"Good Seeds Cheap"
It’s the birthday of Roland Hallet Shumway, who was born on this day in 1842.
A pioneering seedsman out of Rockford, Illinois, Shumway always went by his initials of R.H.
The RH Shumway Seed Company became the world's largest mail-order seed company; their "Marketmore" seeds are especially popular.
Famous Shumway Seed customers included Bing Crosby and Perry Como.
When Shumway was 19, he enlisted in the army to serve in the Civil War. He contracted bronchitis and became totally deaf during his service.
Once Shumway was asked how he would like to be remembered. He gave a three-word response: Good Seeds Cheap.
Shumway said that he wanted to make sure,
“That good seeds were within the reach of the poorest planters“
As with any venture, sweat equity drives success.
“From the beginning of the new year, until after spring planting, my industrious employees work 16 hours a day, and myself and my family 18 or more hours per day. Are we not surely knights at labor? How can we do more? Do we not deserve the patronage of every planter in America ?”
In 1905, Shumway donated land in Rockford for the Shumway Market on the condition that the city preserve the Farmer's Market in perpetuity,
“for the benefit of all and the poor especially.“
The market ran year-round on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
This was THE place for farmers and people to gather and sell their fruits, vegetables, and flowers.
Today the area behind the market building a parking lot.
In the 1980s, Shumway Seed was sold only to be bought later by JW Jung in the 1990s.