Preservation and Diversification of Heirloom and Antique Apple Varieties in Southern Ohio

Final Report for FNC12-865

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2012: $4,395.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Jo Huff
Hillgate Farm
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Project Information


[Editor's Note: To see the full report with appendices including township map and description with farmer lists, apple illustrations, and photos open the PDF version of the report.]

Hillgate Farm was established around 1905 in Lawrence County Ohio although the Huff family had been living within Lawrence County since the early 1800s. Hillgate Farm consists of approximately 22 acres of pasture, approximately 15 acres of forestland, and approximately three acres of orchards and other vegetable garden areas. Hillgate Farm is beginning anew and looking for more sustainable and unique ways of farming for the future including antique/heirloom fruits, native plants, sustainable flower garden design, and forest grown crops.

In 2012, Hillgate received a grant from North Central SARE to research the apple industry in Lawrence County, document historic orchards, and attempt to locate antique/heirloom apple trees and propagate. Since the apple industry in Lawrence County primarily ended during the mid-1900s, much of the lands that were once filled with apple orchards have since been developed for housing and other uses. Initially, those of us working on the project that grew up in the county knew where many of the old orchards were located. Hillgate Farm had not actively searched for any remnants of apple trees from the old orchards so it was not known if any were still in existence. The only apple history that we had read about in the county was the brief history of the Rome Beauty apple, one of the most important apples in the industry that was grown commercially. Research also consisted of determining the variety of apple trees that were historically planted within the county and identifying the farmlands where they existed.

Lawrence County Ohio, established in 1816, is the southernmost county in Ohio and is part of the unglaciated area of Ohio. Lawrence County is bordered on the east by Gallia County, to the north by Jackson County, to the west by Scioto County and to the south by the Ohio River. Lawrence County is part of the unglaciated Western Alleghany Plateau Ecoregion with a multitude of streams that have dissected the land creating hills and V-shaped valleys throughout. The lowest elevation of the plateau is 515 feet below Mean Sea Level (MSL); the highest elevation is 1,061 feet above MSL. The Plateau is divided into two major drainage basins: one that gathers flow west into Lake Erie (and northward) and the other that feeds the Ohio River and south to the Gulf of Mexico. Mineral resources in the county consist of clay, sandstone, limestone, shales, coal, and iron ore. Soils consist of a colluvium of sandstone, siltstone and shale on upland ridgetops and side slopes.

The total annual precipitation is 42 inches. Average snowfall is 16 inches. Major industries in Lawrence County have been agriculture (apples), iron ore, timber, coal, tile and firebrick, cement, chemical, coke plants, and limestone. Farmland in the county is generally well drained but wet soils would require some type of artificial drainage system (USDA, Soil Survey 1998).

The Western Alleghany Plateau Ecoregion covered portions of eastern Ohio, southwestern Pennsylvania, northwestern West Virginia, and a small piece of northeastern Kentucky. The ecoregion covers approximately 26 million acres and is about 72 percent forest and 23 percent agriculture. The forests represent relicts of ancient mesic forests that once covered much of the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere (Omernik 1987). Today, examples of these forests can only be found in the southeast region of North America and in eastern and central China making these forests important for plant diversity.

According to the Lawrence County Soil Survey produced by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in 1998, “orchard crops have historically been an economic resource for the county including apples, pears and peaches. Lawrence County was a leading producer of apples in Ohio until disease and insects caused a decline. Further, planting orchards on the hillsides allowed for better air circulation which benefitted the fruit production” (USDA, Soil Survey 1998).

From the early 1800s to about 1900, most of the timber in the western part of the county was cut for charcoal to supply blast furnaces for the smelting of locally mined iron ore. The area had also been burned over many times by fires started along the railroad which ran though the forest to serve the iron and mining industries in the county. When the land was purchased in 1916 to create the Dean State Forest, there were few trees that remained leaving the soil exposed and eroding. The land was used as an early reforestation experimental area to determine the best species and planting methods for replenishing the native trees. Plantings that were carried out in areas along State Route 373 (accessible from State Route 93) are the results of those experiments with the State Forest.

