Minnesota State Horticultural Society.

Annual report of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society for the year .. online

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intense action of heat and intense reaction of cold. In the
Sahara of the torrid zone, the temperature rapidly runs down to
freezing when the solar rays cease to infringe upon the burning
sands. Where there is little or no vapor overhead to check the
calorific drain, these extremes obtain. Being dry, our prairie
climate is subject to them; hence the battle we have to fight.
There seem to be two ways out of our difficulty — either to con-
tinue our long yet hopeful experimentation, acclimatizing a
special class of plants, or else undertake the herculean task of
changing our climate from a dry condition to one of a more uni-
form humidity, thus fitting it for the introduction and growth of
a greater variety of plants, including cherries and pears, and
perhaps peaches.

So long as we have to pet our plants and put dresses on them,
while out in the cold, success is precarious and profits thin. In
the long ago, when we were school folks in !N^ew England, or
somewhere near the sea coast, noboby had to fret and stew as we
do to make a tree live. It would grow in spite of us. We did
not have to blanket the raspberries, and blackberries, and straw-
berries. They laughed at our neglect and proffered luscious
fruits unearned. If we could have such a climate restored, with
such a soil as ours and knowledge of plant treatment, would we
not have in our adopted country a very paradise? But, you say,
we are working in that direction; true, but at a ^^poor, dying
rate." While we are building up, forest vandals are tearing
down. The **big woods" of Minnesota that have exerted a


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most beneficent influence upon plant growth in the more east-
ern parts of the State especially, are receding faster than our
forests are growing in other directions. And when they are
leveled down by the woodman's axe, not only will winds be
fiercer in the upper Mississippi valley and the air drier, but
your luck here in the fruit line will be more like ours on the
now almost treeless prairie, fortuitous as our temperamental
vicissitudes. Just beyond the western border of our State, in
Dakota, are the Coteaux, a high and long rampart of hills, with
innumerable ravines, heretofore thickly studded with forests,
down which babble the crystal brooks.

The Sissetons there, who have land charters, follow the exam-
ple of the pale faces elsewhere, cutting and slashing down the
century trees for fuel-sale in our markets, and the prairie fires,
set by careless Indians or whites, lap up the rest. Unless the
national government soon interferes, prohibiting such vandalism,
the now beautiful Minnesota will dry up at its more northern and
western sources. There is a similar depredation, and on a more
gigantic scale, in Montana, in Colorado and other Bocky
Mountain states; if not speedily arrested and forests restored,
not only will the facilities of irrigation be literally destroyed,
but the more western plains will be transformed into dry and
parching deserts. And what is still more alarming, congress
intends to put on the finishing stroke by abolishing the timber-
culture act, the enfoi cement of which — granting special abuses,
as in everything else — has blessed the prairie country with here
and there a growing forest. If there be a personal devil to
'^hand the wretch to order,'' he certainly is busy destroying our
forests, for thereby humanity can be most cursed.

As an organized body that knows what it is about, let us storm
our legislature, and by it storm Congress, to save our great
forests from utter extinction. Let us demand appropriations to
change our ravines and basins and lesser lakes and rivers, into
a grand reservoir system, holding back the spring surplus waters
now running to waste, whence to draw not only navigable depths
for commerce, but aqueous refreshment for all the thirsty plains
below. Let us demand a law that shall no4 only encourage by a
money consideration, but compel landholders to plant forests,
making such planting on timber claim or homestead inhere with
title. When this feasible enterprise is put into execution on the
vast scale that it merits, there will be less floods, evaporation
checked, extremes of heat and cold mitigated, our climate


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milder grown. When our rich Northwest is thus mantled over
with a protective humidity, a new and more plentiftQ variety of
plants will thrive alongside the old ^ ironclads" on the form
and garden and nursery, and

** The world will be the better for if


Mr. Grimes, from the committee on the subject of tree ped-
dlers, presented the following report, which was signed by all the
members of the committee:

