February 2009

Record of Garden Successes and Failures

William Plumer Jacobs
1868 – 1869

Rev. William Plumer Jacobs, fresh out of Columbia Seminary, arrived in Clinton in May of 1864. He was 22 years old, and had been hired as the first full-time pastor of the Clinton Presbyterian Church, now First Presbyterian Church, Clinton. The next year he married Mary Dillard, and by the time he was writing this garden notebook, he was living in his own home with his wife and two children, Florence and Ferdinand. He was supplying several churches in addition to the Clinton church, and had already begun publication of the True Witness, which was later to become The Farm and Garden, and still later, Our Monthly.

With all his other activities, he had a reputation as a fine gardener, and his garden was among the best in Clinton. He kept meticulous notes of the work being done, the seeds planted, how things were fertilized, what was being harvested, and which crops had succeeded or failed. His notes, found in two small notebooks, give a detailed picture of the farm life of a 19th century homeowner, who grew most of the food needed to supply his family.

We plan to publish these notes in several segments, to correspond to the months in which they were written. Hopefully you will find them informative, and they may even give you ideas for a garden of your own. Many of the seeds he mentions are still available from heritage seed catalogs.