The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

October 27, 2013

Ginseng, nature valuable to uncle

The hardwoods were sporting their autumn colors as the tall oaks attempted to nudge the sky from their home on the hillside above the Salt Fork River. A gentle breeze was pushing a few clouds about as I surveyed the land where my Uncle Ross once lived in a small, woodland cabin.

There was a time, decades ago, when the hillside above the Salt Fork River would have been covered with green plants that had turned white for autumn. That is what ginseng looks like in the fall. Uncle had a fondness for wild ginseng, and the records he meticulously kept indicate he never sold any of it. He harvested the seeds from the plants and expanded the patch on the sloping hill. The ginseng eventually claimed the hill, protected by a canopy of hardwoods, and the man who loved all things in nature. For a half century or so, the ginseng garden thrived there, only a stone’s throw from his cabin.

Uncle didn’t sell ginseng but he did harvest 25 other plant varieties from his woodland farm. He recorded in pencil in a tattered ledger what he harvested, and when he harvested it. He also noted the price he received for the bounty of nature. Goldenseal, wild ginger, bloodroot, and soapwort were among the plants sold. Prices for the more than two dozen varieties over a period of years ranged from 5 cents to $3.40 per pound, with goldenseal being the most expensive.

Uncle was born in 1899 and lived less than a mile from the family homestead where he first saw the light of day. He worked at a regular job and had a small commercial apple orchard, but his interest was in nature and he endeavored to see the natural world protected. He donated freely to the Audubon Society and similar groups, and he wrote letters advocating the preservation of wetlands decades before it became a popular movement.

Text Only
Local News
  • Digital checkout limit increased

    April 16, 2014

  • Police, Fire Reports

    April 16, 2014

  • Hoopeston council hears water project update

    Mike Streff, Foth Infrastructure & Environment, LLC, updated city council members Tuesday on the continuing progress of the ground and elevated water storage tank project.

    April 16, 2014

  • Trojans get past Ramblers

    STAFF REPORT sports@dancomnews.com ATTICA, Ind. -- Regan Foster hit a home run and drove in three runs as the Covington softball team defeated Attica 8-5 on Tuesday in Wabash River Conference action. Andi Taylor had three hi

    April 16, 2014

  • Mayor looks for fire committee members by Labor Day DANVILLE - Now with budget discussions done for the time being, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer is looking for people to serve on a committee to analyze the fire division and its future. He'd like recommendations from the committee to the city council by Labo

    April 16, 2014

  • Salary talks go on at meeting DANVILLE -- Few members of the Vermilion County Board came out strongly for or against the issue of salaries for county offices and positions. Members of the Vermilion County Board discussed the issue of salary increases for offices up for election i

    April 16, 2014

  • Hoopeston group discusses economic development

    Economic growth was on the agenda Monday night in Hoopeston as about 50 people gathered at St. Anthony's Parish Hall to discuss an economic development strategy for the city.

    April 15, 2014

  • Covington Middle School students win at Purdue Science Fair

    Eighth-grader A.J. Kline and seventh-graders Shiley Claypool and Diana Shelby told school board members about their science fair projects Monday night. They competed at the Lafayette Regional Science and Engineering Fair at Purdue University last month.

    April 15, 2014

  • Oakwood sells its water and sewer systems

    Village trustees are faced with a responsibility many small towns would love to have — what to do with $2 million in cash.

    April 15, 2014

  • Banquet to honor Shockey

    April 15, 2014

E-edition
AP Video
NCAA basketball
NDN Video
Must Read