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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEE: Louis Nieland
INTERVIEWER: R. T. King
DATE: August 4, 1976
K: Mr. Nieland, how old are you?
N: Past eighty-five, heading for eighty-six in a couple of months.
K: When did you come to Florida?
N: In 1910.
K: Why did you come here? I understand that you were born some-
N: Yes, I grew up in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains
in Northern California. I came down here in 1910 because my
father moved here to start a farm which was then the southern
part of the St. Johns County and now Flagler County. And we
started to clear up new ground and established a truck farm
there. All the trees were still there and all the stumps be-
cause the area had just been logged. We had to dig stumps.
Well, after digging stumps all spring and summer, I told Dad
maybe I better go to the university and take that short course
in agriculture, and maybe I could help when you get started.
We wouldn't make too many mistakes in the 3,000 miles away
So he said, "Well, we'll get along without you."
I had three brothers, younger; so I came here, but they
didn't want to let me in. I'd been digging stumps all summer
and didn't look like college material. So I had written the
dean about it, and so I called on him. He came and took them
to a side room. When they came out, they allowed me to enlist
in the four year, two year, intensive course in agriculture.
K: Who was the dean then?
N: That name bugs me, Vernon, was named Vernon. I think I remember
that rightly. After my two years, I took as many side courses
as I could because I came here for information. I studied very
closely; all my grades were straight As. When I got through, I
decided to go back to the farm so that my younger brothers could
come here and take the same course.
But they said, "No you don't. You're going to be farm foreman on
the experiment station farm: in charge of field crops, the
dairy, and the livestock."
K: That's the University of Florida experimental farm?
N: The University of Florida experiment station, yes.
K: And was that located on campus then?
N: I worked here on the campus. Then for nearly three years
when World War I broke out, I enlisted for the duration of
the war and couldn't come back because Dad's health failed.
He couldn't breathe on the low ground; he had low ground
asthma. He got up into the hills, and he never had any trouble.
I came home one night, on a furlough at ten o'clock, and he was
sitting at the table sipping a little kerosene out of a glass
now and then.
He said, "That's the only thing keeps me breathing."
I said, "When this war's over, I'm gonna take this ground
over, and you go back to the hills where you never had any
Higher altitudes, so he did, and I wasn't there very long
before they were hard up again. They wanted me to be county
agent, only qualified man in the county, hard up as usual, I
guess. So I worked at that for seven years there.
K: And that was in Flagler County?
N: Flagler County, their first county agent. They had problems
there, and they suspected I might be able to help them.
Most of the farmers said, "Oh, that college boy, he doesn't
But my practical experience came to the rescue, and the
first thing, a man had a cow, he called me up. We had a rural
telephone line, twenty-five instruments which they sold me
for one dollar, and wanted to lend me the dollar to get rid of
it. So I took that over in charge, and I did all the repairs
and climbed all the poles and did all the repair work to keep
They called me up one night and wanted me to be of help
to them in agriculture, and this particular case was that I had
took a good course in veterinary science here, practical course.
He said, "My cow ate a barrel of potatoes and is about to
die. What can I do about it?"
I says, "Hold everything. I'll be right down there in ten
I got to his farm: there was the cow weaving, blown up like
a balloon and about ready to burst. She'd fallen down; she'd
rupture internally. So I got out my jackknife; I was supposed
to have a trocar cannula to puncture him with. You measure
the difference between the last rib and the hip bone where I
could see a slight elevation, punched my jackknife in there,
and gave it a twist; and it sounded like a policeman's whistle.
Bits of potatoes flew up six feet high, and the cow would be
deflated immediately and walked off a well cow. Well, it's
things like that that gave people a little more confidence--
"Maybe that college boy does know."
Then I wrote to Gainesville and said, "What are instruc-
tions from Gainesville?" Extension was delivered in those days.
"Put your finger on the most important thing and go to work,"
and I didn't hear any more for seven years.
K: What was the most important problem?
N: Well, I'd been looking around, and I said, "What's wrong here?"
I'd been away, I hadn't been there in many years. And I said,
"Why are all these little farmers losing their twenty and forty
acre farms?" So I studied the situation, and I found out what
the trouble was. They had to borrow the money. Early Irish
potatoes the principle crop. They were paying 35 percent on
eighteen, no nine months money that they borrowed from the people
who supplied them. Then they added ten dollars a ton for the
seed potatoes and fifteen dollars a ton for fertilizer, above
I said, "Now, that's the reason why they're losing their
farms. You can't farm at such expenses." So I said, "Well,
what's the answer? I guess I'll start a farmer's co-op."
