You can bet jaws were dropping all over 1912 Santa Rosa when rumors spread Luther Burbank was moving out of town. He wasn’t going far – only about a mile from downtown, to a new subdivision called “West Roseland” – but Santa Rosa without its Burbank was unthinkable. Being the home of the “plant wizard” defined Santa Rosa’s image, with a perpetual stream of visitors coming from far away to see him and his gardens. And that’s exactly why he would have wanted to move away from the well-beaten path; Burbank was besieged by pesky pilgrims whenever he worked in his fields.

Financially secure for one of the few times in his life, Burbank could afford building a new place. A couple of months earlier he had signed a deal with investors to create the Luther Burbank Company, which would henceforth sell his seeds and plants. He was paid $30,000 up front, worth about $4 million today. Work was also underway at the newly-formed Luther Burbank Press to finally create an encyclopedic series of books on Burbank’s works. All in all, 1912 was very likely his happiest year.

Everything was going so well that he even risked a few days off. In August Burbank was part of the “flying legion,” a ten day junket to promote the upcoming Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Traveling on a special Southern Pacific train, about a hundred men took the trip up the coast to Vancouver and back, with stops at all major cities on the way. The only other local man in the delegation was Robert John, an officer of the Luther Burbank Press and Luther Burbank Society, who appears to have been the linchpin in both projects.

Burbank kept a very low profile. He was toasted at a banquet in Canada but told the audience he wasn’t much of a speaker unless the topic was something like “spuds,” which he could discuss at length. A reporter in Oregon quoted his views on the importance of the trip, where in characteristic Burbank fashion he managed to complain and boast in the same breath: “This is almost the first day’s vacation I have taken in ten years, and I came at a time when I have on the place, working toward the publication of my books, 43 stenographers and typewriters, besides my usual executive work is hard to get away from.”

After the trip, nothing more about a planned new home was reported and the Burbank archives have no entry regarding a possible move to West Roseland. It’s more likely he bought the land on speculation; central Sonoma County was then enjoying its first building boom of the Twentieth Century. Ads for new subdivisions appeared regularly in the papers, and developers competed with each other by offering choice locations or no-money-down contracts. Here, it seems the developer was promoting West Roseland as an upscale neighborhood, where buyers would rub elbows with Burbank, George Dutton, Max Rosenberg, and other well-heeled local luminaries. And to cement the link to Santa Rosa’s favorite son, the main road was named “Burbank avenue.”

It appears none of the movers-and-shakers built grand homes in the subdivision. Today, Burbank avenue – which runs north-south, between Stony Point and Dutton Ave. – is almost entirely post-WWII construction, with a couple of older cottages. As you move farther away from Sebastopol Road it turns into a pleasant country lane with pastures and large empty lots that are surprising to discover so close to downtown. Much of it looks like it probably did in Luther’s era, when it was unincorporated county land. Of course, as it’s part of greater Roseland it is still unincorporated county land, only now surrounded on all sides by Santa Rosa proper. Of all the subdivisions then being developed outside of Santa Rosa, Petaluma, and Sebastopol, West Roseland was the only one that didn’t make it into city limits.

Report Says He is Going to Build New Home

Luther Burbank, the well known resident and great horticulturist of this city, has purchased 16 2/3 acres of the Richardson tract on Sebastopol avenue, one mile west of this city. When asked as to his plans of use of the property, Mr. Burbank stated that he had made no plans to announce at present. The report was current on the streets, however, that he intended to build a fine, modern residence there.

The property adjoins the property recently purchased by Max Rosenberg, Dr. J. H. McLeod and John Rinner, and which they are now having surveyed to be placed on the market. The survey includes an avenue a mile long, which runs southerly from the Sebastopol road and which the purchasers will name Burbank avenue. The tract being subdivided will be called West Roseland.

Mr. Burbank made his purchase through the agency of Barnett & Reading.

George Dutton has purchased a piece of property adjoining Burbank’s new property and is planning a fine residence on his new possession.

