Thomas Volney Munson

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Thomas Volney Munson (September 26, 1843 – January 21, 1913) often referred to simply as T.V. Munson, was a horticulturist and breeder of grapes in Texas. [1] In 1888, Munson was the second American, after Thomas Edison, to be named a Chevalier du Mérite Agricole by the French government. [2]

Horticulture wurde definiert als der Anbau von Pflanzen, hauptsächlich für Lebensmittel, Materialien, Komfort und Schönheit

Horticulture has been defined as the culture of plants, mainly for food, materials, comfort and beauty. According to an American horticulture scholar, "Horticulture is the growing of flowers, fruits and vegetables, and of plants for ornament and fancy." A more precise definition can be given as "The cultivation, processing, and sale of fruits, nuts, vegetables, and ornamental plants as well as many additional services". It also includes plant conservation, landscape restoration, soil management, landscape and garden design, construction and maintenance, and arboriculture. In contrast to agriculture, horticulture does not include large-scale crop production or animal husbandry.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

Thomas Edison American inventor and businessman

Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman, who has been described as America's greatest inventor. He developed many devices in fields such as electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording, and motion pictures. These inventions, which include the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb, had a widespread impact on the modern industrialized world. He was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of organized science and teamwork to the process of invention, working with many researchers and employees. He established the first industrial research laboratory.



Thomas Volney Munson was born in Astoria, Illinois. [3] He was a son of William Munson (1808-1890) and Maria (Linley) Munson (1810-1890). Munson was an 1870 graduate of the University of Kentucky. [3] Shortly after completing his education, he married and moved to the vicinity of Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1873 he became interested in improving the various species of grapes native to the United States and planned to do systematic work in the way of developing new varieties by cross-pollination and hybridization. His experiments failed because of climatic rigors and a visitation of the Rocky Mountain locusts. Undismayed, in April 1876 Munson moved to Denison, Texas, where two of his brothers had already relocated.

Astoria, Illinois Town in Illinois, United States

Astoria is an incorporated town in Fulton County, Illinois, United States. The population was 1,141 at the 2010 census.

University of Kentucky Public research university in Lexington, KY, USA

The University of Kentucky (UK) is a public co-educational university in Lexington, Kentucky. Founded in 1865 by John Bryan Bowman as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky, the university is one of the state's two land-grant universities, the largest college or university in the state, with 30,720 students as of Fall 2015, and the highest ranked research university in the state according to U.S. News and World Report.

Lincoln, Nebraska State capital city in Nebraska, United States

Lincoln is the capital of the U.S. state of Nebraska and the county seat of Lancaster County. The city covers 96.194 square miles (249.141 km2) with a population of 287,401 in 2018. It is the second-most populous city in Nebraska and the 70th-largest in the United States. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially-larger metropolitan area in the southeastern part of the state called the Lincoln Metropolitan and Lincoln-Beatrice Combined Statistical Areas. The statistical area is home to 356,083 people, making it the 105th-largest combined statistical area in the United States.

While primarily remembered as horticulturist, Munson was interested in a variety of fields. He is credited with several inventions, including a primitive helicopter. He became recognized as a botanist as well as a viticulturist. He wrote Native Trees of the Southwest under the direction of the United States Department of Agriculture and submitted a similar thesis in 1883 to satisfy requirements for the master's degree at the Kentucky Agricultural College. Munson died on January 21, 1913 [3] in Denison, Texas.

United States Department of Agriculture department of United States government responsible policy on farming, agriculture, forestry, and food

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), also known as the Agriculture Department, is the U.S. federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, and food. It aims to meet the needs of farmers and ranchers, promote agricultural trade and production, work to assure food safety, protect natural resources, foster rural communities and end hunger in the United States and internationally.

Denison, Texas City in Texas, United States

Denison is a city in Grayson County, Texas, United States. It is 75 miles (121 km) north of Dallas. The population was 22,682 at the 2010 census. Denison is part of the Texoma region and is one of two principal cities in the Sherman–Denison Metropolitan Statistical Area. Denison is known as the birthplace of Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States.


Munson made extensive use of American native grape species, and devoted a great deal of his life to collecting and documenting them. He released hundreds of named cultivars, but his work identifying American native grape (especially those from Texas) is of great significance today for their use in rootstock. Though breeding for wine quality seems to have occupied a great proportion of his effort, his work on rootstock development had the greatest impact on viticulture. This work provided European grape growers with phylloxera-resistant rootstocks, allowing them to recover from the devastating epidemic of the late 19th century while still growing the ancient Vitis vinifera cultivars. These rootstocks are still used worldwide. In honor of this work, the French government named him Chevalier du Merite Agricole of the French Legion of Honor, and Cognac, France, became a sister city to Munson's home of Denison.

A rootstock is part of a plant, often an underground part, from which new above-ground growth can be produced. It could also be described as a stem with a well developed root system, to which a bud from another plant is grafted. It can refer to a rhizome or underground stem. In grafting, it refers to a plant, sometimes just a stump, which already has an established, healthy root system, onto which a cutting or a bud from another plant is grafted. In some cases, such as vines of grapes and other berries, cuttings may be used for rootstocks, the roots being established in nursery conditions before planting them out. The plant part grafted onto the rootstock is usually called the scion. The scion is the plant that has the properties that propagator desires above ground, including the photosynthetic activity and the fruit or decorative properties. The rootstock is selected for its interaction with the soil, providing the roots and the stem to support the new plant, obtaining the necessary soil water and minerals, and resisting the relevant pests and diseases. After a few weeks the tissues of the two parts will have grown together, eventually forming a single plant. After some years it may be difficult to detect the site of the graft although the product always contains the components of two genetically different plants.

