The Jersey brought to America.
[R.M. Gow: The Jersey. N.Y. 1938]
Introduction of the Breed. It is impossible to set down any particular date as the
earliest on which Jersey cattle were imported to America; because in the early days cattle
brought from either one of the Channel Islands were called Alderney, Jerseys and Guernseys
without discrimination. In England Jersey cattle were for long called Alderney. Reuben
Haines, in 1818 wrote to the Secretary of the Philadelphia Society for Promoting
Agriculture: "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." Richard
Morris writes this Society in January, 1817: "I have upon my farm on the Delaware a
cow of the Alderney breed, imported a short time since by Mr. Wurts. The cow is a small
animal, and is supported with less food than our ordinary stock." "In September,
1840, three Alderney cows were purchased by the late Nicholas Biddle, Bucks Co., Pa., that
had been imported from the Island of Guernsey." Such statements leave room for much
doubt as to the actual breed these cows belonged to.
It would be very desirable to honor, by mentioning his name here, that far-sighted
and sagacious dairyman or agriculturist who had a vision of the future and with
deliberation brought the first Jerseys to this country; but it cannot be done. In fact,
there are reasons for believing that the first Jerseys were not imported by any
stock-breeder or farmer, but by some man who ploughed the ocean and not the fields; by
some sailor man, that is. Nor is this so strange, for in old days of the sailingship sea
captains occasionally had a cow to sell or give away, because their slow-moving vessels
were often away on long voyages, and the captains sometimes took their wives and young
children along with them. This was establishing a floating home, and where there is a home
there needs must be a cow. The cow-house was built atop of the main hatch; the pig and
chickens found quarters in the long-boat. Many ships were thus floating farm yards. Nor is
this custom entirely a thing of the past, for on Aug 22, 1929, a whaler bound for Ross
Sea, in the Antarctic, steamed out of the Virginia Capes having on board the captain`s
wife, their two small children and a milch cow, for which cow the captain had paid $175.
Mr. T.J. Hand, one of the men who started the A.J.C.C., has stated that a Captain Pratt,
master of the ship Hudson, had brought many Jerseys from the Island of Jersey to New York
before anything was known about the breed in this country. Mr. Hand knew this cpatain and
it is on record that cattle brought on the Hudson were registered by Mr.Hand. Capt Pratt
traded with his ship at ports on the coast of Africa, sometimes touching at Jersey onhis
return. When in New York he amused the merchants with his sea yarns, amongst other things
telling them of the wonderful cattle he found on Jersey, and some of them became
interested and asked him to bring two or three back with him on his next return. In the
records of imported animals in the Club`s Herd Register the names of Capt. Pratt and the
Hudson are found frequently; and after the establishment of the Club he bought over
eighty-one Jerseys in his ship in the years 1870, 1871 and 1873, and some as late as 1875.
Whatever claims can be made for Cap pratt as the first importer of Jerseys, the Club
records show that the first Jerseys that were registered were imported in 1850, nine
imported in that year being entered in Vol. I of the Herd Register. From 1850 to 1867 a
few were imported each year, and 236 of them were afterwards presented and acccepted for
registration by the Club. The establishment of the Club in 1868 proved a great stimulus to
the breed, and the first year after its organization 142 Jerseys were imported, which
number increased to 220 in 1869, and 110 at least were brought over in 180. Over thirtysix
per cent of the animals were registered in this first volume were imported either from
Jersey or England.The other sixty-three and one-half per cent were animals bred in this
country from stock formerly taken to America, and whose descent from imported animals
could be proved with reasonable certitude.