– Santa Rosa Republican, July 3, 1912

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Luther Burbank wants you to work for him. Can’t type? Then he’ll teach you how, free. And if you don’t want a desk job (or can’t spel gud) they’re hiring at the post office, which is ramping up to be one of the largest mail depots on the West Coast.

(RIGHT: The Luther Burbank Press in the old Odd Fellows’ building, corner of Third street and Exchange avenue. The south side of the Empire Building can be seen at the far right)

Santa Rosa was transformed in 1912 as hundreds of young people, mostly women, began working in the big building on Third street next to the courthouse. Where elsewhere downtown local women worked in laundries, as sales clerks and telephone operators, all types of business office work was still almost exclusively a man’s domain, so it was quite unusual for a company to specifically advertise salaried, clerical jobs were available to “girls.” For the company to also run a free typing school was remarkable. For all this to happen in little Santa Rosa, with a township population of about 14,000, was nothing short of revolutionary. The Press Democrat gushed it “opens up a large and entirely new field for the young men and women of Santa Rosa, enabling them to make metropolitan wages for metropolitan work right here at home.”

The employer was the Luther Burbank Press, a non-profit enterprise setup by the newly-formed Luther Burbank Society, with the mission of publishing a set of books about Burbank’s plant breeding. It had no connection with the Luther Burbank Company, which was also created a few months earlier to sell Burbank seeds and plants commercially.

The Burbank books wouldn’t be finished for a couple of years, but the women were needed to prepare a mass mailing of epic proportions, sending out 170,000 letters nationwide. Subsequent mailings would be larger still. “No other concern on the Pacific Coast, and few in America, have mailed so much first class matter as the Luther Burbank Press is mailing,” the PD remarked, “[more than] Sears, Roebuck & Co., Montgomery Ward & Co., and other well known mail order houses.”

After the operation was underway, the Press Democrat sent a reporter to describe the doings:

In the main hall, designated as the mailing room and general office, some seventy young ladies, most of them products of the school recently conducted by the Burbank Press for instruction in typewriting and later employment of girls in their office here, were busily engaged. A score or more of typewriting machines were merrily clicking away. At other desks young ladies were comparing lists and sorting the name cards, thousands upon thousands of them, each card being alphabetically arranged in cabinets, each desk and cabinet representing one of the States.

Today it might seem odd the PD reporter also noted, “Still another room in this large establishment is the rest room for the young ladies” but keep in mind the fashions and customs of 1912; women still wore faint-inducing bustles, and having a couch available for a short lie-down was no frivolous luxury. And as the Burbank Press employment ads for “girls” seemed to favor teenagers living at home, it probably assured upright parents their delicate little Gladys wouldn’t be competing with strange men for the water closet.

With an avalanche of mail going out and Burbank Press buying $7,000 worth of stamps at one time – an astonishing amount of postage, considering it cost only 4¢ to send a letter – Santa Rosa’s post office was upgraded to “first class” status. What exactly that meant in 1912 is unclear except for them ordering another “electric stamp canceller,” but today it would mean an boost in pay grades as well as an expanded staff – the mailroom, shown below in a photograph from an October 6, 1912 Press Democrat article – looks downright crowded. Having first-class post office status lent no weight to the size or importance of the town, despite the Press Democrat declaring this “a matter of much significance;” we were still small potatoes compared to places such as Westerville, Ohio (pop. 2,000) which sent over forty tons of mail a month, thanks to it being headquarters of the Anti-Saloon League of America.

The contents of the Burbank book series will be discussed in other articles, starting with a look at the exceptional color photography.


The Luther Burbank Society articles of incorporation were filed with County Clerk William W. Felt, Jr., on Saturday. The corporation is not formed for profit and there is no capital stock of the concern.

The objects are set forth in the articles “to assist in perpetuating the record of forty years’ experience of Luther Burbank and the furthering of the widespread distribution of Burbank’s writings.”

Luther Burbank’s old homestead is the principal place of business. It has John P. Overton, James R. Edwards and Robert John for directors.

