George Taylor Recollections
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The man who brought Celery to Kalamazoo.
(Photo's are links to full size picture).
George Taylor is the man who is credited with starting celery cultivation in Kalamazoo, and it is so noted on a historical marker in Kalamazoo.
He was born on February 12, 1803, in Grange, Parish of Hounam, Scotland. In Scotland, he learned the nursery trade, then later followed his older brother, James, to Kalamazoo where he developed celery cultivation that became a product widely associated with Kalamazoo.
In 1885 he began his recollections of his life in Scotland and Kalamazoo that appear in these pages.
He died on August 21, 1891 in Kalamazoo, and he is buried in Mountain Home Cemetery, near his first home in Kalamazoo.
George Taylor's Recollections were transcribed by and donated to the site by one of his descendents, Jerry Reynolds II via Jim Higgs, a descendent of George Taylor's brother.
ABSTRACT OF MY OWN LIFE AND TIMES
Commenced writing on the 25th of March 1885
By George Taylor
I have no further genealogy of my ancestors than that of grandfathers and grandmothers on both sides. So far as I can ascertain, they were of the Scottish Border among the Cheviots in the county of Roxburgh. I was once favored to make some extracts from an old Record of a Book belonging to the Secession Church at Morebattle, where I found a list of Births, Marriages, and Baptisms of three generations. I learned from this Record that my ancestors did not belong to the Established Church, but must have been devoted followers of Boston and the Erskines. They seemed also to have belonged to the working class and have to earn their daily bread by farm labor.
From this Register I found that my father, Andrew Taylor, was the son of George Taylor and Mary Common, who were married on the 21st of January, 1763. My father was born at Granger in the Parish of Tlounam on the 25th of September, 1768. Then I found on my mother’s side, that Alexander, son of Alexander Stevenson and Mary Wright, was born on the 20th of February, 1781.
My father was a shepherd on a large farm on the Beaumont called Attonburn. It was the custom on some of those large farms for the shepherds and the other single servants to board at the farmhouse. It was in this capacity that my mother and father got acquainted, she being kitchen maid or cook for the whole household.
The record or their marriage is: Married Andrew Taylor and Violet Stevenson, 6th of April 1801. David Morrison, Minister, George Bell and Alexander Stevenson, Witnesses.
They went right away to America and sailed from Greencock with the ship Franklin on the 26th of April and landed at New York on the 16th of June, a passage of six weeks and three days. Their passage money was for steerage 14 Guineas and to find their own victuals, and they were bound to lay in a supply for 10 weeks. They were kindly entertained on board by the Captain and had upon the whole a good passage. They went up the Hudson to Albany and from there to Cherry Valley on the Mohawk, where they remained until the month of May. My mother’s health was poorly and so they resolved to come home again.
I have a receipt of their passage by two of the agents on the 1st of May 1802 for the sum of 56 dollars or 12 Guineas from New York to Greencock by the Ship George Donald Campbell Master. Then they came home again, and I see from certain documents that my Father had sole management of Attonburn till the end of the lease, the Farmer A. Wmn. Andrew Pringle having died since he left.
Such then is a little of my Ancestral History. I see from the Secession Book that I was born at Grange in the Parish of Tlounam on the 12th of February 1803. I suppose that was where my grandmother was living, she having been left a widow for some time previous.