Whereas, Numerous complaints have been made before
this Society during its present session that unprincipled tree
peddlers have from time to time, and especially during the past
year, represented that they were selling Minnesota nursery grown
trees and stock from nurseries located in this State, and

Whereas, Such representations were entirely false in fact,
and upon proof it was found that said nursery stock was propa-
gated and grown in a distant state, far south and east of this,
and was wholly unreliable here, and that disappointment and
losses have been almost invariably the result from purchasing
such trees and plants and that the people of this State have been
and still continue to be swindled in open defiance of all honor
and fair dealing;

Now, Therefore, We, the Minnesota State Horticultural
Society, petition your honorable body, the legislature of the
State of Minnesota, to enact such laws for the better protection
and well being of its citizens as shall compel all tree agents sell-
ing foreign grown trees and plants to take out a license in the
county or district in which they intend to sell, such license to
be granted only upon the sworn application of such agent stat-
ing the facts in the case, and especially by whom employed and
where the stock is grown.

Second — Making it unlawful for any such agent to sell without
first procuring a license; and upon conviction of making such
sale without such license, before any justice of the peace having
competent jurisdiction, imposing a fine in any sum not to ex-
ceed one hundred dollars, or imprisonment in the discretion of
the court.

Third — Making false representations in the sale of nursery
stock, in order to deceive the purchaser, and thereby induce him
to buy of them, upon Buch false representations, making it a mis-
demeanor punishable by fine or imprisonment, or both.

Fourth — Also in making the principal accessory in all trans-
actions where agents are employed by him, and to be held re-
sponsible for his acts where fraud has been practiced and sales
effected thereby and wherein the purchaser has suffered loss.

Fifth — Nurserymen who reside in the State and are doing


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business exclusively in Minnesota nursery g^rown stock shall not
be required to take out such license, but shall in all other re-
spects be subject to the provisions in the preceding sections.

Sixth — Requiring the applicant for license to pay all reason-
able fees for the same, and also to give bonds that he will fully
comply with the foregoing.


Mr. Dartt. I suppose the report is before the house for dis-
cussion. There is one point that strikes me as not being exactly
right, and that is where it proposes to hold the principal re-
sponsible criminally for the criminal act of his agent. I move
the adoption of the report.

Mr. Latham. By this report it seems the object sought to be
brought about is to secure legislation to prevent parties from
putting upon the farmers of the State, nursery stock grown
somewhere else, under the representation that it is grown in
some nursery in this State. I don't understand how that object
is to be secured. It simply requires a license of the agents, and
they will go around and sell as before and will still sell shrubbery
trees, etc

Mr. C. L. Smith. We will be better off in this respect: when
the agent attempts to sell foreign grown stock attention will be
called to the character of the stock he is selling; and we desire
to have it made a criminal offense to represent it as Minnesota
stock; if he makes such representations he commits a misdemea-
nor and is liable to fine and imprisonment for such offense.

Mr. Latham. I don't think people generally will understand
that; it seems to me the license itself should be extensively ad-
vertised to show where he was from. To make any law efficient,
to protect the buyer, it seems to me a bond should be required
as is done in the case of an insurance company; a sufficient and
satisfactory bond should be deposited with some state official,
holding him to accountability for the results of his agency.

President Elliot. That is contemplated.

Mr. Harris. We expect a man will deposit a bond with the
secretary of state.

Mr. Dartt. There is a question I was going to raise in regard
to an agent selling stock that Wiis partly Minnesot i grown and a
portion of it, or the bulk of it, grown somewere else.

Mr. Grimes. It would be just as much of a fraud if it was
represented as being all grown in this State.


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Mr. Latham. That hits every man in the State; it is abso-
lutely impossible to comply with the requirements; everybody
knows that no nurseryman can keep all the stock he advertises;
if he cannot buy in Minnesota he has to go to Wisconsin, or
Illinois, or somewhere else, for it must be had.

