This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Among the most important agencies which have contributed largely to the advancement of the pomology of our country, we desire to speak especially of its literature. One hundred years ago this had not begun to exist in our country. Then there was not an agricultural, horticultural or pomological society, not a periodical or paper devoted to the cause of terraculture. When the Philadelphia and the Massachusetts Societies for Promoting Agriculture were formed, our only pomological literature was limited to a small number of European works. These were, as far as possible, collected in the libraries of these societies, and we early trace the beginnings of an American pomological literature in papers contributed to the publications of these same societies. The first of these communications appeared in the Massachusetts Agricultural Repository in 1796, on the natural history of the canker worm. In this paper Prof. Peck gave a very full account of this insect, still so injurious to our apple trees.
This attention on the part of agricultural societies to fruit culture has continued and increased to the present day, and I am of the opinion that however much we may be indebted to the State societies and other prominent organizations, we owe much to the unpretending reports of local societies for the interest which now pervades the masses and popularizes pomological knowledge. All of these may be counted in the history and literature of American pomology. Many of these are not only examples of real practical knowledge, but are highly creditable for their literary and scientific character. From these, our own publications have derived much of the information which gives them their excellence, all combining to make up the literature of American pomology. Only fifty years ago the difficulty of obtaining correct information from our own countrymen in regard to fruit trees and the culture of them, was almost insuperable, and we were compelled to resort to such European authors as we could obtain. But those of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, such as Merlet, Quintinye, Duhamel, and the like, were in foreign languages, and not generally available for our uses if we except the"Pomologia" of the Dutch gardener, Herman Knoop, which had been translated.
It was not, however, until about the beginning of the present century, even in these countries, that the new enterprise in fruit culture, which characterizes the present age, had sprung up. The publications of Van Mons in Belgium, Forsyth and Knight in England, and Poiteau and Noisette, in France, awakened a new interest in their own and other lands, but it was reserved for a later day, when their successors, George Lindley, Thompson, Rivers and Hogg of England; Esperen, Bivort and Berck-mans, of Belgium; Decaisne, Leroy and Mas, of France, and others of our own land, should infuse into die minds of cultivators that new zeal in fruit culture which has now spread throughout our own continent. But it was not until the establishment of horticultural societies in the United States, such as New York, in 1818, the Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, in 182S and 1829, and the publication of their proceedings, that the glorious era in which we live commenced the development of our wonderful fruit resources. The first strictly pomological work published in America was Coxe's"View of the Cultivation of Fruit Trees," which appeared in 1817.
Through foreign correspondence and commercial intercourse,"the zeal which had been awakened in Europe soon extended itself to our shores; trees, scions and pomological books of foreign origin, were freely added to our own collections. Societies were formed, new nurser-ies established, catalogues published, and a general desire manifested for new and improved fruits.
In this new enterprise, Coxe, of New Jersey; Hosack, Buel, and David Thomas, of New York; Mease, Carr, and Landreth, of Pennsylvania; Lowell, Manning and Downer of Massachusetts; Young, of Kentucky; Smith, of Rhode Island; Ives, and Munson of Connecticut; Corse, of Canada; Hildreth, Longworth, and Kirtland, of Ohio; Corse and Rogers of Maryland; Kenicott and Dunlap, of Illinois, and others - soon became actively engaged.
We have spoken of the early publications of Horticultural Societies, but there is another class of publications to which we are even more indebted. In 1819, appeared the forerunner of the present host of Agricultural papers, the American Farmer, which still continues in a green old age, and it is a pleasant coincidence that we meet in the city where this first journal saw the light of day, and whose editor is the Secretary of the society whose hospitality we are now enjoying.
Then came the New England Farmer, the Genesee Farmer, and the Albany Cultivator, through whose columns information began to be widely disseminated. Then came the fruit books and publications of the elder and younger Prince, Thacher, Manning, Kenrick, the Downings, John J. Thomas, Hovey, Barry, Brinckle, Warder, Hooper, Elliot, Field, Fuller and others. Nor should we fail to mention as powerful agents in advancing the cause, Hovey"s Magazine of Horticulture, the Horticulturist, the Gardener's Monthly, and the American Journal of Horticulture. Another class of pomological literature deserves prominent recognition, viz.: the host of descriptive catalogues, of our nurserymen, many of which are of the most reliable, instructive and interesting character. Ultimately, as a consummation much to be desired, came the Proceedings of the American Pomological Society for the last twenty-nine years, embracing in consolidated form the reports of the various States and districts, the discussions, the catalogues of fruits adapted to each section of our country, and other information, such as is nowhere else to be found in the history of pomological literature.
Through these publications the reputation of our American fruits has attracted the attention of foreigners, so that European catalogues now possess many names of American varieties.