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SOUTHERN CULTIVATOR, V26, No.10, October 1868, P.308

HO! THE SCUPPERNONGS.

I have been a regular subscriber to the SOUTHERN CULTIVATOR since 1856, except during the war; and although not engaged in tilling the soil as an occupation, I have been well repaid for all the time and money I have devoted to it. I am happy to testify that it has lost nothing in interest or usefulness by the war. But, on the contrary,is keeping pace with the progress of the age, in all the various branches of Agriculture. The many able and well written communications, from various Southern States indicate that our people are not lacking in their appreciation of the greatest interest of our desolated land. During the long time I have been reading your paper, I have never trespassed on its columns with a communication of any kind. And, hope, if after reading ten or twelve years, I should undertake to write a word or two, I shall not be accused of having a "cacoethes scribendi." Especially, if that word is in relation to the last excitement. The fact is I have strong symptoms of "scuppernong on the brain," and, I think, perhaps a little ventilation may be good for me. Several of your correspondents have called for all the information that can be given, through your columns, and I too, want "more light." I am a perfect tyro in 'scuppernongology, and do not calculate to edify anybody. I am preparing to start a little vineyard and shall be governed by the directions of Wyche, Van Buren, Butner, and other correspondents of the CULTIVATOR. In accordance with the example of James Moore, of Meridian, Mississippi, and others; and in compliance with his request, and that of Jennings, Cook, and others, I propose to give the history of one hundred vines, purchased of D' Dedmond, and planted in this vicinity, (one mile east of the Mobile and Ohio R.R. and ten miles South of Corinth in the year 1859. These vines were planted in a loamy soil, twenty five feet apart each way, no manure, or fertilizer of any kind being used. Stakes three feet high were stuck up by each plant. The ground was cultivated in Irish potatoes, and pintlars. Vines grew to top of stakes. The second year the stakes were replaced by others eight or ten feet high, and the ground cultivated in corn. The vines grew that year to the top of the stakes again, and branched considerably. They were pruned closely. The third year, about half the ground was left uncultivated and the balance planted in corn. The uncultivated portion grew up in grass, weeds and briars. The stakes were not renewed, and the vines not pruned. They bore some fruit. The fourth year the land was bedded up, and the entire vineyard (if it is worthy of the name) planted in English peas. No attention whatever was given to the stakes or the vines. The latter grew rapidly- branched out very much, and many of them fell to the ground, yet they bore freely. It was during that summer that the Confederates evacuated Corinth, and abandoned this entire country to the "grand army" of Halleck, Rosencrans et al. A strong camp, outpost of Corinth, was located during the whole fruit season, in a few miles of the vineyard. It would be superfluous to state to Southern readers what occurred there, from soldiers and citizens, with no one to let or hinder. Thus deserted the vines, such as had not fallen down, were pulled down, tramped over, and otherwise abused. The vineyard grew up in broom sedge, weeds, briars and bushes. A few of the vines have caught hold of neighboring bushes, and a few of the old stakes which are yet standing - thus receiving a partial support. Owing to causes which most of your readers, Messrs. Editors, will readily appreciate, nothing has been done, up to the present time, except to cover with earth some of the vines as they lie on the ground, for layers. Even in this condition the vines have borne freely every year. Gentlemen seeing them last year, when the fruit was ripe, estimated some of the vires to have from three to five bushels of grapes on them, and this year, the prospects are flattering for a greater yield than ever before. The vines have grown more than in any former year, and the blooms are more profuse. No disease of any kind, either of the vines, or of the berries, has ever been noticed- Good fruit has been gathered, lying flat on the ground, and even partially