– Santa Rosa Republican, May 18, 1912

After several ineffectual attempts to commercialize the lifework of Luther Burbank, the world-famous horticulturalist, and corner the profits for a privileged class, a Luther Burbank Society has been organized, charted by the State of California, and with a definite purpose of seeing that the work of the great scientist be given to posterity without favor or entail.

The society has no capital stock, no power to incur debts or to earn profits. Its purpose is solely to assist Luther Burbank in the widespread dissemination of his teachings, so that the greatest number may profit in the greatest degree. It has an extensive membership with names of nation-wide fame on the roll. Burbank is the honorary president, and the name of Mrs. Phoebe Hearst immediately follows the list, so far as it is prepared, concluding with Nicholas M. Butler of Columbia University. The membership is limited to 500, and by means of the moderate membership fee the society will make possible the mechanical production of books of a quality which will do honor to the author and the matter which they contain. The aim is to place the wizard’s knowledge in convenient book form at nominal cost before every farmer, gardener or horticulturist in the world. The home of the organization is located at Burbank’s grounds at Santa Rosa, and its activities will have his personal guidance and cooperation. A partial list of the membership follows.


– Press Democrat, December 3, 1912

Few people realize the immensity of the work being done by the Luther Burbank Press of this city at the present time. Robert John and John Whitson, managers of the editorial and business departments respectively, are making preparations now for printing the first volume of “Burbank and His Work.” So large has grown the business of this company that it was necessary for them to secure the old Odd Fellows’ building on Third street and turn it into a school and business department.

In conservation on Friday Mr. Johns stated that one of the most liberal offers ever given to young ladies to secure permanent work and a schooling in typewriting is being allowed by the Burbank Press to secure aid in promoting the work they have in hand. A school with expert teachers has been established in the Odd Fellows building, where the young ladies are given a course in typewriting and when competent are given permanent positions.

The object of this school is to enable the publishers to combine the managing departments in Santa Rosa. If sufficient aid can be secured a large building will be erected here and the school and business department conducted there.

The immensity of the book that is to be published is shown when it is known that it will take between two and three hundred tons of paper to print the works. There are to be 12 volumes with about 400 pages in each volume, and about 20,000 copies of each volume. The first books are expected to reach the local department within the next ninety days.

The wonderful discovery made recently by members of this company in photographing the true colors of plants, has enabled them to print one of the most wonderful volumes ever seen. By the new process of photographing a great deal of expense is saved and a much better color developed than by the former method of painting.

Employment can be secured by 300 girls and young men from the Burbank Press. At the present time they are preparing copy for the publishers and when the books begin to arrive the mailing and correspondence will furnish considerable work.

The school in Odd Fellows’ building started Friday morning with a number of pupils present.

In reply to a speech made recently before the Ad Men’s Convention in San Francisco by Mr. Johns, one of the men stated that there were not enough presses in San Francisco to print the books being published by the Burbank Press in the short space of time necessary. Consequently the management has had to send their printing to the east, and there divide it among the largest companies.

– Santa Rosa Republican, August 2, 1912

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT has published the story of the mailing from the Santa Rosa postoffice last week by the Burbank Press of 170,000 letters, each bearing four cents postage, and comment has already been made on the amount of labor entailed, both in the mailing department of the concern sending out the vast number of letters and on the clerks of the postoffice.

There are some other important incidents in connection with the enormous amount of mail matter being sent out from a city the size of Santa Rosa within a week. For instance, there was the purchase of $7,000 worth of postage stamps at one time, a notable increase in business, jumping the Santa Rosa postoffice from a second class to a first class postoffice. This in itself is a matter of much significance.

Then it must be taken into consideration that each of the 170,000 letters bore the Santa Rosa postmark and that the letter inside has a Santa Rosa date line and also signalized the city as being the home of Luther Burbank, the distinguished scientist whose fruit and flower wonders have attracted the attention of the civilized world. A big stroke of publicity for Santa Rosa when it is again considered that the letters will be read in 6,200 cities and towns of importance in different parts of the United States. Just think of that! A boost for Santa Rosa in 6,2000 places at the same time!

