This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
On the 11th of September, 1867, the American Pomological Society commenced its eleventh biennial session in the city of St. Louis, Mo., with its long time-honored President, Marshall P. Wilder, in the chair, he having, in company with P. Barry, Esq., left the Paris Exposition and the gardens of France, and traveled by land and water some 4,500 miles for the sole purpose of once more meeting in pleasant association, amid a collection of Pomona's products, the fruit-growers of the United States. From no self-interest - from no hope of personal aggrandizement or pecuniary reward - the members of this Society gathered themselves together with the products of their orchards and vineyards from all parts of the States; some, as named above, even crossing the ocean, that they might compare and discuss the values of fruits and the modes of culture, diseases, etc., and spread the information broadcast and free over the land to aid the new beginner and assist him in producing the most palatable and healthful food designed by a wise Creator for man's support.
The history of this Society was fully given in the opening address of President Wilder, and may be briefly summed up as follows:
"It is the result of the union of two national organizations that were organized in 1848. These were the North American Pomological Convention and the National Congress of Fruit-Growers, which were united in 1850 as the American Pomological Congress, which subsequently became known as the American Pomological Society. The meetings of this Society under the different organizations have been held as follows:
"The North American Pomological Convention, Buffalo, September, 1848; American Congross of Fruit-Growers, New York, October, 1848.
" North American Pomological Convention, Syracuse, September, 1849; American Congress of Fruit-Growers, New York, October, 1849.
"American Pomological Congress, Cincinnati, October, 1850.
"American Pomological Congress, Philadelphia, September, 1852.
"And under the name of American Pomological Society, at Boston, in September, 1854; at Rochester, in September, 1856; at New York, in September, 1858; at [Rochester, September, 1860; at Boston, September, 1862; at Rochester, September, 1864; at St Louis, September, 1867; and the next meeting appointed to be held at Philadelphia, in 1869."
Of the attendance in numbers at this meeting it may be said to have been good. Not as large as the enthusiastic lovers of the subject would wish, but such as to show that pomology is a knowledge yearly increasing, and fruit-growing rapidly becoming one of the most enticing, profitable, and agreeable pursuits of rural life,
Of the exhibition of fruits, it may be said to have been almost unprecedented - the number of plates being something over twenty-four hundred; and yet had Illinois and the great West generally been blessed with one of their usual productive fruit seasons, there is every reason to believe that the number of varieties, as well as samples, would have been more than doubled.
Two large halls were devoted to the use of the Society during its meeting, the expenses of which were defrayed by the Missouri State Horticultural Society. In the one hall the fruits were displayed, and in the other, the meetings from day to day were held for discussions of opinions. The morning of the first day's session was mostly occupied in appointment of committees and in listening to welcome addresses made in behalf of the Missouri and Illinois State Horticultural Societies, and of the Mississippi Valley Grape-Growers' Association, to which the President replied in his usual heartfelt manner. Every word of his address expressed his deep appreciation of the great subject which had thus brought together, from thousands of miles of distance, this band of men, who, however divided and unlike in other things, were one and inseparable in the advancement of fruit culture.
The afternoon was devoted to the delivery of the address of the President, which, as usual with all of Mr. Wilder's addresses, embodied a large amount of information, condensed, and indicative of thought and research in its production.
"In no one of my previous addresses have I omitted to urge the importance of this branch of our science; and as Van Mons advised his friends,' to sow, to sow again, to resow, to sow perpetually,7 so now I repeat the words in which my views on this subject have heretofore been summed up; and as it was my first, so it shall be my continual and last advice - 'Plant the most mature and perfect seeds of the most hardy, vigorous, and valuable varieties; and, as a shorter process, insuring more certain and happy results, cross or hybridize your best fruits.'
"The process of amelioration by sowing the seeds of successive generations, if founded in truth, is so long and tedious as scarcely to be worthy of trial. But we can not define the exact truth of the theory, for we can not estimate the disturbing influence of natural fertilization; and the impossibility of preventing this, where several varieties exist in the same ground, is apparent to all scientific cultivators. Under such circumstances, we could no more prevent an orchard of pears of different sorts from fertilization by the air and insects, than we could prevent a field of corn or a patch of melons, of different sorts, from mixing by the same process.
"While most of our fruits have been produced by this process of accidental crossing, the number of finer sorts have been remarkably few and far between. We would not, however, discourage the planting of seeds of our best fruit, trusting to natural fertilization; but to secure more rapid progress and better results, we must rely on the more certain and expeditious art of hybridization. By this means we may, in a few years, produce such novel and desirable combinations as ages might not give us by accidental fertilization, or sowing seeds at random. In employing this agency we only imitate nature; for, though the artificial process is but of recent origin, natural hybridization must have existed from the creation, and un-doubtedly gave the first hint to man of the power within his reach. Nor can we doubt that the knowledge of this process is confided to man, by the Almighty Creator, that it may be developed to its utmost extent, or that, in pursuing it, we are doing His will and working with Him. Here, 'the master-mold of Nature's heavenly hand'is placed within our own, so that the judicious and skillful operator may raise new and fine varieties of fruits with as much success as the farmer can produce improved animals by the crossing of his favorite herds."
Other portions of the address embrace the "Characteristics of a good tree and of a good fruit - the preservation and ripening of fruit - comments and statistics relative to grape culture - a general view of the work of the Society, together with its moral and social influence, and closing with a tribute of remembrance to those men of eminence in horticulture who, having ceased their labors here, await us at the gate of the garden of paradise."
The conclusion of the President's address was followed by enthusiastic applause, after which the arrival of the treasurer, Thos. P. James, Esq., was announced, and the Society listened to Next followed the election of officers. Marshall P. Wilder was unanimously reelected President. One Vice-President was elected for each State and Territory. Mr. Thomas P. James, of Philadelphia, Penn., was elected Treasurer; and Mr. F. R. Elliott, of Cleveland, Ohio, Secretary.