In the early 1930s, a Civilian Conservation Camp (CCC) was located on the forest. Camp personnel constructed and improved access roads, planted trees and worked toward forest restoration. Today, the State Forest contains an unbroken block of approximately 2,745 acres of forest land (Dean State Forest 2015).

The orientation of historic incorporated and unincorporated villages and towns seemed to have changed over the years in some instances and some no longer exist today. The following is brief observations from historic documents and maps that were noted during research. Our research is based on past documents and it was noted also that opinions of the time varied, spelling of villages, apple varieties and people’s names varied. Farmers wrote articles to agricultural publications based on their experiences and methods, so while something may work for one farmer, it may not have worked for another. The opinions of individuals about the different apple varieties also varied; more so a personal preference. Our family at Hillgate Farm grew up with an apple variety that would be likely too tart for some today but we thought it had the most wonderful taste.

From an historic perspective some villages within the county are no longer viable, some historically are not exactly in the same locations as today and the names may have changed. For an overview of some areas that maybe pertinent to this report or historic documents that others may visit, the following provides observed changes from historic documents to what is known today:

The former name of the area north and east of village of Proctorville was known as Quaker’s Bottom and many of the residents of the 1800s signed their letters and articles as ‘Quakers Bottom’ rather than Proctorville. The name ‘Labelle’ was also used for this area of Rome Township. ‘Getaway’ was known as ‘Unionville’ and was slightly north of the current ‘Getaway’. ‘Solida Creek’ was actually Salliday Creek named after the Salliday family. Prior to entering Athalia from the south side was known as ‘Haskellville’ (some spellings were Haskelville) and observed closer to the Ohio River. The village of ‘Miller’ as it is known today was formerly known as ‘Millersport’ and consisted of businesses and shipping on the Ohio River. The village of ‘New Castle’ mentioned frequently in historic documents was located in Hamilton Township in the upper northeast corner of section 6. The county fairgrounds were once located in the approximate location of the current Ohio University Southern Campus and later moved to the Proctorville area where it is located today. The Green Bottom wetland located on the West Virginia side of the Ohio River across from ‘Crown City’ and the eastern end of the county was known as the Great Bottom where buffalo were frequently seen during the mid-1800s. ‘Rockwood’ was the name of the current Chesapeake area named after the Rockwood Mining Company that owned land in that area. ‘Coryville’ was just east of the confluence of Symmes Creek and the Ohio River. ‘Braderick’ was observed on older maps closer to the Ohio River than its current location. The western end of the county was primarily mining, iron furnaces and other extraction industries while the eastern end of the county was focused more on the farming industry. Townships in which iron and mining companies owned land were Symmes, Upper, Lawrence, Hamilton, Elizabeth, Decatur and Perry Township to some degree.

Origins of the apple were traced to Kazakhstan, the home of the apple forests. The biological importance of these forests is in the diversity and genetics of the different varieties. These forests are continuing to decline due to development and other uses of the land in that region. The reason for saving the older varieties of apples is the same as saving the apple forests of Kazakhstan: to expand and maintain diversity (Pollan 2002).

For our project, our interest morphed from collecting and saving already known antique/heirloom apple varieties to interest of developing unknown varieties from seed in a forest setting rather than an orchard. This diversity from seed and unknowns became significant based on two things; the apple trees at Hillgate Farm that were already growing from historic seed and producing good fruit without pruning, spraying or other management, and the heirloom/antique trees that we found in the State of West Virginia, Ohio and other states that were still flourishing. The interesting thing about researching a particular topic is we notice the apple everywhere we go; every tree standing, bearing fruit, or flowering now catches our eye.

The University of Illinois Extension (2015) produced some interesting facts about apples on their website titled ‘Apples and more’, including but not limited to the following:

Apples are grown commercially in 36 states.