Mr. Cutler. Mr. President, it seems to me the object is to
prohibit a man from misrepresenting. Suppose a mjiu who is a
nurseryman has an agent on the road; I ask liim where the stock
he sells is grown; he says part in Minnesota, part in New York;
that would be all right, I would buy it knowing what I was buy-
ing. But when he says it is wholly grown in Minnesota, accord-
ing to the provisions of the proposed act he would render him-
self liable; I don't see any injustice in that at all.

Mr. Latham. Mr. Chairman, I think that ought to be changed;
it is impossible for the s g^at to know where all this stock comes
Mr. Cutler. He might countermand his order in such case.
Mr. Latham. An agent can not know where all the stock ho
sells is grown, whether at Excelsior, at Lake City, or any other
particular place, but he has to get his stock somewhere and if
he takes an order ho will get it tilled somewhere. I don' t believe
there is a delivery made of any amount where the stock is all
grown by the party selling.

Mr, Gould, So far I have avoided taking any part in this

"controversy," which I will refer to in that way. I have no

doubt it is well intended by the parties who have pushed this

scheme; but I have been in the nursery business to some ext^^nt

for sixteen or eighteen years. I am rather out of it now. But

I do pretend to know something about the business and the men

that are carrying on this business in Minnesota; and I regard

this whole business as a sort of boy's play, when we undertake

to S3cnre legislation to fit the case; it is impossible to doit.

While it is perhaps well enough to agitato the question hero — I

suppose more or less of it goes into the record — I think it is

expecting a little too much to suppose that the legislature will

pass any enactment to protect farmers from the ravages of tree


Mr. C. E. Smith. Well, they will do it.

Mr. Gould. I want to say further, until you can educate the

farmers they will be imposed upon. You might as well have the

lightning rod men lic3nsed and with just as much propriety, and

these washing- machiue men, the dairymen and horsemen and


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new cattlemen, and tlms go through the whole list of everything
they buy. Why, I should think the farmers would resent all this
thing. They will buy of a man who will charge them about three
or four times what a thing is worth quicker than they will buy of
one of us poor fellows, who sell just as low as we can and live,
and sell them stock that we raise, and at a much lower piice than
that brought from a distiince. People favor the agents every
time who charge high piices. This is no theory of mine; I know
what I am talking about, and I am telling the truth. An agent,
for instance, tells about what I have got; how it will compare
with anything that can be procured elsewhere. They are look-
in«j for something better; they want a gooseberry two inches in
diameter, as big as a Wealtliy apple, and if they can see a nice
picture of one, greatly magnified, they are bound to take it.
One of these same men who had given an agent of mine an order
for three or four dollars' worth of stock and thonght it was a
pretty large price to pay, gave one of these travelling agents an
order of twenty or twenty-five dollai's. This man came by my
place after that and told me he was fool enough to buy some of
their stuff, and I told him I was glad he did so — possibly after
he had a liltle experience he would know who to buy of; I didn't
pity him if he was victimized, as he did not seem to wish to favor
his neighbors, but expected to get something which it was impos-
sible to obtain.

Now, I don't believe we can accomplish anything in this di-
rection further than the discussion of the subject may develop
somethingth.it may tend to put those on their guard, who may
have an opportunity to read it.

Mr. Pearce. This isagood deal like locking thodooraft^r the
horse is stolen. It is said that lightning never strikes but once
in a place I would say, let the innocent individual throw the
first stone. Asa matter of fact I know that trees are imported
by on r nurserymen; I have done it iDjself. I buy stuff raised
elsewhere, although I never import trees. I think this thing
will regulate itself in a short time. Agitate the question and
get it before the people. They are not buying much of agents
of late. In eome places they would almost go for an agent with
shotguns and dogs. I think passing a law of this kind would
be of no benefit whatever. It would help eveiy nurseryman
in the State — I know it would. It would stop the retail business
over the country. The best way is to go stniight along and do
a steady business. That is the true way. It will be a dead let-


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ter. It will not be a popular law and will never operate as you
think it will, at all. You pass a law requiring a license and it
would put a tariff on the stock sold which would come out of
the consumer.