There is still greater promotion to come. In November the Burbank Press will mail 450,000 more letters to all parts of the United States, and thousands upon thousands more letters will follow in the early months of the next year. The biggest mailing house on the Pacific Coast, located in Oregon, only sends out 300,000 letters per year and held the record until the Burbank Press started something that will easily wrest the honors away and land here in the City of Roses.

Naturally the inquiry has been made, “Why are all these thousands of letters being sent out?” As is well known, the Burbank Press, a concern in which a number of the great men of the country are interested, will shortly issue the first set consisting of twelve volumes of the only complete work ever published of Luther Burbank and his achievements. In fact, nothing like it has ever been dreamed of. The publication will attract the admiration of the whole world. The advance sheets indicate this. And so these letters are being sent out to the leading men and women of this land apprising them of the wondrous nature of this great work on Burbank and his creations. In passing it might be mentioned that the volumes are profusely illustrated with colored pictures of the Burbank productions, photographed in garden and orchard by the wonderful process discovered by the wonderful process discovered by Robert John, which reproduces on the negative the exact color tints of the flower or fruit photographed. Some time since The Press Democrat mentioned the wonderful addition to photographic art made by Mr. John.

At the invitation of Messrs. John and Whitson, a Press Democrat representative visited the company’s offices in the old Odd Fellows’ building at Third street and Exchange avenue on Friday afternoon just to gain an insight into the immensity of the business the Burbank Press is engaged in while exploiting the great Burbank book.

In the main hall, designated as the mailing room and general office, some seventy young ladies, most of them products of the school recently conducted by the Burbank Press for instruction in typewriting and later employment of girls in their office here, were busily engaged. A score or more of typewriting machines were merrily clicking away. At other desks young ladies were comparing lists and sorting the name cards, thousands upon thousands of them, each card being alphabetically arranged in cabinets, each desk and cabinet representing one of the States.

It was truly a busy scene in the big building the Burbank Press leased some time ago as its general office here. From the main room just mentioned the newspaperman was shown into another room containing folios of names and addresses–over a million and a half of names. As replies are received to communications they are noted on these lists together with any corrections that may be necessary. The system adopted is one of the most complete and at the same time most modern, another indication of the immensity of the publicity work the Burbank Press will do.

Off the main office room–the former lodge room of the Odd Fellows–is the other large room which was used as a school room when the girls were being given their instruction in typing. At present desks, seats and typewriting machines occupy the school room, but it is the intention of the management to start up the school again when more copyists are needed. Still another room in this large establishment is the rest room for the young ladies.

Everything is kept in apple-pie order in the offices and mailing room. More equipment has been ordered and will be installed in the main room. One of the pictures that are herewith produced, was taken in the mailing room at the time when the 170,000 letters were being prepared for the trip to the postoffice. The other shows the mail clerks at work handling the immense quantity of letters in the Santa Rosa postoffice.

But in addition to the thousands of letters in the special lot, hundreds of others touching various phases of the work are being forwarded. Then, a sheet of editorial and new suggestions has been prepared and this is being sent out to the newspapers of the land so that still wider publicity will be given Santa Rosa, the Burbank Press and, of course, the books. The gentlemen in charge of the Burbank Press certainly know how to provide publicity that should crown their efforts with success. They are sparing no pains or expense in the system they have adopted to bring to the attention of the world something of which they and the publishers they represent can be justly proud. They have also developed the right spirit of patriotism to city and home talent in that they are employing in the offices mailing and other departments as far as possible. They are also buying their postage stamps at the Santa Rosa postoffice and mean to continue to do so. Already the office has had to send a requisition on ahead for another electric stamp canceller.