  • The science of apple growing is called pomology.
  • Apples are a great source of the fiber pectin. One apple has five grams of fiber.
  • Apple varieties range in size from a little larger than a cherry to as large as a grapefruit.
  • The pilgrims planted the first United States apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
  • The average size of a United States orchard is 50 acres.
  • Many growers use dwarf apple trees.
  • Apples have five seed pockets or carpels. Each pocket contains seeds. The number of seeds per carpel is determined by the vigor and health of the plant. Different varieties of apples will have different number of seeds.
  • World's top apple producers are China, United States, Turkey, Poland and Italy.
  • The Lady or Api apple is one of the oldest varieties in existence.
  • Newton Pippin apples were the first apples exported from America in 1768, some were sent to Benjamin Franklin in London.
  • In 1730, the first apple nursery was opened in Flushing, New York.
  • A bushel of apples weighs about 42 pounds and will yield 20-24 quarts of applesauce.
  • It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider.
  • Almost one out of every four apples harvested in the United States is exported.
  • National Apple Month is the only national, generic apple promotion conducted in the United States. Originally founded in 1904 as National Apple Week, it was expanded in 1996 to a three-month promotional window from September through November. (University of Illinois Extension 2015)

During the 1800s and on into the 1900s, Lawrence County was well known for its fruit orchards and other farming activities. Historic documents indicate that from one thousand to ten thousand trees were scattered in each of the fourteen townships. Hillgate’s research however, found that large tracts of land in a number of townships listed in Section 2.0 of this report were owned by the iron and mining industry and the iron furnace owners. When the iron industry began to decline and eventually close in the late 1800s and early 1900s the land was left eroded and timberless much due to the making of charcoal for the iron furnaces. The USDA Wayne National Forest and Dean State Forest were established on most of the old iron furnace and mining lands after the decline so there was little farming that took hold either before or after those industries closed. There was no evidence those townships laden with iron and mining had extensive apple orchards although some could have existed.
The townships heavily planted with apple orchards included Rome, Windsor, Union, Fayette, and Perry Townships. A map of the townships and list of farmers in Lawrence County can be found in Appendix A. It was important for orchardists to own land close to rail or river for shipping. Each year more apple trees were planted within the townships and at one time it was thought that the county had over 300,000 apple trees. Lawrence County apple growers were well known for the award of premiums at the Ohio State Fair and Industrial Exposition and at other state and national apples shows. Many varieties developed by these historic growers may never be known outside of Lawrence County. The Daily Register (Ironton, 1900 – 1925) published an industrial section of the paper which described briefly the Apple Show and Old Home Coming held in Ironton in 1914 (Library of Congress, Daily Register). There was no information as to how many years the Apple Show was held.

The apple orchards of Lawrence County enjoyed a long prosperity, as did many orchards within the state until insect attacks and disease began to discourage orchardists. Historic documents began discussing those issues around the early 1800s as the orchards became larger and more extensive the problem grew. This led to experiments and investigations on preventative measures. To explain why disease and other problems began to occur we have to look at how apple trees reproduce. Apples do not reproduce true to type, which means that the tree from the seed will produce apples that are almost certain to be different than the parent. Trees grown from seeds tend to be biologically very diverse, which means the tree may have bitter and/or small inferior fruit nothing like the parent (historically called ‘spitters’). The only way to replicate the same ‘Rome Beauty’ or ‘Ensee’ apple was for the growers to clone their favorites by grafting them. Once grown in monoculture, these popular apple varieties become stripped of the genetic diversity the trees rely on for survival against insects, bacteria and viruses.

Further, most apple trees are not self-fertile/self-unfruitful which means their blossoms must be fertilized with the pollen of a separate variety blooming nearby at the same time in order to achieve good fruit set in both mature trees. So, if you had one variety of apple tree like the Cameo, you would need a different apple variety, like a Rome Beauty to pollinate it (cross-pollination). The fruit produced will be the same as the parent tree, but the seeds will be a cross of the two varieties. This pollination is aided by bees, the wind, etc. Cross-pollination does not affect the color or appearance of the fruit, the combined genetic material occurs in the seeds.

