Edward W. Herendeen & Curtis L. Van Dusen

Macedon, NY

and the founding of

The Van Dusen Nurseries

Geneva, NY

Source: History of Ontario County, New York, with illustrations and family sketches of some of the prominent men and families; edited by George S. Conover, compiled by Lewis Cass Alrich. Syracuse, N.Y.: D. Mason & Co. 1893. Biographical Sketches - pp. 219-220.

Van Dusen Nurseries, The- A history of the nursery business in Geneva would be incomplete without mention of these nurseries, and ot the man whose name they bear. With some changes of ownership, they are one of the oldest, if not the oldest, nursery house in the county. In 1839 J. J. Thomas, the eminent pomologist, now of Union Springs, started a small nursery business at Macedon, N.Y. With the exception of a few years, when Wm. R. Smith of Macedon had an interest in the business, Mr. Thomas continued the business alone until 1856, having in the meantime largely increased his plantings at Macedon, and also having made considerable plantings at Union Springs.

In 1856 Mr. Thomas sold a half interest in both the Macedon and Union Springs business to Edward W. Herendeen of Macedon, and about 1859 Mr. Herendeen purchased Mr. Thomas's interest and continued the entire business alone until 1867, when he bought the "Chellborg" farm, (now known as "The Van Dusen Nurseries"), on the pre-emption road, two miles west of Geneva, formed a partnership with Mr. J. B. Jones of New York city, and commenced the nursery business in Geneva. In 1869 Mr. Herendeen moved to Geneva, having closed out the Macedon and Union Springs interests.

In January, 1872, Curtis L. Van Dusen of Macedon bought out the interest of Mr. Jones and formed with Mr. Herendeen the firm of Herendeen and Van Dusen. Mr. Van Dusen was born in Dutchess county, New York, in 1826. From early boyhood his efforts contributed largely to the support of his parents' family. As a young lad he built up a carrying or expressage business, making trips on canal boats, carrying small packages, making purchases and transacting business in Albany and other places for his employers at the various towns along the line of his route. In this business he evinced the sterling integrity and good judgment which characterized him through life. While still a young lad he was frequently entrusted with valuable money packages to deliver, and important business matters to transact.

He married Martha Willard in 1851, at Pittsford, N. Y., and removed to Canada, where he engaged in the lumber business, returning to New York State about 1855, engaging in farming and the agricultural implement business at Palmyra till 1865, when he removed to Macedon where, in connection with farming, he gradually engaged in the nursery business, finally resulting in his moving to Geneva and purchasing a half interest in the firm of Herendeen & Van Dusen.

Closely following this came the crash of 1873, causing disaster to a considerable portion of the nursery interests in Geneva, including Herendeen & Van Dusen. At a meeting of the creditors a proposal was made which contemplated the assuming of the entire business by Mr. Van Dusen on such a basis as, if carried out successfully, would save the interests of both the creditors and the firm. To the accomplishment of the plan finally agreed upon, he brought those qualities of character, the recognition of which had secured him the co-operation of the creditors of the firm - uncompromising integrity, excellent judgment, and an ability for hard work. The last ten years of his life brought to him both his greatest trials and disappointments of his business career, in the financial embarrassment of his firm, and also his greatest success, in the management of the business so as to extricate it from those embarrassments. In 1881, two years before his death, he had carried out the plan successfully, paid the last dollar of indebtedness, and was in possession of a comfortable fortune. Mr. Van Dusen's educational opportunities were extremely limited, but during his entire life he fully compensated for the lack of early opportunities by the great extent of his reading, which covered so wide a range of subjects that few men with a university education are so well posted, and on so wide a range of subjects as was he. To the habit of reading he united an excellent memory, a keen sense of humor, and such conversational powers as to make him a charming companion.

Following his death in 1883, the business was continued as the C. L. Van Dusen Nursery Company, under the management of his son, Everett L., and his son-in-law, W. L. McKay, who has been connected with the business since 1882. Since the death of Mr. Everett Van Dusen, four years later, the business has continued under the management of Mr. McKay, and the industry of fruit growing has, under his management, been added to the nursery business.

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