The Shumway Seed
Today is the birthday of a pioneering seedsman out of Rockford, Illinois, Roland Hallet Shumway - who always went by his initials 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 Roland was 19, he enlisted in the army to serve in the Civil War. He contracted bronchitis and became totally deaf during his service.
Once Roland was asked how he would like to be remembered. He gave a three-word response: Good Seeds Cheap.
Roland said that he wanted to make sure,
“That good seeds were within the reach of the poorest planters“
As with any venture, hustle and heart drove Roland's 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, Roland donated land in Rockford for the Shumway Market on the condition that the city would 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.
In the 1980s, Shumway Seed was sold and today the area behind the market building is a parking lot.