During the late 1890s, scientific papers were written about the use of a new concept of spraying fruit trees to protect against insects and disease. Professor W. J. Green with the Ohio Experiment Station in Wooster Ohio conducted experiments in some orchards using spraying as protection. Professor Green asked Nelson Cox, a Lawrence County orchardist to try the experiment on his southern Ohio orchard. Mr. Cox agreed but it was Nelson’s son, U.T. Cox, which actually conducted the experimentation with spraying under the direction of Professor Green. The results were very positive and led to a renewed interest in orcharding (Ohio State Horticultural Society 1905).

During the 1970s until present, the apple industry in Lawrence County continued to decline. Orchards were removed to make way for new residential housing and businesses. Apple trees stood in the village of Proctorville until they were removed to make way for fill material and businesses. Mr. Gillett from Proctorville was remembered by all as he set up his fruit stand in front of the Fairland schools to sell apples and in the fall he provided pumpkins for the students. The last of the Gillett orchard was removed over the past couple of years for row crops. The Labelle and Quakers Bottom area which was once blanketed with apple trees is now blanketed with a crop of residential housing and businesses. The old apple house at Quaker Bottom was converted into a home and is still standing and several storage barns and loading docks that many of the individual farmers used are still standing.

The townships once filled with the most apple trees are now some of the most developed areas of the county. Remnant trees still exist but are much fewer in numbers and difficult to locate given the changes in the county. As one resident recalls, “the hills were once filled with so many apple blossoms, it looked like a blanket of snow.”

A map of the townships and list of farmers in Lawrence County can be found in Appendix A. The farmers were identified through historic land ownership, correlation with family cemeteries within the county and agricultural reports and documents from various time periods. Many of these early settlers still have family still living in Lawrence County and surprisingly, many are living on the same property as their early ancestors. While farmers are listed in Appendix A, there were many other families that contributed in other ways to the apple industry and agriculture such as the store owners, shippers and transporters, apple house owners, those that picked the apples and many more.

One of the most valuable documents for researching historic agriculture in the mid-1800s in Ohio was the newspaper/journal known as The Ohio Cultivator which was dedicated to helping farmers and even its brief existence yielded an abundance of information. Founded in Columbus by M.B. Bateham in 1845, the newspaper remained in operation until the Civil War when it was merged with the Ohio Farmer newspaper. The Ohio Cultivator published letters and articles written by farmers about their experiences and trial and error farming methods and techniques. Farmers shared their ideas, seeds, and plants, asked for advice, provided advice, wrote articles and more. New tools and equipment were published for sale in the paper and the networking capabilities of the farmers across the country grew by sharing and working together. The Ohio Cultivator helped unite Ohio's farmers. The Ohio State Board of Agriculture provided an avenue for showcasing the products and skills of Ohio’s farmers through the county fairs and the Ohio State Fair. Improved farming techniques spread across the state and the productivity of Ohio's farms increased. According to the Ohio Historical Society’s website Ohio History Central, “with the support of The Ohio Cultivator, several Ohio farmers established the Ohio State Board of Agriculture in June 1845. The Ohio legislature recognized the group, and the board proceeded to establish county fairs across Ohio. Every Ohio County was to have its own branch of the Ohio State Board of Agriculture. Members of the county groups would agree on their individual needs and lobby the legislature to assist them through legislative acts. The county fairs would celebrate farmers and their contributions to Ohio's economy. In 1849, the Ohio State Board of Agriculture established the Ohio State Fair, but a cholera epidemic forced the fair's cancellation. The City of Cincinnati hosted the first Ohio State Fair in 1850. The fair lasted three days.” (Ohio History Connection website)

4.1 From Marietta Ohio to Lawrence County
The following history was pieced together from a number of historic documents including the Western Farmer and Gardner 1846, C.E. Dickinson, author of “A History of Belpre” (1920), “A History of the Putnam Family in England and America” written by Eben Putnam 1908, “The Book of Marietta” (1906), Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station (1918), “A Standard History of the Hanging Rock Iron Region of Ohio” (1916), the “Twenty-first Annual Report of the Ohio State Board of Agriculture” (1866-7), Hildreth books (1852, 1864, 1844, 1848), paper by Marilyn Logue from the Belpre Farmers Library “First in the Northwest Territory”, the Market Growers Journals (1909), the Ohio Cultivator news (1847), and the “Ninth Session of the Ohio Pomological Society” (1859). Some of the historic information was confusing and inconsistent but was pulled from a number of documents to correlate for accuracy.

