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the slopes down which the oaken and the beechen roots descended to sip the refreshing draughts.
Ever since the time when the Atlantic and Pacific held carnival in the Mississippi Valley, these vigorous trees had stood smiling upon the face of the freshening residuum left in Illinois on the final retreat of the ocean.
A resurrected forest had risen from the tombs of the preceding epoch. And not alone around the borders of the widening lake, but upon every island knoll which raised its head above the denuding waters, this encircling forest, and these isolated island clumps still stood and flourished when at length the lake receded.
No turf carpeted the abandoned lake bottom. No oak, or beech, or pine raised its head through the covering of lake-slime that seperated the slumbering place of vegetable germs from the animating influence of the sun and air. By degrees, however, the floods washed down the seeds of grasses and herbs upon the desert area, and humbler forms of vegetation crept from the borders towards the centre. At length the entire area smiled with vernal flowers, and browned in the frosty blasts of winter.
The bulky acorn, and walnut, and hickory nut, traveled with less facility, and the forest more sluggishly encroached upon the lake's abandoned domain. In this stage of history the Indian was here. For aught we know, he was here while yet the prairies were a lake bottom. His canoe may have paddled over the future spires of Bloomington, or the towering dome of the new State House, at Springfield. The muscalonge and pike may have been pursued through the future streets of Chicago or Peoria, but at least the Indian was present in the interval of time by which the herb distanced the tree in their race for the possession of the new soil. In this interval he plied the firebrand to the brown sedges of autumn, and made for himself an Indian summer sky, while he cleared his favorite hunting ground of the rank growths which impeded both eye and foot. While the Indian was engaged in these pursuits, and while yet the forest had not time to extend itself over the prairie, the white man came up the lake from Mackinac, crossed over the prairies to the Mississippi, saw the Indian engaged in his burnings, and hastily concluded that this was the means by which the trees had been swept off, ignorant of the history that had passed, and which was even then, as now, in
very progress, and which was even then, as now, actually crowding the forest
upon the prairies, bringing about the day when, perhaps, a thousand years hence, the prairies, like the forests of Lancashire, will live only in history.
The following articles and correspondence was prepared many years ago, by the author of this work, for the WARSAW HORTICULTURAL Society, and are here copied from the Journals of that efficient and commendable organization. Little thought had the writer at that time that the communications then prepared would be used at this date, for the Centennial History of Mason county. We extract from the proceedings of that Society:
“The Secretary also read a letter from J. Cochrane, Secretary of the Mason County, Ill., Horticultural Society, as follows:”
HAVANA, ILL., March 22, 1867. N. W. Bliss, Esq.
DEAR SIR-Your esteemed favor of the 17th inst., was duly received. Please to accept my thanks for the accompanying article from your pen; also, for papers received a short time since. I will comply with your request in regard to the history of the Gardner Orchard, at an early date. I herewith send you a condensed statement, furnished me, of the Fisk orchard, one of the oldest, if not the oldest, in this county.
“In the fall of 1837, we planted a lot of apple seeds, plum and peach pits in a small space of ground dug up for that purpose. In the spring following, many of them came up, and, with diligent culture, grew finely. In two years they were ready for transplanting
“They were set out in a valley, and on the side of a ridge facing the north. The ridge was covered with bushes, interspersed
with large timber. The flat is of our richest black sandy loam, at the depth of three or four feet underlaid with a stiff clay subsoil. The ridge has but little soil upon it, towards the south part of the orchard. Soil, light sand, subsoil yellow sand, yet blue-grass will grow upon it. A few years later we purchased about a dozen of trees from near Decatur, of the large Romanite variety.
“Now, as to the results. Some winters the water would rise in the flats, but to obviate this, we hilled up the place for the trees, and by after cultivation the mounds were increased. The first trees were set out in the spring of 1840, and in 1846 a number of them bore fruit, but the hard winter of '45 and '46 killed the Decatur trees to the ground and some of them never sprouted. The seedlings remained, some of them I have grafted, and some bear apples I am loth to part with, and do not care to graft. Two of them bear a small striped red and green apple that will keep until August. Two of them bear early apples; one is a striped apple, sheep-nose in shape, medium-sub-acid-juicy. The other, striped red and yellow-medium-sub-acid-juicy-flesh firm.
“Another bears a white apple, skin tender, flesh white, brittle and firm, sub-acid, September, medium. Another produces a yellow fruit, very juicy, intensely sour, and very rich, as are all the preceding. Still another grows a large green apple with red streaks. In size and color somewhat resembles the Rambo, ripens about the 15th of August, sub-acid, tender and delicate. Others bear good, common fruit, and from these trees I have a succession of fruit the year round, and every year.