I did. I organized the farmer's co-op. Oh, it took me
two years to do it because not a bank would loan me a dollar.
But across the lake in Crescent City, a bank had just started
up, a new bank; the new banker knew a little bit about me.
So when I approached him, immediately he says, "Yes, we'll
loan you up to $25,000 to make a start."
He trusted me; he got paid back every cent with 8 percent
that he ever borrowed because I picked out people who would
likely to be successful and I would lend them that money. So
I was managing the whole thing, and I was secretary, treasurer,
general manager of the potato co-op for three years. It was
a very successful thing because we operated on so much less.
I borrowed money for cash, and for cash I could buy fertilizer
at nearly fifteen dollars a ton less than they used to have to
pay. So sweet potatoes, a dollar a bag less because I bought
in quantity. So I ran that thing for three years.
Then I said, "Look here. I've got you organized now where
you can be a success, and the county agent has something more
to do than just ride herd after a bunch of potato farmers."
Nobody in Gainesville knew or cared what I did, apparently,
as long as I didn't get in trouble I guess. So I started
other work then, and farm forestry was one of the things. Well,
if you asked me when I was twelve what I wanted to be, I'd have
told you I wanted to be a forester, but no forestry schools
till I was nearly forty within reach. So I did something about
it, and I did study the woods closely because of my interest.
So then I started the farmers co-op, and in forestry I organized
the forestry association in the county and operated on that.
So little by little I did acquire some information that
was practical, but, of course, not having a degree in forestry,
I was scorned all my life because the university people just
can't admit, and I'm not condemning them, they just can't
admit that you know anything about forestry unless you have a
degree. The practical knowledge is often more important than
the technical knowledge. When you're making a start with
people, they don't know anything. I feel you'd frighten them
off if you were too technical. So I organized the forestry
association, and we had farm forestry applied down there in
Flagler County for a good many years.
K: When you started, what year was it that you started at the
University of Florida?
N: When I was a student?
N: That was late in 1910.
K: And you went here for three years you said?
N: Two years.
K: Two years.
N: Took the two year course they had in agriculture in those days.
But I took additional course, all I could carry, because a
two year course didn't--well for instance, veterinary science
was an elective. So I took it because I knew when I got back
to the farm that there would be problems in veterinary, and
you were the only source, no one else knew anything about the
cows and take what was wrong and what to do about the current
diseases and things like that. So I decided I'd better take
that course which was very helpful to me in many ways.
For instance, a farmer had been working as a contractor,
had some beautiful horses and mules, and when he came back he
said, "My goodness, come up. My horses are all sick, and their
urine is blood red."
I said, "Well, wait a minute, and I'll be up there and
take a look."
So I took a look, and he had six beautiful horses, and I
said, "What you been doing with them?"
He said, "Well, I retired from contracting work. I'm in-
And I said, "Yes, and you fed them just the same as you
did when you were working them, didn't you?"
And he said, "Yes, of course."
I said, "Well, there's your trouble, and you stop giving
them any grain whatsoever for a week, nothing but hay and plenty
of water, all the time."
The mules in a week were perfectly well, the horses and
mule. So it's things like that, out of your little two year
course you get some practical information, you can be helpful,
in other ways too. As I said when the cow was sick why I knew
he'd eaten too many potatoes. I could help; so little by
little they began to think maybe the college boy, they called
me, might know something after all. Then I organized the farmers
co-op, and I ran it for three years.
K: When you were at the university, in the College of Agriculture,
what was the major emphasis of the College of Agriculture, what
was the program that they were most interested in?
N: They taught everything; they taught citrus. I took cittus too
but not as heavy as I did other subjects, such as truck farming,
livestock, diseases of cattle, and practical courses like that.
Feeds and feeding is one thing I studied closely because that
book was thorough, covered everything, and pretty scientific
too, that a lot of little boys like. But anyway, it was a help-
ful course, and I had no trouble.
But then as I say, if you'd asked me when I was twelve what
I wanted to be, I'd told you I wanted to be a forester. No
forestry schools, so I did something about it. As a county agent,
I organized the first forest work in the state of Florida five
years before we had a state forest service. I got what informa-
tion I could out of Washington, and I taught them what I could.