In addition to the big offices of the Burbank Press occupying the old Odd Fellows’ hall, Messrs. John and Whitson have their private offices in the old Luther Burbank residence across from the new home the scientist built on Santa Rosa avenue. An inspection was permitted Friday afternoon of the camera and lens that takes the colors true to life already referred to. A delightful half hour was spent in looking through some of the piles of negatives already secured. A large cabinet with its many drawers is practically filled with the negatives. Some three thousand pictures have been taken. The work is perfect. The prints of the negatives are a revelation. The first volume of the Burbank books, which will be ready to issue from the eastern publishing house about the first week in November, contains 113 of these colored pictures. The popularity of the book is assured and it will be a faithful record of the life work of the greatest man of his time in the realm of horticulture, and in consequence a most valuable addition to the libraries of the world.

– Press Democrat, October 6, 1912

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It’s said “there are no second acts in American lives” but Luther Burbank had several of them. In 1912 alone, he had two.

“Burbank Poppies” illustration from The Burbank Seed Book, 1913)

Burbank was a man driven by a single simple goal: He wanted to spend all his time crossbreeding plants in hopes of discovering something that was prettier, tastier, hardier – or might be as significant as his discovery of the russet potato. To do that he needed financial security as well as freedom to concentrate on his work, although for most of his career he had neither. He hated running a wholesale seed business, which was no guarantee of a steady income even though the public revered him as the “plant wizard.” He came to loathe his adoring fans who continually pestered and distracted him in Santa Rosa, wanting to shake hands and boast about their lovely zinnias back home. Oh, if he could just unload the business side on someone else, and/or have some nice people award him a wad of money.

His rescue appeared at hand in 1905 when he was granted a $10,000 annuity from the Carnegie Institution. That deal was cancelled five years later amid bitter mutual recriminations; the Institution had been long dismayed he was working on the side with others on a project to write an encyclopedic series of books describing his “secrets.” The last straw was apparently his short-lived agreement to set up a distribution business with the scabrous Law brothers, who made their fortune peddling dangerous quack medicines. (All of this history is discussed at depth in the four-part “Burbank Follies” series.)

While Burbank received the occasional financial boost – the Carnegie grant, a substantial payment for an exclusive-rights deal from some distributor – he had no open doors leading to a sunny and secure future; rather, he was a 60-something man stuck on a treadmill. Then came the heyday of 1912.

The Luther Burbank Society was created to finally complete and publish the book series, a significant event that will be covered in the following article. But more importantly, that year the Luther Burbank Company was formed to completely take over his sales business. Burbank was elated. “For fifteen years at least I have been endeavoring to make some such arrangements,” he told the Press Democrat. “Henceforth I shall only engage myself in the creation of more novelties in fruits, flowers and plants.”

Burbank was paid $30,000 (the equivalent to about $775,000 today) to be followed by an annual payment of $15,000. When the new company set up offices and incorporated later that year, the PD described what a happy development this was for Burbank:

“I have no time to make money,” he said. “I’ve more important work to do.” Happily the long-desired independence is now achieved. All the desks and typewriters were taken from Burbank’s home yesterday, together with his correspondence files and his account books. No longer will he need the services of secretary and bookkeeper. He can give all his working hours to the labor of his life, and undoubtedly the result will be a new pace of achievement, a greater number of wonders to astonish the world. Henceforth Luther Burbank will have nothing to sell to anybody. The chartered corporation will take possession of his new plant creations as fast as they are produced, and will market them with a facility that Burbank, always busy with other things, could not hope to attain.

The principals in the new company were W. Garner Smith, a San Francisco stock broker, and Rollo Hough, a banker and attorney from Oakland. Luther Burbank was not on the board of directors – it was mostly Oakland capitalists and city boosters, including an officer from the Oakland Bank of Savings where Hough had previously worked. The only members representing Burbank’s interest were his personal San Francisco lawyer and James Edwards, Santa Rosa’s mayor 1910-1912 (and, BTW, Hilliard Comstock’s tennis partner). Hough was named General Manager of the company and Smith was secretary/treasurer. Burbank reserved the right to select the president and picked Edwards.

