|The first Alderney Breeders in
United States of America
The cattle of the island of Jersey have been received by Americans
and English buyers with the greatest favor, although those of
Guernsey are recognised as of parallel excellence. A few specimens
of the Channel Islands stock arrived in this country as early
as 1815. They appear to have been imported merely as novelties
and even up to a much later date there seems to have been no
attempt to maintain the breed here for useful purposes.
It is not clear from which of the islands they came; they were
called Alderneys and possessed the rich creaming qualities claimed
for the breed, and mention of this characteristic was made in
local agricultural reports. While these reports indicated them
superior in butter production to the native cattle, they disclosed
no such remarkable yields as have since frequently been obtained
from Jersey cows.
A few Americans who had become interested in dairy cattle commenced
about 1840 to import Jerseys on a limited scale for the purpose
of establishing thoroughbred herds, and in consequence their
characteristics began to be somewhat known in various parts
of New England and the Middle States, where they were still
almost invariably called Alderneys. They were not generally
liked by the superficial observer, and were condemmed without
trial by the mass of practical dairymen because they gave less
milk than the native cattle, and were held to have neither the
size nor conformation to fatten to advantage when past usefulness
in the dairy. Still, from their earliest history in America,
the few people who induced to become practically familiar with
their dairy qualities merely discarded them in favor of other
cattle. Their peculiar colors and shadings rendered it easy
to distinguish traces of the blood when crossed upon native
stock and in time the least observant farmer seldom failed to
notice that his richest milk came from the cow with the Alderney
cross. So it began to be conceded that these grades made superior
dairy cattle long before the prejudices of most dairymen would
allow them to admit that the thorough breds could be of any
practical value in working dairies. They were declared to be
only rich men`s playthings, and until late years failed to gain
general recognition upon a more creditable footing.
But if the progress made by the Jersey was slow, it was nevertheless
sure. When she once formed a friend or converted an opponent,
she hold him "for good and all." Between the years
1850 and 1865 larger numbers were received through the importations
of Thomas Motley, of Boston, Massachusetts; John A. Taintor,
of Hartford, Connecticut; John T. Norton, Farmington, Connecticut;
R.L. Colt, Paterson, New Jersey; R.L. Maitland, New York; William
B. Dinsmore, Staatsburg, New York, and a few others. Great care
and excellent judgment were exercised in the selection of the
cattle for these importations, and much of the present popularity
of the breed in America is directly due to the skill of the
practical gentlemen who conducted this enterprise.
Jersey Cattle in America. [Harper`s new monthly Magazine,
||William Wurts BIRTH: 6 MAY 1788, Flanders,,New Jersey DEATH:
25 DEC 1858 (- photograph [of portrait?] of William Wurts, labeled
"father of Isabella Graham Wurts". Morris Wistar Wood
Collection, Haverford College)
William Wurts, with his brothers Charles and Maurice, were
businessmen of Philadelphia. The Wurts brothers, Maurice, William,
John and Charles, were pioneers in the mining, introduction
and marketing of anthracite coal, and originators of the plans
and projects out of which inevitably grew the Delaware and Hudson
Canal and Railroad Companies of which they were founders, and
caused to be built in England, and delivered to HONESDALE, Pa.,
the "Stourbridge Lion," the first steam locomotive to be operated
in the Western Hemisphere, its trial trip taking place 8 August
"The Alderney Cow imported by M & W Wurts in the Year
of 1815 mentioned in the 4th Vol. of our Memories. [Memoirs
of Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture]
This Cow is a full bred Alderney, as will appear from the following
I hereby certify that the Cow shipped by Maurice Wurts ...........,
has been raised by me from two full blooded Alderneys which
I imported and that the Bull shipped by them in the same vessel
was imported from Alderney by Mr Allmet of this place.
Brixton, Surrey 7th October 1815
(Signed) Richard Platt"
[Extract of letter written 1819 by Reuben Haines till Richard
Peters, President of Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture
(University of Pennsylvania,
Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture Records )]
||Richard Maris 19 Dec 1772 - 5 Feb 1817 [Photograph from "Maris
family in the United States. A record of the descendants of George
and Alice Maris. 1683-1885. Compiled for the family by George
L. and Annie M. Maris. 1885"]
|Richard Maris 19 Dec 1772 - 5 Feb 1817 ."The
only biographical information I have on this Richard is that he
was a merchant in Philadelphia and acquired a considerable estate."
Email dated 30 May 2000 from Raymond L. Maris
"Willis P. Hazard writing of the early introduction of
Guernseys to America in his book "Jersey, Guernsey, and
Alderney Cow," published in 1872, refers to information
given him by Colonel Craig Biddle of Philadelphia as follows.
The earliest record of an Alderney cow in Pennsylvania, that
I am aware will be found in Vol IV, page 155 of the Memoirs
of the Philadelphia Society for Promotion of Agriculture. It
is as follows:
"I have upon my farm on the Delaware a cow of the Alderney
breed, imported a short time since by Mr. Wurs. She has been
fed in the usual way with potatos, and during the last week
the milk from her was kept separate, and yielded eight pounds
of butter. The cow is a small animal, and is supported with
less food than our ordinary stock.
By communicating this fact to the Society, it will oblige, etc.
Jan, 11, 1817 Richard Morris
P.S. The Cow is three years old.
