious to the young plants, and also to the fruit, which is then about puting forth."

1817 Francis Guy (English-born American painter, 1760–1820) Winter Scene in Brooklyn, NY  How the fence was used in the winter.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Women's Work 1863 - US Women as Wine Manufacturers & Grape Growers.

Women as Wine Manufacturers & Grape Growers.

Many persons are becoming interested in the culture of the grape; & some are spending time & money in experimenting. Longworth of Cincinnati has realized a fortune from his operations. Relle Britain says: “In Longworth's cellars are 700,000 bottles of wine. Mr. L. informed her that we have in this country at least 5,000 varieties of the grape, & his vineyards yield from 600 to 700 gallons to the acre." 

The color of wine depends on the color of the grapes from which it is made. In several of the States, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, & Alabama, vineyards are flourishing, & many new ones are being planted out. The variety of soil & surface in our country is such that there is every probability of success. As yet, only two kinds have been much grown. 

No doubt a large number of women will, in the course of a few years, be employed in the cultivation of the vine & the manufacture of wine. One can soon learn, with a few instructions in each season, the proper culture of the vine. 
A great deal of the work in the vineyards of France & Switzerland is done by women. Women do better that men, because their fingers are smaller & more nimble. The want of intelligent culture has been the greatest barrier in the introduction of graperies into our country; but such is the number of  foreigners now among us that have a practical knowledge of the business, we need fear no want of workmen. Many, too, have not been willing to invest capital in an uncertain enterprise. 

Wine manufacturers in Orange county, N. Y., write: “We have not employed women to any great extent in our business. There are some branches of the business in which women might be suitably & profitably employed, where those branches are extensively carried on. The bottling process, including cleaning of bottles, filling, putting on foil, labels, &c., could be done by women as well as men. Women could pick the grapes, & cull out the green & poor berries, & prepare them for the press. They are employed for this purpose in Europe. The reasons why we have not employed women in these branches are, we bottle not more than one sixth of our wine; we manufacture principally for church communion & medicinal purposes, & the principal demand for those purposes is by the gallon-consequently we send it out mostly in casks. (Some wine growers bottle all.) The men, whom we necessarily employ by the year or month in the cultivation of the ground, vines, &c., are of course employed in the season of the vintage, bottling, &c.; & in hurried times, such as the time of picking the grapes, we get such additional help as is easiest obtained, generally boys & girls, with sometimes women. Women are in such demand here for household labor, that, unless sought for at the proper time, March & the 1st of April, & hired for the year, it would be almost impossible to obtain them. The wages generally paid are from $5 to $7 per month, mostly $5 & $6.” 

Another grape grower writes, in answer to a circular: “I do not employ female help in my business, except for a few weeks during the time of tying up the vines & in gathering the fruit, for which I pay 50 cents per day, without board. Women might be employed to quite an extent in this business, which is increasing in the country to a wonderful degree." 

The Employments of Women: A Cyclopaedia of Woman's Work by Virginia Panny Published Boston, MA. by Walker, Wise & Company. 1863

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Poinsettia's Philadelphia Roots

Hardy Christmas flower got its U.S. start in 1829 at the first Flower Show.
By Virginia A. Smith, The Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer
December 18, 2011

"The red poinsettia has been a Christmas tradition forever, it seems. Did you know it has a historic connection to Philadelphia?

"Bartram's Garden, established on the banks of the Schuylkill around 1728 by botanist John Bartram, was the first to successfully grow the poinsettia outside its native Mexico. Bartram's officially introduced it to the American public and commercial trade at the inaugural Philadelphia Flower Show on June 6, 1829.

"At this one-day affair, the public reacted to the poinsettia and hundreds of other plants with such excitement that the show's host, the fledgling Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, decided to make it an annual event.

"The exotic Mexican beauty was described as "a new Euphorbia with bright scarlet bracteas, or floral leaves, presented to the Bartram collection by Mr. Poinsett, United States Minister to Mexico." "Mr. Poinsett" was Joel Roberts Poinsett, a prominent South Carolina politician and diplomat with an interest in horticulture.