Many of the early settlers to the Northwest Territory brought fruit trees from their homes or grafts from choice varieties. As noted in the University of Illinois’ Extension facts in Section 3.0, “the pilgrims planted the first United States apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony” so the apple had been in America for some time prior to opening the Northwest Territory. The story of the Lawrence County apple orchards began at their origins in Marietta Ohio, the location of the first settlement of the Northwest Territory and home of Colonel Israel Putnam. The Putnam family originated from Buckinghamshire England and played a role in supplying many apple varieties brought to Lawrence County from Marietta.

When twenty years of age, Israel Putnam married Hannah Pope of Salem and in 1739 he and his brother-in-law together bought five hundred and fourteen acres in Connecticut. After a couple of years, Putnam bought out his partner and became the sole owner of what he called “Putnam Farm." Although Massachusetts born, he stayed on his farm located between the villages of Pomfret and Brooklyn. The fruits which he raised were considered the best in New England at that time. His orchards are often referred to in historic documents as ‘Putnam Orchards’. For clarification, General Israel Putnam remained in Connecticut, while his son, Colonel Israel Putnam moved to Marietta, Ohio.

Marietta was the first settlement in the Northwest Territory; Belpre (Belle-prairie) was the second. The Ohio Company of Associates, established in Marietta, had supported provisions in the ordinance to allow veterans to use their warrants to purchase the land. The Ohio Company purchased 1.5 million acres of land from Congress. The ordinances of the Ohio Company required all recipients of donated lands that they set out fruit trees immediately upon settlement.

In 1795, a 100-acre tract of bottomland along the Muskingum River about six miles from Marietta was settled by Colonel Joseph Barker. (Seen on aerial photographs today, this land is in the sharp bend of the Muskingum and is still used for farming). Colonel Barker had brought young apple and cherry trees for planting on his new farmland. After clearing about two acres, the apple trees were planted but the varieties were unknown. Eventually Colonel Israel Putnam settled in Marietta on the banks of the Muskingum River near the home of Colonel Barker. Note: the Colonel Barker house is still standing and in use and near the Putnam family cemetery, the former location of Colonel Putnam’s farm.

Aaron Waldo (A.W.) Putnam, son of Colonel Israel Putnam and grandson of General Israel Putnam was born in 1767 in Pomfret, Connecticut. In 1788, Aaron accompanied his father to Marietta, Ohio bringing some useful materials with them for settlement. At that time, Israel Putnam did not move his entire family to Marietta. In 1795, apple scions were sent to Marietta from the ‘Putnam Orchards’ in Connecticut. In journal accounts, the 23 varieties were carried from New England were packed in beeswax in saddlebags and arrived in Belpre Ohio in May 1796. The day after their arrival, trees were grafted with the scions brought from New England to Ohio. This was thought to be possibly the first time grafting had been utilized in the Northwest Territory. A list of scions provided were as follows: Putnam Russet, Seek-no-Further, Early Chandler, Late Chandler, Gilly Flower, Pound Royal, Naturalings, Rhode Island Greening, Yellow Greening, Golden Pippin, Long Island Pippin, Tallman Sweeting, Streaked Sweeting, Honey Sweeting, Kent Pippin Cooper Apple, Streaked Gillyflower, Beauty, Queening, Englin’s Pearmain, Green Pippin, and Spitzenberg. The Roxbury Russet was known in Southeastern Ohio as the Putnam Russet.

In the winter of 1803-1804, again a trip was made to New England to obtain more apple grafts and return them to the Marietta area. Eventually, A.W. Putnam established a nursery on his farm in Belpre Ohio where he had settled and continued to bring grafts from the New England area to Ohio. The sales for apples and cider at the Ohio orchards were substantial according to records kept by William Putnam. The list of apples in the Putnam Nursery were the same as the list from 1794 with the additional English Pearmain, Pound Pippin, Colvert Sweeting, Bellflower, Rocking Hand, Detroit Early, Cathead, Muskingum, Rhode Island Greening, Bellflower, Summer Sweet, Ladies Thigh (or Pearmain), Long Island Greening, Belle Bonne.

