Seedsmen Hall of Fame
Honoring Horticulturalists

James J. H. Gregory
A Timeline of his life.
by Shari Kelley Worrell & Norma Lovett Gregory Kelley Flude


James J. H. Gregory1827 ~ November 7: James John Howard Gregory was born in Marblehead, Massachusetts to James Adams and Ruth (Roundey) Gregory. His father was Justice of the Peace and a Custom’s Officer.

1846-1848 ~ Prepared at the Marblehead Academy, Middlebury.

1848-1850 ~ Taught at the Farm School in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

1850 ~ Graduated from Amherst College.

Employee Time Card1851-1854 ~ Principal at Derby Academy in Hingham, Massachusetts.

1854-1907 ~ Farmer and seedsman in Marblehead, Massachusetts. JJH did not pay his employees. Each employee kept his/her own hourly count on the "honor system" and on payday paid themselves from the cash drawer.

Hubbard SquashJJH introduced the 'Hubbard Squash' to the seed trade.  Originally brought to New England from South America or the West Indies, the variety had been grown in Marblehead as early as the 1830s.

A neighbor to the Gregory's, Elizabeth Hubbard (also known as "Marm Hubbard"), recognized the properties of the squash and brought them seeds saying, "it was the best squash she had ever tasted in her life."  JJH later bred and released 'Blue Hubbard'.(6)

JJH also developed the first Cherry Tomato and was instrumental in the widespread distribution of the Danvers Onion and saw that the seed of the onion quality remained high.

The Squash House1856 ~ The Squash House (originally a fish house) was moved to 59 Elm Street from Gerry's Island, where it was built in the early 1700s. In the 1890s it served as a playhouse and home to the "Squash Players," who performed there for a number of years.

1861 ~ Selectman in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

1863 ~ December 30: Married Eliza Candler Bubier in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

1866 ~ Winningstadt Cabbage was first listed in America by James J. H. Gregory & Sons of Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1866. Plants are quite upright and compact with a spread of 28"-30". Thick firm leaves are dark bluish-green and distinctively waved. Extremely hard, pointed heads are 7-9" tall and 6-7" in diameter. Nice mild flavor, excellent keeper. 80-90 days from transplant.

1868 ~ Selectman in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

1873 ~ October 7: James Bryant (renamed James Howard Gregory) was adopted by JJH and his first wife, Eliza.

1875 ~ JJH purchased the rights to the "best white potato" for $150 from Luther Burbank.  Mr. Gregory allowed Burbank to keep 10 tubers for his own use and did the honor of naming the new potato the "Burbank."  Burbank used the money to finance his move to California, where he spent the rest of his life and developed his international fame.

1876 ~ May 1: William Edgar Gammell (renamed Edgar Gregory) and Sarah Anna Sophia Bonnell (renamed Annie Bubier Gregory) were adopted from the Church Home for Orphans and Destitute Children in South Boston, by JJH and his first wife, Eliza.

1876 ~ August 15: First wife (Eliza) died in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

1876 ~ November 6: Laura Anna Harwood (renamed Laura Harwood Gregory) was adopted from the same orphanage in South Boston, by JJH, following the death of his first wife, Eliza.

1876 ~ Built a fine seaside home off of Cloutman’s Lane on Peach’s Point. He beautifully landscaped it with flowered walks and unusual shrubbery. JJH once offered it to President Garfield to use in the summer of 1881, but President Garfield reluctantly declined his generous offer.

1876 -1877 ~ State Senator.

1877 ~ December 14: Formal dedication of Abbot Hall. Designed by Lord & Fuller and built on Training Field Hill. Donated to the town by Benjamin Abbot, a cooper, the structure was the tallest in town, 164 feet to the top of the weathervane. During the 1930s the interior walls were adorned with local-history murals. The bell and clock of Abbot Hall was donated by James J. H. Gregory.