There's some of my early work. Maybe you've seen it. That was
before we had a state forest service.
I was explaining to them how to plant a pine, and you know
what the oldtimers- said? "Look at him. He's trying to plant
pine; you know they won't live."
They were trying to plant three and four year olds; you
have to plant them one year old, or they won't live, and so
on. So I started 4-H Forestry Club work in 1925, I think it
was. So that's how I got into forestry in part.
K: Did you start the forestry work as a commercial enterprise?
N: I started it because the county I was in, the farmers had more
land in timber, uncleared, than they had in crops. I said, "We
ought to take care of that timber as a source of income." I
fought hard, but nobody was much interested. I got no help
from the university; they had no school of forestry. When the
school of forestry came, they still paid no attention to any-
thing I did or said, "He's not a qualified man." So I had a
I talked to boys what I could. In addition to forestry,
I was interested in wildlife. These boys here, I'm teaching
how to make a wood duck nest box and tack it up to a tree.
There's not enough hollow trees for wood ducks to...see a wood
duck builds only in a hollow tree.
K: Nest in a tree, I didn't know that.
N: Well, if you're in the woods and study all your life, you learn
a little. But at the university if you have no technical training,
you are not accepted. Whatever you say or do is not recognized
and hasn't been for more than twenty years. But finally, now
some of the foresters are admitting that I have something out
there. For instance, as part of the hardwood planting I made
after I retired twenty years ago, these are two cottonwoods.
I introduced cottonwoods here because I found a little one ten
years ago in West Florida in a roadside ditch about ten inches
You know when I travel, I try not to miss anything; I study
every inch of the woods. Sometimes they say I do look at the
Anyway, this little tree I took up in a ball of mud because
it had leaves. You can't transplant deciduous trees during
the growing season; they won't live. But a little one with
enough soil around the roots, I could carry it home and planted
it. That tree grew up at an astounding rate. I have a picture
of it somewhere here--I don't want to take up too much time, but
anyway when I say how fast it grew, I decided maybe I could grow
some more. That tree grows awfully fast.
So I made cuttings, and all you need to do is make an eight
inch cutting and put it in moss soil in February. In October you
have a tree from three to four feet high. I told the professional
foresters that I'm getting interesting in cottonwoods.
"Cottonwoods, what are they good for?" Almost that mean
tone, you know, that's unnecessary.
Anyhow, I said, "Well, cottonwood makes pretty white
crates and baskets for the vegetable trade, which they prefer,
and maybe we could stop importing cottonwood logs for crate
material from Central America. We've cut our own completely
out. So I'm hoping that cottonwoods might be a promising
trade for such purposes because it grows so fast."
"Never heard of such a thing."
Well, I heard that too many times. So there are two
trees eleven and twelve years old. Now the U.S. Forest Service
has come out; they started working with cottonwoods the same
time I did. When I told the professional School of Forestry
people here I was getting interested in cottonwoods, "Cotton-
woods, what are they good for?" I wish they wouldn't always
use that tone.
Well, I said, "They make pretty crate material; maybe
Now, they found out that they have many more important
uses. In fact, the U.S. Forest Service recently published a
report: "Cottonwood is the most valuable tree you can plant:
your first money in ten years, saw logs in twenty." And they
don't need to tell me. I've already got them.
So if you start something new, look out. You don't get
any support until you have a chance to prove up. Then for
maybe ten or fifteen years in forestry, it takes time. Not
only does it make a high value lumber tree, for instance, they
said, "For certain uses, there is no substitute for cottonwood,
it's the most valuable tree you can plant for a number of
different uses." So in addition to that, I planted some on
the campus. Often they dug them up and threw them away. Be-
cause I think they make an ornamental tree as well. You know,
anything new is difficult to catch on, to be accepted. That's
one trouble with us, I guess safety first.
I had some pictures here. I've been promoting cedars for
a long time, planting cedars also. You know pine isn't the only
tree Florida has; it's valuable, but what does the professionals
say. "Hardwoods? What do you fool with hardwoods for? Pines
are the thing. You gone mad?" Five hundred foresters all talking
about pines and restoring our piney woods, and one thinking about
our 3 million acres of valuable hardwoods all cut to pieces.
"You want to stop me?" I didn't say another word and walked
off; so I was doing something at the time. At county fairs I
would make a little cross section cutting showing the trees
that were valuablb for fence posts--that's a county demonstra-
tion at a county fair in Florida--then the wosdiduck nest box.