Viticulture science, production and study of grapes

Viticulture or winegrowing is the cultivation and harvesting of grapes. It is a branch of the science of horticulture. While the native territory of Vitis vinifera, the common grape vine, ranges from Western Europe to the Persian shores of the Caspian Sea, the vine has demonstrated high levels of adaptability to new environments. Thus, viticulture can be found on every continent except Antarctica.

Phylloxera species of insect

Grape phylloxera ; originally described in France as Phylloxera vastatrix; equated to the previously described Daktulosphaera vitifoliae, Phylloxera vitifoliae; commonly just called phylloxera is a pest of commercial grapevines worldwide, originally native to eastern North America.

The rootstocks that Munson recommended to the French were Texas native Vitis Berlandieri, cinerea and cordifolia (vulpina) grapes that were found in the central Texas hill country at Dog Ridge in Bell County near Temple, Texas. These wild grapes can still be found there. [4] Munson specified these Texas native grapes because soils in this location closely match the limestone soils in French vineyards and these grapes were highly tolerant of high pH limestone soils. Later, Munson was also asked to advise on a Phylloxera-resistance rootstock for California vineyards, and through discussions with Luther Burbank he recommended Vitus rupestris. [4]

Central Texas geographic region

Central Texas is a region in the U.S. state of Texas surrounding Austin and roughly bordered by San Saba to Bryan and San Marcos to Hillsboro. Central Texas overlaps with and includes part of the Texas Hill Country and corresponds to a physiographic section designation within the Edwards Plateau, in a geographic context.

Temple, Texas City in Texas, United States

Temple is a city in Bell County, Texas, United States. As of 2018, the city has a population of 76,600 according to a US census estimate.

pH measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution

In chemistry, pH is a scale used to specify how acidic or basic a water-based solution is. Acidic solutions have a lower pH, while basic solutions have a higher pH. At room temperature (25 °C), pure water is neither acidic nor basic and has a pH of 7.

In the 1880s, Munson worked on a monograph on native grapes that was to be illustrated by William Henry Prestele, the first artist appointed to the staff of the recently formed Pomological Division of the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. [5] Munson sent live and dried specimens to Prestele, who made color sketches of details that Munson would then review; Prestele would then use these detail drawings to create life-size paintings. [6] The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture eventually decided the cost of printing the monograph with the illustrations would be prohibitive, so it was never published in its intended form. However, Munson went on to use the text he wrote as the foundation for his 1909 book Foundations of American Grape Culture, regarded as one of the founding texts of American grape breeding and widely referenced even today. [6] Instead of Prestele's watercolors, it was illustrated with photographs. Grape breeder Elmer Swenson credited it with inspiring his early interest in the field.

Wilhelm Heinrich Prestele was a botanical artist known for his lithographs and watercolor work commissioned by the US Department of Agriculture.

Elmer Swenson was a pioneering grape breeder who introduced a number of new cultivars, effectively revolutionizing grape growing in the Upper Midwest of the United States and other cold and short-seasoned regions.

Freethought activity

Although Munson is best remembered as a horticulturist, he was also active in the Freethought movement. In July 1890, when James D. Shaw, the controversial editor of the Independent Pulpit was elected president of the newly formed Texas Liberal Association at a meeting held in Waco, Texas, members chose Munson to serve as treasurer, a post to which he was re-elected the following year in San Antonio, Texas. [7] Munson also subscribed to infidel newspapers such as the Blue-grass Blade and occasionally lectured at Freethinker meetings. When he died in 1913, his funeral was held in a public hall instead of a church and the services, which were “simple and brief,” consisted largely of a funeral oration composed by the deceased himself “when still in good health.” He was afterward buried in Denison’s Fairview Cemetery. [8]


The West Campus of Grayson County College in Denison, Texas, preserves much of Munson's work. In 1974, the T.V. Munson Memorial Vineyard was established that preserves many of his cultivars and produces stock for propagation. This was followed in 1988 with the opening of the T.V. Munson Viticulture and Enology Center that serves as a repository for documents and other historical materials regarding Munson. It also houses research, classroom and conference facilities. The grapes that Munson recommended for rootstocks for Phylloxera resistance in both Europe and California are still widely used worldwide. [9]

The sports arena at Denison High School is named Munson Stadium.

The standard author abbreviation Munson is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name. [10]

See also


  1. The Legacy of Thomas Volney Munson (The T.V. Munson Memorial Vineyard, Grayson County College) Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Jancis Robinson, The Oxford Companion to Wine , 3rd edition 2006 p. 462
  3. 1 2 3 Hall of Distinguished Alumni: Thomas Volney Munson University of Kentucky
  4. 1 2 S.S. McLeRoy & R.E. Renfro, Grape Man of Texas: Thomas Volney Munson & The Origins of American Viticulture
  5. White, James J., and Erik A. Neumann. "The Collection of Pomological Watercolors at the U.S. National Arboretum". Huntia: A Journal of Botanical History 4:2 (January 1982), pp. 103–104.
  6. 1 2 "Wilhelm Heinrich (William Henry) Prestele Papers". NAL Collections: National Agricultural Library.
  7. Samuel P. Putnam, 400 Years of Freethought (New York: The Truth Seeker Company, 1894), 552-3.
  8. Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans, vol. IV (Chicago and New York: The American Historical Association, 1914), 1722-3.
  10. IPNI.  Munson.

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