1878 ~ June 17: Married Harriet R. Roundey in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

1879 ~ June: Purchased the painting "William the Silent" and loaned it to the reading room at Abbot Public Library in Marblehead, Massachusetts; then located in Abbot Hall. He had previously donated a painting by W. Norton called "Crossing the Banks."

1888 ~ JJH’s first grandchild born.

1888 ~ July 22: Donated Bailey’s Head, off Orne Street, now known as Fountain Park. He donated the property so "all could see a panoramic view of the town he loved so much."

Warren Squash1889 ~ Warren Squash copyrighted by JJH Gregory.

1894 ~ November 30: Second wife (Harriet) died in Middleton, Massachusetts.

Envelope addressed to his daughter Laura - 1899.1895 ~ September 30: Married Sarah Lydia Caswell in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

1899 ~ Wrote the poem "I Will be Rich in Another Country."

1899 Catalog Back1900 ~ Wrote an article published in the The Essex Antiquarian on Indian Relics. JJH was a collector of Indian relics, having over 2,000 pieces in his private collection; all of which were collected by him in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

1901 ~ His poem "Lost at Sea" was published in The Essex Antiquarian.

James J. H. Gregory Later in Life1910 ~ James H. Gregory of Marblehead, Massachusetts, funded a traveling library extension service for southern African Americans. The service was known as the Marblehead Libraries and the extension service for African Americans was administered by Atlanta University.

In the Louisville Free Public Library, an apprentice class for African Americans was organized, the first example for any attempt in the South to provide library training for the prospective African American librarian. The last classes were held in 1928-29.

1910 ~ February 20: James J. H. Gregory, seedsman and town philanthroper, died in MarbleheadThe Final Resting Place of James J. H. Gregory - Waterside Cemetery, Marblehead, MA

1910 ~ February 23: He was buried in the Waterside Cemetery (Gregory Mausoleum—Lots 227 & 228) in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

1922 ~ January 15: Third wife (Sarah) died in Marblehead, Massachusetts.


NOTES:

1. Mr. Gregory was also vice-president of the Essex County Agricultural Society for several years. He published many pamphlets concerning vegetable cultivation.

2. Out of concern with the education for young people, he donated innumerable books to over fifty southern black colleges. In all, he donated over 30,000 books.

3. JJH served as a Library Trustee and on the Building Committee for Abbot Hall.

4. JJH was a Prohibition Candidate.

5. JJH personally picked all the books he donated and supervised their shipping; calling the whole project Marblehead Libraries. He organized the entire project himself and in just over two years, shipped books to 130 Negro schools, 30 mountain schools, some jails and some missions.

6. Mr. Gregory donated to the town of Marblehead, Massachusetts:

  • The clock and bell in the tower of Abbot Hall

  • Funds for a new library

  • In his will, he established an ongoing "Gregory Fund", wherein every family who gives birth to twins will receive a new carriage.

7. Mr. Gregory donated to the schools and churches of Marblehead, Massachusetts:

  • Prints from his private collection

  • Gregory Street - Marblehead, Mass.Paintings from his private collection

8. Gregory Street, running along the Townside Harbor Front in Marblehead, was named in his honor.

9. JJH was an accomplished poet, having some of his poems published in the Essex Antiquarian. One of the poems, "Ode to Evelyn", was written in memory of his granddaughter, Evelyn Burroughs.

Sources:

  1. Shari Kelley Worrell is the Great-great-granddaughter of James J. H. Gregory.
  2. Norma Lovett Gregory Kelley Flude, Shari's mother, is James J. H. Gregory's Great-grandaughter.
  3. Marblehead Magazine Article
  4. Marblehead Magazine's "Selectmen's Roster: 1648 to Present"
  5. 1877 Seed Annual
  6. Letter by James J. H. Gregory written in December, 1857 for The Magazine of Horticulture
  7. 1899 Catalog Back Cover Image - Smithsonian Institution Library, Cat. No. 10023
  8. Cabbages and Cauliflowers: How to Grow Them, by James J. H. Gregory, 1889.

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