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The Evolution of Horticulture in New England


Title Page


        6 SECTIONS   [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]


                 NEW ENGLAND

                 MASSACHUSETTS BAY

through page 105 of 180

I have posted what I have finished typing on this book but I am going to delay indefinitely the rest of the book because most of the rest of the book is unopened (the pages have not been split apart) and I would prefer not to open the pages as this is a good example of how books used to be made. If I get enough requests to finish the book, I will try to find an opened copy. So, if you want to know the ending, e-mail me.







he first emigration under the Massachusetts Bay Company was made with Master Endicott as Governor. Arriving at Naumkeag (Salem) in September, 1629, and uniting his own men with those who were formerly here planted, a body of fifty or sixty persons was thus made up. A second emigration, under the Reverend Francis Higginson, increased the number to two hundred more.

          In a letter to England, Higginson says: “The next morning the governor came on board our ship, and bade us kindly welcome, and invited me and my wife to come ashore and take our lodging at his home. The settlement, we are told, there consisted of about a half score of houses, with a fair house newly built for the Governor. We found also abundance of corn planted by them, very good and well-lining. . . . Our Governor hath already planned a vineyard with great hopes of increase. Also mulberries, plums, raspberries, currants, chestnuts, filberts, walnuts, small nuts, hurtleberries, and haws of white thorn, near as good as our cherries in England: they grow in plenty here. . . .

          “It is a land of divers and sundry sorts all about Masathulets Bay and at Charles river is as fat black earth as can be seen anywhere: and in other places you have a clay soil, in other gravel, in other sandy, as it is all about our plantation at Salem, for so our town is now named. The fertility of the soil is to be admired at, as appeareth in the abundance of grass that groweth every where, both very thick, very long, and very high in divers places. But it groweth very wildly, with  a great stalk, and a broad and ranker blade, because it never had been eaten with cattle, nor mowed with a scythe, and seldom trampled on by foot. It is scarce to be believed how our kine and goats do thrive and prosper here. They have tried out English corn at New Plymouth Plantation, so that all our several grains will grow here very well, and have a fitting soil for their nature. And as for fresh water, the country is full of dainty springs, and some great rivers, and some leser brooks: and at Masathulets Bay they digged wells and found water at three foot deep in most places: and near Salem they have as fine clear water as we can desire, and we may dig wells and find water where we list.”1

1 Young, Massachusetts Chronicles, p. 243.


The planting of tobacco, to be considered rather as a luxury than a necessity for the plantations, called forth the following advice in Cradock’s letter to Endicott in 1629. “The course you have taken in giving our countrymen their content in the point of planting tobacco there for the present, (their necessity considered) is not disallowed: but we trust in God, other means will be found to employ their time more comfortable and profitable also in the end: and we cannot but generally approve and amend their good resolution to desist from the planting thereof, when as they shall discern how to employ their labors otherwise: which we hope they will be speedily induced unto, by such precepts and examples as we shall give them”1


                        1 Idem, p. 13

          Again during the same year, in the Company’s first general letter of instructions to Endicott and his Council, the following words are found. “And as touching the old planters, their earnest desire for the present to continue the planting of tobacco, (a trade by this whole Company generally disavowed, and utterly disclaimed by some of the greatest adventurests amongst us, who absolutely declared themselves unwilling to have any hand in this Plantation if we intend to cherish or permit the planting thereof, or any other kind, than for a man’s private use, for mere necessity,) we are of opinion the old planters will have small encouragement to that employment: for we find here, by late experience, that it doth hardly produce the freight and custom: . . . Nevertheless, if the old planters, (fore we exclude all others,) conceive that they cannot otherwise provide for their livelihood, we leave it to the discretion of yourself and the council there, to give way for the present to their planting of it in such manner and with such restrictions as you and the said Council shall think fitting: having an especial care, with as much conveniency as may be, utterly to suppress the planting of it, except for mere necessity. But, however, we absolutely forbid the sale of it, or the use of it, by any of our own or particular men’s servants, unless upon urgent occasion, for the benefit of health, and taken privately.”1