"Nevertheless, according to historian Joel T. Fry, it was not Bartram's that became known as the poinsettia's patron. English garden historians bestowed that honor on Philadelphia nurseryman Robert Buist, who introduced it to his Scottish homeland in 1834, fully five years after the flower show.

"Even though something new might be discovered, Bartram's didn't sit around recording each one," Fry said.  As opposed to the Brits, who did.

"Late in life, Buist corrected the record. He wrote an article describing his presence at Bartram's when "two plants with stubby little roots were unpacked. They turned out to be poinsettias," Fry said.

"From the get-go, the now oh-so-familiar poinsettia was the province of botanists, "plant nerds," and wealthy hobbyists, according to Paul Ecke 3d, whose great-grandfather Albert Ecke started the family's poinsettia business in Los Angeles a century ago.

"Nobody else had the money to heat their house to keep the flowers alive, and certainly not a greenhouse," Ecke said.

"For decades, the poinsettia was field-grown and sold as a cut flower, like roses. In the 1960s, the Eckes moved their growing operations indoors, commercial breeding began in earnest, and potted plants quickly superseded cut stems as the norm.

"With aggressive marketing, poinsettias soon became "the Christmas plant," which is an honest claim; their natural bloom time is winter.

"Today, besides the ubiquitous red, poinsettias come in lots of colors, even yellow, and designs, including marbled, painted, and glittered. Ecke has a new early-bloomer he promotes for outdoor landscapes in places such as Texas and California.

"Remarkably, red is still the public's favorite color. "It's the tradition," he says.

But the poinsettia industry struggles to attract a younger audience - with novelty and supersized plants, as well as specimens sold in "cool pots that promote lifestyle."

"We don't want poinsettias to just be Grandma's plant or Mom's plant. We have to make poinsettias cool for Gen XYZ," Ecke said... The family business, which moved to Encinitas, Calif., in 1923 and expanded to Guatemala in 1995, still controls 70 percent of the worldwide market in poinsettia cuttings, 50 percent of the domestic.

"As for "Mr. Poinsett," turns out he was vain and opinionated and caused such a scandal in Mexico, he was eventually kicked out. Today, Fry said, "he is always portrayed as an evil American gringo."

"As if that weren't grinch-y enough: In papers left behind, Poinsett never once mentions the curious plant that set Philadelphians on their head in 1829.

"Said Fry: "It was not a big thing in his life."

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Women's Work 1863 - US Women as Root, Bark, & Seed Gatherers.

Women Gathering Roots? Engraved by R D Havell after George Walker Published by Robinson and Son Leeds

When the grass is bowed by the sparkling dew, & the hills shrouded in mist, plants exhale most freely their sweet odors. They are then gathered & sold to manufacturers, who prepare from them oils, essences, & perfumeries. 

An old Quaker lady on Tenth street, Philadelphia, keeping an herb store, told me that she purchases her herbs mostly of men, but some women do bring them to sell. 

It requires a knowledge of botany to gather them, & the stage of the moon must be observed. Digging roots, & gathering plants, at all seasons, is a hard business. 

At another herb store, Í learned that the prices paid gatherers depend much on the kind of herb, the difficulty of obtaining it, & the season when it is gathered. A woman may earn $1 a week, or she may earn as much as $10. 

The roots & herbs are bought by weight. Many are purchased fresh in market, but some of the gatherers dry them. They are sent from different parts of the Union to the cities & towns. One told me that she would rather purchase herbs & seed put up by women, for they are neater & more careful with their work. She sells most in spring & fall. An Indian doctress told me barks must be gathered in the spring & fall, when they are full of sap; & roots, when the leaves are faded or dead. She sometimes makes $20 worth of syrup in a day. She says the business requires some knowledge of plants, experience in the times of gathering, amount of drying, &c. 