Mr. Cutler. Mr. President, I can not see why the gentlemen
who are in this business of selling nursery stock can oppose this
measure. As Mr. Pearce has stated it is going to help him be-
cause It will drive these other fellows out. I believe we have
laws for our protection and for the protection of the poor, Mr.
Gould's orchard is protected by law from the depredations of
thieves; a stringent law has been pjissed to prevent stealing
of fruit. A few years ago a law was passed in regard to patent
rights, and have we seen these men running over the country
lately as we used tot And now, for the protection of the poor,
living out on the prairies, I would like to see such men pro-
tected, as well as the nurserymen. They will buy trees when
they want them. If I want a dollar's worth of sugar I go to the
store and buy it, and I know where to get it. We can get along
very well without the help of these sharks that come here from
some other state to impose worthless stock upon us.

Mr. C. L. Smith. The saving in one year would be enough to
pay the running expenses of our Society since its organization.

Mr. Sias. In regard to one point my friend Pearce made. He
says there is no use of locking the stable after the horse is stolen.
There are a great many horses in the stable that have not
been stolen. It is our duty to protect those animals. La^^s
are made for the lawless. There is nothing in this measure that
can harm an innocent dealer. It is not intended to injure our
nurserymen. I can not see anything that would injure my bus-
iness, or Mr. Gould's, or Mr. Latham's. If you will study it
carefully I think you will reach the conclusion that it can not
hurt anybody except those who are doing a fraudulent business.
It has been shown that these operations complained of have been
going on here for years. I have been trying to compete with
these fraudulent tree dealers for about twenty -five years. We
have tried repeatedly to pass something in this S*^ate Horticul-
tural Society, that looked a little as though we didn't believe in
such practices. Last year our president, I am sorry to say (and
he is an old friend of mine), threw "cold water" on the whole
thing. We could not pass a single thing that looked like taking
any action in the matter. We have a chairman now who is will-
ing to do something. He is not afraid of these men. He has


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told OS plainly that he is willing that we should express oar
seDtiments in regard to fraadalent transactions. There .will be
no difficulty in getting something accomplished in this matter if
we look at it in the true and proper light.

Mr. Dartt. So far as the canvassing is concerned I am not
much interested in it. I have looked the matter over and I made
op my mind that a good, straight, honest man wouldn't be a suc-
cessful canvasser, and one who was not such I did not wish to trust;
80 1 don't have any canvasser. That is the way it used to be and
the same thing still exists; it is almost a necessity for a man who
would be a successful canvasser to tell all about the bright side of
the story and not say a word on the other side; in other words
that he shall misrepresent. Whether this will be the best thing
to remedy the evil, I do not know; but I do know that there is
danger in asking the legislature for something that you don't
want. This is the proper place and time to see and understand
where any defect may be, for the presumption is that our rep-
resentatives in the legislature don't know as much about this as
you do. They might pjiss a law that would be a damage to the
best interests of the State, in regard to fruit culture. A few years
ago there was a bill before the legislature making it a criminal
offense to sell blackhearted trees; I don't know but it came very
near passing. If such a law were to be piissed I could not sell a
tree, for alter every severe winter every tree is blackhearted; I
think I am safe in saying that every standard apple tree is more
or less blackhearted. We should not ask for a thing that is not
well considered; we can better trust the Society to say what leg-
islation is needed than to trust to the legislature. It may be that
this is just right, and if it is it is just what I want; I want fraud

Mr. Cutler. We have a '^farmer'' legislature and there will
be no difficulty in securing such legislation as is in the interest
of farmers.

President Elliot. I see this is going to clash with some of our
ideas as to the method of selling trees. Last winter when this
subject came up I was very much interested in it and watched
the discussion very closely as \iell as those who took part in it.
I see we are selfish beings and we are apt to work for selfish ob-
jects. I have taken pains to look over the record a little in re-
gard to tree peddlers. We can go back to 1852 and then back to
1*U) and we shall find this same **pestiferous'' tree peddler.
He started out in Indiana with a bundle of cions; he was top-


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working trees and would not only put in cions that were untrue
to name, but would take seveial varieties out of the same bundle.
These fraudulent practices have been continued year by year;
they have the thing down so fine now that they will take roost
anyone — I don't care how well he is posted in horticulture — and
they will swidle him from the word go !

