The Collection of George B. Cellon

The Collection of George B. Cellon


George Cellon at his Miami Nursery

George B. Cellon Collection

Creator: George B. Cellon

Extent: Approximately 5 cubic feet  in 10 boxes

Repository: The Bertram Zuckerman Garden Archive, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, 11935 Old Cutler Road, Miami FL 33156

Abstract: The George B. Cellon Collection contains the records of Cellon’s nursery operations in Dade County, Florida in the early 1900s (c1905-25). The collection was given to David Fairchild in 1943 who in turn deposited it in the museum of Fairchild Tropical Garden. The records in the collection document the early establishment of the mango and avocado industries in the United States, and Cellon’s achievements of commercially propagating the mango and especially the avocado. According to Fairchild and others, Cellon was the first person in the world who propagated avocados consistently and successfully. These records document his work.

Administrative Information: The collection was arranged, rehoused, and described by Nancy Korber, Archivist. The work was funded by a grant from the Florida State Historical Records Grant Program (Florida State Library and Archives) in 2005-06.

Acquisition Information: The papers and materials were donated to David Fairchild by George B. Cellon. Dr. Fairchild then donated them to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

Access: The collection is open for research by appointment. Please consult the curator for access.

Usage Restrictions: None

Preferred Citation: Courtesy Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden Archive

Cellon’s Mulgoba Mango picture used in advertisements

Biographical Sketch: George Beauregard Cellon (1862-1945) was a pioneer in the commercial cultivation of mangoes and avocados. He was born on a farm ten miles north of Gainesville, Florida, January 2, 1862, the son of John A. and Missenire (Sparkman) Cellon. John Cellon was a former native of Metz, France; Missenire was born in south Georgia. John settled in Florida in 1832, first in Tallahassee and some four or five years later he moved to a farm near Gainesville, where he lived until his death in 1881. Missenire died in 1907. John was the first man to plant citrus trees on the Florida peninsula and successfully conducted a small nursery. He was one of the pioneers in growing nursery stock.

George Cellon was raised with 11 siblings on the 100-acre Cellon farm (or nursery) where he received an education in public school. George remained on the home farm until he was twenty-one years old when he went to the town of Newnensville to work as a clerk in a store. After two years, he returned to his father’s farm and soon afterward bought a small farm of his own. He married Eva Bexley on February 8, 1881. She died in 1892, leaving one child, also deceased. Later he moved to Gainesville, where he was engaged in the nursery business until 1888 when he moved to Jacksonville. While in Jacksonville he worked in the wholesale grocery business for 3 years. He remarried in March, 1893 to Lulu Palmquist, of Jacksonville, Florida. They had one child, also deceased. For nine years he organized and promoted several corporate enterprises. In 1900 he moved to Dade County and bought 10 acres and started a nursery business. He eventually increased his nursery to 30 acres and in 1908 built a substantial residence.

According to David Fairchild, his long-time friend, George Cellon was the first nurseryman in America to work out the methods and develop the proper technique in the propagation of the avocado and the mango. Cellon’s catalogs included the first colored illustrations of the Trapp avocado and the Haden mango – the first varieties to become commercially grown. The thousands of plants budded and produced in Cellon’s nursery were an indispensable catalyst to the beginnings of these two plant industries. According to Fairchild  “In 1901 he brought into propagation by his skill as a plant propagator the first two avocados to be commercially grown in America. There were the Trapp and the Pollock, both of which are grown today. This was 10 years prior to the introduction of the Puebla and 11 years before the budding of the Taft variety of avocado in California, the two pioneer sorts of that region.” [Fairchild, David. July 3, 1943. Historical Data on the Earliest Days of the Avocado and Mango Industries of South Florida. Coconut Grove, FL: The Kampong. Unpublished report.]

Having befriended David Fairchild, Cellon entrusted his personal and business papers to the famed botanist and plant explorer in 1943 for deposit in a local horticultural library. The Cellon papers have subsequently become part of the Bert Zuckerman Archive at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.

Other Sources:

Blackman, E. V., (Ethan V.), b. 1845. 1977. Miami and Dade County, Florida: it’s settlements, progress, and achievements with a collection of individual sketches of representative citizens and genealogical records of some of the old families. Chuluota, FL: Mickler House.

Fairchild, David. 1945. “Personal recollections of George B. Cellon, horticultural pioneer of South Florida” in Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society 58: 205-209.

Collections:  The Cellon Collection is arranged in 10 boxes.

  • Box 1 includes prints, many of which are prints of the glass plates. When possible, we have numbered the prints to match their respective glass plate. Not all prints have corresponding plates; not all plates have prints. The pictures and plates are arranged by subject matter as much as possible. It also includes Cellon’s handwritten field notebook from 1908-1919.
  • Boxes 2 and 3 include Cellon’s field notebooks from 1902-1925 which contain his nursery notes, names, addresses, and other miscellaneous information.
  • Boxes 4-8 include the glass plate negatives.
  • Boxes 9 and 10 include scrapbooks that Cellon kept of his publications, newspaper clippings, and other documents. These are often pasted over the top of financial records for the Cellon nursery.
Col. Location Folder Description
04 Box 01 001 Pictures – David Fairchild and George B. Cellon at Cellon’s place in Miami. 1928. DF image #43113a. “Jan ’28 temp went to +28 ° F. 1928”. 3 images
002 Pictures – Cellon’s slat house. Images #1 – 4 (2-4 copies of each)
003 Pictures – Cellon’s slat house. 5 images. Mangos under full shade – Mango Nursery – 7/16/13
004 Pictures – Cellon’s home “Tropical Grove” at NW 7th Ave & 36th St. Miami.
005 Pictures – close-ups of loquat fruit
006 Pictures – close-ups of avocado fruit and young plants
007 Pictures – avocado, milk and eggs
008 Pictures – close-ups of avocado fruit
009 Pictures – close-ups of avocado fruit
010 Pictures – close-ups of mango fruit
011 Pictures – close-ups of mango fruit
012 Pictures – fruit trees, mango
013 Pictures – fruit trees, avocado
014 Pictures – misc.
015 Pictures – George B. Cellon
016 Lithographs – advertising posters of Trapp avocado, Mulgoba mango, and Pioneers: Hindoos, Cellon and March
017 Documents – misc. advertising copy and flyers, business contracts and correspondence
018 Publications (catalogs) – from Miami and Gainesville, FL
019 Notes on collection made by David Fairchild. Notes found with glass plates, also in Fairchild’s writing.
020 Ledger – Cellon’s field notes from ~1908-1919
Box 02 Pocket notebooks – 23 notebooks dated from 1902-1913
Box 03 Pocket notebooks – 12 notebooks dated from 1914-1925, 8 small notepads undated, 2 books of perforated stamps.
Box 04 Glass plate negatives – #1 – 3 (numbers correspond to File #s)
Box 05 Glass plate negatives – #4 – 8
Box 06 Glass plate negatives – #9 – 11
Box 07 Glass plate negatives – #12 – 13
Box 08 Glass plate negatives – #13 – end
Box 09 Scrapbooks
Box 10 Scrapbooks

Unless otherwise stated, all photographs on this page property of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Please contact the Archivist for permission to use or reproduce photographs.

Please contact
Nancy Korber
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Natural History Collection and Archives
11935 Old Cutler Road
Miami, Florida 33156 USA
tel. 305.667.1651305.667.1651, ext. 3424
fax 305.665.8032