Ships Which Brought the Early Jerseys. Most of the earlier Jerseys were carried across
the Atlantic in sailing ships, and we have the names of seventy-five or more of those
vessels,, but in the case of many animals the names of the ships are not known, as their
importation long antedated the start of the A.J.C.C. Some of those ships bore
significant names, and sometimes a ship`s name wasused by the owner in naming his cattle;
for instance, the cow Rose Hudson 125, the bulls Splendid 2, Splendens 16 and Stalwart
265. Here are the names of the sailing vessels mostly used by Jersey importers, and the
years in which they brought Jerseys: The Splendid in 1850; the Lady Franklin, the Typhoon
and the Duchess in 1851; the Meteor, the Samuel Appleton and the Lizzie Harwood in 1853;
the Southampton, the Vancouver and the Germania in 1854; The American Congress, the
William Frothingham and the Splendid in 1856; the Stalwart in 1857; the Guy Mannering, the
Stalwart, the William Frothingham and the Great Western in 1858; the Robert Mills, the
Philadelphia and the Hercules in 1859; the Philadelphia, the Plymouth Rock, the R.H.
Dixon, the Cornelius Grinnell and the Hammonia in 1860; the Lancaster, the Constitution
and the John R. Skiddy in 1862, not to list those of later years, except the Herald of the
Morning, which brought eleven Jerseys in 1864 and the New World in 1868.
It is surprising that the New World could have brought as many as thirty-eight head on one
trip, arriving at New York on Nov. 17, 1868, even although this packet ship when launched
in 1846 was the largest sailing vessel afloat, 1404 tons, and she had crossed the Atlantic
in seventeen days. Of the thirty-eight head mentioned, eleven were imported by Alvin
Adams, founder of the Adams Express Co, and twenty-six by William B. Dinsmore, his
partner. On Jan. 12, 1870 the New World brought five Jerseys for Geo I. Seney, founder of
the Nickel Plate R.R. and endower of the Seney Hospital, Brooklyn. The Cornelius Grinnell
in 1864 brought one bull for Pierre Lorillard. On July 10, 1869 she landed in New York
thirty-three Jerseys, eleven of them for Samuel C. Colt. On November 20, 1869, she brought
thirteen and on April 15, 1870, she brought seven. The Plymouth Rock on three ships
brought over twenty Jerseys, these trips ending at New York on Oct. 29, 1860, in August,
1870, and on Jan. 5, 1871, all on the first two trips imported by William B. Dinsmore.
Steamers began to ply somewhat regularly between port of the United States and Great
Britain as early as 1838, in April of which year the steamship Great Western made her
first trip from Bristol, England to New York. The first steamship to bring Jerseys to the
United states was the Europa in 1851. She brought over in that year and gave her name to
the cow Europa 558, imported by E.M. Read, Tewksbury, Massachusetts. But notwithstanding
the advent of the steamship, Jerseys were brought in sailing vessels as late as 1878, when
the ship Lord Clive brought a number to Philadelphia.
Of the seventy-five or more sailing vessels known to have brought Jerseys, four - the
John R. Skiddy, launched in 1844, the Plymouth Rock (1849), the New World (1846) and the
Cornelius Grinnell (1850) - were designed and built by Donald McKay, the man "who
designed and built the fastest, staunchest and most beautiful vessels ever propelled by
sail. Most of America`s maritime glory is due to his genius" - won by his famous
"yankee clipper ships," and it is interesting to find that some of the first
Jerseys were imported in his ships.
The above are records of importations of Jerseys which were registered; there were
others long previous of which there are no records; some were shipped and died on the
passage; others were imported in dam and therefore not counted in the above lists. The
early importations were landed at Quebec,Montreal, Portland (Maine ), Boston, New York,
Philadelphia, Baltimore and New Orleans, usually after rough passages lasting from four to
six weeks, unless one of the speedier ships was used, the vessels seeming to us now very
small. These vessels and others like them have vanished from the seven seas; but of late
public interest has been revived in them by their romantic and stirring histories,
supplemented by pictures and models. In these days of fast steamships making regular timed
ferry passages across the Atlantic Ocean, Jersey cattle travel de luxe, and no importer
anxiously awaits new of the sighting in the harbor offing of the white sails
carrying his precious Jerseys to their new pastures.
Early Importers. There were a good many Jerseys in the Eastern States before the
A.J.C.C., was organized in 1868. In the years from 1850 to 1865 sixty-eight breeders
imported cattle,mostly for their own herds, 1850 being the earliest exact date known.