The nursery consisted of 32 rows and approximately one-third were grafted with Russet. Labels had been lost from one package of scions and were likely the row of ‘Greenings’ and recorded as ‘variety’. Rows 20 and 21 were referred to as ‘Muskingum’. As a side note, settlers often referred to seedlings as ‘naturalings’. It was from this orchard along the river that the Rome Beauty originated and according to Putnam family history, A. W. Putnam had built a larger new home around 1800 after living in his first house which was a log cabin close to the river. Mr. Joel Gillett had been living in the cabin leased from Putnam for about one year and was going to move to Rome Township in Lawrence County Ohio. Before leaving for Lawrence County in 1816, Gillett took a number of grafted apple trees and paid twenty-five cents each. One sprout cut from a grafted Russet scion was cut off and treated as an original seedling and this sprout, according to the historic Putnam account, was the Rome Beauty as it is known today.

The Putnam orchards and nursery were still in existence in the early 1800s, and according to C.E. Dickinson, author of “A History of Belpre”, Aaron Waldo Putnam’s (son of Colonel Israel Putnam) house was described as “this Putnam House, painted white, and standing in the margin of the plain, or second bottom, and surrounded by orchards, became a conspicuous object to travelers on the ‘Belle Riviere’ as there was at that time little besides wilderness and log cabins between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.”

Joel Gillett and family made their way down the Ohio River and purchased approximately 100-acres in southern Rome Township next to the river where he built a log house. With the grafted fruit trees brought from the Putnam nursery, Joel planted an apple orchard on his property. During the planting, the sprout that was an original sprout cut from the Russet grafted scion was given to his 14 year-old son, Alanson, for planting. Young Alanson planted his seedling down by the Ohio River. On that same day, a young man named Thomas Gardner helped with setting out Joel’s orchard. Gardner also became a well-known farmer and orchardist in the area.

A few years later, Alanson’s tree was producing such nice fruit that people began to take notice of “Gillette’s seedling” as it was called initially. The fruit was red and juicy and tasted sweet. Horatio Nelson “H.N.” Gillett, a cousin of Alanson’s and a son of Zebulon Gillett, was the first person to collect scions from Alanson’s apple tree for grafting. Other farmers also began to take scions of the tree. H.N. Gillett started a nursery and began to promote this new apple. In about 1830, a neighbor, George Walton, named the apple the “Rome Beauty” apple in honor of Rome Township and the fine appearance of the fruit. After this, most of the orchards in southern Ohio contained mostly the Rome Beauty apple. The original tree lived on a sandy knoll in a corner of a field near the Ohio River. The original tree stood on the banks of the Ohio River until 1860 when it was undermined and washed away by high water.
H. N. Gillett brought the Rome Beauty to the attention of the Ohio Convention of Fruit Growers in 1848 as published in the Ohio Cultivator in 1849. The Rome Beauty apple tree was described in the bulletin as “the tree was vigorous in growth, the main branches upright and divergent and laterals often spreading or drooping. Older bark is brown, light olive-brown or yellowish. Twigs are slender reddish brown, leaves of medium size. Apple scab is the most serious disease of this variety which attacks fruit and leaves. Trees are consistent bearers of fruit year after year. The fruit is large, roundish, inclined to conical, with a rather broad flattened base, stem is long and slender and not well attached to the apple, skin is thin and tough, smooth and fairly glossy, with some gray scarfskin over the base, ground color yellow, mottled and streaked with bright crimson, the coloring varies with the location with the best colored fruits produced on higher elevations while river-bottom fruit was deficient in color. Flesh is nearly white and a little coarse, firm and crisp until mature, moderately juicy, flavor mild subacid, with a mild aroma. Rome Beauty is considered a late bloomer with fruit ready for picking the third week of October. The fruit seems better for cooking approximately 6-8 weeks after maturity.”

