Friday, February 24, 2017

1880 - Valentine Hicks Hallock, Seedsman

I was digging for the Boston seedsman M. B. Faxon on the web tonight when an ad on the following page caught my eye.  I am such a sucker for highly detailed engravings I immediately switched from Faxon to this gent - V.H. Hallock!  I had to write something about him, especially after I found his full name was Valentine Hicks Hallock. 

ad from 1891 - The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine

This is as large as I have it. Not the best quality but readable.  
Note V.H. Hallock's home to the right

Below is his son's house.

His son was a respected plant breeder involved in improving  gladioli.

There is nothing like a good obituary to quickly fill in some details of a person's  life.  They also give you a feeling for the times in which he lived.  A comment by the writer was, "He lived and died the consistent life of a gentleman.".

Obituary: Valentine Hicks Hallock
Valentine Hicks Hallock, senior member of the firm of V. H. Hallock & Son, died at his home, Queens, N. Y., April 17, aged 85 years, having been born in 1822 at Milton, N. Y., where his ancestors had lived for 250 years.  

At the time of his death he owned property that had been in his family for 175 years. Mr. Hallock belonged to the Milton community of Quakers, famous for its support of the government during the trying times of the civil war.  From the first he took an advanced position in agriculture and small fruits, also in blooded sheep and cattle.  
Through some dealings with C. L. Allen, of Floral Park, N.Y., he drifted into the bulb business and he was identified with the firm that bore his name for 30 years but took no active part in its affairs. At one time this firm was perhaps the most extensive grower and dealer in bulbs and roots, such as lilies, tuberoses, dahlias, gladioli, etc. 
It was during this time that the firm imported the nucleus of the present strain of Gladious Childsii which was developed into a large and merchantable collection by E. V. Hallock, the junior member of the firm and disposed of by John Lewis Childs, after whom the strain and important varieties were named.
Mr. Hallock was a mechanical engineer of considerable ability and of an inventive turn of mind. At one time he was superintendent of the power, mechanical work, etc., connected with a large Brooklyn warehouse. 

He lived and died the consistent life of a gentleman. He always believed in the integrity of his fellowman and above all he was a good Christian man in every sense of the word.
Funeral services were held April 20, interment at Westbury, N. Y.

These glads, introduced by John Lewis Childs of Floral Park, New York, were developed by Edward V. Hallock, a  son of Valentine Hallock.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

1889 - Seedsman Samuel Wilson's Mexican Honey Plant

The flamboyant seedsman Samuel Wilson presented this honey plant on his seed catalog's back cover in 1889.   He more than occasionally rubbed horticulturists the wrong way with his overly optimistic claims for his plants.  In this case he went a step too far and misidentified the specie.

In the review below, editor A. I. Root of Gleanings in Bee Culture questions Mr. Wilson's claim that is Cleome integrifolia.  

It is probably Cleome to the right. 

For more great large photos of the flower and honeybees go to 
Malheur Experiment Station of Oregon State University.

This post is a copy from my bee blog as it concerned Samuel Wilson as much as it does bees.


Samuel Wilson, in his seed catalogue for the present season, gives a picture of what he calls the Mexican honey-plant, or cleome integrifolia, and labels it the greatest discovery of the modern age.     Now, there may be different varieties of cleome integrifolia; but the blossoms pictured in the above catalogue have very little resemblance to our well known Rocky-Mountain bee-plant. 

We have raised this plant for years on our grounds, and, as our readers are very well aware, we have for years sold the seed at 5 cents per package. As friend Wilson has always been considered a good and responsible seedsman, we can hardly understand why he should make this mistake. Very likely, however, it is no worse a mistake than many of the colored pictures of some of our new vegetables.

 In the first place, the picture is not at all correct, as compared with the cleomes that grow in our gardens; neither is it like the Rocky-Mountain bee plant that I found growing in its native state on the Rocky Mountains. The illustration shows the flowers literally dripping with honey. This, too, is a great exaggeration. 
The plant bears honey in the morning, much as the spider plant does; but I am sure never in any locality just as it is pictured. The leaves and unopened blossoms are pictured very correctly. We quote the following from the closing remarks in regard to it:

Mr. Jesse Frazier, one of the largest apiarists in the United States, and one of the most prominent and reliable citizens of Fremont Co., Colorado, says: "No other plant known to the civilized world can vie with the cleome integrifolia in producing honey as food for bees. And no other honey is as clear and of as good quality."     He further says, "I have frequently weighed my bee-stands for a number of mornings and evenings, and found many of them to increase as much as 9 lbs. a day."

Still further on he says:

As yet the seeds of this valuable plant are very scarce. Our agent, after traversing the mountains of Mexico for nearly two months, procured only about 100 pounds.

 Single packet, 25 cts.; 5 packets, $1.00. Each packet will have directions for cultivating, and contain seed enough to plant a row sixty feet long, which will produce sufficient honey for one colony of bees.