These pioneers, who at this early date placed their faith in and their work and money on
the Jersey, are worthy of commenmoration. They are listed below under the years of their
1850 John A. Taintor, Connecticut, brought cattle over every year from 1850 to 1861. In
1853 he imported Flora 213 at a cost of $140, not including freight or charges, at that
date the price of a choice heifer. Daniel webster, the celebrated statesman, imported a
Jersey cow on some date before 1850. He had purchased a farm at Marshfield, Massachusetts
in 1831. He bred Venus, one of the progenitors of the foundation stock in America.
Importing in this year we also find Samuel Henshaw, Massachusetts.
1851. John Glenn, Maryland, one of the founders of the Club, imported cattle in 1851,
1853 and 1858. Thomas Motley, another Club founder, brought cattle in 1851 and also in
1853. Others were E.M. Reead and Peter Lawson, Massachusetts, th e latter also importing
1852. In this year we find John T. Norton, Connecticut, who also imported in 1857 and
1858; Paran Stevens, afterwards (1859) one of the proprietors of the Fifth Avenue Hotel
and S.R. Spalding, both in Massachusetts.
1853. W.W. Billings, afterwards a founder of the Club, whose farm was in Connecticut,
and William B. Bacon, Massachusetts, who also brought over some Jerseys in 1854.
1854. In this year, and also in 1864, Dr. Joseph Burnett, Southboro, Massachusetts,
imported Jerseys. He was the manufacturer of the well-known flavoring extracts bearing his
name, proprietor of Deerfoot Farm and father of Edward Burnett, Club Director,
Congressman, and engineer of Biltmore Farms. In the same year we have George Davenport,
Thomas S. Pagge and David Dana, all in Massachusetts, and another Club founder, J. Howard
1855. Roswell L. Colt, New Jersey, imported some animals in this year, and he entered
seven Jersey or Alderney cattle at the fourth national exhibition of the United States
Agricultural Society, held at Philadelphia in 1856, the first recorded instance of Jerseys
being shown at a public exhibition in this country, at which Prince of Jersey, No 66 in
the Club`s Herd Register, took the first premium. Other 1855 importers were Samuel C.
Colt, who also brought cattle here in 1859 and 1860, and became a Club member in 1870 W.C.
Wilson, Maryland, a Club founder, imported also in 1859; Shepherd F. Knapp and J.P. Swain,
New York, the latter one of the Club founders; John Giles, Connecticut, A. Robeson, Rhode
Island, Club founder, and E.M. Hopkins, Pennsylvania.
1856. During this year seven breeders imported Jerseys: William Redmond, New Jersey,
Club founder, also in 1859; Jonathan Bird, New Jersey; Dr. L.H. Twaddell, Pennsylvania,
Club founder, also in 1858; John C. Gray and Jeremiah Pritchard, Massachusetts, William
Goddard, Rhode Island, and William Hoge, New York.
1857. Thaddeus Davids, New York, a manufacturer of printers` inks (the firm still is in
existence), Capt Furber, master of the ship Great Western, and Edward Hobart,
1859. W.H. Aspinwall, New York, brought over Jerseys in 1859, 1860 and 1861. He was one
of the Club founders, head of a once famous shipping firm which first opened a route
to California across Isthmus of Panama. We also find R.L. Maitland, New York; in this year
and 1861; S. Morris Waln and Joseph Price, Pennsylvania; Robert Fowle, Virginia, D.B.
Fearing, Rhode Island, and a Mr. Bryce, New Jersey.
1860. This year we find amongst the importers W.B. Dinsmore and Thomas Richardson, New
York. Mr. Dinsmore also imported in 1862 and 1865; he was a Club founder, and organizer of
the Adams Express Co. Mr. Richardson was also amongst the importers of 1861. In this year
appears the anme of the celebrated Commodore R.F. Stockton, uncle of S.W. Stockton, a Club
founder, and also Mrs. T.F. Potter, all of New Jersey. Oters were Noah Billings,
Connecticut and John P. Cushing, Massachusetts.
