Samuel Parsons (1771-1841)
Mary Bowne Parsons’ husband Samuel Parsons was a Quaker minister who passed away in 1841, two years after his wife died in St. Croix. Upon her passing, the Bowne House came into the hands of the Parsons’ family. Samuel and Mary owned farm land not far from the House and his diary entry mentions that he was buying trees for a nursery to pass on to two of his sons towards the end of his life.
Samuel B. Parsons, Sr. (1819-1906) and Robert Bowne Parsons (1821-1898)
Samuel Parsons, Sr. claimed to have actually commenced the well-known Parsons
Nursery in @1838-40, at least according to an entry in his own journal. He explains how “we” borrowed $5000 from a bank to “hire” the land. His brother Robert B. Parsons was a partner with him in the nursery until they went their separate ways in the 1870’s. Another brother William B. Parsons was also horticulturist according to the 1850 census.
The nursery, located at the site of the present Flushing High School, was a source of many trees and shrubs for American gardens. Samuel B. Parsons, Sr. introduced the pink-flowering dogwood, and for a time he was the only grower of hardy rhododendrons and azaleas. He traveled to Europe in search of fine specimens for his nursery, and in 1847 brought back an oddity known as the European Weeping Beech in a small flowerpot. Additionally, he introduced the Valencia orange and the first frost resistant honeybee into the U.S. Some notable specimens still survive at Bowne House, and these plants can be enjoyed by visitors today.