In a note on the same page, it is stated that the cow above
referred to is now in the possesion of another member of the
Agricultural Society; and after a fair trial made with her during
last summer (1817), the superior richness of her milk, when
compared with that of other cows, has been fully tested. She
gave 9½ pounds of extremely rich, highly-colored butter
The Guernsey cattle - Introduction to America. William H. Caldwell:
The Guernsey. 1941.
||Reuben Haines 1786-1831
|The Haines were the leading brewers of beer in Philadelphia
in the late 1700's - George Washington was a regular customer.
Reuben Haines (1786-1831) had much in common with his colleague
from the American Philosophical Society, Thomas Jefferson. Like
Jefferson, he was fascinated by the rich possibilities the new
nation offered, from its natural resources to is inventive spirit.
When he retired from business at the age of 23, Reuben declared
his intent to devote himself to "the pursuit of knowledge
and the society of genuine friends." With energy, he conducted
experiments in scientific agriculture; led school reforms; and
helped found the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Franklin Institute
and the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society.
"Another mention of the same cow will be found in the
fifth volume of the same work, page 47, viz: [Memoirs of Philadelphia
Society for Promoting Agriculture]
Germantown, Oct. 20, 1818.
With this you will receive a pound of butter made from the Alderney
cow imported in 1815 by Maurice and William Wurts, and now in
my possession. She calved on the 13th of last month, and is
now in fine condition, running on excellent pasture of orchard
grass and white clover, and given on an average about 14 quarts
of milk per day. From this quantity, during the week ending
the 7th instant, we obtained 10 quarts of cream which produced
8 lbs 2 oz of butter, and the week succeeding 10½ quarts,
which gave 83/4 lbs of the quality of the sample sent. You will
perceive it is of so rich a yellow that it might be suspected
that some foreign coloring matter had been added to it; but
you may rely on it this is not the case. I may add that one
of the good properties of this valuable breed of cattle is the
ease with which the cream is churned, requiring but a few minutes
to convert it into butter. When a proper opportunity occurs,
I shall endeavour to ascertain the quantity and quality of butter
to be obtained per week from the Kerry cow, imported this summer
from Ireland, and the Brrittany cow from France, both of which
breeds I have pure.
I remain, respectfully
The Guernsey cattle - Introduction to America. William H. Caldwell:
The Guernsey. 1941.
||Timothy Pickering (b.July 17, 1745, Salem, Mass - d. Jan. 29,
1829, Salem, Mass)
|Timothy Pickering (1745-1829). American Revolutionary
officer and Federalist politician who served (1795-1800) with
distinction in the first two U.S. Cabinets. After retirement from
public life in 1817, he centered his interest on agricultural
improvement and deservedly earned an important place in the history
of New England agriculture before he died in 1829 rounding out
a career as soldier, administrator and politician.
"I received last Saturday, from Judge Peters the 5th Vol.
of the Memoirs of the Philadelphia Society of Agriculture, in
which I find a letter of yours stating the produce in butter
of your Alderney Cow in 1818. I also saw your letter of a later
date, in the Memoirs of the Pennsylvania Society, giving a similar
All these evidence have satisfied me, that for Essex, and all
other parts of our country where butter dairies are most wanted,
the Alderney breed is the most eligible. Essex is not a county
for breeding cattle for sale; and I trust that our farmers will
generally confine themselves to raising stock only for the dairy.
It is now supplied with working oxen, chiefly from other parts."
[Extract of letter from Timothy Pickering till Reuben Haines
dated Oct 4th, 1826 THE ROBERT B. HAINES, III COLLECTION, Haverford
||Nicholas Biddle, born January 08, 1786 in Philadelphia, PA;
died February 27, 1844 in "Andalusia" PA;
|As Director of the Second Bank of the United States
Nicholas Biddle (1786-1844), by
1830 had become one of the most powerful and prominent men in
the country. He strongly beliefed in pastoral ideals and how we
must be good shepherds of the land. As early as
1822 Nicholas Biddle chastised his fellow landholders about the
way in which the land was being exploited. "Our farms ...
though small, are generally too large for our capitals; that is,
we work badly too much ground, instead of cultivating well a little."
In 1840 at an agricultural fair, he stated his position on agriculture,
"The instinct of agriculture is for peace-for the empire
of reason, not of violence of votes, not of bayonets."
Nicholas Biddle devoted himself to his agricultural pursuits.
His stables contained some of the country's finest race horses.
He imported the first herd of Guernsey cattle and tried unsuccessfully
to introduce the silk industry by planting acres of mulberry trees.More
successful were his ventures with grapes.
In 1840 Nicholas Biddle had received a letter from New York
offering to sell him three Alderney cows, all of them in calf,
which had just arrived in port. Biddle immediately sent R. Dillon
Drake to make the purchase and to bring the animals back. They
turned out to be remarkably fine. Subsequently, this purchase
was to entitle Andalusia to Certificate Number One in the American
Guernsey Cattle Club. Proud of his new acquisition, Biddle exhibited
them at the Agricultural Fair at Rising Sun Village. The cows
were dark in coulor. With the herd thriving, the stock crossed
by later importations and maintained in its purity, calves from
Andalusia were much sought by Bucks county farmers and led to
the creation of other Guernsey herds In June 1893, Andalusia's
barn burned with the loss of many animals which had been extricated
from it only to break loose and plunge back into the flaming
structure. Judge Biddle promptly built a new barn. This barn
burned in September 1920. Once again, the barn was rebuilt and
farming continued at Adalusia, but in 1951 the Guernsey herd
was disposed of."
Email from Mark Biddle dated 3 May 1999