THE HOLLY INDUSTRY
Since ancient times the holly tree has been a decorative symbol of the winter holiday season. The abundant growth of this colorful evergreen in Delaware resulted in the establishment of a major export industry during the first half of the 20th century. Considered the last cash crop of the growing season, the harvest and sale of holly and other seasonal greenery provided many rural families with much-needed income. By the 1930s, Delaware was the leading producer in the nation. The importance of this business to the state’s economy was recognized in 1939, when the American Holly was designated as the state tree. One of the pioneers of the holly industry was Charles G. Jones Sr. of Milton. A fertilizer salesman, Mr. Jones started his business in 1906. Utilizing his network of customers, he became the state’s most successful exporter. Known as “Jones, The Holly Wreath Man,” his creative marketing and reputation for quality resulted in the sale of local goods throughout the United States and in numerous foreign countries. Much of the product was shipped via rail. Milton and the surrounding area became known as “The Land of Holly.” The increasing use of artificial goods, and wage law requirements affecting piecework businesses, resulted in the rapid decline and end of the industry by the 1960s.
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The Delaware Public Archives operates a historical markers program as part of its mandate. Markers are placed at historically significant locations and sites across the state. For more information on this program, please contact Sarah Denison at (302) 744-5016 or via email at Sarah.Denison@state.de.us..
LOCATION: Milton, located on the Governors walk on the Broadkill River