There's more to the woods than just pine boards and pulpwood.
There are other values such as wildlife, and I got out, maybe
you've heard of this, timber grazing and game, a three point
program? You don't know this, do you?
K: Let me ask you something about that. Florida has what I think
is called a green belt law; I don't know what the legal term
for it is; but I know that phosphate corporations and other}
large companies which own land that is mostly virgin wilderness
or perhaps has been timbered....
N: Hundreds of thousands of acres in a single ownership.
K: Well, as I understand it, they are allowed to graze a few live-
stock on their land, and then for tax purposes it's considered
agricultural land. You had mentioned that you had promoted
the idea of mixed forest and grazing land.
N: Yes, I say, and you can read it in my report that I'll leave
with you if you care to. I think that if you want really
safe and profitable fire protection, you follow my ten and
three point program: timber grazing and game, and you make
your firebreaks a hundred foot wide. Often in the flat woods
of Georgia and Southern states like Alabama and Mississippi
and South Carolina, even in Georgia, in the flat woods areas,
you can in such areas establish your forests with grazing strips,
a hundred foot strips, through your forest locking your forest
into areas that are safe. Then you can have fire protection,
successful fire protection at a profit, through the sale of
cattle on those hundred foot grazing strips.
I fought fires for years and years, and unless you have
something as wide as a hundred feet as the back fire line, you
can't stop that fire. It'll race over you; the first thing
you know you find yourself fighting a fire line here to stop
the fire when the wind is blowing a spark a hundred yards over
your head and started a fire back to you. You'd better get
your car and get out of there, or you'd be surrounded in a
bad, stormy, windy time when fires are bad. So then I estab-
lished these timber, grazing-game demonstrations and wrote
the bulletin. Let's see when was that; I've forgotten the
dates, but it's a long time ago. It's been scorned and still
The woods, as I say, is a place for...there's more than
just trees growing. It's actually three points and more than
that, I mention in my bulletin also not only grazing. Early
days I couldn't get any photographs and hadn't any way of
getting photographs. I had to use what I could get in the way
of pictures--but nowdays people have--and then I had to make
drawings myself and getting out this...been scorned. When I'd
get it out, I think that was along 1930-35. Been talking about
it for ten years before, but nobody would pay any attention.
So finally I wrote this bulletin which points out how to go.
You might look at that; it's pioneering in the early days. How
to make it practical and have successful fire protection at
a profit, not at a public cost or cost to you; your sale of
cattle that will graze on those strips will pay for your fire
protection. Then you can have fire protection at a profit
whereas in fire protection at a public or a private or personal
cost. But anything new in this world, you know, is slow in being
accepted. So then when I retired, I asked for a piece of land,
and they gave me a piece of land ten miles out at the horticulture
unit. I have a hardwood planting there.
K: The University of Florida gave you this land?
N: Gave me the land. The director, he's not retiring, was younger
then, and he went out with me. They had just cleared a piece
of hammock land where hardwoods originally grew.
I said, "I'd like a piece of land here."
He said, "We'll let you have that land for what you want
to do with it."
I says, "I'm not asking that."
So I had to travel all over the state, collect white oak
acorns, hickory nuts of the valuable species and many other
trees, and grow my own planting stock in a nursery at home.
There were a hundred of each and finally got my planting started.
I told the School of Forestry, read it over each line, handed
it back roughly. "No comment."
"Does it sound like a sensible thing to do?"
"Never heard of such a thing."
If he knew, look out. So I started this on a mixed, ran-
domized hardwood planting of eight valuable species.
"Why do you do that?"
Well, I said, "I've been around for years in Texas and in
Canada, and hardwood always grows in mixed sand." My main
reason is that an insect pest or a disease might take your whole
stand away from you if it's all one species. But if it's mixed
it's not easy for diseases or insects to build up. I said, "Maybe
that's the reason Mother Nature grows them that way.
"Not a word. Never heard of such a thing." Well, it's be-
ginning to attract some attention. That tree, that's the cotton-
wood I picked up in West Florida in a handful of dirt.
K: A cottonwood's not native to Florida then?
N: Oh, you won't find them this side of Tallahassee, It's not
in the book, but you will find them about twenty-five miles
west of Tallahassee, that's where I got my original seedling
at, I was driving along, I have lateral vision, in the road
side ditch was a little tree about ten inches high, So I took
it out of the mud and planted it. In seventeen years, where
there was competition already, I had a mistle tree in my hard-
wood planting, it shot up above all the rest. So then I says
that I'm getting interested in cottonwood to the forestry
people, the School of Forestry, and that I wanted some infor-
mation on it. I thought they should know what I'm doing.