The first place where I looked upon the world and was capable of remembering anything was at the farm of Cururn in the Parish of Morebattle at the foot of the Cheviots. My father had engaged to be shepherding there, and was four years in that place. I was over five years old when my Father left that place and I found afterwards that I had quite a distinct recollection of the place and the surrounding scenery. There were pretty steep hills both behind and in front. A little wild wimpling Burn ran close by and on of the first objects that struck my attention was on large tree close upon the bank and at the end of the Burn. And there is one thing I recollect in this connection about a Foxhunt. Renyard had been hard pursued and he leaped upon a stone wall built to the side of the barn. From this he sprang to the thatch and up the slope roof to the top, where he lay undiscovered for some time. At last was seen and was forced to leap down and again being pursued by the hounds, and was captured in a little while
I recollect distinctly about sheep washing and sheep shearing and the Threshing of grain with the flail, and here in this connection I met with a new sensation. They had brought a Fanning Machine, which I had never seen before, and were making preparations to fan a heap of oats that had been threshed as I was looking on. And as they began to put the Machine in operation, the noise that it made, the movement of the wheels, the wind, and the could of dust that rose up—all together so unexpected, quite overwhelmed me with fear. I took to my heels and ran into the house to my Mother in the greatest state of excitement; after she had calmed my fear, I could go and look with pleasure at this operation
There was one trait of character that was early manifested in me, and that was a love of books with pictures. My Mother used to relate how I once gave her a fright in this way. In all those Country Houses it was necessary to have two large Box Beds. These were set on each side of the house, leaving a space, the breadth of a door betwixt them: this formed two apartments, which were known in Scotland by the terms of a Bat and a Ben. In these Beds of ours, there was a wooden shelf at both the head and the foot, where Books or any other choice article could be place. My father had a collection of books on these shelves, and one he had lately got was: “Three Hundred Animals.” They were all pictured with description of character, beginning with the lion and ending with a lower grade. I was much interested with this and some other of the books that had pictures. And so it happened that I climbed into the bed and was for a time quietly enjoying the pictures. My Mother, on looking around both outside and in, could not find me. A suspicious thought struck her, as she had several times before seen me go down to the Burn and watch with interest the trout and minnows sporting in the pools and eddies of that little stream. The thought that I might have fallen in and got drowned put her into a state of excitement, and so she ran so far up and so far down, and nothing of me was to be seen; she then came back to the house in an awful state of suspense, when she thought she had heard something stirring in the bed. When on looking in, there was I as busy among the books as a sage in his study.
The farm buildings and shepherds houses are all isolated and scattered at considerable distances from each other in these Districts. The hills often run in oblong ranges and are beautifully rounded off and covered with a fine smooth crop of the best pasturage. The shepherds often meet each other on the hills, and are social and kindly in their family visits. As everything we see only appears great or little, or a novelty by comparison, so I found this to be the case on my first visit away from home. This was to the village of Yetholm which stands about three miles below Beaumont. I never had seen a building larger than a Thatched Cottage, and on looking on a range of buildings, two or three stories high, standing opposite each other, with the shop and their various wares for sale. These novelties altogether seemed to me exceedingly great.
I recollect also that there was certain visitors that called around upon us. One of these was the Gypsy Class. They ostensibly traveled for the sale of Crockery Ware, Horn Spoons, and some other odds and ends. They also collected rags with which they were ready to barter for their own wares. Their mode of transit for business was the Cuddie and Creed. Their women did all the trading, leaving the men and the Cuddies at a distance, while they with a large basket of crockery on their arm and with on or two ragged hungry-looking children following, they came into the house without any ceremony asking: “Now Mistress, what are gan to want in or way the day.” They were persevering in showing off their different wares: and then came an inquiry for rags. If a trade was made, there was a good deal more than they were willing to take. But trade or not, they were always hungry: and especially the children who had hardly spoken their fast that day. Such was the way in which they combine their trade with begging. But we knew that they were also great thieves; for if there were any clothes drying, or any loose things lying around, they were apt to stick to their fingers.
There was another class that used to call round at regular intervals—Peddler or Packman, as he was generally called. Some of these dealt in software in all sorts of Cotton Linens, and Woolen fabrics. These Packmen were generally good talkers and very communicative: and as they traveled over an extensive district, they were well pouted with all the Local News. And as there were a few newspapers at the time, they could often relate some of the last great exploits of Napoleon Bonaparte. There were certain of the Shepherds’ Houses where these Peddlers regularly stopped all night, where they had a good Crack and a mutual entertainment. In the morning after breakfast, some nice trinket was presented to the mistress, which often led to a greater purchase from the peddler.
There was also another class that sometimes came round, and that was the regular Beggers in the early part of the Reign of George the Third. The old soldiers had no pensions: and I have seen some of them going about in this way, some without Arm and some on Crutches without a Leg, and some of these frequently had a Medal authorizing them to beg. I recollect of hearing a case related in the last Century which took place at the Eaverton Edge Race Course about three miles from Kelso. There was an old Soldier of the name of Andrew Gemmels, who had served in some of the great wars in Germany, and who had been traveling with his Meal Bags all over the country. He was attending the races, where there was always a great crowd of people. There was also a recruiting party to enlist Soldiers, and was common in such cases, the party marched through the crowd with Fife and Drum and a great display. When a halt was called and the recruiting officer had come forward and made a grand speech exalting the honor and the glory of the Soldiers, Old Gemmels came prominently forward in the middle of the crowd, and holding up his Meal Bags cried, “Behold The End Of It.”
