The History of American Ginseng Industry in Marathon County and Its Mysterious Origins with China.
In the late 19th century, Marathon County began to profit from a mystical trade. Here to produce a root, has a magical effect on life. This magical plant is Wisconsin ginseng. It is highly regarded for its aphrodisiac effects. Once upon a time, wild American ginseng had been spread throughout eastern North America, Montreal, North Canada (Montreal), south to Florida. In the first half of the eighteenth century, the export trade of ginseng from America to France grew rapidly. However, over-harvesting and incorrect processing left the American ginseng once lost its reputation in the East. American ginseng was introduced into China by John Jacob Astor in the late 18th century, and American ginseng became an important commodity in Sino-American trade since then.
In Wisconsin, Indians used American ginseng as a medicine long before white colonists arrived. By the 1840s, white settlers acquired Wisconsin ginseng extensively from Indians for export. The ginseng trade in Marathon County started relatively late, starting in the 1870s, but played an extremely important role in the subsequent export of American ginseng. From the 19th century to the 20th century, most of the wild Wisconsin ginseng was sold to China. Wisconsin ginseng is a kind of industry? Some people think that the ginseng is food, which belongs to the agricultural products; while the other is that the American ginseng out of the wild, unable to artificial cultivation, so more similar to the logging industry. Like wood, American ginseng is a careless resource, and people just take and profit from it. Wild American ginseng, however, is a fragile plant that takes a long period of growth and neither Indians nor whites have any idea how to breed it. Indians used to be less dependent on ginseng in the past so this plant has been able to reproduce naturally for centuries but once soon large-scale export acquisitions began the American ginseng resources in Wisconsin were quickly at risk of being depleted.
The most direct solution is to find artificial cultivation of American ginseng method, but it is not easy. American ginseng needs 4-5 growth stages to mature, and the fragility and inability of plants make it hard to transplant. However, due to the large demand, there are still many people trying. In the 1880s, American George Stanton successfully cultivated American ginseng for the first time. His success led to the “ginseng fever” of the late nineteenth century. From the west coast of the United States to the Midwest, many American farmers use the original farmland for American ginseng cultivation. In Marathon County, Reinhold Dietsch and Frank Volhanrd also tested the cultivation of ginseng and literally sowed the seeds for Wisconsin ginseng.
However, in 1905, a withering disease attacked the North American ginseng crops and suffered heavy losses of farming. The painstaking efforts of the past two decades were destroyed. However, HAMBURG’s four brothers, Walter, Edward, John and Henry Fromm, were involved in the industry when growers in the east and in the middle abandoned the cultivation of American ginseng. They originally wanted to cultivate silver fox, but because of the high cost of breeding silver fox, they could only grow American ginseng and hope they could raise enough money to buy silver fox. They were said to be very young at the time, the youngest being Walter, 16, while the youngest, Henry, was only 10 years old. Their American ginseng business and silver fox breeding have all achieved great success in the United States. Part of the success of the American ginseng industry is due to the Fromm brothers who studied wild American ginseng and its habitat. From year after year trials, Fromm brothers master a better, newer approach to American ginseng cultivation. In addition to the Fromm brothers, there were three other companies in the Marathon County that were involved in the plantation of American ginseng in 1913. The results of these three companies were not immediately apparent and they were not the leaders of the Wisconsin ginseng industry until 1919.
Wisconsin ginseng was not a simple, stable development of the industry; in fact, the ginseng market has proved exciting and full of risks. The industry was affected by many factors, some of which were beyond the control of growers like Fromm Brothers. The rise and fall of the Wisconsin ginseng industry relied heavily on the political relations between the Asian economy and Asian America. For example, in the 1930s, because of the chaotic political and economic conditions in China, the Wisconsin ginseng market also suffered a great deal. By the 1940s, the Sino-Japanese War and the subsequent World War II all brought a more serious blow to the American ginseng market. Until World War II, with the restoration of political and economic relations with Asia (especially Hong Kong, which became the major exporter of Wisconsin ginseng at the time), the demand for Wisconsin ginseng increased sharply and the number of new plantations also increased gradually. In 1948, only 78 acres of American ginseng was cultivated in Marathon County. In 1970, this figure increased to 154 acres. In 1978, the U.S. government introduced a policy of promoting trade between China and the United States, and its ginseng cultivation in Marathon County increased to 750 acres.
After the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1979, China and the United States ushered in the heyday of the production of American ginseng. There were 1,500 farmers in Wisconsin, with acreage of 3,000 acres (one acre equal to six acres). In the late 1990s, the number of American ginseng grew more and more due to competition and overproduction in Canada. Since entering the 21st century, Marathon County has nearly 200 farmers, planting area of 1,500 acres, annual output of about 500,000 to 600,000 pounds. This allows local farmers to bring 15 million US dollars in revenue. In 2009, China’s famous royal pharmacy “Tong Ren Tang” came to Marathon County and purchased a hundred thousand pounds of authentic Wisconsin ginseng. 100 years later, the pioneering Wisconsin ginseng plantations of the Fromm brothers in Marathon County finally gained the trust and esteem of more than a billion Chinese with dark-skinned black hair.