The following is an article submitted to the Western Farmer and Gardner by H. N. Gillett in 1846. The article provides a list of apples that were growing on Gillett’s farm during this period (Western Farmer and Gardner 1846). Since he had a nursery on his farm and sold fruit trees, the following apples are likely to have been sold and distributed to other farmers in Lawrence County and elsewhere. These names also match the apples described earlier that Joel Gillett carried from Belpre Ohio from the nursery of A. W. Putnam.

Reference Appendix B to view illustrations of some apple varieties listed in this section.

I observe that one of your correspondents, Mr. Brady, wishes someone to give advice about selecting fruit trees for planting an orchard. As the invitation appears to be of a general character, and as inquiries, too frequently, go unanswered, I will take the liberty to recommend the following list of apples; judging from the fact that a list of pears, plums, & cherries recently appeared in the Farmer, that apples are what he wants:
For June — Southern Queen, Carolina May, Bracken Early, and Early Queen.
For July — Pound Royal, Early Chandler, Sugar Sweet.
For August—Summer Seek-no-further, Benoni, Summer Queen.
For September—Long Pearmain, Pumpkin Sweet, Cooper.
For October—Honey-greening, Eighteen-ounce Pippin, Poppy-greening.
For November—Mammoth, Fall Pippin, Lancaster Lady-finger.
For December—Blackheart, Blue Pearmain, Bowen's Imperial Reeflet.
For January—Golden Russet, Big Hill, Windower.
For Fobruary—Pryor's Red, Carolina Red, Baldwin Queening, London Pippin, Esopus Spitzenburg, Hubbardston Nonesuch, Gibbs' Seedling. For March—Roxbury Russet, Yellow Newtown Pippin, Green Newtown Pippin
For April — Golden Harvey, American Marygold, Red Cedar.
For May — Reinette French, Winter Queen, Lansingburg.
Winter Apples, for June—Crawford's Keeper, Rolen's Keeper, Virginia Keeper.

The above selections are made from more than 200 sorts of very choice apples growing on my farm. And, with few exceptions, are very productive; large, handsome, and decidedly first-rate. As I am a dear lover of a first-rate apple, and have lived in a neighborhood where apples are extensively grown for export, for thirty years; have navigated our western rivers many years, and observed every apple and apple-market that came in my way, worthy of note, I make some pretensions to know what sorts are most desirable.

There are many other very desirable sorts cultivated in this neighborhood; but no better than the above, all things considered. Mr. Brady, of course, will consult his own interests and convenience, and plant a large or small proportion of early apples, as he may deem best. Sorts that mature very early, and those that keep till spring, generally sell best.

The Gillet's Seedling originated in this township, (Rome) and is frequently called Rome Beauty; is a very vigorous grower; a very young, constant, and profuse bearer, and will, perhaps, pay better than any other sort, though not equal to many other varieties in point of flavor.

You have been exceedingly fortunate, in procuring the services of men so eminently qualified to write for an agricultural paper. I feel quite anxious, for one, and no doubt many others do, to know their names.

Yours, H. N. GILLETT.
Quaker Bottom, L. C, Ohio.

Another article written by H. N. Gillett for the Ohio Pomological Society is as follows:
(Transactions of the Ohio Pomological Society 1859).

My father, ZEBULON GILLETT, planted the first nursery in this county, in the spring of 1817. I think it was the only nursery on either side of the Ohio river, between Belpre and Cincinnati, except small lots of seedlings planted by the French in their gardens at Gallipolis, and in the French Grant (these were nearly or perhaps all transplanted without grafting), and another nursery planted by Mr. Firman, of Firman’s Bottom, Kentucky, seven miles below Portsmouth, Ohio.

Mr. Firman squatted on a tract of land which ‘belonged to a man by the name of Jerome, not at that time a. resident of the country, and immediately planted a large quantity of apple seeds. He also felled the timber on something near one hundred acres of land, and planted the same with trees from this nursery, or, more properly, seed-bed. This orchard was principally planted among the fallen timber, and with little regard to form or order, and apparently with but one object in view, which was to get as many bearing trees as possible on the ground in the shortest space of time. A small portion of these trees were grafted. I well recollect the Priestly, and the Milam, and a. sort quite common in Virginia and Kentucky, called ‘Pearmain (an excellent little apple), and an apple called Golden Pippin.