                1 Idem, p. 146.


          Among the articles “to provide to be sent to New England” by the Massachusetts Company, in 1629, are the following: “Vine-planters, wheat, rye, barley, oats, a hogshead of each in the ear: beans, pease, stones of all sorts of fruits, as peaches, plums, filberts, cherries: pear, apple, quince kernels: pomegranates, woad seed, saffron heads, liquorice seed, madder roots, potatoes, hop-roots, hemp seed, flax seed, currant plants, and madder seeds.” These seeds and roots were afterwards sent, and, according to accounts, sprung up and flourished. The mode of cultivating and manuring the soil by means of fish, was practiced at first as at Plymouth. Owning, however, to the scarcity of certain kinds, such as cod and bass, it was forbidden in 1639 to use these for that purpose.

          William Wood who came to New England in 1629, and returned to England in 1633, there published, in the following year, his observations and experiences in a treatise entitled New England’s Prospect. In speaking of the Massachusetts Plantations, he says: “The ground affoards very good kitchin gardens for Turneps, Parsnips, Carots, Radishes, and Pumpions, Muskmillions, Isquouterquashes, Concumbers, Onyons, and whatsoever growes well in England, grows as well there, many things being  better and larger: there is likewise growing all manner of hearbes for meate, and medicine, and that not onely in planted gardens, but in the woods, without eyther the art of the helpe of man, as sweet Marjoran, Purselane, sorrel, Peneriall, Yarrow, Mirtle, Saxisarilla, Bayes, &c. There is likewise Strawberries in abundance, very large ones, some being two inches about: one may gather halfe a bushel in a forenoone: In other seasons there bee Gooseberries, Bilberries, Resberries, Treackleberries, Hurtleberries, Currents, which being dryed in the Sunne are little inferiour to those that our Grocers sell in England. This land likewise affoards Hempe and Flax, some naturally, and some planted by the English, with Rapes if they bee well managed. . . . The next commoditie the land affords, is good store of Woods, & that not onely such as may be needful for fewel, but likewise for the building of ships, and houses, and mills, and all manner of water worke about which Wood is needefull.” . . . There be very few that have the experience of the ground that can condemne it of barrenesse; although many deeme itt barren, because the English used to manure their land with fish, which they doe, not because the land could not bring corne without it, but because it brings more with it: the land likewise being kept in hart the longer: besides, the plenty of fish which they have for little or nothing, is better so used, than cast away: but to argue the goodnesse of the ground, the Indians [edited for content] plant corne eight or ten years in one place without it, having very good crops.  Such is the rankenesse of the ground that it must be sowne the first yeare with Indian Corne, which is a soaking graine, before it will be fit for to receive English seede.” In speaking of the varied employments of the Indian women, Woo adds: “An other work is their planting of corne, wherein they exceede our English husband-men, keeping it so cleare with their Clamme shell-hoes, as if it were a garden rather than a corne field, not suffering a choaking weede to advance his audacious head above their nfant corne, or an undermining worme to spoile his spurnes. Their corne being ripe, they gather it, and drying it hard in the Sunne, conveigh it to their barnes, which be great holes digged in the ground in forme of a brasse pot, seeled with rinds of trees, wherein they put their corne, covering it from the inquisitive search of their gurmandizing husbands, who would eate up both their allowed portion, and reserved seede, if they know where to finde it.”1

                1 Wood’s New England’s Prospect, 1634, pp. 11, 15, 16, 106.

          Wood’s remarks upon the seasons of the year, and the relation of these to the crops produced, are remarkably correct for an observer who had spent only a short time in New England, scarcely four years.

