History of the ADS

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“WANTED: AN AMERICAN DAHLIA SOCIETY”

In the October 1914 issue of Florist’s Exchange, its Editor, J. Harrison Dick, wrote an article with the above title.  This suggestion was immediately acted upon.

An active, enterprising, wholesale florist, one Richard Vincent, Jr., operating a big stand of greenhouses in White Marsh, MD, and ardent dahlia grower, read the editorial and started calling some of his colleagues and customers.  He asked them to go to New York and meet with J. Harrison Dick and himself and discuss starting a new dahlia society.  At that first meeting, it was quickly agreed a dahlia society was needed in the eastern part of the U. S. although there were less than half a dozen in the U. S. at that time.  Mr. Vincent was chosen Chairman and all agreed to send out letters to all their friends who grew dahlias, invite them to a second meeting.

SOCIETY STARTED IN A DEPRESSION YEAR

The year, 1914, was a “depression year.”  Many firms in and out of the florist’s trade were failing. Bad time to launch a new society? Yes.  But this group went ahead with their plans anyway.  Temporary officers were elected.  A show was planned for the following fall,1915.

THE FIRST AMERICAN DAHLIA SOCIETY SHOW

Business was not flourishing, but the show was a success.  The society had no funds except a few contributions by the tradesmen members. Invitations went out to dahlia growers to join the new society and exhibit. George L. Stillman, of Westerly, RI, sent some 1,500 double postcards at his own expense, to secure new members and exhibitors.  The show was staged at the Museum of Natural History in New York, on September 24th.  Undoubtedly this location was selected because there was no charge for space and the facilities, including tables, water and porter help.  Milk bottles were used for vases.  “Premiums dispensed amounted to $325.00 in cash and also about $100.00 worth of medals and ribbons.” It was estimated that over 35,000 persons viewed the show.

THE FIRST ANNUAL MEETING

The first annual meeting as held at the Museum on the second day of the first show. Officers
were elected: President, Richard Vincent, Jr.; Secretary, Joseph J. Lane, Mamaroneck, NY; Treasurer, F. R. Austin, Tuckerton, NJ.  The meeting was well attended. Invitations were read inviting the society to show in 1916 at Philadelphia and Rochester.

A NATIONAL DAHLIA SOCIETY FROM THE START

The society was conceived as a National Organization. Evidence of this was the election of Vice-Presidents from different areas.  They were: W. W. Wilmore of Denver “representing the west”; Professor. J. B. Norton of the University of Maryland “representing the south”; Leonard Barron, Garden City, N. Y. “representing the east”; George L. Stillman of Westerly, RI “representing the northeast.

The full story as published by the ADS.

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