|Company Name:||JOHNSON & STOKES|
|Catalog Title:||Garden and Farm Manual|
Their roots go deep -- back to 1878 and Herbert W. Johnson, who operated the Johnson Seed Co., in Moorstown, New Jersey. In 1881, Walter P. Stokes joined Johnson as a partner in the Johnson and Stokes Company, which supplied vegetable seeds to commercial growers in the New Jersey, Delmarva, and Eastern Pennsylvania regions. In about 1906, Johnson and Stokes parted ways and Walter Stokes started Stokes Seed Farms, located at Windermoor Farm, near Moorstown, NJ.
In 1916, the firm was taken over by Walter's son, Francis C. Stokes, a Rutgers horticultural alumnus, with a national reputation as a dynamic young seedsman who was responsible for developing some of the famous New Jersey tomatoes of the early 1900s (Stokesdale, Stokesdale #4, and improved selections of BonnyBest and Geneva John Baer). Francis was responsible for many "firsts" in the seed industry at that time. He was the first seedsman to offer seeds in a tin can, first to protect seeds with a fungicide, first to publish a color litho seed catalog and first to import and catalog Broccoli (from Italy) for his commercial customers. Recently, the American Vegetable Grower magazine published a copy of a Stokes ad dated in the 1920s to celebrate their 50th Anniversary.
During the 1920s, the Company recruited five or six salesmen who quickly made Stokes the third-largest seed company in the Florida/Texas/New Jersey area. Mr. Stokes believed in extensive trial gardens to test all types of species as well as compare the quality of stocks received and competitive strains from all over the world. One of the last salesmen to be hired was W. H. Gale, a young Canadian cauliflower grower. His territory was "all of Canada."
During the late 1930s and early 1940s, the new Stokes Seeds company found that many of the vegetable varieties popular in the Carolinas, Florida, Delmarva, and Georgia were just too late for the Northeastern sales region. So close alliances were forged with European and Asian firms like Clause, Sluis en Groot, Tezier, Vilmorin, Sakata and Takii. Amercian suppliers like D. M. Ferry (later Ferry Morse), Asgrow, Northrup King, Hollar, Harris and Crookham were Stokes' leading suppliers in North America. Stokes pioneered the use of a temperature/humidity seed storage in 1936 (60°F/40% RH). As the Second World War threatened, several European seedsmen and Sakata (Japan) sent their valuable vegetable stock seed to Stokes seed storage for safe keeping. S & G and Stokes were instrumental in starting the California vegetable seed industry in 1940. After the war, they returned stock seed to all of their horticultural friends.
During the Depression, the Stokes Seed Company of Moorestown, N. J. fell on hard times. Mr. Stokes put the Canadian company up for sale in 1934, and it was bought by Mr. Gale, the Canadian salesman.
In the 1950s Mr. Gale's son John, joined Stokes as a commercial salesman and worked closely with his father and the employees to focus the company's development along the same lines as the Harris Seed Company -- elite O/P strains and new disease-tolerant hybrid vegetables. Stokes returned to the USA in 1965, following Mr. Stokes' death and located in Buffalo, New York with warehouses in Fredonia, New York. Harry Gale passed away in 1975 and the company was run by his two sons, then in 1980, John purchased the entire company. In 1983, John's son Wayne joined the company is now President. John is still very active today as Chairman of the Board.
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