          “It hath been observed that English Wheate and Rye proves better which is winter sowne, and is kept warm by the Snow, that that which is sowne in the Spring. The summers are commonly hot and dry, there being seldome any raines: I have knowne it sixe or seaven weekes before one shower hath moistened the Plowman’s labour, yet the harvest hath been very good, the Indian Corne requiring more heate than wet: for the Engliah Corne, it is refreshed with the nighly dewes, tilll it grows up to shade his roots with his owne substance from the parching Sunne. . . .”

          His observations upon the nature of the soil are generally more accurate and trustworthy than those by contemporary writers: “The Soyle is for the generall a warme kinde of earth, there being little cold-spewing land, no Morish fennes, no Quagmires, the lowest grounds be the Marshes, over which every full and change the Sea flowes: these marshes be rich ground and bring plenty of hay, of which the cattle feed & like, as if they were fed with the best up-land Hay in New England: of which likewise there is great store which growes commonly between the Marshes and the Woods. This Medow ground lies higher than the Marshes, whereby it is freed from the over-flowing of the Seas: and besides this in many places where the trees grow thinne, there is good fodder to be got amongst the woods.”1

                1 Idem, pp. 8, 11, 12.


          The third and “great” emigration under Governor Winthrop consisted of many persons of good and competent estates. Some of these had enjoyed, in their native land, the best of society. Their family connections were honorable: their professions and occupations in life had been excellent, and every comfort which the possession of “fruitful lands, stately buildings, goodly orchards and gardens could afford, had been at their command.” It was from these last, as would naturally be expected, that the advancement in the various forms of horticulture, beyond the mere production of cereals for daily bread, rapidly proceeded. While noticing, especially, the interest taken, and the practical method pursued in the planting of orchards and the production of various fruits by Endicott and Winthrop, the attempts made at Plymouth in the same direction by the earlier settlers and by Governor Prince, vestiges of which have survived to the present day, should not be overlooked. Among these may be mentioned the well established record of the apple tree planted by Peregrine White, the first child of the Pilgrims, at Marshfield, in 1648; the pear tree imported by Governor Prince, in 1640, from England, and planted on his estate at Eastham; another pear tree in Yarmouth, set out by Anthony Thacher in 1640, and which was bearing fruit in 1872.

          In the Old Colony, trees still exist which were planted by the first settlers or by their immediate descendants, in close contiguity to their houses, and which have produced fruit that has sustained reputation for qualities by no means inferior.

          July, 1632, The Court of Assistants granted Governor Endicott three hundred acres of land, called by the Indians Birchwood, and afterwards known as his Orchard Farm. Its situation, north of Salem, was very desirable. In front of this house, on a commanding eminence, he planted his orchard. The trees were probably removed from his town residence in Salem. Among these was a pear tree, which tradition affirms was brought from England with Governor Winthrop in the Arbella, in 1630. It was situated near the house, and evidently had never been grated, for the fruit which the tree produced during nearly two hundred years, was a inferior quality. Governor Endicott, generous, public spirited, vigorous, and useful to his fellow-planters, was mjuch interested in horticultural pursuits, at first in the production of cereals and vegetables for the daily sustenance of the settlement, and later in the propagation of fruit trees, as is evident by his correspondence with Winthrop and others, on this special subject.

          Governor John Winthrop became much engaged in assisting the humble gardening work of the first settlers, and, like Endicott, turned his attention to orchard and vine planting. September 6, 1631: “The General Court granted Governor Winthrop 600 acres of land near his house at Mistick.” On this farm, to which he gave the name of “Ten Hills,” he located his summer residence, and interested himself in agriculture. Although there is no account extant in regard to the planting of orchards at this place, it may be inferred from the following letters from Endicott to Winthrop, and to his son John, that they were all thus occupied.

          April 22, 1644: “I humblie and heartily thanck you for your last letter of newes & for the trees you sent me. . . . I haue not sent you any trees, because I heard not from you, but I haue trees for you if you please to accept of them whensoever you shall send. I thinck it is too late to sett or remoue. I could wish you to remoue in the latter end of the yeare your trees, & I pray you send mee what you want * I will supply what I can.”