All that beggar class whether men or women were as a matter of business ragged and dirty: in this way they often got a supply of better clothing, but when it was thought too good, it was sold and turned into money. And so some of the characters have been known to have left a good sum of money at their deaths. This system of open begging has now been nearly done away with in both Scotland and England. In many of the parishes there is a poor rate of fund provided for any of the resident poor who from age and not having any relations able to support them are allowed from this fund a weekly supply. Within the last fifty years, an extensive emigrations has done something to relieve this poverty, but in many cases the root of the evil will exist so long as the drinking usages in these countries are continued.
I recollect of another traveling class who were sort of weekly visitors and were known by the name of Cadgers. Their principal business was to buy and collect eggs from both the farmers and their hinds and cotters who kept a great many chickens. Some of these traveled with a horse and cart and had various merchandise for sale, such as: tea, sugar, snuff, and tobacco. Other of these had cuddle and creek which consisted of two large square wicker boxes, strapped together and suspended on each side, frequently a rider might be sitting on the middle with a leg on each side.
Three cadgers came around every week on a certain day; for they studied to avoid each other—and hence arose the old Scotch Saying, “That there is aye ill will among Cadgers”. And here necessarily came in a division of Labor. These eggs and other produce, which they gathered, had to be taken to some Town or City for sale. This was often the special business of some other member of the family, who went to Edinburgh or Berdick with what had been previously collected, sold them there and purchased and brought home all that was necessary for their country trade. But now all this sort of business has been greatly changed since the railroad had become the great medium of transportation
I may here mention that my father removed from the Farm of Curburn, where he had been shepherd four years to the Farm of Haslawbank in the parish of Linton on the 28th of May, 1808. And before entering into my personal history here, I think it necessary in the first place to give a little sketch of the relation in which the farmer stands to the landlords and then in what relation the laborers stand to the farmer.
In the first place then it is a fact that the greater part of all the land in Scotland, England, and Ireland is possessed by a few great landlords. And to secure these estates from being divided at the decease of the proprietors, they are all entailed-an legal act by which a property cannot be divided but must be inherited by one heir. Only moveable property is subject to division. These lands are divided into farms, and on these a good house is built for the farmer and adjacent are all the necessary farm buildings, so placed, as to form an inclosed square where the various grades of cattle are stalled and fed. Then there is another class of building for the plowmen and other laborers on the farm. The farms are in turn divided into fields by fencing. Now then after these farms are thus equipped they are advertised to be let to a tenant for a certain number of years (generally 19) on certain conditions and at specified rent per annum. The advertisement mentions the name of the farm, the number of acres, and that offers will be received by a party up to a certain date. Then may be seen different parties riding and walking over the farm carefully examining the land and fences with all the various buildings. The mode of giving in the bid is sometimes keen competition for a good farm and it is at the option of the landlord whether he may accept the highest bidder or not. One that is possessed of good capital is often the one that is preferred. There is another law which these landlords have got up to favor themselves and is called the Law of Nypothec, and it works somewhat in this way: If a farmer would fall behind in the payments of his rent for one or two years, the landlord could seize all of his moveable property, and if he is owing a large bill to the manure merchant or seedman, grocer, dry goods merchant, or any other man, none of these can touch a thing until the landlord is fully paid. And this, in many cases, he takes all and the other creditors receive nothing. The farmer upon taking the farm, must furnish it with stock horses, plough, and all other agricultural implements. He must engage the plowman and other laborers to work the land, and also shepherd. The engagement of these workers is generally for one year, the term being the 26th of May Whitsunday. For the single servant women or men connected with the farmhouse or those who engage as workers with the plowman or shepherds, their engagement is for half year from Whitsunday to 22nd of November. Thus, I have given a sketch of the mode of rural life in Scotland, and it will be seen that many of them are really the servant of servants and are dependent on others, yet it is wonderful how happy many of them are, and as Burns says, “A Buerddly Chiels and clever Hizzies are bred in sic a way as this.”
