To get to know J. Horace McFarland, it helps to understand the influence of his father, George F. McFarland. George was a Civil War veteran wounded at Gettysburg, resulting in the amputation of his right leg. After recuperating in 1865, George purchased Riverside Nurseries in Harrisburg as a business opportunity.
From a young age, J. Horace McFarland worked with his father, setting out seedlings and working in the greenhouse and orchards. One of his main tasks was to sell grapes door to door from his wagon. Recognizing which households were reliable customers, he began to develop his business skills from an early age. In addition, McFarland was observant of and curious about nature, wildlife, and plants.
In 1867, George purchased the Temperance Vindicator and Keystone Good Templar, a weekly newspaper that came with a small foot-driven press. With the help of Thomas MacKellar’s The American Printer and through trial and error, J. Horace McFarland learned all he could about printing. Becoming proficient, he performed all the printing for the nursery as a teen. He loved printing his entire life, evidenced by his success and influence on the industry.