“The peach trees bore in three years. They bore well for several years, and at the winter aforenamed, they went the way of all the earth. There are a few now on the place, but their fruiting is like angel's visits. The plum trees were suffered to remain without transplanting. I have quite a thicket of them; they bear every year; are not equal to some other varieties, yet some persons consider them worth stealing."
I am now getting another orchard of grafted fruit. Some of the trees, gotten five years ago of Prof. Turner, of Jacksonville, fruited this and last year. Also, quite a lot of Chickasaw, Blue and Lombard plums; all except the latter have been bearing. I am not troubled with curculio so as to suffer any inconvenience. My remedy is to Do NOTHING, hence not expensive.
Our county Horticultural Society is in its tottering infancy; we hope to see it able, at least, to be standing alone during the present
I am urging the matter of our folks taking horticultural journals, and will do “what in me lies” for the State Society. Anything you can put in our way, in the future, as in the past, will be duly appreciated.
J. COCHRANE. The Secretary remarked that the history of the Fisk orchard should encourage all to experiment in raising seedlings, and thus increase the varieties of fruits, and at the same time secure hardiness and productiveness.
Extract from the proceedings of a meeting held by the Warsaw Horticultural Society, at Warsaw, Illinois, June 27, 1867:
“* President A. C. Hammond called the meeting to order. Minutes of the last meeting read and approved.
The Secretary said he would read to the Society a history of the “Gardner Orchard,” furnished by Joseph Cochrane, Esq., Secretary of the Mason county, Illinois, Horticultural Society, as fol. lows:
HAVANA, ILL., May 16, 1867. N. W. Bliss, Esq.: DEAR SIR—According to promise, I proceed to give you a brief
I history of the “Gardner Orchard,” in Fulton county, near this city. The "improvement” was begun by the father of the present owner of the Gardner estate, many years ago, before the time had come in this vicinity) that
The furrows were deep that the plowman had made,
And their children sang songs to “ The Father” in Heaven. A lot of apple seed was obtained from Griffith's orchard above the mouth of the Missouri River, near St. Charles, Mo., in the fall of 1824, and planted in a nursery the succeeding spring, where the young trees remained till three years old, when four hundred were selected and planted out in orchard. The ground selected for the orchard site was high prairie soil, rich sandy loam, with a clay subsoil, sheltered on the East and North by timber and bluffs.
The trees commenced bearing at various ages, from five years upward. The fruit generally was remarkable for keeping well and for long periods; the fruit from many of the trees keeping well till June, and even later. It was not generally of the largest size, but good in quality and variety. Among the trees of this orchard, which bear early fruit, is the Fulton strawberry, an apple which has become too well known to be described here, and as favorably as widely known. The old, original tree is still standing, full of blossoms, to-day, and bids fair to produce an abundant crop, as for thirty years past it has rarely failed to do. The fruit of this orchard generally was of so good a quality that a nurseryman sought and obtained the privilege of cutting grafts of about forty varieties therefrom, for the purpose of propagation. What the longevity of these trees would have been under favorable circumstances cannot be stated, as the very disastrous hailstorm of May 28, 1840, destroyed nearly the entire orchard, or so injured the trees that they were cut down as cumberers of the ground, excepting a few, among which is the afore-mentioned Fulton Strawberry.
None of the trees of this orchard were ever affected by blight or other disease, but they were magnificent specimens of thriftiness and healthfulness.
Pear trees have not done well in this locality, having invariably died of blight.
Peaches have succeeded, especially a black seedling brought from Kentucky. The Red or Indian Peach has also done well here.
Early settlers in Mason and McDonough counties came and selected trees from those remaining in the original Gardner apple tree nursery, thus raised from seed brought from St. Charles, Mo., and did themselves and their posterity good service thereby, for the fullness of time had not yet come when philanthropic individuals should disinterestedly perambulate the country, recommending, with exaggerated pictures and studied eloquence, the “wonderful strawberries and marvelous grapes” they have to sell, at the low price of $3 per plant, to the “hard-fisted yeomanry” of the land. .
If I were called upon to name the obstacle to the general planting and cultivation of fruit in this country, I should unhesitatingly say it is the Tree Peddler, who, being itinerant, does not hesitate to tell the most stupendous lies, in praise and recommendation of what he has to sell. Thus purchasers are imposed upon, and after