Catalogue of Fruit and Ornamental Trees, Shrubs, Vines and Plants. Cultivated and for Sale at the Commercial Garden and Nursery of Parsons & Co., Flushing, Long Island, Near New-York.
Nurseryman and abolitionist who used his nursery wagons to transport the enslaved toward their freedom
Trade catalog issued by Parsons & Co., commercial nurserymen of Flushing, Long Island, New York. The catalogue is divided into six parts: “Fruit Department,” “Ornamental Department,” “Supplement of Fruits,” “Roses that Bloom the Whole Season,” “Summer Roses,” and “Climbing Roses.”
On offer: apple, pear, plum, peach, quince, cherry and fig trees; grapes—both native and “foreign”; nut trees such as almond, walnut, pecan etc.; various soft fruits; deciduous trees and shrubs; evergreens; vines and creepers; carnations; dahlias; and 15 pages of roses. Rose species include Damask, Bourbon, China, Tea-Scented, Noisette, Provence, Moss, French or Provins, Scotch, Multiflora, and several hybrids.
Parsons & Co. was established 1838 by Samuel Bowne Parsons (1819–1906) who worked with his younger brother Robert and their father, Samuel until the latter’s death in 1841.“ Parsons introduced the pink-flowering dogwood, and for a time he was the only grower of hardy rhododendrons and azaleas. He traveled to Europe in search of fine specimens for his nursery, and in 1847 brought back an oddity known as the European Weeping Beech in a small flowerpot. Additionally, he introduced the Valencia orange and the first frost resistant honeybee into the U.S. ... [Parsons], like many in his family was an ardent abolitionist. His obituary stated that he assisted more enslaved people to freedom than any other man in Queens County. The nursery, as a major business doing a brisk trade all over America, provided a perfect vehicle for enabling the transport of slaves from the south to areas of the north and to Canada. It is said that Parsons moved the slaves to freedom concealed in plant material in his wagons.”¹
Description: Catalogue of Fruit and Ornamental Trees, Shrubs, Vines and Plants. Cultivated and for Sale at the Commercial Garden and Nursery of Parsons & Co., Flushing, Long Island, Near New-York.
Flushing, [New York]: Charles R. Lincoln, Printer, MDCCCXLV . Frontispiece, 64 pages. 9 x 5½ inches. Upper wrap separated with staining and edge tears; lower wrap lacking; textblock, portions of which are heavily stained, has been expertly resewn with linen thread; all easily legible; a Fair copy.
Note. 1. The Parsons Family &; Bowne House [Bowne House Museum, Flushing, New York] accessed online.