New England Farmer, and Gardener's Journal, 15(34): 265 (Mar 1. 1837)


House of Representatives,
Feb 15, 1837


DEAR SIR:—I am indebted to the Hon. Henry L. Ellsworth, Commissioner of Patents in this city, for a small quantity of Indian Corn — a description of which you have in a letter to Mr. Ellsworth from Thomas N. Baden, Esq. of Maryland — and also in a letter addressed to myself from Mr. Ellsworth, both of which I now enclose. The package of corn I have sent by John H. Dexter, Esq., of Boston, and will thank you to make such disposition of it as you may deem proper.

I remain, Dear Sir,
Your ob't servant,

PATENT OFFICE, Jan. 30, 1837.

SIR: Hearing of some great improvements that had been made in the common corn, I addressed a letter to Mr. Baden, a highly respectable gentleman in Maryland, to ascertain what facts I could on the subject.

His letter is very interesting, and I transmit you a copy of it. This experiment of Mr. Baden shows most clearly what can be done to improve seeds, by carefully selecting each year the best kind raised. Theoretical opinions sustain Mr. Baden: but few experiments have been tried so successfully. What might be effected for agriculture by similar efforts?

The like efforts in improving the breed of animals, have been crowned with great success, especially in Europe. I avail myself of this opportunity to send you a small sample of the corn mentioned by Mr. Baden. I will only add, that I have conversed with several persons who have planted the "Baden" corn; and the concurrent opinion of all, sustains the statements made in the letter. I have a few samples at the Patent Office, of corn raised in this neighborhood, which has four and five ears on a stalk; and I expect soon some stalks containing six, seven and eight ears. If this corn were generally introduced, how greatly the amount of bread stuffs might be increased, without any extra labor. I hope some public-spirited citizens will try to improve wheat, oats, barley and other grains.

I avail myself of the opportunity to mention the introduction of Italian spring wheat with great success. A friend of mine, in Connecticut, raised the last year, forty bushels on an acre. This grain is heavy; makes good flour; yields well; and the crop avoids all the danger of winter freezing. I have ordered a quantity of this corn and wheat to be shipped to Indiana, and intend to try both on the fine soil of the Wabash valley, the ensuing summer. I am yours, very respectfully,


N. B. Be careful to plant this corn in a place by itself. When good seed is planted in a field with poor seed, the former will degenerate.— H. L. E.

[Copy of Mr Baden's Letter.]

{Near Nottingham, Prince George's Co., Jan. 26, 1837}

SIR:—I received yours of the 14th, making inquiry respecting the "Maryland corn," which you understood I had raised. I have the pleasure to say that I have brought this corn to its high state of perfection, by carefully selecting the best seed in the field for a long course of years, having especial reference to those stalks which produced the most ears. When the corn was husked, I then made a re-selection, taking only that which appeared sound and fully ripe, having a regard to the deepest and best color, as well as to the size of the cob. In the spring, before shelling the corn, I examined it again, and selected that which was the best in all respects. In shelling he corn, I omitted to take the irregular kernels at both the large and small ends. I have carefully followed this mode of selecting seed corn for twenty-two or twenty-three years, and still continue to do so. When I first commenced, it was with a common kind of corn, for there was none other in this part of the country. If any other person undertook the same experiment, I did not hear of it; I do not believe others over exercised the patience to bring the experiments to the present state of perfection At first, I was troubled to find stalks with even two good ears on them, perhaps one good ear and one small one, or one good ear and "a nubbin." It was several years before I could discover much benefit resulting from my efforts; however, at length the quality and quantity began to improve, and the improvement was then very rapid. At present, I do not pretend to lay up any seed without it comes from stalks which bear four, five, or six ears. I have seen stalks bearing eight ears. One of my neighbors informed me that he had a single stalk with ten perfect ears on it, and that he intended to send the same to the museum at Baltimore. In addition to the number of ears, and of course the great increase in quantity unshelled, it may be mentioned, that it yields much more than common corn when shelled. Some gentlemen, in whom I have full confidence, informed me they shelled a barrel (10 bushels of ears) of my kind of corn, which measured a little more than six bushels. The common kind of corn will measure about five bushels only, I believe I raise double or nearly so, to what I could with any other corn I have ever seen. I generally plant the corn about the first of May, and place the hills five feet apart each way, and have two stalks in a hill. I can supply you with all the seed you may need, and I suppose I have now in my corn-house, 50, and perhaps more, stalks with the corn on them as it grew in the field, and none with less than four, and some six or seven ears on them. I will with pleasure send you some of these stalks, and also some seed corn, if I can get an opportunity.

Early last spring, I let George Law, Esq., of Baltimore city, have some of this seed corn; he sent it to his friend in Illinois, with instructions how to manage it. A few weeks since he informed me that the increase was one hundred and twenty bushels on an acre; that there was no corn in Illinois like it, and that it produced more fodder than any other kind. I have supplied many friends with seed corn, but some of them have planted it with other corn, and will, I fear, find it degenerate.

I have lately been inquired of, if this corn was not later than other kinds? It is rather earlier; certainly not later. Corn planted in moist or wet soils will not ripen so quick as that which is planted on a dry soil. In the former, there will he found more dampness in the cob, although the kernel may appear equally ripe in both. In the two last years, the wet seasons have injured much corn that was too early "lofted" or housed.

I believe I have answered most of your inquiries. I hope I have not exaggerated—I have no motive for doing so. I raise but little corn to sell, as tobacco is my principal crop. Should I fail to send you some seed this spring, I will next summer, gather some stalks with the corn, fodder and tassels, and all, as they grow, and send to you, that you may judge yourself of the superiority of this over the common kind of corn.

Yours, &c.,