          To John Winthrop,Jun.,,at “Ten Hills,” March 19, 1645: Let mee say truelie I account not myselfe to be the lesse engaged vnto you concerning what you wrote, for any such small courtesie as a few trees. What trees you want at any tyme send to mee for them, & I will supply youe as longe as I haue a tree.”1

                1 Mass. Hist. Coll., vol. vi., pp. 146, 147.


          Wood, in his description of the various plantations of Massachusetts Bay, in 1633, says: “The next Towne is Misticke, which is three miles from Charles Towne by land, and a league and a halfe by water: It is seated by the waters side very pleasantly: there be not many house as yet. On the West side of this River the Governour hath a Farme, where he keeps most of his Cattle, till he can store it with Deere.”2

                2 Wood’s New England Prospect, p. 46.


          April 2, 1632, Conants Island in Boston Harbor was granted to Governor Winthrop, and the name was thereafter changed to “The Governour’s Garden.” He promised for this gift to plant an orchard and a vineyard here, and engaged to pay yearly a fifth part of the fruits thereof forever to the governor, whoever he might be. In 1634, the rent was changed by the General Court to “a hogshead of the best wyne that shall grow there to be paide yearly, after the death of the said John Winthrop and noething before.” A few years afterwards, the rent was changed to “two bushels of apples every yeare one bushel to the Governour & another to the Generall Court in winter, — the same to bee of the best apples there growing.” The records of the General Court in 1640 show that “Mr. Winthrop, Senior, paid in his bushel of apples.”1

                1 Massachusetts Records, vol. 1., p. 94.


John Josselyn, Gent., in his account of his departure from New England, October 11, 1639, thus alludes to Winthrop’s orchards: “The next day Mr. Luxon our Master having been ashore upon the Governorrs Island gave me half a score very fair Pippins which he brought from thence, there being not one Apple tree, nor Pear planted yet in no part of the Countrey, but upon that Island.”1

                1 Five Voyages to New England, p. 232: Mass. Historical Collectors, vol. xxiii.


          As to the planting of vineyards, it is evident that the process was not generally successful, notwithstanding the expectations of the early settlers, incited thereto by the writings of those who had visited New England. Thus Wood, who came in 1629, in describing the various woods and fruits, says: “The Hornebound tree is a tough kind of Wood, that requires so much paines in riving as is almost incredible, being the best for to make bottles and dishes, not being subject to cracks or leake. This tree growing with broad spread Armes, the vines winde their curling branches about them: which vines affoard great store of grapes which are very big both for the grape and Cluster, sweet and good: These be of two sorts, red and white, there is likewise smaller kind of grape which groweth in the Islands which is sooner ripe and more delectable so that there is no knowne reason why as good wine may not be made in those parts, as well as in Bordeaux in France: being under the same degree. It is a great pittie no man sets upon such a venture, whereby he might in small time inrich himselfe, and benefit the Countrey, I know nothing which doth hinder but want of skilful men to manage such an imployment: For the countrey is hot enough, the ground good enough, and many convenient hills which lye toward the south Sunne, as if they were there placed for the purpose.”1


                1 Wood’s New England Prospect, p. 19.


          This lack of success was also evidently due to their inexperience in the business and to the necessity of depending upon their own exertions, and without proper advice. In the letter of instructions from the Company to Endicott and his Council, in 1629, the matter in question is thus mentioned. “We take notice that you desire to have Frenchmen sent you that might be experienced in making of salt and planting of vines. We have inquired diligently for such, but cannot meet with any of that nation. Nevertheless, God, hath not left us altogether unprovided of a man able to undertake that work; for that we have entertained Mr. Thomas Graves, a man commended to us as well for his honesty, as skill in many things very useful.”1

                1 Young, Mass. Chron. P. 152.


          Mr. Graves proved a most valuable addition to the plantations of New England, for which region he entertained the most exalted ideas, as had been shown by his letters, from which quotations had been made. As to his ability in the planting of vineyards, and the manufacture of wines, there is no historical evidence.