covered in sand - also where the broom sedge is growing thick. Some of the vines, growing on red clay, where the top soil has all washed off, are looking well, and bear excellent fruit. Thus it will be seen, that these vines, planted out nine years ago, without any adequate support since the second year, without any manure or fertilizer of any kind, without any special cultivation any time, and entirely neglected since the fourth year; walked over - tramped on, and pulled about rudely by anybody who chose to come after grapes; are yet thrifty and vigorous, and have borne freely every year since the third. What would they have done with proper attention? The fact once established, that a good market wine can be made out of the Scuppernong, there can be no doubt that it is a source of wealth superior to any other in the South. That the fruit can be raised in any abundance, with less labor and expense than any other product of the soil, is established by proof piled up high. And we have the testimony of some of the first men of the country, that the wine is "nonpareil." Does their enthusiasm blind them, or is it really true? For one, though proverbially wary and slow to take hold of new things, I am disposed to regard the Scuppernong as a "dei donum magnum" (great gitt of the gods,) to the sunny South. In accordance with this opinion, I design, as soon as possible, to commence a little vineyard upon correct principles. It must be a little one. The stern and unrelenting tyrant, Poverty, together with cruel and unfeeling tyrants at Washington and Jackson, will not let it be otherwise. Appropos of poverty and tyranny, allow me to state, that I have paid since the first day of May four taxes, and the fifth is now demanded. All this is done in the name of the government! Yet I am told, by the highest authority in the land, that I have no government. J . M. TAYLOR Rienzi. Mississippi June 10th, 1868 ------------------------------------------ Personal Notes: "Cacoethes scribendi" - Latin, "Insatiable desire for writing" "Nonpareil" - French, "Unequaled, superb" "Tyro" - French, "Novice, beginner" This copy of Dr.Taylor's letter was transcribed from a very poor microfilm copy of the original publication located in the Mississippi State University Library. I am indebted to my friend Dr. B.J. Stojanovic, Head of the A.B.McKay Food and Enology Laboratory at Mississippi State, for locating this letter for me after a considerable search. Dr. Taylor's letter was interesting to me from several historical aspects. First, his observations on the agricultural promise of the muscadine grape for the state of Mississippi were far ahead of their time. In 1976 over 100 years after this letter was written, the "Mississippi Native Wine Law" was passed with the purpose of promoting commercial grape growing and wine making. The foundation for this native wine industry is wine made from the muscadine, a distinctive type of grape of which scuppernong is one variety. Secondly, from reading this letter it was fairly obvious that Dr. Taylor was a very well educated man with a keen sense of observation and wide ranging interests in many fields of endeavor - medical, agricultural, and probably others as well. At this time, Alcorn County and the Northeast corner of the state of Mississippi were very rural and sparsely populated. In Corinth where Dr. Taylor practiced medicine, the population in 1875 was approximately 700 persons. Thirdly, my attention could not help but be drawn to the undercurrent of bitterness in Dr. Taylor's remarks about "cruel and unfeeling tyrants" as well as references to hardships unstated which he assumed all readers would have knowledge of without his repeating the details. In historic perspective, the War Between The States and the extensive damage to the people of the South was recent history at the time of this letter. The extent to which these feelings of bitterness and oppression influence Dr. Taylor's writing may be modern day clues to explain some of the South's social turmoil and problems which occurred over the next 100 years. Milton Sandy, Jr, CPA Corinth, Mississippi May 15, 1983 ------------------------------------------------------ BIOGRAPHY Dr. James Marcus Taylor James Marcus Taylor was a pioneer physician, army surgeon, and farmer of Alcorn County, formerly part of Tishomingo County, Mississippi. James Marcus Taylor