Coxe, William 1762-1831

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William Coxe was undoubtedly the pioneer American pomologist. He belonged to one of the most refined familied in Philadelphia but his education was limited because of the Revolutionary War. He was known for his extensive library and pronounced interests in cultivars. He was made an honorary member of the Horticultural Society of London because he made known the merits of the Seckel pear cultivar.

Most of the horticultural authorities of the day closely followed European methods of culture, which were often not adapted to this country. Coxe showed remarkable originality and had an inquiring mind. He wrote the first American book on pomology entitled A View of the Cultivation of Fruit Trees and the Management of Orchards and Cider (1817). In this he recorded the results secured in the first experimental orchard in America. Grapes and small fruits were not included in his book but he was acquainted with many grape cultivars. His book was a standard text until the time of the Downings and was freely used by other authors. The illustrations were excellent for their time but show only the size and outline of a fruit and whether it was dotted, splashed or streaked. In 1804 he offered for sale "eighty kinds of apples, ninety of pears and fifty one of cherries, nearly all imported and one hundred varieties of peaches." The early development of fruit growing in southeastern Pennsylvania is attributed very larely to the enthusiasm engendered by William Coxe.