History of where my Orchard is planted (being planted)

The land is owned by my wife’s Grandma (who is 82), in a small town called Custer, MI. It is 121 acres, used to be about twice that. I’ve put some work out there the last couple years. Along the way I discovered some things.

First this is the land deed signed by President Chester A Aurthur between 1881-1885.

This is a picture of my wifes 2x Great Grampa James in the 1900s.

This is his orchard on this land planted in the 1890s however this picture is taking in the 1920s.

There are 3 sole survivors of this orchard which stand adjacent to the original homestead.

First here is the homestead which still stands proud today.

Here is the first tree, this one is in the worst shape but still stands and produces fruit, some sort of russet?

Then there is this red blushed/striped variety. This one from looks will live the longest as the trunk isn’t decaying as of yet.

Last but not least the green apple.

All of these have been grafted on to new stock and are currently growing in my home nursery to be transplanted there at a later date. Amazing.


I love this! Thank you for sharing.

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Hey Dan

It’s great that you can “dig up” the history of the farm. Hope your newly grafted trees live as long as the originals. As a kid my grandfathers small farm and the adjacent land had apple trees scattered over it. I was able to buy most of my grandfathers farm and some of the adjacent land and build my house there. The old apple trees that I remember as a kid are gone now replaced by volunteers of those old trees.

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Yes, thanks for sharing, that is so cool. How do those 3 apple varieties taste? I have no idea what they are, maybe the second is a Cortland, and the last one looks like a Granny Smith, but that’s just a guess. Is this the actual land you’ll be starting your new apple orchard on? I saw Custer, MI on a map, it looks like a it’d be real snow magnet off the Lake, but the land looks very nice. It’s neat to see those really old trees still producing fruit.

My wife’s family has owned this land since the 1790s, I think. They have either the actual deed, or a copy of it in her sister’s house who lives about a quarter mile from us. It’s been split up between her, and her two siblings. But, I think we have the best part of it, we have the barn, old chicken coop, corn crib, tool shed, house and even an old outhouse! Also have the best of the land although it’s a bit hilly, it has the best soil to grow stuff.

We also have some old Milam apple trees that produce very small fruit occasionally. My wife said there was kind of an orchard down by the old house, they had a few apple, plum and cherry trees there. But, there was a blight that got all of the trees about 15 years ago, except the cherries.


Hey Rick! :slight_smile: You know me all to well from the other forums. :slight_smile:

As for the varieties & how they taste, I’m not really certain. I’ve tried 1 or 2 but I always grab them at the wrong times and they are deff not ready when i’ve bit into them. I’ll try to be more diligent this year in trying them.

Yes this is the land where my orchard will be. My trees (most of them) will be planted in rows starting about 30 yards from them. :slight_smile:


How wonderful to have your history!


I knew that my grandad owned a commercial orchard in Colorado in the early 1950’s but until recently I did not know that it was started by my great grandfather. I got to read a letter my great grandfather wrote in 1936 to my grandfather who was living in California at the time. He mentioned the orchard and that he had shipped all of his apples but couldn’t get the money he was owed for them. I think those were pretty lean years. Anyway I think it is really neat that those trees have stayed in you family so long.


Wow Dan, that is all super neat stuff! It really inspires me to do some research on my own property…I’d have no idea where to start but I love history and I know for a fact that there was a very, very old homestead on my property and the original house was in front of mine. One clue is the presence of several large, flat, out of place stones that could have been a sidewalk or stone foundation, and the presence of many buttercups out in front. When I dug my pond we uncovered an obvious household trash dump with lots of things from late 1800’s.
But I’d give anything for photos like you have. Very neat stuff- thanks for posting!


Great photos and history of that orchard. You guys need a metal detector. I used one to uncover the rumored well pump and other artifacts from early 1900’s. I also found rings from the oxen/muel teams from the late 1800’s. The most common thing I found on my property was bullets and lots of them. I have a feeling every inch of my property was dear to its previous owners which are likely as numerous as the sands of the sea. The old timers picked my place for the same reason I did which was something more valuable than gold in the dirty 30’s and that’s water. The bottom land has lots of water which is a blessing that can at times be a curse.


Great story, especially the family history part…

We have 100 acres in SE West Virginia that’s been in my family for over 40 years and before that was old homestead going back to the late 1800, early 1900’s. There a few really old standard apple trees (about 15) on our property, not sure what variety. They haven’t been tended to in years and some look like the one in your first pic, but they produce bushels of apples…


Before my wifes grandma settled that property in the 1800s it was an indian tribes land. 100s of arrow heads were found on this property. She has neat display framed on her wall in the house. The indian tribe living on our land were the Mascouten, which were whiped out by the Ottawa Indians. Mascouten’s were farmers not a Waring tribe.

About 2 miles away is black creek, that runs along my house and out to pere marquette river (which is behind my house) then travels to Lake Michigan in Ludington 12 miles away. They called the area “Not a pe ka gon” which translates “River with heads on sticks” as you can imagine that was the end result of the males of the Mascouten tribe.


Battle site?

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No this property was a Mascouten village, the more notorious battle happened along Black Creek & the Pere Marquette river. About 2 miles away (near where I live now).


I’m impressed, too. Wish you all the best there.


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Great pics and love the history.

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Hi Applebacon,

Just wanted to say I really enjoyed this history. Beautiful old trees, too!

My dad grew up in West Branch, MI, which I believe would be to the southeast of you there. He remembers picking russeted apples out of old orchards there. It was a great apple if you found no worm, and still a good apple if you did, but somewhat less good if you found only half…

I believe you mentioned in another post that your last name was Bacon? Curiously, my great-great-grandmother was a Rose Bacon, who was (according to the family story) a member of the Ottawa tribe. No connection other than the name, quite likely, but it’s at least conceivable that you have more connections with the history of that land than you may have realized.



Not a battle site but rather just a lot of years of artifact accumulation.

A battle site would be neat

If you like to dig

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