This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V18", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In December number of Gardener's Monthly, p. 368, your correspondent, D. O. Munson, Esq., of Fall's Church, Va., says, "I send you by express some peaches which have been sent to the Washington market for two Or three years, under the name of Comet, from the eastern shore of Maryland. This fruit brings from $4 to $5 per bushel. You describe this peach as a white flesh peach. Again I find in January number, 1876, pages 14 and 27 same number, two more communications from same correspondent. On page 14 he says, "I send you a plate of same kind of peach I sent you. I also sent same to-Chas. Downing, who says it is a new peach. Rivers, of England, has sent out a yellow peach called Comet, and it will be necessary to give this one a new name, and I have decided to call it Billiers' Comet, as it originated with a Mr. Billiers, of Kent Co., Md." Again, on page 27, Mr. Munson says, " I still find there is a mistake in the name of the Comet peach - name is Billieu's Comet," Now, Mr. Editor, I think there is no good to come of having too many names for one fruit.
This peach was originally put out by S. G. Bilyeu, of Littleton, N. C, and he named it Bilyeu's Late October. Now I find it under the following names: Billiers' Comet, Billieu's Comet, Bilyeu's Sweet October, and further, it has taken premiums under other names, which can be corrected at another time. Your correspondent says it originated with a Mr. Billiers, of Kent Co., Md. No one of that name ever lived in Kent Co., - at least fifty years back; this I know of my own knowledge, as I am well acquainted with all the prominent fruit growers of Kent Co. The Peach was found by Mr. Bilyeu in Caroline Co., Md., and has been planted extensively in Kent, Caroline, and Dorchester Co's., Md., and where soil is dry. and light loam, or sandy, does finely. As I wished to have the above corroborated by good authority, I wrote Col. E. Wilkins, of Kent Co., Md., calling his attention to the matter, as he planted largely of the Bilyeu's Late October, and from the first lot" that was propagated from the original tree. The Colonel planted on different kinds of soil, and I propose to give here an extract from his letter in answer to mine, for such information as he could give in reference to this peach. To save confusion, I am anxious it should have but one name.
Col. F. W. writes as follows:
Riverside, KeNt Co., Md., Feb 4th, 1876.
Randolph Peters, Esq.:
Dear Sir: - Yours of the 2d inst. received. Some people in Kent Co, Md., as well as the correspondent in the Gardener's Monthly, have got things not a little, as you say, but I think a good deal mixed up. I know but one peach called the Comet, the one sent out by Thos. Rivers, a yellow-fleshed peach, ripens with me about with Smock. The peach you allude to is known to me as Bilyeu's Late October, and was propagated by Bilyeu from what he supposed to be a natural tree, which he found in Caroline Co., Md. With the owner's permission he obtained specimens of the fruit, and secured buds to propagate from the next season, and in due time he planted them on land that he got on shares, both in Caroline and Dorchester Co., Md. I succeeded in getting quite a large lot of him. Several parties propagating peach trees in this county for sale, got buds from me of this peach, and every fellow seems to have thought he had a right to give it a new name. Some of these parties called it Comet. Sherman calls his Sherman's October. Now about the peach. It is not a shy bearer, .but sometimes, when most other varieties are full, these will have none on them, but most generally when there is a crop this variety is well loaded. This is not the only peculiarity.
I do not know any peach that is so much influenced by soil and situation as the Bilyeu's Late October. When grown upon high, dry, sandy soil of good quality, you obtain a valuable peach for market and for table use. They are large size, fine color and fine flavor, but when grown under other circumstances are small, and inferior in quality. There are only a few spots where I have them planted that suits them. I have sold this fruit after the 20th of October at $4 per box, when the ruling price during the season for peaches was less than $2.