I now come back to where my father engaged to be a shepherd with a James Burn on the farm of Hoslaw Bank. I here entered upon a new field with some scenery and some new sensations. The flitting, as it was called in taking down the wooden box beds, the press, the dishes, with all the plates, the bowls. Everything were masses in confusion and packed on the carts was quite a sensation.
I recollect my grandmother, whose maiden name was Mary Wight, took me in charge to walk with her, and I mind the walk well. It was first down the burn to the Beaumont and then down to Yetholm. We then called at the House of William Stobs, who was one of the weekly Cadgers that came round and were very kindly entertained. This was the first of three miles of our journey and we had another three miles to go. We now made our way across the Hough of Beaumont, then up a steep hill and close by the shepherds’ dwelling, called the Breakhouse. Then still up and along the side of some stone dykes. We kept winding around till we saw before us a little farm hamlet by the name of Wideopen. After passing this, we began to march downhill; and then a little to the west we saw at a distance the place of our destination, on this was a farm house of the old style with Barn Byreshed and two dwelling houses, forming a sort of a square. These buildings stood on a ridge of old pasture and running to a point—on the north was a lake, or Lough, as they called it, of about thirty acres. To the west was an extensive Mop, where a great many Peats had been and were still being cut out. This was called the Dun Mop, as the Peat was of a brownish dun color. Then on the south side, the Mop stretched in a sort of oblong form to the east. This Mop was a soft black and easily cut, and the peats, when dried, were hard and burnt finely. They were indeed our principle fuel. The name of this old place was called Lochinches—I suppose from its position between the Lough and the Mop. There was a connection with the Hoslaw Bank farm, and our house was here, as most of the pastureland lay in this direction. There were three families living here, besides ours.
My father and another family lived in the old farmhouse and the others in two cottage houses, joined together. They were all oldish people that lived here, so that I had no boys to associate with. But I found much to interest me in some other things about it. In the Lough there was a little island, where hundreds of white fowl, called the Pick Maw, used to come in the spring and make their nests. They laid three light blue eggs and were thought good eating. I was in the way of gathering a great many of them, both for ourselves, and the neighbors. There were also a good many wild ducks that used to make their nests about this Mop and Lough. One of these nests with a dozen or more of fresh eggs was a good prize. There were certain kinds of berries that grew in this Mop, of which I gathered a good many. The best of these was the Cranberry. It was of the same species as our Americans of that name, but much smaller, though I think the quality was equally good. In the season I used to gather a great many of these and could readily sell them for a shilling per bottle or quart. I may say that the blueberry, which used to grow on the dry knolls among the heather. They are a species of our huckleberry in taste and color, but not quite large. There was another little black species, which grew on a hard, wiry stem, which was known by the name of the crawberry. It was pretty good eating, but not equal to others.
The farm of Hoslaw Bank as the road winded round the East End of the Lough, was about ¾ of a mile from our house. They kept three pair of workhorses on the farm. But the greater part was native pastures, so that a good many of both sheep and cattle were kept. Some of the land was not fenced, and that required a herding of the sheep and cattle, to keep them from eating the grain. Hoslaw Bank, as the name indicates, stood on a ridge of high ground, running east and west. From this could be seen to the north of the whole of Bowickshire for a distance of 20 miles in a north and east direction. There was one thing from which I derived great pleasure in this landscape views, and that was from a small telescope, which my father had recently got. He showed me how to fix and adjust the lens. With this instrument, objects that were 12 or 20 miles distant appeared distinct and quite near. I could see the old Hume Castle with many of the prominent gentlemen seats, the town of Goldstream, and the bridge across the Tweed appeared very fine, especially when the afternoon sun shone upon it. Windmills for threshing the grain had become quite a rage at that time. With this glass I could count as many as 20 and could often see them moving. By this amusement the wary listlessness of herding was greatly taken away.