1861. The New York importers were Richard M. Hoe, a Club founder and famous as a
printing press inventor and manufacturer, and John L. Aspinwall, shipping magnate and Club
founder, who also brought over Jerseys in 1867. Others, hartman Kuhn and Isaac Morris,
Pennsylvania, R. & H.R. Tucker, Md, the latter also in the 1862 list.
1862. The only importers were George Bacon, New York and R. & H.R. Tucker, Md.
1863. No importations, probably on account of the Civil War.
1864. But in 1864 there were five: John Van Antwerp, Thomas Messenger, New York;
E.F. Bowditch, A. Thayer, Massachusetts; and Charles Carow, New Jersey.
1865. John Hoey, New Jersey, a Club founder and also a founder of the Adams Express Co;
George D. Parish, New Jersey; R. W. Cameron, New York; and A.D. Bullock, Ohio, the first
importer from a Middle Western State.
These breeders in all brought over two hundred and thirtynine head which were
eventually registered. The registration of animals from these early importations ran from
seven of those brought in 1850 to twentyseven of the 1860 importations, the largest in the
eighteen years. Sixteen of the sixty-six early importers were, later on, among the
fortythree founders of the Club.
Mr. Roswell L. Colt of Paterson, New Jersey, was one of the very early breeders of Jersey
cattle in the United States before 1850. He died in 1856, leaving no records of his herd.
Prior to 1855 Mr. Colt had many animals descended from the stock of Nicholas Biddle, of
Philadelphia, and others he had imported direct from the Island of Jersey, but Mr.
Biddle`s son stated that his father`s cattle were Guernseys. The breed name had rather an
uncertain significance in those early days. However, at the Fourth National Exhibition of
the United States Agricultural Society at Philadelphia in 1856 Mr. Colt entered seven
animals as Jerseys, and won premiums on two of them, one named Jersey Prince, the other
St. Clement 10. Mr. Colt in letters made frequent mention of "the Biddle
Alderneys." In September, 1855, he imported three animals from the Island. He then
rented from John Giles, of Connecticut, the bull Prince of Jersey 66, imported in 1855,
the "Jersey Prince", mentioned above. In July, 1856, Mr. Colt imported the bull
St. Clement 10.
In 1850 some few gentlemen in Hartford, Connecticut, commisioned John A. Taintor to go to
Jersey and buy a dozen or so of the best animals to be procured, including the best bull
on the Island, and did not set any limit to the prices to be paid fpr them. He brought
back, among others, the bull Splendens (named for the ship which brought him, the
Splendid), afterwards registered as No 16, and the cows Dot and Violet, numbered after the
Herd Register was started as Nos 7 and 23 respectiveely. In 1851 Thomas Motley,
Massachusetts imported the bull Colonel, registered as No 76, and the cows Flora and
Countess, Nos 113 and 114. All these animals were selected primarily for
constitutional vigor and ability as producers.
In 1853 American wealth and influence began to have an effect on te Island of Jersey and
also at the English stock sales. A report of the Royal Jersey Agricultural Society states
that several animals had been sent to the United States, "where a great and
intelligent people are offering every encouragement to all branches of agriculture."
In 1865 Dr. L. Twaddell, of West Philadelphia, one of the earliest of American Breeders,
afterwards one of the the original members of the A.J:C.C., whose son and grandson are now
members (1936), visisted the Islands of Jersey and Guernsey, and on his return made by
request a report to the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture. This report must
have been in answer to a general demand for fuller information in regard to the Jersey, as
the breed was more and more winning the attention of the American dairyman. Dr. Twaddell
fully describes the Jersey as he saw her on the Island, and the prevailing methods of
handling and breeding then practised. He states that the bulls were slaughtered at three
years aof age, the opinion being that young bulls have the most vigor and stamina. He
stresses the point that it was as superior dairy animals that the Channel Island cows,
Jerseys and Guernseys, were presented for consideration. Dr. Twaddell had been
commissioned to buy cattle on his visit to the Island in 1865 for Sam. J. Sharpless, Chas.
