I found in the California State Library the original letters that accompanied the shipment of melon seeds to John Bidwell. There are two letters, one form letter addressed to John Kennedy (Annie’s brother) and a hand-written one to General Bidwell.
The text reads as follows:
Sir: I have the honor to inform you that I have this day sent to your address three varieties of Melon seeds from Asia Minor, received from the Governor General of Smyrna. They are sent for experiment. Please report results.
(Also please find two prs from the Ionian Islands.)
When received please acknowledge.
Respectfully yours, etc.
Horace Capron, Commissioner
Herewith I send you 8 prs. melon seed all rare – The Ionian Melon cost the Department $120 a lb. gold. So it should be very choice.
I take the liberty of sending these seeds as I think it due to California that our farmers have some choice seeds, and I thus avail myself of my position to supply them.
Though so late in the season that irrigation may be necessary yet “better late than never.”
Please report results to Commissioner.
The seeds came in May 1869 and Bidwell immediately planted them, with great success.I don’t know what the abbreviation “prs.” means, and maybe I have it wrong.
I have grown Casaba melons in the past, but I didn’t plant any this year, because of the drought. They take a lot of water. Bidwell had his melon field situated at the end of a flume. Here is a picture of a melon I grew. They are delicious — the best!
We grew some this year having found seeds locally, and are they sweet and juicy, ever the smell is a sweet smelling. If you find seeds I know you will enjoy them.