The Employments of Women: A Cyclopaedia of Woman's Work by Virginia Panny Published Boston, MA. by Walker, Wise & Company. 1863

To read about women's changing roles in the 2nd half of the 19th century. see:
Boorstin, Daniel. The Americans: The Democratic Experience. New York:Random House, 1973.
Clinton, Catherine. The Other Civil War: American Women in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Hill and Wang, 1984.
Cott, Nancy. A Heritage of Her Own: Toward a New Social History of Women. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979.
Cott Nancy. History of Women in the United States, Part 6, Working the Land. New York: K. G. Saur, 1992.
Degler, Carl. At Odds: Women and the Family from Revolution to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Green, Harvey. The Light of the Home: An Intimate View of the Lives of Women in Victorian America. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983.
Juster, Norton. So Sweet to Labor: Rural Women in America 1865-1895. New York: The Viking Press, 1979.
Kessler-Harris, Alice. Out to Work: A History of Wage Earning Women in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982
Mintz, Stephen and Susan Kellogg. Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life. New York: Free Press; London: Collier Macmillan, 1988.
Ryan, Mary P. Womanhood in America front he Colonial Times to the Present. New York: F. Watts, 1983.
Smith-Rosenberg, Caroll. Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Strasser, Susan. Never Done: A History of American Housework. New York Pantheon Books, 1982.
Welter, Barbara. Dimity Convictions : the American Woman in the Nineteenth Century. Athens : Ohio University Press, 1976.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Metal, willow, & clay cloches

Terracotta rhubarb forcer with lid
A bell-shaped terracotta rhubarb forcer with lid, about 13" high

Although it is clear that I favor the glass cloche, in the interest of fairness, we will look at a few alternative types of cloches from the 17th, 18th, & 19th centuries, some still in use today. They deserve equal time, and this is my attempt at trying to be "fair & balanced."

Handmade terra-cotta cloches have existed nearly as long as the blown-glass examples. They often have ventilation holes to prevent spoilage from excessive heat & humidity.

Gardeners usually used terra-cotta cloches slow the growth of lettuce.

Terre cotta rhubarb pots at Knightshayes Garden, Tiverton, Devon, England

Other terra-cotta cloches, often about 30" high & similar in shape to chimney pots, were used for forcing rhubarb. Some of these had lids.
Barnsdale Gardens, Exton, Oakham, Rutland, England.

Gardeners also used metal-framed glass cloches during the period.

In metal-framed cloches, one of the glass panes could be removed by the gardener for fresh air ventilation. Sometimes gardeners temporarily would paint the glass white to shade tender plants from direct sunlight.
Audley End Kitchen Garden, English Heritage, Essex, England

Today, these architectural tents or pavilions are more often employed for decorative purposes.

I found only one depiction of a completely metal cloche made in France about 1900.

 Willow garden cloches. Protect plants from animals, or provide support to plants that need a little protection from the wind, or a place to climb.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Women's Work 1863 - US Women as Makers of Cordial & Syrups.

“Indian sugar camp (Maple Syrup) - Capt. S. Eastman, U.S. Army” John C. McRae. , engraver; 1853; courtesy of Library of Congress.  When European colonists settled the Atlantic coast of North America, area, they learned how to tap maple trees from the indigenous people. However, instead of using a wedge to extract sap, they would drill holes in the trees using augers. They would then insert wooden spouts into the holes and hang buckets from them to collect sap. Colonists made these buckets by hollowing segments of a tree to create a seamless container

Women who live in the country, & have small fruit, would find it pay well to make cordials, berry vinegars, &c. There are some establishments where it is made, & women are employed to gather the fruit. 

The people of the Southern States have depended on the North for these articles, but we presume a change will be wrought. The abundant growth of small fruit in the South will enable the South before long to meet the demand. We think there will be many openings of this kind, in the South & West, for many years to come. 

Some manufacturers of ginger wine, bitters, syrups, cordials, & grape wines, write: “In reply to your circular we say-We do not employ any women in our business, although we indirectly furnish employment for several hundred, during the various fruit seasons, in gathering most kinds of fruit, which we use in our business. Many of these fruits are wild, which we buy at a specified price. The gatherers control their own time, & their earnings will vary from fifty cents to $1 each, per day. It would probably require the labor of abcut six hundred for six months of each year, in gathering the amount of fruit which we use. But as we do not directly employ them, or know anything about the general business of those thus employed, we are unable to give further particulars.”

