I thought some of you may be interested in some of my “fruit growing family history” I have recently begun researching.
A quick background. I live on a farm in Midcoast Maine that has been here since the founding of the town. Growing up I had always heard tales of how my ancestors were known for there green thumbs, and were at the leading edge of fruit growing for their time. Pushing the limits of there zone, being the first to grow fruits like peaches in the area, and testing/developing new varieties coming out of New York.
Now not knowing if this was just my family tooting it’s own horn, I wanted to see if I could do some research and dig anything up to confirm any of these tales.
I decided to start by researching my grandfather’s grandfather, Everett Hobbs (the man I owe my name too).
The first thing I was able to pull up, was some confirmation of his peach growing prowess, this article from 1958 states he had been growing peaches himself in the area since the teens. Red haven is the variety pictured. Also of note is he was growing some rare for the area, everbearing raspberries.
And this article written 10 years prior confims he was growing Carmen with good success.
Now as far as his research and variety development is concerned, I have not found much, but I did find confirmation of his trips/communication with the researchers and nurseryman in Geneva, NY.
Courier Gazette _ September 28 1939 (1).pdf (4.0 MB)
See page 5.
Now the bulk of the remaining finds, were actually found in an old shoebox of letters my aunt had recently given me. These were found in the attic of the original Hobbs farm house and are mostly addressed to Everett’s father James, dated late 1890’s.
Come to find out, James was canvassing (a middle man helping sell nursery stock) the midcoast area at the time for a Geneva based nurseryman by the name of A.S. Chadbourne. Mr. Chadbourne would send the ordered stock by train or boat to James and James would get a cut of the sales.
Here is an example of an order James received from a doctor in Camden, ME:
This guy really liked his summer apples!
The same person also asked for 3 plum trees “whatever is curculio proof” that made me chuckle.
I also have quite a few letters sent by Mr. Chadbourne giving James the latest happenings in Geneva on the fruit growing front.
For instance there was a lengthy correspondence explaining how columbian raspberry is the latest exciting variety of the time, he even included a letter he received from Geo Powell, the director of the New York State Department of Agricultural Education, speaking highly of the variety:
Here is another touting the production of a burbank plum tree:
And again claiming English Morello as the superior sour cherry variety:
Some other interesting tidbits from these old letters include an old nursery stock advertising mailer with pricing:
A receipt for 6 barrels of northern spy apples (1897):
These were sold to a company in Boston that shipped them to the English and German markets.
He got a wopping $4.35 after the freight charges.
Here is another shipping company confirming that they also buy and sell wealthy and fameuse apples:
Overall I have been pleased with what I have uncovered as far as family history. Seems I am very much following in my ancestors fruit growing footsteps. These were just the highlights and I hope some others will appreciate the fruit growing history.
Feel free to share any family history of your own!