Sunday, March 19, 2023

1913 postcard: A melon field in Montoursville (plus ginseng farming)

Here's an old Montoursville, Pennsylvania, postcard that's new to me. As you can see, it's labeled "W.J. Artley's Melon Field." And those are, indeed, a lot of watermelons. Alan Mays posted another one of these cards on his Flickr page recently and states that W.J. Artley is Walter J. Artley (1860-1927), who was born in Tioga County and is buried in the sprawling, hilltop Montoursville Cemetery that isn't too far from the house on Willow Street where I once lived. 

Did Artley later move on from watermelons, or did he try to diversify his farm? I found a couple of Artley references in an old issue of Special Crops, a journal focused on farming of ginseng. Both references are from 1923. 

There's a small advertisement (pictured) and a published letter in which Artley seeks advice to limit crop blight: "Is lime or sulphur, or lime, sulphur and bluestone in a powdered form of a benefit to scatter on ginseng beds in spring before it comes up as a preventative of blight? Or is there anything else that can be used as an advantage to overcome blight? We had a great deal of blight on our ginseng last year and got but very few seed. We sprayed with Pyrox but it did not seem to control the blight. The stem of ginseng would get a brown spot on it and keep this up till the plant would drop down. Is this caused from blight, and what can be used as a remedy?"

The reply directs Artley not to use lime and recommends Pyrox, but states that the best way to fight blight is to have ginseng planted in high shade areas with good drainage and plenty of air. Too much heat and/or moisture will doom the ginseng.

Getting back to the postcard, it was mailed in June 1913 to Mrs. Edmund Shollenberger in Montgomery, Pennsylvania (previously known as Black Hole and Clinton Mills). Montoursville and Montgomery are only about six miles apart (as the crow flies) in Lycoming County. The note states:
Dear Clara: —
Maude, Lottie, and I will be down Sunday if nothing prevents. Thanks for the invitation.

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