          Wood also describes other indigenous productions: “The Wallnut tree is something different from the English Wallnut, being a great deal more tough, and more serviceable, and altogether as heavie: These trees beare a very good nut, something smaller, but nothing inferiour in sweetness and goodness to the English Nut, having no bitter pill. There is likewise a tree in some part of the Countrey, that beares a nut as bigge as a small pear, . . . The Cherrie trees yeeld great store of Cherries, which grow on clusters like grapes: they be much smaller than our English Cherrie, nothing neare so good if they be not very ripe: they so furre the mouth that the tongue will cleave to the roofe, and the throate was horse with swallowing those red Bullies (as I may call them) being little better in taste. English ordering may bring them to be an English Cherrie, but yet they are as wilde as the Indians. The Plummes of the Countrey be better for Plummes than the Cherries be for cherries: they be blacke and yellow about the bignesse of a Damson, of a reasonable good taste. The white thorne affords hawes as bigge as an English Cherrie, which is esteemed above a Cherrie for his goodnesse and pleasantnesse to the taste.”1

                1 New England Prospect, p. 18.


          In addition to “Misticke,” Wood thus describes the plantations through which the Massachusetts settlers were scattered, during his sojourn among them from 1629 to 1633: “Dorchester which is the greatest Towne in New England: well wooded and watered: very good arable grounds, and Hay-ground, faire Corne fields, and pleasant gardens. . . . A mile from this Towne lieth Roxberry, which is a faire and handsome Countrey-towne the inhabitants of it being all very rich. . . Vp westward from the Towne it is something rocky, whence it hath the name of Roxberry: the inhabitants have faire houses, store of Cattle, impaled Corne-fields, and fruitful Gardens. Boston is two miles North-east from Roxberry: its situation is very pleasant. . . Their greatest wants be Wood and Medow-ground, which were never in that place being constrained to fetch their building-timber, and fire-wood from the lands in Boates, and their Hay in Loyters. . . This Towne although it be neither the greatest nor the richest, yet it is the most noted and frequented, being the Center of the Plantations where the monthly Courts are kept. Here likewise dwells the Governour: This place hath very good land, affording rich Corne-fields, and fruitefull Gardens: having likewise sweete and pleasant springs.

          “the inhabitants of this place for their enlargement, have taken to themselves Farme-houses, in a place called Muddy-river, two miles from the Towne: where is good ground, large timber, and store of Marsh-land and Medow. In this place they keepe their Swine and other cattle in the Summer, whilst the Corne is on the ground at Boston, and bring them to the Towne in Winter. . . . On the North-side of Charles River is Charles Towne. This Towne for all things, may be well paralel’d with her neighbour Boston, being in the same fashion with her bare necke, and constrained to borrow conveniences from the Maine, and to provide for themselves Farmes in the Countrey for their better subsistence. . . . By the side of the River is built Newtowne, which is three miles by land from Charles Towne, and a league and a halfe by water. The in habitants most of them are very rich, and well stored with Cattell of all sorts: having many hundred Acres of ground paled in with one generall fence, which is about a mile and a halfe long, which secures all their weaker Cattle from the wilde beasts. On the other side of the River lieth all their Medow and Marsh-ground for Hay. Halfe a mile Westward of this plantation, is Watertowne: a place nothing inferiour for land, wood, medow, and water to Newtowne. . . . The last towne in the still Bay, is Winnisimet: a very sweet place for situation, and stands very commodiously, being fit to entertaine more planters than are yet seated. The chief Ilands which keepe out the Winde and Sea from disturbing the Harbours, are first Deare Iland and Long Iland. . . . Divers other Ilands be within these: viz. Nodles Ile, Round Ile, the Governours Garden, where is planted an Orchard and a vineyard, with many other conveniences. . . . These Iles abound with Woods, and Water, and Medow-ground, and whatsoever the spacious fertile Maine affords. The inhabitants use to put their Cattle in these for safety, when their Corne is on the ground.