Cottonwoods, what are they good for? You have to fight your
own way, but now I have about sixty or seventy all together
You think I could leave you some of these to glance at?
K: Oh, I'd like to, yes.
N: For instance, those are ten and eleven year old cottonwoods.
The U.S. Forest Service says, "Now cottonwood is the most
valuable tree you can plant, First money in ten years, saw
logs in twenty." Mine is a mixed stand. And I have to take
you out and show you sometime this mixed stand, cottonwood
mixed in with others. The cottonwoods outgrow them, but if
you plant your hardwoods that are valuable with say sweet gum,
deciduous -ppplars, hickories, and white oaks. Swamp chest-
nut oak is adaptive here; white oak only grows west of the
Suwannee River in West Florida. I planted some anyhow to
see if they would do here. The trees in the mixed stand are
showing us some things that may be important in time, and
people will stop scoffing at me. You look at it and then try
Of course, I had some little trouble with disease too.
The U.S. Forest Service at Upper Darby in Pennsylvania have
a forest up there they introduced from central China, the
Chinese chestnut which is immune to the blight. I think it
was the tree that was brought over here and introduced the
blight because it carries the blight disease but it is immune
to harm. It overcame this probably through hundreds of years;
so they sent me forty seedlings. I planted them in my hardwood
planting, that's the only tree that's not native that I have
here. It has shown so much promise.
So I collected seeds last year, two thousand seeds from
trees, that I had given to friends, university people, for
their home grounds, I had too much trouble collecting them.
I got only a few out of my hardwood planting because surrounded
on three sides with hammock and the squirrels stream in there
and eat them before they're ripe. So I have to depend on get-
ting seeds from friends who have trees. One man here, he has
a yard there, and he has two trees, those two trees, yielded
me over 1,600 nuts, and they are heavenly. If you get the right
tree but then they are like individuals. Some will bear heavily,
some very lightly, some not at all after twenty years. So you
have to learn as you go. But, anyway, the chestnut seems like
a promising tree for Florida.
K: In Flagler County when you started your forestry work, it was
in the 1920s, wasn't it?
N: Yeah, '25. Mostly from '30 on, I got very little support
from anyone, and it took me about five years to get any interest
to get somebody that would take them on his farm and plant
them after I furnished the seedlings, So it's slow getting
started, but then around '30-35 I got into forestry work because
the state forester came down. He was different than they were
since then; he came down and saw what I was doing with hard-
He said, "If you're that much interested, you should be
working for us."
The county hadn't paid me my sixty dollars for, let's see,
six or seven months; so I told my wife, she who can't work, I
was still getting state and federal sixty dollars a month. Buy
a car run it all day at your expense on 120 a month, that
wasn't a very quick way to get rich either. So he gave me a
better salary and provided me with transportation free. I was
in charge of forestry, farm forestry throughout the state. So
I got some experience there too in working.
I told him, "Look here, I'm not a qualified man. I have
no training in Florida."
"Well,"i.he said, "that doesn't bother me. You've shown
that you know something about it."
They didn't know either, all were trained in Pennsylvania
and northern states; they didn't know much about growing trees
in Florida. So they hired me anyhow. I was very happy in doing
that kind of work, and I had the advantages.
Well, then they needed a state land use planner in Florida.
The federal government wanted one, and the university recommended
me and another untrained man to head up the land use planning
for Florida. They gave me a newly graduated Russell Henderson.
A soil man, he had just graduated, that was his first work. I
hired him because we knew we needed a farm boy and a practi-
cal sort. He could practicalize what he learned.
So he and I traveled every road and trail in every county
in the state, mapping soils in a land use plan. No one's ever
criticized my work, but it was all federal, about three years
and one-half, federal paid, not state paid. When I got through
with that, then the state university hired me as farm forester
K: Did you have anything to do with Civilian Conservation Corps?
N: Yes, I did. I would visit them and give them practical infor-
mation whenever they asked for it, and sometimes before they
asked for it.
K: Were they planting any hardwoods? Or were you?
