January 1989

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Note from the Editors

This January issue features articles on the early history of grape culture in Hammondsport and around the lake. We have John Rezelman's Grape Pruning History and Richard Sherer's Finger Lakes Grape Pioneers.

We also present excerpts of two articles by Josiah W. Prentiss of Pulteney from the August 9 and October 4, 1876, issues of the Hammondsport Herald. Prentiss wrote a series of articles for the Herald titled "Incidents of the Early Settlement Of Pulteney, etc." and these two contain some of his observations on and comments about raising grapes. Future issues of the Crooked Lake Review will have more reprints of his writing.

This month we begin a serialization of Peter Henderson's Gardening For Profit, with the 1866 introduction, the 1874 preface and first chapter. The 1874 edition of Henderson's book came out at nearly the same time that Prentiss was writing about grape growing around Crooked Lake. Not only was there intense interest at that time in establishing vineyards in the Finger Lakes region, there was a wide interest in farming and horticultural pursuits all over the country. Agricultural societies were flourishing and gentlemen farmers were experimenting.

John Johnston had introduced agricultural drain tile to this country some years earlier at his farm on Seneca Lake near Geneva and his son-in-law, Robert Swan, had developed neighboring Rose Hill into an outstanding and award winning farm. Swan was recognized several times by the New York State Agricultural Society for his innovative methods.

When the Civil War ended the soldiers coming home were looking for new opportunities. Some were influenced by Peter Henderson's new book, Gardening For Profit to go into market gardening. Henderson's book was reprinted a number of times.

Peter Henderson had come to this country from Scotland in 1843 when he was 21, worked hard, established himself as a successful market gardener, and founded the seed house, Peter Henderson and Company. In addition to his triumphs as a seedsman: introducing the double zinnia in 1865, Early Snowball cauliflower in 1878, and Henderson's Bush Limas in 1889, he became widely known for his books. His Handbook of Plants became a standard reference. The subject and title of another book, really just a pamphlet, The Use of the Feet in Sowing and Planting, showed Peter Henderson's completely practical nature.

Read Peter Henderson and Josiah Prentiss, two practical and opinionated men, for a sense of the vitality of those times.

In these times we can admire with Dick Sherer and John Rezelman what the old boys knew and practised more than a hundred years ago.

Present day interest in grape pruning technique continues. See the expertly illustrated article, "Pruning Grapevines: The Goals for Convenience and Consistent Crops" in the January/February, 1989, FINE GARDENING.

We are indebted to Richard Sherer, Steuben County Historian, for introducing us to the great articles J. W. Prentiss wrote for The Hammondsport Herald.

This issue concludes with Chapter 12 from Caroline Kirkland's A New Home.

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