In order to put a stop to this thing, and the only way in which
to reach the thing, it seems to me, is through legislation ; sind if
we can not get our rights through legislation, perhaps the sooner
we quit business as a Society the better. When people can come
in here and throw out insinuations that unless we do as they say
that they will stop our appropriations, why I think it is time for
us to move. I have corresponded with parties in other states
and find others df the same oi)inion with myself in rcg;ird to
this nmtter. If Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota will
unite to secure legislation in this regard, I think we may get a
law that will protect our poor people; our immigrants Ihait arc
coming in here, those who can not speak the language, who can
neither read nor write, those who fall easy victims to the wiles of
these irresponsible tree men, those who are an easy prey. I
think we have a legislature now that will act in the interest of
poor people and the farmer, and the membei-s of that body
will gladly help us out. While this proposition, as set forth in
the report of the committee, may not be exactly what is desired,
the subject can be brought before the proper legislative com-
mittee to formulate an act that will bo for the best interests of
the State at large.

Mr. Dartt. I suppose our committee on legislation will look
after the matter.

Mr. Latham. I do not feel fully satisfied with this yet; I
think the matter should bvi well considered before definite
action is tiiken. If the motion is insisted upon I think I shall
move to indefinitely postpone action upon it at this time.

Prof. Porter. It strikes ma that W3 are claiming a monopoly
in this interest. This discriminates in favor of Minnesota men;
this contemplates the passage of a law for the regulation of the
transactions of outsiders, but it seems to make no difference as
to the character of the operations of the nurserymen of Minnesota.

Mr. Gould. I want to repeat some things I said before. It
seems to me this is going to interfere largely with the operations
of nurserymen in this State. I am not in the nursery business
myself, but donH like to see a foolish thing done. If it was not


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for agents there would not bo much stock sold. If it had not
baen for tree agents there wouldn't have been enough trees in
the Suite to build a crow's nest.

A Voice. There isn't now I

Mr. Gjuld. I believe tha only thing to do is to let the thing
r^iilate itself. I don't believe in protecting fraudnlent opera-
tions — I don't believe in that; I will set m}*^ business up beside
thiit of any man in this building or anywhere else; people know
what I have been doing. I believe in the tree peddler just jxs
much as in the Methodist preacher. You pass a law that ties
this thing too closely and you destroy the business of nearly
every nnrseiy: A man must grow everything he sells. He
can't always do that, and it is not best that he should ; one man
can't do everything. When an agent comes around and the peo-
ple want to buy their stock they have a right f o have it.

Mr. Harris. I was raised in Ohio. Some forty years a^o that
state was overrun with horse thieves. They didn't dare to own
a horse worth over forty dollars until th'^y went to work and
drove out the horse thieves. After they did that they could
raise and keep as good horses in Ohio as in any other country.
I do not believe in building up monopolies at the expense of the
people, and this proposed measure is intended as a partial check
on the monopoly business. These deadbejits get together and
organize a corporation and send their agents broadcast over the
eoantry, selling the most worthless and miserable stock that can
be produced. They have carried on these operations so long and
80 boldly, robbing farmers of their time and money, that farmers
are about discouraged in ti*ying to grow fruit, and those who have
been trying to do a legitimate business as nurserymen have also
become very thorousrhly discouraged. It is time that some action
should be taken in this matter.

The report was then adopted.

Mr. Cutler. I wi^h to cM attention to the action taken yes-
terday by the Society, in passing a resolution in effect requiring
the S3eretiiry to omit the nanias of nursery firms from the re-
port of the discussions on this subject (See page 28Q.) It
seems to me to strike out the name of L. L. May & Co. wherever

Online LibraryMinnesota State Horticultural SocietyAnnual report of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society for the year .. → online text (page 38 of 89)