          “The next plantation is Saugus, sixe miles North-east from Winnesmet. This towne is pleasant for situation. It has a sandy Beach two miles long at the end, whereon is a necke of land called Nahant. It is sixe miles in circumference: well wooded with Oakes, Pines, and Cedars: It is beside well watered. In this necke is store of good ground, fit for the Plow: but for the present it is onely used for to put young cattle in, and weather-goates, and Swine, to secure them from the Woolves: a few posts and rayles from low water markes to the shore, keepes out the Woolves, and keepes in the Cattle. . . . On the North side of the Bay (on which Sangus is seated) is two great Marshes, which are made two by a pleasant River which runnes between them. At the mouth of this river runnes up a great creeke into that great Marsh, which is called Rumny Marsh, which is 4 miles long and 2 miles broad: halfe of it being Marsh ground, and halfe upland grasse, without tree or bush. . . . For wood there is no want, there being store of good Oakes, Wallnut, Cedar, Aspe, Elme. The ground is very good, in many places without trees, fit for the plough. In this plantation is more English tillage, than in all New-England, and Virginia besides: which proved as well as could bee expected, the corne being very good especially the Barly, Rye, and Oates.

          “Foure miles North-east from Saugus lyeth Salem, which stands on the middle of a necke of land very pleasantly: upon this necke where most of the houses stand is very bad and sandil ground, yet for seaven yeares together it hath brought forth exceeding good corne, by being fished but every third yeare: in some places is very good ground, and very good timber, and divers springs hard by the seaside. Although their land be none of the best, yet beyond those rivers is a very good soyle, where they have taken farmes, and get their Hay, and plant their corne: there they crosse these rivers with small Cannowes, which are made of whole pine trees, being about two foot & a half over, and 20 foote long.

          “Agowamme is nine miles to the North from Salem, which is one of the most spatious places for a plantation; being neare the sea, I aboundeth with fish, and flesh of fowles and beasts, great Meads and Marshes and plaine plowing grounds, many good rivers and harbours and no rattlesnakes. In a word, it is the best place but one, which is Merrimacke, lying 8 miles beyond it, where is  river 20 leagues navigable; all along the river side is fresh marshes, in some places 5 mile broad. To conclude, the Countrie hath not that which this place cannot yeeld. So that these two places may containe twice as many people as are yet in new England: there being as yet scarce any inhabitants in these two spacious places. These be all the Townes that were begun, when I came for England, which was the 15 of August 1633.”1

                1 New England Prospect, pp. 41-48.


          Wood, in his description of the plantation at Boston, makes no allusion to William Blaxton, the first settler and horticulturist upon the peninsula, except to mention that “on the South side of the river on a point of land called Blaxtons Point, planted Mr. William Blackstone.”

          It has been affirmed that the early colonists found this peninsula thinly wooded, most of the forest, except on the neck, having been burned by the Indians for the purpose of clearing the land and planting it with corn. Interesting as are the well-known incidents in the life of Blaxton, we are here concerned only with those which are appropriate to his horticultural work. Coming to Shawmut in 1625, he selected, as the most desirable spot, the sunny southwestern slopes of Trimountain. Here he erected his cottage, and near it planted his orchard and garden. Theses last were well established when Winthrop and other colonists moved over, at Blaxton’s invitation, from Charlestown, chiefly to obtain the pure water so abundantly offered by delicious springs. The Massachusetts Records, April, 1633, contain the following item: “It is agreed that William Blackstone shall have fifty acres set out for him near his house in Boston to enjoy forever.” In the following year he sold all this territory upon which stood his swelling and orchard. This orchard, the first in New England, is poken of in a publication of 1765, as still producing fruit, and is mentioned in the deeds of subsequent possessors. In 1635, for various reasons, Blaxton removed to Rehoboth, where he was the first settler within its original limits. Here he erected a house, and planted an orchard upon the protected slopes of Sunny Hill, overlooking Blackstone River, which ws the first that bore apples in the State of Rhode Island, and also long continued noted for its excellent fruit. Until an advanced age, he here quietly pursued his literary and horticultural tastes, which were of the best, and for which his name should honored.