N: No one had ever thought of hardwoods, I don't think, until
today. No forester concerned himself with hardwood. So this
planting I have there, you know, broad leaf trees are always
classified as hardwood. Actually, the cottonwood is softer
wood than some of the pines. But that is classified as a hard-
wood because all broad leaf trees are hardwood, and then all
coniferous, cedars, pines, spruce, firs, and things like that
are considered softwoods.
My hardwood planting has more to do now seeds. After they
gave me the land, I moved down, I put in some demonstrations.
Catalpa makes a long-lasting fence post, also beautiful boards
for paneling, the wood does. So Imade a 300-tree planting of,
solid planting of catalpa along side of my hardwood planting.
They didn't complain about it, taking the extra land. They did
fine for four years; then they begafin to die; a disease wiped
them out. One species is not the way nature grows them; I learned
a little there.
I had to replant that area with new hardwood plantings;
then I moved on down, they didn't bother me, and took on more
land. Then I got into moist soil, that's where my cottonwoods
grow fastest. In eight, nine months, hundred feet tall. As-
tonishing how fast they grow. "Hundreds, never heard of that."
Better learn something about something new sometime. If it's
not in the book, well, maybe some do it after all; that's proving
it. So now I moved into some boggy ground. "Well, you could
And I said, "No. We have lots of boggy ground, and we have
valuable species that grow in boggy ground."
I'm planting now; that's one of my last efforts here, about
three or four years ago. I planted valuable species on boggy
ground where the other trees would not grow, not even cotton-
woods would grow on land that wet, But some of our aquatic
and flora are gums, all black gums, and then other trees like,
that I introduced the white cedar from West Florida, it's not
native here. I introduced it here in plantings throughout the
northern part of the state to test them out in different places.
Then one of my most important things I think I did was
over in Pensacola one day. They were hard up there for a
speaker at, what are these organizations, that local city over
in.... I can't think of names anymore.
K: Chamber of Commerce, something like that?
N: It'll come to me in a minute. They wanted a speaker for their
meeting. So the man knew me and he said, "You come and talk
to us," on the spur of the moment, and so I went with him.
Kiwanis. So he introduced me and I thought, he didn't say I
had to make a speech; he just wanted me to go along with him.
Then to my surprise someone got up on the stage and said,
"I hear that Mr. Neiland is with us today."
The county agent got up and said, "Yes, he's sitting here
"Come up Mr. Neiland on the stage and tell us about it."
I didn't know; I wasn't prepared. I did not have any
ideas, He called upon me. So I did and I said, "Well, I'll
tell them about my timber grazing game program."
I said that's a valuable program and explained why. Two
weeks later I got a letter from the clerk in the court in
Pensacola, Escambia County.
He said, "I heard your talk." I didn't know anyone there
except the county agent. "I heard you talk and I got 440 acres
of land I'd like to donate for such a purpose that you explained."
I said, "I'll be over there next week, and we'll look it
over and see if it's suitable."
The county agent was a very helpful man out there, without
his help I wouldn't have gotten anywhere. So I took a look at
the land and a little stream running through....
K: You mentioned earlier that you had some opposition from the
farmers in Flagler County to turning any of their land into
N: "Forest? We never heard of such a thing." You know that's the
Well, I used to go out with him and say, "See your trees
here, you have only a 15 percent stand. You need a full stand
for quality timber so that you can get clean logs. Don't burn
it anymore, and graze cattle on it because you'll destroy
more value than you're gaining."
And then that way I did make a start and got some coopera-
tion from a good many farmers. The state forest service heard
about my doings, and then they came down to get me to work for
I don't know whether I could leave you any of these things,
Forest Farmer; I have articles in there that are along the line,
trees you know here.
Look at the man in Florida, Lord don't you know, he was in
the shining light in his youth and adult life throughout the
quarter century he served as an extension forester. Now, I've
retired having lived in about every corner of the state, land
owners have these good forests, and he taught them. Well, some-
times some people have appreciated my effort, and so I thought
I'd show you that it wasn't all opposition.
See, I have an article in here on intergrazing and game
all in one operation, that's on the farm in Florida where they're
practicing. A good many people did accept it even if the Forest
Service scorned it and has until now, because they have had no
training in cattle grazing or practicalizing grazing along the
forest. And if you want successful fire protection, you had
better have wide fire lanes, hundred foot wide. I've fought
fires for twenty years, all kinds of fires and all kinds of
situations. Unless you have a hundred foot wide strip, the fire
will engulf you many times. So I don't know...all of this is
K: Yes, I'd like to look at it.
