The first Jersey Cows in USA

jamespix21.jpgThe Jamestown colony in Virginia got its first English cattle in 1611. As the English, Dutch, and French settled the East coast from Canada to Florida, they brought their cattle with them. Among the first laws written by Lord Delaware, governor of the Virginia Colony, were several protecting cows. Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. However, they did not bring cows until 1624. The lack of milk in the colony probably added to the high death rate, especially among the children. Today, in Boston, Mass., there is a large park called "The Commons." It was once a community pasture where cows from throughout the settlement were brought to graze. This "pasture" is kept to memorialize the cows that arrived in 1624-bringing new hope to the hungry colonists. We also have records of the introduction into New Hampshire in 1632 of some large yellow cattle from Denmark by Captain John Mason, and it is stated that 100 head of oxen of this type were driven into Boston 1638, where they were sold for £25 per head.

In modern times the Jersey cow has become world famous, and a steady and lucrative export trade has been built up, both in cows and bulls. Many fine herds of Jerseys have been established in many countries, originally with stock from islands farms. Although early reports of the exports of cattle are few, we do know that in 1657 George Poingdestre  and Peter Effard were sending cows to America in small numbers.
[Merchants and shipowners and their vessels before 1800 [John Jean:Jersey Sailing Ships, chapter 5. 1982]

swanfarm.jpgGeorge Poingdestre grew up at Swan Farm in the Island of Jersey and then immigrated with his wife and children to Middle Plantation (Williamsburg), Virginia.
It is believed that Swan Farm was built c.1490, on land the Poingdestre family had lived on since the 13th Century.





pdaxcross.jpgGeorge Poingdestre with his wife, Susanna, [and Peter Effard] arrived in the Colony of Virginia in 1657.  They first settled in Middle Plantation (Williamsburg). George Poingdestre later built his plantation home, Criss Cross (or Christ's Cross), which still stands located midway between Williamsburg and Richmond in St. Peter's Parish.

Peter Effard was an Uncle to George. George's mother's brother. They seemed to be in business
together when they first arrived to Virginia. Doris Ann Lucas tells that  "Peter Effard did give to two of George's children a cow apiece". It is believed that they imported Jersey cows to America in the 1650-80"s.

An Alderney Cow 1815
"The early importations of Jersey cattle into this country are most difficult to trace. The animals were then called Alderneys, and the same name was given to Guernsey cattle, of which a goodly number were brought over, and they seem to have been interbred somewhat indiscriminately.
The following is a copy of a paper kindly furnished by Col. Craig Biddle, of Philadelphia:

The earliest record of an Alderney cow in Pennsylvania, that I am aware of, 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. Wurts. She has been fed in the usual way with potatoes, 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.

To Roberts Vaux, Secretary of the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture.

 imageUII.jpgPhotograph [of portrait?] of William Wurts.
William Wurts [ b. circa 1786]  with his brothers Charles and Maurice, were businessmen of Philadelphia.
In a note on the same page, it is stated "that the cow above referred to is now in the possession 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-coloured butter per week.
Another mention of the same cow will be found in the fifth volume of the same work, page 47, viz.:

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 gives 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 produce 8lbs 2oz of butter, and the week succeeding 10½ quarts, which gave 83/4 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 creamis 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 Brittany cow from France, both of which breeds I have pure.
I remain respectfully
Reuben Haines

Richard Peters, Esq."

[Jersey Cattle. Edited by the Secretary [ 1. Volume of the American Jersey Herd Book 1871]

epp04.jpgAccording to E. Parmalee Prentice this Alderney  "cow seems to have come from Brixton, Surrey, England, where she was born in 1813 or 1814, her sire and dam being "two fullblooded Alderneys", though it is not known from what Island they came."

E. Parlamee  Prentice
Guernseys in America [American Dairy Cattle. 1941]
 The first importation of Jerseys recorded in the American Jersey Cattle Club Herd Register was made in 1850, in the ship Splendid, by a little club of gentlemen in Hartford, Connecticut.
The suggestion was made by Daniel Buck, Jr. He was familiar with their reputation as dairy cows for quantity, and especially for quality of butter, and in putting this before his friends had no difficulty in getting the order at once for an experimental herd. This was put into the care of John A. Taintor, also of Hartford, who was then importing Merino sheep. It is believed to have been the first attempt to breed pure Jerseys in America, and Splendens 16 was the first bull purchased on the Island of Jersey for importation into the United States.


John Adam Taitor began by the mid 1820s to do business with cattle, he corresponded with famous American cattle breeders like William Hare Powel. He visited 1828 Europe for the first time as most American gentlemen was expected to do. Later on he travelled to Europe several times to purchase farm animals [Merino sheep 1845, Jersey cattle 1850]. [See James O. Robertson + Janet C. Robertson : All our yesterdays. Harper Collins, 1993]
John T. Norton, of Farmington, was one of the first to recognize their merits. He was fortunate in having a friend in Mr. Stetson, of the Astor House, New York, who appriciated and was willing to pay for such a superior article any price which Mr. Norton thought he ought to charge for his butter.
 Mr. Buck`s product found ready sale in Hartford, far above the prices of what were then the best dairies. I believe that Mr. Buck`s was the first and Mr. Norton`s the second herd established in this country. Since that time the number has constantly increased, until there are herds in nearly every town.
Linsley: Jersey Cattle in America. 1885

Earliest Recorded Dates of Jerseys in the Several States.
Alabama 1874
Arizona 1888
Arkansas 1880
California 1872
Colorado 1880
Connecticut 1850
Delaware Prior to 1868
Florida 1879
Georgia 1873
Idaho 1917
Illinois 1870
Indiana 1872
Iowa 1873
Kansas 1876
Kentucky 1866
Louisiana 1877
Maine Prior to 1868
Maryland Prior to 1868
Massachusetts 1850
Michigan 1869
Minnesota 1875
Mississippi 1873
Missouri 1870
Montana 1879
Nebraska 1875
Nevada 1890
New Hampshire Prior to 1868
New Jersey Prior to 1868
New Mexico 1887
 New York Prior to 1868
North Carolina 1874
North Dakota 1888
Ohio 1869
Oklahoma 1891
Oregon 1878
Pennsylvania Prior to 1868
Rhode Island Prior to 1868
South Carolina 1874
South Dakota 1886
Tennessee 1867
Texas 1876
Utah 1876
Vermont Prior to 1868
Virginia 1872
Washington 1882
West Virginia 1873
Wisconsin 1870
Wyoming 1890

The Jersey brought to America. [R.M. Gow: The Jersey. N.Y. 1938]

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