          A few years after the settlement at Plymouth, plantations had been commenced north of Massachusetts Bay, at Saco, Agamenticus, and Cocheco, as also at the mouth of the Piscataqua. These were in a languishing condition during several years. On the rivers more to the eastward plantations had also been early attempted on the Kennebec, Androscoggin, and Penobscot, almost entirely for the purposes of fishing and trading, although “farming” was also sometimes included among the incentives. Little or no horticultural efforts, however, were made beyond raising corn for sustenance.

          The first settlement near the mouth of the Piscataqua was made in 1623, under Ambrose gibbons, the agent of te Laconia, or Mason and Gorges colony. The object in view as “to found a plantation on this river to cultivate the vine, discover mines, carry o the fisheries, and trade with the natives.” One of the favorite schemes of Mason was vine growing, and he wrote to Gibbons, saying: “I pray you look well to the vines.” Gibbons answered: “The vines that were planted will come to nothing. They prosper not in the ground where they were set, but them that grow naturally are very good of divers sorts.” This lovely valley was known as “The Vineyard.” And in the earlier part of this century there were so many vines left, that they may have been a survival of those planted by the hands of Europeans.

          The barberries, other fruits, and various herbs evidently brought from England, and that found a favorable soil and climate in this natural garden, as well as the soft fine turf, which rarely grown expect where man has dealt much with the ground, seem to mark the locality of a very old settlement – “a settlement busy, featless, and well fed, when Plymouth colonists were defending themselves against Indians and starvation.”1

                1 “Old Town of Berwick,” New England Magazine, July, 1894, S.O. Jewett.


          No mention is made of the cultivation of cereals, as the colony was well fostered by Mason and Gorges, who were men of means, and spent freely in behalf of the early settlers, although actuated by great expectations of amassing wealth for themselves.

          Josselyn, in his account of his first voyage to New England, says: “The Twelfth day of July, 1638, after I had taken my leave of Mr. Maverick and some other Gentlemen, I took boat for the Eastern parts of the Countrie, and arrived at Black point in the Province of Main, which is 150 miles from Boston. . . . The Countrey all along as I sailed being no other than a meer wilderness, here and there by the Sea-side a few scattered plantations, with as few houses.”1


                1 Five Voyages, etc.


          In 1639, a settlement under Mr. Wheelwright was begun on a tributary of the Piscataqua, and called Exeter. Eastward of this were large marshes which produced a native grass that was used as a fodder before a more nutritious one was raised upon the uplands. Two years previously, a settlement under the jurisdiction of Massachusetts had been started at Hampton. While the site of many of the early settlements was undoubtedly determined by the good arable soil found in the valleys of the large rivers, and the consequent better horticultural opportunities presented, there were other causes that combined to promote the advance of the last mentioned, among which the Antinomian dispersion may be included.

          Almost simultaneously with the removal of Blaxton to Rehoboth and Roger Williams to Seekonk, and afterwards to Providence, there was an important movement towards the west. Even previous to this period, Plymouth had sent emissaries to Connecticut River for discovery and trade, who on return reported “a fine place for plantation and trade.” Later, among the Massachusetts plantations, intelligence arrived of the fertility of that region, which induced in many the wish to transplant themselves from the less productive soil upon which they had settled at first. Especially was this plan entertained by the inhabitants of Roxbury, Dorchester, Watertown, and Newtown. The principal reasons given for removal were: “1. Their want of accommodation for their cattle. . . . 2. The fruitfulness and commodiousness of Connecticut, and the danger of having it possessed by others, Dutch or English. 3. The strong bent of their spirits to remove thither.”1