It may seem a bit odd for the board to lean so far away from Burbank’s Santa Rosa and towards Oakland, but the company was really based in the East Bay. An Oakland warehouse was the shipping point, mainly sending out orders for Burbank’s varieties of spineless cactus, which were being grown near Livermore. The company also purchased 7.5 acres in the “Broadmoor” tract on the southern edge of Oakland (it’s due west of the intersection of MacArthur Blvd. and Hwy 580). Besides replacing Burbank’s seed propagation operations in Santa Rosa and Sebastopol, its Bay Area location was hoped to lure Burbank fans away from trekking to Santa Rosa. “A point which will be visited not only by thousands of Californians, but by 90 per cent of the tourists who come to this State,” Hough told the Hayward Review, boasting that 5,000 varieties of plants would soon be grown on the farm. Local realtors were quick to hop on the bandwagon, running ads that building lots were still available close to “Luther Burbank’s Exhibition Garden.”

Peeking a few years forward from 1912, we find the company brought Burbank even greater fame. The next year large ads such as the one seen to right appeared in newspapers nationwide; there was even a color Sunday supplement section produced. They took over the huge Army & Navy store on Market street in San Francisco and renamed it the Burbank Building to showcase his plants. Luther became somewhat an ambassador as well as a company figurehead, traveling to promote the upcoming Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

It’s no spoiler to reveal that the company collapsed late in 1915 after it was discovered warehouse workers were shaving spines off regular cactus to sell them as spineless, a fraud that was revealed soon after they were planted. President Edwards and General Manager Hough – both former bankers with no prior experience managing a company of any sort – resigned. Burbank was disgraced in the eyes of many, as each product came stamped with his personal guarantee of quality and authenticity. The company was liquidated soon after Luther Burbank sued the Luther Burbank Company for “recovery of his contract money and his name.” The misadventure ended up being the worst “Act I” period of his entire life. (UPDATE: The Burbank biographies that state a bait-and-switch fraud was discovered are probably wrong. See this discussion.)

Luther Burbank Will Now Devote His Entire Time to Scientific Work Having Disposed of His Business
Big Capitalists Are Interested and Sale Involves Past, Present and Future Creations, and is a Unique Transaction in Many Particulars

A deal of great importance, unique in its character and world-wide in its interest, was consummated in Santa Rosa on Thursday, when Luther Burbank disposed of the commercial end of his great business and will hereafter only devote his attention to the creation of novelties in fruits, flowers and plants, without having to bother about the selling and marketing of the productions.

Negotiations that have been pending for some time were ended on Thursday and papers were signed where the commercial side of the Burbank activities in giving to the work so many things in the realm of horticulture passed to Rollo Hough, banker and attorney of Oakland and W. Garner Smith of San Francisco, recently of Kentucky. These men are backed by some of California’s wealthiest men.

The sale not only includes Burbank’s past creations, but the present and future ones, for as fast as he produces the novelties will become the property of the men interested in Thursday’s transaction. In two or three years the Burbank experimental farm near Sebastopol will also pass into their ownership, it being held in the meantime by Burbank. The home place in Santa Rosa is not included in the deal. The transaction is one of the biggest of its kind ever consummated.

When seen by a Press Democrat representative at his home Thursday, Mr. Burbank confirmed the news of the sale of his business and he expressed himself as being glad to have it transferred to other hands.

“For fifteen years at least I have been endeavoring to make some such arrangements as was consummated today. I have sold all my creations, past, present and future, and henceforth I shall only engage myself in the creation of more novelties in fruits, flowers and plants. It is a big relief as it has been altogether too much of a burden to handle both sides of the business. The papers were signed today.

“I have enough novelties on hand now to keep Messrs. Hough and Smith busy for twenty years,” said Mr. Burbank. He added with a smile, “And plenty more up my sleeve.”

Mr. Burbank did not state the amount of money involved in the sale he had made, but of course, it necessarily involves a very large sum. It is understood that from time to time payments will be paid. But the sale of the novelties is absolute at this time. Mr. Burbank reiterated that he was very glad to be rid of business cares.

