It’s finally spring! That time of year when you start wondering what your ancestors were planting! No? That’s just me? Well, anyway, if you WERE curious, you’re in luck!
A number of Peter Henderson & Co. catalogs, like the one below, are available through Internet Archive.
These catalogs were advertised in newspapers across the country. One could write away for a free copy or, for the low price of 50 cents, the company would throw in five “beautiful colored plates.” This was likely an appealing option for the young housewife looking to spruce up her home.
For the family historian, seed catalogs can serve a multitude of purposes. Want to know why great-grandpa planted timothy? Check out page 79 of the 1875 catalog. Timothy was also known as “herd grass.” According to Peter Henderson & Co., it would “produce a larger crop” and “more nutriment” than other grasses planted for feeding farm animals.
Your third great-grandpa’s estate inventory lists a “Wethersfield seed drill” and “two English bill hooks.” Won’t the drawings on page 88 help bring history to life?
Was someone a passionate gardener who prided herself on growing plants no one else in town had seen yet? The newest varieties of flowers for the year are listed on page 5.
Perhaps you’ll use the illustrations to help identify those flowers by your family’s doorstep in the reunion photo.
Keep an open mind. Any tiny detail might add value to your family history!