The Employments of Women: A Cyclopaedia of Woman's Work by Virginia Panny Published Boston, MA. by Walker, Wise & Company. 1863

To read about women's changing roles in the 2nd half of the 19th century. see:
Boorstin, Daniel. The Americans: The Democratic Experience. New York:Random House, 1973.
Clinton, Catherine. The Other Civil War: American Women in the Nineteenth Century. New York: Hill and Wang, 1984.
Cott, Nancy. A Heritage of Her Own: Toward a New Social History of Women. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979.
Cott Nancy. History of Women in the United States, Part 6, Working the Land. New York: K. G. Saur, 1992.
Degler, Carl. At Odds: Women and the Family from Revolution to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.
Green, Harvey. The Light of the Home: An Intimate View of the Lives of Women in Victorian America. New York: Pantheon Books, 1983.
Juster, Norton. So Sweet to Labor: Rural Women in America 1865-1895. New York: The Viking Press, 1979.
Kessler-Harris, Alice. Out to Work: A History of Wage Earning Women in the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982
Mintz, Stephen and Susan Kellogg. Domestic Revolutions: A Social History of American Family Life. New York: Free Press; London: Collier Macmillan, 1988.
Ryan, Mary P. Womanhood in America front he Colonial Times to the Present. New York: F. Watts, 1983.
Smith-Rosenberg, Caroll. Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.
Strasser, Susan. Never Done: A History of American Housework. New York Pantheon Books, 1982.
Welter, Barbara. Dimity Convictions : the American Woman in the Nineteenth Century. Athens : Ohio University Press, 1976.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

The Female Yarb & Mother of Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809)

Artist John Toole (American artist, 1815-1860) Lucy Meriwether Marks (1752-1837).

Meriwether Lewis had grown up with an expert on local plants. His mother, Lucy Meriwether Lewis Marks, was a respected herb doctor in Albemarle County, Virginia, who treated patients with herbal remedies & “simples.” From his mother, Lewis learned to identify plants of medicinal value & how to use them for therapeutic purposes. "Lucy was born into Albemarle County gentry on February 4, 1752. She was the daughter of Col. Thomas & Elizabeth Thornton Meriwether...She was locally famous as a “yarb” or herb doctor, presumably her books included herbals & medical handbooks...Lucy’s type of doctoring was called “Empiric” & based on practical experience. She was folk practitioner – a job often filled by women. She traveled throughout Albemarle County by horseback caring for the sick well into her early eighties. Perhaps she learned medicine from her father, also known as a healer, & her brother Francis, who was a “Regular” or formally-trained doctor. No doubt Lucy grew medicinal plants in her garden at “Locust Hill” & collected them in the wild as well. Her son, Meriwether Lewis, relied on the skills he had learned from his mother when he treated himself & others on the Lewis & Clark expedition. Her son John attended medical school. Some accounts also refer to her son Reuben as a doctor, though it is likely that he was “yarb” doctor like Lucy rather than a “regular” doctor like his brother John."  (Patricia L. Zontine, April 2009) 

In early America, folk medicine, especially knowledge of healing herbs, was often a feminine art. Typical remedies used staple household ingredients, & their descriptions read like recipes for food preparation. Recipes for remedies were handed down from generation to generation. Women learned to doctor the same way they learned to cook. The preparation might begin with hog lard or honey. Plants were then added, gathered from hillsides or grown in the garden. Most mothers had some knowledge of natural pharmaceuticals, but some were more accomplished herbalists than others.  Many years of growing herbs & dispensing remedies made these women indispensable assets to their communities, which they served not only as pharmacists, but as often as obstetricians & nurses as well.