– Press Democrat, April 5, 1912
Plant Breeder Sells His Creations to a Corporation
Concern is Adequately Financed, and Will Establish Great Nursery and Seed Farm
Enterprise With Headquarters Here

The formal transfer of the commercial side of Luther Burbank’s business to the new corporation which is henceforth to handle the Burbank seed and plant creations exclusively, was made on Thursday, Rollo J. Hough and W. Garner Smith representing the purchasers. Mr. Hough, who is actively connected with the new corporation, said to a Press Democrat representative yesterday: “The final steps have been made in taking over the commercial end of Luther Burbank’s business. In fulfillment of the conditions of the sale effected last April, Mr.Burbank turned over his business Thursday, and from now on will devote his whole energies to his creative work.

“It is our purpose to push the seed and nursery end aggressively, for we are confident that it is possible to build up a business that will rank with the largest of its kind in the United States. Mr. Burbank has already demonstrated this possibility by establishing a very thriving and profitable business.

” It is likely that Santa Rosa will be made the distributing center, and that seed farms and nurseries will be established in this vicinity, but with the exception of the establishment of the Broadmoor Seed Farm near Oakland, no definite action has been taken in this regard. The business of the company thus far has been conducted from our San Francisco offices.

“The corporation has ample resources to accomplish its purposes, up to $300,000, and is composed of a number of prominent bankers and business men of San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Rosa, a certain portion of stock in the corporation having been allotted to those friends of Mr. Burbank in Santa Rosa, who desired to be identified with the new company.”

Mr. Burbank has frequently deplored the necessity that compelled him to neglect his scientific work for the less congenial task of marketing his creations in order to keep his income up to his needs. “I have no time to make money,” he said. “I’ve more important work to do.” Happily the long-desired independence is now achieved. All the desks and typewriters were taken from Burbank’s home yesterday, together with his correspondence files and his account books. No longer will he need the services of secretary and bookkeeper. He can give all his working hours to the labor of his life, and undoubtedly the result will be a new pace of achievement, a greater number of wonders to astonish the world. Henceforth Luther Burbank will have nothing to sell to anybody. The chartered corporation will take possession of his new plant creations as fast as they are produced, and will market them with a facility that Burbank, always busy with other things, could not hope to attain. The new men in charge will be specialists in business, just as Burbank is a specialist in his line. They will do their part of the work better than ne ever could, and he will do his part still better for having their part taken off his hands.

– Press Democrat, November 2, 1912

A meeting of the Board of directors of The Luther Burbank Company, sole distributors of the Burbank horticultural productions, was held on Monday and much important business was transacted. Mention of the transfer of the commercial end of Mr. Burbank’s great business to The Luther Burbank Company was made some time since. The stock was sold under the name of the Universal Seed Distribution Company, and the latter company is now merged into The Luther Burbank Company.

The directors organized on Monday by electing James R. Edwards, the well known former Mayor of Santa Rosa, and assistant cashier of the Savings Bank of Santa Rosa, president; Rollo J. Hough, vice president and general manager; W. Garner Smith, secretary and treasurer; and Leo V. Belden, assistant secretary and assistant treasurer.

The board of directors are all prominent men of affairs in Northern California, men who hold a front rank in the state’s commercial life. The directors are:


The head offices of The Luther Burbank Company will be in San Francisco, with offices also in Santa Rosa. Santa Rosa will be the distributing point and mail order department. The company has leased the entire upper portion of the Hahmann building, adjoining the Santa Rosa bank building on Exchange avenue, and for the past month employees of the company have been busily engaged, answering hundreds of inquiries concerning seeds and plants. The company will undoubtedly handle an immense business.

The deal by which The Luther Burbank Company became the sole owners and distributors of Luther Burbank’s horticultural productions was one of the most gigantic and at the same time the most unique the world has known. The company came into possession of Mr. Burbank’s creations, past, present and future.

The company has, as intimated, already taken up the active work for which it was organized, and has already filled many orders from different parts of the country and world. It has only just commenced the volume of distribution of Burbank seeds and products that will be carried out when its connections are fully established.

The meeting of the directors was held in San Francisco and the full directorate was present. Mr. Edwards returned to this city after the meeting.

– Press Democrat, December 3, 1912

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