M. Sharpless, Hartman Kuhn, William M. Potts, O.S. Hubbell, Chas. Wheeler, james M.
Bullock and others. He purchased in all thirty head, but the rinderpest had in the
meantime broken out in England, and the importation of these cattle was interdicted.
A way-bill for three Jerseys imported in 1869 by William Devries, a merchant of Baltimore,
grandfather of Mrs. Charles E. Rieman, the wife of our present Club member, is
interesting, as it gives their cost. The cattle were brought to Baltimore on the ship N.
Churchill, and their cost was £64 ($307), and the cost of bringing them over £63 12s 6d
($305), making the total cost of the three animals landed at Baltimore $612.
Col. Waring`s essay (1871), the first piece of promotive literature published by the Club,
names the characteristics of the Jersey which the A.J.C.C. from its foundation in 1868 has
consistently sought to emphasize. Col. Waring, if writing today in the light of better
dairy knowledge, would have used the term "rich milk," instead of "rich and
highly coloured cream". The passage reads:
"The sole office of the Jersey cow, broadly speaking,i sto produce the largest
possible amount of rich and highly-coloured cream from a given amount of food. Everything
else in connection with the breeding of the race is, or should be, incidental. Beauty of
form and beauty of color are, of course, desirable, but no wise breeder will give these
features more than a secondary position. If they can be secured without detracting from
economic value, they are most desirable; but if, in seeking them, we lose sight of the
chief aim, we not only do injury to our own interests, but permanently detract from the
average value of the whole race."
In whatever degree aesthetic and sporting tasts may have in later years induced men to
establish Jersey herds, those who first brought the breed to America were actuated mainly
by a philanthropic desire to introduce to their country a dairy animal possessng more
desirable qualities than the common stock.
Most all of the early importations were made by breeders for the purpose of founding
Jersey herds or of building up herds already existing. Unless they could go personally,
they commissioned someone to go to the Island and bring back certain specified animals.
After the A.J.C.C. was established, importations became more frequent and more numerous.
The demand for Jerseys had increased to such an extent that what may be called
professional importers were induced to enter the field - men who made a business of
importing cattle and offering them for sale to breeders. Many of these made but one, two
or three importations, and then stopped. Others continued for many years and their names
became identified with the progress of the breed in America. E.P.P. Fowler made many trips
to America, and sold Jerseys in New Orleans, Philadelphia, Mobile, Baltimore, Cincinnati,
Boston and New York. From 1869 to 1881 he brought over 481 Jerseys that were registered
with the Club, and his brother, P.H. Fowler, brought over 120, making over 600
animals imported to the United States by the Fowlers. A.M. Herkness & Co imported a
good many animals, beginning in 1870.
Distribution of the Jersey in the U.S.
There were Jersey herds in at least thirteen States before the American Jersey Cattle
Club was established; namely Connecticut, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Maine,
Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and
Vermont. As far as the greater number of these states is concerned, it is not known and
cannot be discovered when the Jersey was first introduced. After the American Jersey
Cattle Club was established 1868, record was made by transfers of animals, and these
records give the first authentic dates on which animals went into States other than those
mentioned above. But many of the early transfers and applications for registration on file
are without dates. Club records were not as complete at the start as they were afterwards
made. So it must not be understood that the years mentioned in the following list are in
all cases absolutely the first during which the Jersey was introduced into the States for
which dates are given; they indicate only when the States for which dates are given; they
indicate only when the Jersey was beginning to interest breeders in those States, and are
as nearly accurate as can be ascertained without almost interminable research. The
approximate dates are as follows:
Earliest Recorded Dates of Jerseys in the Several States.
Delaware Prior to 1868
Maine Prior to 1868
Maryland Prior to 1868
New Hampshire Prior to 1868
New Jersey Prior to 1868
New Mexico 1887
New York Prior to 1868
North Carolina 1874
North Dakota 1888
Pennsylvania Prior to 1868
Rhode Island Prior to 1868
South Carolina 1874
South Dakota 1886
Vermont Prior to 1868
West Virginia 1873