 She was the possessor of a store of information about local pharmacology.  If she were literate, she may have consulted home medicine guides & herbal handbooks. She usually learned about native plants from her own mother & other relatives. Her female line may have been first taught by neighboring Native Americans. She knew how much of each ingredient to use (often measured by the pinch or the handful), how long to boil (till soft, or till all water save a pint had boiled away), & how much to administer. She knew whether the herb should be decocted (boiled), infused (steeped but not boiled), or demulcified (used in an ointment). She knew to use the leaves of some  plants for one ailment, its roots for another, & its berries for still another. She also knew that the seeds of some plants could be medicinal though their flowers were poisonous. She knew how to treat each herb so as not to destroy its healing power, & precisely when to harvest the plant. Most roots had to be gathered in February or March, before the sap began to rise. Roots lost their value after the sap rose. Some plants--sassafras & poke, for example--became poisonous at certain points in their growth cycle. Seldom did the woman's remedies cure the patient; instead, they alleviated the symptoms. But since it seemed to be the symptoms which were fatal, this was a highly effective type of medicine.


The pharmaceuticals administered by these women consisted of a variety of organic & inorganic compounds. Among the most commonly used medicinal plants were those with astringent qualities, such as sweet gum, myrtle, & yellow dock.  Taken in a tea, such plants could shrink the swelling of a sore throat. Used for tonsillitis or diphtheria, they would leave the patient considerably more comfortable & also lessen the danger of asphyxiation. Packed into a poultice & applied to the skin, the astringent properties of these plants helped to close open wounds & stem bleeding. The selection of herbs for use in medicines was hardly random; many food plants were never used to treat the sick, because they had no medicinal value. Only remedies which brought relief were retained.  See  Ozarks Watch  Vol. VIII, No. 1, 1995  In Defense of Granny Women  by Janet Allured.

Why Thomas Jefferson decided to collect plants during the Lewis & Clark Expedition

From an article written by Peter Hatch, Originally published as "Bernard McMahon, Pioneer American Gardener," Twinleaf, January 1993.
John Trumbull (American painter, 1756-1843) Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) in 1788

"Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon (1775-1816) has often been described as Thomas Jefferson's   (1743-1826) gardening mentor; and his classic work, The American Gardener's Calendar (1806), as Jefferson's horticultural "Bible." McMahon forwarded the newest vegetable and flower varieties to Jefferson, who would often follow the directions in the Calendar step-by-step when planting tulips in his flower beds or sea kale in his vegetable garden. McMahon also served as curator for the plants collected by the Lewis and Clark expedition, published the first seed catalogue in the United States, and was honored by botanist Thomas Nuttall, who in 1818 bestowed the genus name Mahonia on a group of west-coast evergreen shrubs still popular in American gardens.
"McMahon's chief legacy was his American Gardener's Calendar, the most comprehensive gardening book published in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century; popularity and influence can be gauged by the eleven editions that were printed up to 1857. The 648-page Calendar was modeled on a traditional English formula, providing month-by-month instructions on planting, pruning, and soil preparation for the various horticultural divisions -- the Kitchen Garden, Fruit Garden, Orchard, Nursery, etc.
"McMahon borrowed extensively from English works, especially those of Philip Miller and particularly from John Abercrombie, author of Every Man his own Gardener, first published in York in 1767 under the name of Thomas Mawe, at the time a more recognizable figure. McMahon's 63 page General Catalogue of Recommended Garden Plants (3,700 species) was unrealistically biased in favor of traditional Old World species. It is doubtful whether a majority of them were then found in the United States; one also wonders how many American gardeners actually possessed an English-style Fruit Garden, much less a Greenhouse or Hothouse, in 1806. A renowned English contemporary, J. C. Loudon, suggested the derivative character of the Calendar in 1826: "We cannot gather from the work any thing as to the extent of American practice in these particulars."
"Nevertheless, McMahon's Calendar appealed to Jefferson because it attempted to deal with some of the unique problems of American gardening. McMahon made a concerted effort to break away from English traditions in the way he celebrated the use of native American ornamentals, championed large-scale cider and seedling peach orchards that could be grazed with livestock, and admitted the harsh realities of eastern North America's continental climate.
"McMahon reinforced Jefferson's custodial pride in the culture of American plants. It was in the Calendar that American gardeners were first urged to comb the local woodlands and fields for "the various beautiful ornaments with which nature has so profusely decorated them." Wildflowers, according to McMahon, were particularly suited for the hot, humid summer when American gardens "are almost destitute of bloom." McMahon continued, "Is it because they are indigenous that we should reject them? What can be more beautiful than our Lobelias, Asclepias, Orchis, and Asters? In Europe plants are not rejected because they are indigenous; and yet here, we cultivate many foreign trifles, and neglect the profusion of beauties so bountifully bestowed upon us by the hand of nature."