                1 Winthrop, History of New England, vol. 1., p. 140.


          There is little direct mention of horticultural work in which the early settlements in the Connecticut valley were engaged. The land for tillage was closely subdivided, the pasturage and forest lands were held and used in common. In the first records of the various communities most frequent allusion is made to the Indian corn, raise either by themselves, or gathered by trading with the Indians. The mode of planting had been introduced from the Plymouth and Massachusetts colonies, although the fertile, alluvial soil did not then require the application of dressing. In the settlement of Agawam (Springfield) the town was to be limited to fifty families, each head of a family to have “a house-lot and an allotment of planting grounds, pasture, meadow, marsh, and timber land.” In 1645, it was voted “That if any neighbour shall desire to enclose his yard with a garden or an orchard, if his next neighbour refuse to joyne for ye one half of the said fence, he may compel his neighbours on each side of his lot to beare ye one halfe of his fence, and in case his neighbour shall refuse to doe his share of the said fence within three months after demande, He shall be liable to pay damages as two indifferent men shall award, which shall be chosen by the parties in controversy.”1

                1 History of Springfield by M.A. Green, p. 78.


In the same year the following vote was taken: “Whereas the Plantinge of Indian Corne in the meddowe Swamp on ye other side of Agawam river, hath occasioned a long stay after moowinge tyme before men can put over theyr Cattell thither: Therefere it is ordered that no more Indian corne shall be planted, neither in the meddowe nor in ye Swampes, that so the Cattell of all those that have allotments there may be put over by ye 15th of September.” The early settlers were often much annoyed in their agricultural and horticultural affairs, by the trespassing of swine, consequently it was decreed that “All swine that breake into any man’s corne ground or meddowe yt it sufficiently fenced against yoked hogge: in case men let ye Swine run abroad unyoked if they breake in and doe any many Trespass, then master of the sayd Swine shall be liable to pay all damages as two indifferent men shall Judge ye damage to be: but if Swine shall be yoked and runge then they are free from damages.”1

1 Idem, p. 80.


          The general planting of orchards did not engage the attention of the eastern or Connecticut valley settlers at a very early period. As in the Plymouth or Massachusetts Bay colonies, the cultivation of the cereals and the requisite vegetables for sustenance was of course the first horticultural matter which required their exertions. And yet the enactment passed by the Court of Massachusetts in 1646, and the similar laws by authority in other plantations, show the interest taken in all branches of horticulture from the very first. This was that the person who should be known to rob any orchard or garden, or who should injure or steal any graft or fruit tree, should forfeit treble damages to the owner.2

                2 Mass. Records, vol. ii., p. 180.


          Records are extant of the setting of orchards in Saco, York, and in other plantations in Maine, dating almost from their existence as centers of civilization. In Connecticut, there are also scattered notices of fruit trees still lingering as relics of ancient orchards.

          In this connection, the following correspondence with Governor John Winthrop, Jr., is of interest. George Penwick of Saybrook, writes May 6, 1641: “I haue receaued the trees yow sent me, for which I hartily thanke yow. If I had any thing heare that could pleasure yow yow should freely command it. I am prettie well storred with chirrie & peach trees, & did hope I had had a good nurserie of aples, of the aples yow sent me last yeare, but the wormes have in a manner destroyed them all as they came up.”

          John Mason also writing from Saybrook in 1654, says to the Governor, “forget not to prouide for the planting some trees at spring.” In the following year he wrote to Mrs. Winthrop: “I haue sent ten apple trees by Goodman Stoylyon to your selfe. I suppose they will, most of them, be planted in the north end of your orchard. I would have sent more if I had thought there were a place. I haue alsoe sent Thomas Bayley thirty grafted trees, as hee desired mee.”1

                1 Mass. Hist. Collections, 4th series, vol vi., p. 490.