[D8704AEE], Letter from Julius D'Alessandro to Thomas Alva Edison, October 31st, 1887


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[D8704AEE], Letter from Julius D'Alessandro to Thomas Alva Edison, October 31st, 1887

Editor's Notes

Details the types of plants found in the Southwest and Mexico and their uses; sends package of specimens of wild fibrous plants Yucca (narrow blades) and Palmilla (broad blades); these plants and 25 other varieties grow in inexaustible quantities in Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, & almost all of Mexico.###These plants possess considerable commercial value because they contain an excellent fibre for purposes such as cordage, matting, baling, paper pulp, etc.; The juice of Maguey and Tequilla are used for liquor as are Sato [?] from the Yucca and the Pulque, "which is for the Mexican the same beverage as for the Bavarian the Beer"; 25,000 gallons per day are consumed in Mexco City.###Roots of several contain medicinal properties; roots of Yucca contain oil used for soap, which has two chief merits: 1) can be used with hard water; 2) doesn't injure dyed fabrics. Mexican women use it for hair tonic.###This illustrates how little is wasted in using these plants.###Yucca, for instance, has leaves containing fibre for cordage, matting, baling, paper pulp; a trunk for superior quality paper pulp; roots for soap, medicinal purposes, and oil.###these plants have only been used by natives to a limited extent simply because the S. West and Mexico are "terra incognita" to Easterners who consider the area full of Indians and Desparados; a profitable enterprise could be developed.###Americans here pursue mining, stock raising, farming, and "selling real estate at Broadway prices to the unaware tender fool" but have no sense of industry, which is "left for the Yankee." Another problem is that in spite of the efforts of inventors over the past 10 years, there is not a good decorticator or defibrizer.###Would you be willing to experiment with these plants? A suitable invention would be highly remunerative and enrich this section of the country; at least 500,000 square miles are thickly covered with these plants; the smallest yield of fibre and pulp would be 50 tons per mile, but there are many thousand square miles that would yield 200-300 tons, valued perhaps at $5 per ton.###If you're interested, I will furnish any amount of raw material. [TAE Marg.: "Johnny Get these samples when they arrive & put this letter with them E"]





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Thomas A. Edison Papers, School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University
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