was born January 12, 1827, in Jackson County, Georgia and died December 27, 1895, in Corinth, Alcorn County, Mississippi where the Taylor Family migrated in 1839. The youngest of thirteen children, James Marcus Taylor was educated by family members and briefly in local private schools. J.M. Taylor's early education included the subjects of astronomy, philosophy, Greek and Latin. He attended the University of Louisville, Kentucky and graduated from Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1851, Dr. Taylor married Mary Cox of Georgia. She died in 1865 after their fourth child was born. By his second wife, Sallie Murray, Dr. Taylor had three children. The Taylors moved from Rienzi to Corinth In 1870. During the Civil War, J. M. Taylor served as surgeon of the 26th Mississippi Regiment, Confederate States of America. Captured by the Federals at Bowling Green, Kentucky, J. M. Taylor was imprisoned in several enemy camps where he served as a camp physician. At the and of the conflict, he was released from the camp at Lake Erie and was assisted by Federals in his return home to Rienzi. Dr. Taylor had a general practice, however, he gave special attention to surgery and gynecology. Medical services included litothomy, tracheotomy, hemitomy, resection of bones, cataract, excision of tumors and plastic surgery. Dr. Taylor was particularly proud of the twelve medical students who lived and studied under him. His professional activities also extended into interest in medical societies. Dr. Taylor was active in the initial organization of the old Tishomingo County Medical Society (1860), the Mississippi State Medical Association (1873), and the Mississippi State Board of Health (1877). In his mid-sixties, James Marcus Taylor wrote a biography of his father's family which included reminiscences of the early development of "Old" Tishomingo County. Compiled by: Stephanie L.Sandy, Genealogist May 15, 1983, Corinth, Miss. --------------------------------------------------------- BIBLIOGRAPHIC REFERENCES Adams, Leon D. THE WINES OF AMERICA. 2nd ed. San Francisco: McGraw Hill Book Company. 1978; pp. 62. Alcorn County, Mississippi. "Deed Books." Office of Chancery Clerk, Corinth, Alcorn County, Miss, (Key--Book:Page) R:338; U:499; V:360, 565; W:46, 571, 577; Y:289; AA:94. Alcorn County, Mississippi "License Book #2, 1882." Office of Chancery Clerk, Corinth, Alcorn County, Miss. Alcorn County, Mississippi. "Will Book #A, 1854-1921." Office of Chancery Clerk, Corinth, Alcorn County, Miss. pp. 492-4. BIOGRAPHICAL AND HISTORICAL MEMORIES OF MISSISSIPPI. Chicago: The Goodspeed Publishing Company. 1891. Vol. 2, Tome 3. pp. 882-4. Price, Beulah M. "Some Corinthians of Today and Yesterday." Corinth, Miss.: 1950, pp. 273-4. Typed copy held by Northeast Miss. Regional Library. Taylor, C. M. "Brief Sketch of Dr. James Marcus Taylor." HISTORY OF THE MISSISSIPPI STATE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION. 2nd ed, 1949. pp. 58. Taylor, J. M. "Biographical Sketches of John Taylor and His Family with Reminiscents and Random Reflections of the Early Settlement and Development of Old Tishomingo County: Written by the Youngest Member of His family In His Sixty-eight Year of Age." Unpublished, 1894. Typed copy held by the Northeast Miss. Regional Library, Vertical File #2- Local Genealogy, Calvin Taylor Family Records (1983). Taylor, J. M. "City, County, State & National1 Boards of Health: Their Proper Organization, & Objects--including the Registration of Marriages, Births, and Deaths." FIRST ANNUAL REPORT OF THE MISSISSIPPI STATE BOARD OF HEALTH. Jackson: Power & Barksdale, State Printer. 1877. Taylor, J. M. "Ho! The Scuppernongs." SOUTHERN CULTIVATOR. Vol. 26, No.10, October 1868. pp. 308. Microfilm copyheld by Mississippi State University Library (1983). U. S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, "1860 Population Census of Tishomingo County, Mississippi. " Original Page No. 162., Visit No. 1071. Vine, Richard P. COMMERCIAL WINEMAKING: PROCESSINGS AND CONTROLS. Westport, Conn.: AVI Publishing Company, Inc. 1981. pp. 20. Williams, Rosemary T. CROSS CITY CHRONICLE: A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE IN CORINTH & ALCORN COUNTY. Corinth: Junior Auxiliary. 1976. Compiled by: Stephanie L.Sandy, Genealogist May 15, 1983, Corinth, Miss. histcw5


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