"McMahon's Calendar also included the first American essay on landscape design. Titled, "Ornamental Designs and Plantings," this eighteen-page treatise may have inspired Jefferson's design schemes for the Roundabout flower border and oval beds on the West Lawn at Monticello. Following the dictates of English landscape designer Humphrey Repton, McMahon promoted the new, informal style of naturalistic gardening. He urged his readers to "consult the rural disposition in imitation of nature" that would include "winding walks, all bounded with plantations of trees, shrubs, and flowers in various clumps." The use of broad lawns, thickets, and irregularly-shaped flower beds were further ways of banishing traditional, formal landscape and garden geometry. Few American gardening books have so thoroughly combined landscape gardening and horticulture like Bernard McMahon's The American Gardener's Calendar. McMahon's writings provided a foundation for the popularity of Andrew Jackson Downing, generally considered the father of landscape design in this country.
"Who was Bernard McMahon? Information on this gardening pioneer is scanty. Born in Ireland "of good birth and fortune," he moved to Philadelphia in 1796 to avoid political persecution and soon established a seedhouse and nursery business by 1802. In that year (or perhaps in 1803) he published a broadsheet "CATALOGUE OF GARDEN GRASS, HERB, FLOWER, TREE & SHRUB-SEEDS, FLOWER ROOTS, ETC. " that included 720 species and varieties of seed. Considered the "first seed catalogue" published in this country, it is a landmark index to the plants introduced and cultivated in the United States at that time. For instance, this list supplements the documented plantings of Jefferson in the yearly plantings of the flower gardens at Monticello. In 1804 another catalogue of thirty pages, mostly devoted to native American seeds, was published."

Editor's notes (In 1778, 1785, & 1792, the early American botanist Humphrey Marshall (1722-1801) proposed to the American Philosophical Society of Philadelphia that they sponsor a botanical expedition westward to the Pacific ocean. Marshall was a part-time botanist & plant dealer born in the village of Marshallton, Pennsylvania, and was a cousin of William & John Bartram.  In 1773, Marshall created a botanical garden at Marshallton including both native & exotic plants.   In 1785, Marshall published "Arboretum Americanum: the American Grove, an Alphabetical Catalogue of Forest Trees and Shrubs, Natives of the American United States" (Philadelphia).

Thomas Jefferson, who joined the American Philosophical Society in 1790, supported Marshall's proposal in 1793; however,  the idea languished.  But politics & power intervened.  On June 20, 1803, President Thomas Jefferson sent a formal letter to his private secretary and aide Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809), a captain in the 1st U. S. Infantry. It requested that he head an expedition up the Missouri River to find a navigable route to the Pacific Ocean. No mention in this letter was made of botany, but Jefferson had it in mind.
Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809) - William Clark (1770-1838)

