Over the years, many growers and nut enthusiasts and those with jobs in the industry have contributed their knowledge to NNGA members. The NNGA of the 21st century has been molded in part by these contributors. To explore our roots, we have decided to publish some of the articles from our early days.
Dr. Deming was one of the founding fathers of the NNGA. His efforts and persistence set NNGA on a path to growth. This article was written as a tribute to Dr. Deming, a founding father of the NNGA, shortly after his death. It tells us much about the work and dedication of those who founded the NNGA.
This article was written as a tribute to Dr. Deming, a founding father of the NNGA, shortly after his death. It tells us much about the work and dedication of those who founded the NNGA.
Dr. W.C. Deming
by John Davidson
(NNGA Annual Report, 1953)
On November 17, 1910, twelve dreamers met in the Botanical Museum, Bronx Park, New York City, to form an organization of nut growers in the north. It was largely an organizational meeting. No papers were read, but some solid foundations were laid. Dr. W.C. Deming served as temporary chairman of the meeting and, fortunately for the cause, was then elected as the new body’s Secretary-Treasurer, an office which has always called for executive ability and untiring industry.
This election paid off. At the second meeting, held at the New York State College of Agriculture, in Ithaca, it appeared that the new Secretary had communicated with a large number of leading nurserymen, with national and State horticulturists and with others. It was reported at this meeting that only two nurserymen had accepted the invitation to attend. “So”, reported Secretary Deming, “evidently the others do not think the northern nut grower is one whose acquaintance is worth cultivating. We hope to convince them to the contrary.”
This was done. At the second meeting, the Association could count sixty members. Professor John Craig, of Cornell, in noting this growth, said, “Dr. Deming has not merely performed the routine duties of the secretary, but he has studied the case and has presented a good many facts not apparent on the surface. It seems to me that this augurs well.” The augury proved prophetic. The Association continued to grow. But without this first intelligent, persistent effort upon the part of Dr. Deming, it could hardly have survived.
This small bit of history is illustrative of the whole life of Dr. Deming. His deep interest in the purposes and hopes of our Association has never ceased. Upon his own ground he planted and budded and grafted many nut trees, and has given away the fruits of his labors with a prodigal good well. Deming’s Burnham pecan and the Deming Purple black walnut are the only introductions, so far as this writer knows, which bear his name.
Again, some thirty years after the first meeting mentioned above, Dr. Deming thought up and carried through another project which makes the Association repeatedly his debtor, an Index of the first thirty volumes of the Association’s Annual Reports. It is a work which saves the conscientious worker in northern nut culture hours and hours of labor.
And now our Dean, the last of the founding fathers, has left us for the Elysian Fields. His gentle, kindly face will be sadly missed by those who knew him, but he lives on in every tree whose planting his labors inspired and in every mind which has been, even unconsciously, his heir.
A letter from Miss Charlotte Deming, a sister, assures us, somewhat touchingly, but happily, of this fact: “My brother’s heart was with and in the work of the Association. He was happy to know of its expansion into such a wide-spread organization, and very proud of having been made its Dean.”
Dr. Deming lived a full life. He was a physician of distinction, a graduate of Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons and was retired from the army after World War I with the rank of Major. After graduation from Columbia, he served his internship in a New York hospital, then on the medical staff of the State Immigrant Hospital, Ward’s Island. He began private practice in Westchester County, New York and, later, for many years, served as examining physician with the Veterans’ Administration in Hartford, Connecticut.
This article was written by A. A. Beauchamp in 1938. He was a new member at that time. Through his eyes we can feel what it was like to belong to the NNGA in its early days.
I CAN certainly qualify as a newcomer for I did not learn of this association until sometime in March or April, so therefore I am hardly hatched as yet as a member. When asked to address this meeting, my heart sank for I knew nothing at all of nut growing. But when one becomes vitally interested in a new subject, that person wants to tell others of it and kindle their interest as well. I had derived so much satisfaction from my brief contact with the purpose and vision of this organization that I felt it impossible to decline to lend support to it, however insignificant that support might seem to me, and felt compelled to accept. It is easy to say how important the nut growers association appears to me. I think it a wonderful body and perfectly wonderful results have been accomplished by it in preserving and propagating trees of worth that would have been completely lost but for the work by far seeing individuals.
I learned of the existence of the association through a short letter in the Rural New-Yorker written by Dr. J. Russell Smith who sought information about northern limits of the hickory. I knew of a number of trees in Maine and wrote him. One of these trees had interested me some twenty-five years ago and, at that time, I thought it worthy of propagation. I wrote Dr. Smith and he told me of the testing of nuts done by this body. I obtained from the library the 1936 Report and read it from cover to cover without stopping. I was thrilled by it and at once made application to join the association and also purchased the reports from the beginning. The next step was to purchase a few trees. My regret is that I did not learn of your work 25 years earlier for I should by now have a considerable planting of trees and I dare say considerable experience. Why did I not learn of it earlier? I suppose it was because there had not been enough publicity regarding this work. A thing has to be made known before there can be converts. I have read with much interest articles on nut growing by different members that have appeared in the Rural New-Yorker and one or two other mediums the past six months. But until just recently, I did not see these farm journals. It seems to me as a newcomer that if such articles could be contributed to some of the horticultural magazines devoted chiefly to plants and flowers, it would be a good thing and reach many who would become interested in nuts. But publicity is a subject that has received the deepest consideration from you all, I am sure, and it may be presumptuous for me even to allude to it. But we want all to know of this work being done.
I think your annual report a model of such book making and a credit to editor and contributor. The editor did well in calling attention in one of the last reports to the many good things to be found in again reading earlier issues. Personally I have gotten much from them and one of the things they have kindled in me is that of reverence and respect for the pioneers who dared fare forth into new fields and unknown. Such dauntless spirits as Mr. J. F. Jones and Mr. Riehl, for instance. And on their passing each left a daughter who has carried on their work. Really, the history of this little organization working patiently along with little money to use for promotion purposes is little short of an epic. In the earlier days there had not been the scientific research made such as is evidenced in some of the papers we have listened to at this meeting. Everything was a feeling in the dark as it were. It took real vision to carry on and this vision will come into its own in due course and the work that has been done recognized as of paramount importance. This newcomer holds the nut growers association in the highest esteem and feels it an honor to become a member of it.
The kindness I have had extended me by every member that I have come in contact with has been astounding to me. I saw a short article in the Country Gentleman on a possible method of propagating woody plants vegetatively by wrapping a growing sheet with tape, the idea being that the exclusion of light would cause etiolation and make root growth from that shoot possible when it was planted. I sent it to a member who returned the clipping again and, not wanting to waste it, I sent it to Mr. J. U. Gellatly way out in British Columbia. I had been interested in an article by Mr. Gellatly that I had read in the reports. He was much interested to hear from me and wrote in detail describing methods of the same sort he was trying out. I have here a series of drawings he recently sent me that I believe will be of interest to you all. This piece of work by him gives vivid evidence of that interest and kindliness I have mentioned. It took a lot of time and work to produce. I hope it finds its way into the printed report of the meeting. Mr. Gellatly said in the letter that accompanied the drawing that it was not possible for him to be here, but he hoped that I would remember him to the members and in particular to Miss Jones and Dr. J. Russell Smith, and this I now do. It has been a real pleasure to meet personally members who I had known only by their contributions to the report and I am very happy that I could be present at this meeting. I thank you for your patience.
Editor’s Note: NNGA has not changed–the Annual Report is still with us and our members are passionate about nut growing and very supportive of each other. What has changed is that the Internet has given NNGA the opportunity to put its resources for nut growers online.