N: And then that's how it all started, 4-H.
K: What was the major cash crop in Flagler County?
N: Early Irish potatoes.
K: How were they affected by the Depression?
N: By the...?
K: When the -Depression hit?
N: Well, they made out somehow, but they did. I fought it. I said,
"One crop is crop gambling, not farming," and so I got them to
raise cabbage in addition, as a cash crop. But then, you know,
my interest in forestry soon got me away from there, got me out
of agriculture, and got me into the work. I already told you,
that when I was twelve, I would like the best to do,
K: You've been tellingmeArithe course of this interview that your
interest seems to be hardwoods rather than pines,
N: Oh, no. I'm interested in pines too. I'm just concentrating
on the hardwoods to break through. The pi'nF s the thing, Hard-
woods, we don't know anything about hardwoods, that"s the prob-
lem. Never anything been published, they can't turn to a bulle-
tin. If there's something I've written, it's discounted, "He's
not a qualified man." So progress is slow and hard in something
new with the human race. It doesn't matter what it is; so I've
been fighting to get hardwoods recognized. "What about our 3
million acres?" Hardwoods are valuable, much more valuable than
K: What were the first pulp mills started in this state?
K: First pulp mills called paper mills.
N: Well, they started along about 1925 when I got interested in
K: Did they have any effect on the forest land in Florida? Was
there a change in the emphasis on different types of trees that
they began growing?
N: A tremendous interest. The pulp mills began to acquire Florida
and divide it up into ownerships of hundreds of thousands of
I jumped right in and gave them my idea of how to protect
it from fire, their big acreages. Because I fought fire for
years and years. You don't watch out you'll get burned up in
it. On a bad fire day when the March winds blow and the heavy
accumulation of wire grass had been frosted and is very inflame
mable, and you're out there fighting fires, you're gonna lose
and lose and lose trying to back fire against it. Your back
fires will outgrow the view in no time with that March wind,
But if you have a hundred foot wide fire strips you can stop
those fires. And I have some pictures of them here where they
are, were used, and practicalize and can provide protection.
Don't wait till the fire comes, prevention is what you
need. Now, there are some that say, "You have your program;
if a fire gets started by lightning, it'll burn anyway."
Well, I said, "If you have these wide strips in stra~
tegic places in the flatwoods, often you're not losing any-
thing by making a graze strip." Because there's a little
grassy glade, little swell, here and there, a halfrdozen
little swamp trees, cypress trees, palm-cypress, small ones,
and then a hundred yards there'd be another little patch of
palm-cypress. All the rest was grassland: maybe a hundred
feet, maybe two hundred or three hundred in some places feet
wide." Too wet for pine, but put that in improved pasture,
Along with some grazing strips that you put in for protection,
you'll get fire protection at a profit, not at a loss, by
selling the cattle when they fatten in the Spring.
K: Have any of the major paper companies who own so much forest
land in Florida adopted your techniques?
N: Very few have. I have some pictures here showing that some
of them have put it in. But it's been slow. In Georgia IVve
made a demonstration planting close to the Georgia line. Some
people from Georgia came down, some people in Georgia and South
One man that was a banker up there in northern South
Carolina wrote me, I didn't know him, he wrote me, and he said
your program should be...I don't know where he got my program,
but the extension service distributed them throughout the
South. They picked the bulletin, this bulletin. I sold them,
I have very, very few; this one I don't want to lose. There
are few of these, that's pioneering work, left, They're out
of print. You wouldn't be able to get any, and I think the
library may have a few here. But otherwise the program has been
adopted in a number of places in South Georgia that I know of,
There's one man wrote me, he said, "Your program should
be adopted throughout the South." But the profession is against
it. They don't know anything about grass, they don't know any,
thing about cattle, they don't want to hear anything about it.
K: Are there any commercial hardwood foresting enterprises in
Florida? Is anybody growing hardwoods for cash?
N: Well, so far as I know, you know I've been retired for twenty
years now and haven't kept up with what's going on. I just
can't travel the state anymore at my expense, I'm on a modest
retirement. I started before salaries went up. So I can't
afford to spend any more money than to keep going out there
once a week and tending my hardwood planting, making observa.
tions about the conditions and diseases, and what not. Especially
the new planting in boggy ground is taking some of my time
to find species that are valuable that will grow in boggy
ground. We need to think about boggy ground too. Florida
and the South has much of it, and if you have valuable trees
that grow there, let's point it out to people.