Meriwether Lewis had grown up with an expert on local plants. His mother, Lucy Meriwether Lewis Marks, was a respected herb doctor in Albemarle County, Virginia, who treated patients with herbal remedies & “simples.” From his mother, Lewis learned to identify plants of medicinal value & how to use them for therapeutic purposes.  An enthusiastic naturalist, Lewis developed, according to Thomas Jefferson, “a talent for observation which had led him to an accurate knowledge of the plants & animals of his own country.” This would turn out to be important, as Lewis needed to be able to tell what plants he found along the trail were “not of the U.S.”  Lewis’s botanical training was rounded out by a visit with Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton  (1766-1815) during his crash course with the country’s leading scientific minds in Philadelphia during the spring of 1803. Dr. Barton was a professor of botany at the University of Pennsylvania, a friend of Jefferson’s, & the author of Elements of Botany: or Outlines of the Natural History of Vegetables, the first botany textbook produced in the United States. Lewis evidently got some training on how to preserve plant specimens from Barton & purchased Barton's textbook as a reference to take with him on his trip.
Benjamin Smith Barton (1766-1815)

Lewis was authorized to choose a co-commander, and he chose William Clark (1770-1838), who had earlier been Lewis' commanding officer. On May 14, 1804, the Lewis and Clark expedition set out from St. Louis. They reached the Pacific at the mouth of the Columbia River on Nov. 7, 1805.) End of Editor's notes.

"Beginning in 1806 McMahon was trusted with seeds and plants collected from the Lewis and Clark expedition. Jefferson insisted that these new discoveries were the property of the expedition and of the federal government, so McMahon was forced, perhaps rightfully so, to grow these novelties under restriction in a quarantine-like situation. As well, sticky complications and fierce personal rivalries arose over the description, illustration, and release of the plants, which included golden currant (Ribes aureum, Snowberry  (Symphoricarpus albus), and Osage orange (Maclura pomifera): as many as 25 undescribed species. Botanical historian and scholar, Joseph Ewan, observed, "It must have tried his soul on occasion to have to weed and water these plantings through the years without realizing thereby either the aura of publicity for his nursery or the personal satisfaction of guardianship for what were precious discoveries of new genera and species eventually announced, not in America, but in England!"
"In 1808 McMahon purchased twenty acres for his nursery and botanic garden that would enable him to expand his business. A steady stream of correspondence, 37 letters, passed between him and President Jefferson until 1816, when McMahon died at his "Botanical Garden, called Upsal." The nursery business was left to his wife, who, according to Ewan, "conducted it under difficulties that would have appalled most women." Their son, Thomas P., was also involved in the business, as well as further publications of the Calendar.

"The most vivid written document to survive regarding McMahon and his Philadelphia seedhouse was written by John Jay Smith, editor of The Horticulturist, for the 11th edition of the Calendar in 1857. Smith's memoir suggests the ferment of botanical and horticultural activity at the time:"

"Bernard M'Mahon found American gardening in its infancy, and immediately set himself vigorously to work to introduce a love of flowers and fruit. The writer well remembers his store, his garden and greenhouses. "The latter were situated near the Germantown turnpike, between Philadelphia and Nicetown, whence emanated the rarer flowers and novelties, such as could be collected in the early part of the present century, and where were performed, to the astonishment of the amateurs of that day, successful feats of horticulture that were but too rarely imitated.

"His store was on Second Street, below Market, on the east side. Many must still be alive who recollect its bulk window, ornamented with tulip glasses, a large pumpkin, and a basket or two of bulbous roots; behind the counter officiated Mrs. M'Mahon, with some considerable Irish accent, but a most amiable and excellent disposition, and withal, an able saleswoman.


"Mr. M'Mahon was also much in the store, putting up seeds for transmission to all parts of this country and Europe, writing his book, or attending to his correspondence, and in one corner was a shelf containing a few botanical or gardening books, for which there was then a very small demand; another contained the few garden implements, such as knives and trimming scissors, a barrel of peas and a bag of seedling potatoes, an onion receptacle, a few chairs, and the room partly lined with drawers containing seeds, constituted the apparent stock in trade of what was one of the greatest seed-stores then known in the Union, and where was transacted a considerable business for that day.


"Such a store would naturally attract the botanist as well as the gardener, and it was the frequent lounge of both classes, who ever found in the proprietors ready listeners, as well as conversers; in the latter particular they were rather remarkable, and here you would see Nuttall, Baldwin, Darlington, and other scientific men, who sought information or were ready to impart it."