The season of harvest was then a matter of interest to all parties, both young and old (old and young). To the men and women it was hard work, as the cutting or shearing, as they called it, was all done with a savor teeth hook. Not only did all the men and women on the farm take a part in this work, but also the trades-people of the town and village were all prepared to engage in this work. The rate of harvest wages at that time was from 12 to 15 shillings per week with victuals and lodging. The length of time was often a month and sometimes more. The farmer furnished the victuals. This consisted of oatmeal porridge in the morning. It was brought out to the field about eight o’clock in bowls or wooden vessels with hoops, having the capacity to hold porridge for 7 persons. This was called a Bandwin, which consisted of 6 shearers and one bandster, to bind and set up what was cut. These bowls being set down on the Stubble at proper distances from each other. Each company following their Bandster, surrounded the vessel, either setting themselves down on their knees, or lying broadside on and with spoon in hand. The first move was to dig out a hole in the dish, so that when a tin of milk was poured on, in the center of each hole would be in the way of receiving a certain amount.
This, I know, would rather look Hoggish in the eyes of our American Citizen, but being the custom of the country, there was nothing for it, but to accept the situation. Moreover great many of these people had been up Three Hours and had now a Splendid Appetite. When an hour had passed, work was again resumed and continued till One o’clock, when Dinner was brought out. This consisted of a loaf of bread and a quart of beer to each person. The Brewer especially prepared this beer for the Harvest and made engagement with the farmer to deliver it for so much a Barrel. The dinner hour over, the same work goes on till 6 o’clock, which then, makes a day of ten hours work. Then take their way for home. When at the Farm House the find the supper waiting with the same fare as in the morning—good Oatmeal Porridge and Milk.
I have thus given the whole bill of Harvest Fare and some may think it is a very mean one, but I can speak from what I have seen and also from what I have experienced, that the hardest work can be done and the best of health enjoyed on just such a fare. But now this mode of work is greatly a thing of the past. The Reaping Machine has made an entire Revolution in all Harvest work. Young people enjoyed the Harvest in the olden days. It was the common practice for all the young and also for some old people to gather or glean what was left on the stubble behind the reapers. I used to do a good deal of this work and have a good pile at the end of the harvest. But I recollect I was sometimes necessarily engaged otherwise and had to act a housekeeper at home.
It was then the general custom for all Farm house holders to pay a rent of 50 shillings for the House they occupied or to shear for the House, as they termed it---that is, either the wife or the Servant must shear all the time of Harvest and receive no payment. In that case my Mother did the same as many other mothers—sheared all through the harvest and saved 50 shillings. In that case, being the oldest, I had to keep House and take care of the younger members of the family. And I can well recollect that one Harvest (it must have been 1812) I had to carry out the youngest to be nursed by his Mother at Breakfast and Dinner hours. This is only a sample of the way in which Women, and especially mothers are subjected under the say of a wealthy Landed Aristocracy. When I look at the poverty, oppression, and suffering which I have seen flowing from this source, I cannot but think that the language and utterance of the Epistle of James in Chapter 5th and say of the rich man: “Behold the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields which is of you kept back by fraud crieth, and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabbath—Your riches shall eat your flesh as fire!”
Our neighbors in this old hamlet at Lochinches were all religious, god-fearing people, but they all went to different churches. I recollect it was common practice in the Sabbath afternoon, to gather at one of the houses and talk over what had been hearing at their various churches. The texts of their ministers were mentioned and some of the leading remarks of the sermon. Sometimes a sermon or a portion of some good book was read and altogether they showed a great regard for the sanctity of the Sabbath. Family worship was also regularly observed in all of these families. The ministers were also attentive in visiting round among their members, and it was then the practice in every alternate year to have what they called a Diet of Examination. This was generally held in a certain district and a notice of it was given at the church on the previous Sabbath.
The people having thus met at a certain appointed place, the exercises were begun with singing and prayer, then a shorter catechism question was asked at each member all round. It was generally understood that everyone should be well posted on the questions, as it was one of the first things taught in both the home and the school. After this, the minister asked a series of scripture questions at each one in order, adapting them in a certain way to each individual capacity. There were always a few who were more deeply read in the scriptures and Divinity. These had harder questions asked, so as to bring the truth more fully to their weaker brethren. The children and young people were not overlooked, but had also questions. The established church had then also Diets of Examination, but these now I believe with both parties are on things of the past.
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