This orchard, notwithstanding the slovenly way it was planted, presenting the appearance of having been sowed broadcast, flourished and produced well, on that exceeding rich virgin soil, for a few years, and large quantities of apples were shipped annually to New Orleans ; but this state of things did not continue long. I visited the orchard in Sept, 1819. It was then in full bearing, and the fruit perfect and healthy.

Some few years after, the bitter-rot made its appearance and in a short time attacked nearly every sort in the orchard. It was here that this fatal scourge originated. 1 am quite unable to decide in my own opinion as to the cause of this malady.

The sorts of apples first planted and propagated in this, Quaker Bottom, by my father, are mostly included in-the following list:

Early Chandler, Prolific Beauty, Summer Sweeting, Bellyboon, or Belle et Bonn, Pound Royal, Wapperyaw Sweeting, Early Bow, Yellow Pumpkin Sweet, Golden, Molasses Apple,
August Sweeting, Muskingum Red Streak, Summer Seek-no-further, Long Island Pippin, Striped Gilliflower, Gray Pippin, Cornish Gilliflower, Newtown Pippin, green, Black Gilliflower, Rhode Island Greening, Long Pearmain, Hunt’s Russet, Fall Spitzenberg, Roxbury Russet,
Sugar and Water, English Gold Russet, Cooper, Honey Greening, Poppy Greenup, English Pearmain, White June eating, Blue Pearmain, Queening, Summer Harvey, etc.

The above named sorts we brought down the river, at the time we purchased the farm that I now occupy. Some four or five years after, we procured from an old Quaker (an itinerant tree peddler), a goodly number of sorts, among which were the following:

Yellow Bellflower, Rawle’s Geniton, Fall Pippin, Winter Tart, Dayton Pippin, Summer Queen (incorrect), Monstrous Pippin, Bed Vandervere, Neverfail, Jersey Sweet, Blue Pearmain (incorrect), Vandervere Pippin, Carthouse, And many others withoutname.

The Rome Beauty, as you are aware, was also planted here by my uncle, Joel Gillett, at the time my father made the first planting here. Uncle Joel and my father both died before this famous seedling came in bearing, and it fell to my lot to be the first to discover its valuable qualities, and to propagate from it, and bring it into notice. This apple is now being planted in this region of country, almost to the exclusion of all other winter sorts, for market purposes, yielding two or three times greater profit than any other sort.

Thomas Gardner, a neighbor of my father, also planted a nursery in this (Quaker) Bottom, but a few years after my father came here, perhaps in 1820, or thereabout. His stock was exclusively of Putnam’s varieties, obtained direct from Israel Putnam, of Washington County.

But a few years after, Titon Kemble, Esq., planted a small nursery in this Bottom, principally for his own use. His varieties were mostly the same as the above, the balance from Putnam’s.

Most respectfully yours,

The following was also an article from the Pomological Society and written by Mr. George Dana, Jr. from Belpre Ohio.

The early settlers of Washington County were nearly all from New England. Coming to this then far-off country, they supplied themselves with seeds of' the different kinds of fruits, grains and vegetables they were accustomed to at home, and prominent among these were the apple, peach, pear and cherry. The garden patch, first cleared, received these, to be transplanted in a year or two into the first few acres cleared. The soil and climate were congenial; the trees grew at once, thriftily, and in a very few years yielded fruit. We can now hardly realize how easily everything of the kind would come to maturity. There are still some remains of those orchards of natural fruit, but most of them have disappeared. Take my father’s farm, to illustrate: It was located on by my grandfather in 1790. Some four or five acres on the bank of the river were cleared the first season, and apple seedlings, as soon as large enough, transplanted to it. Some few of these still remain. There was some fair fruit in it, but none that we have thought worth propagating. Pears, peaches and cherries seemed in their native element, flourished without signs of disease, and produced bountifully the most luscious fruit. This continued with the pear about thirty years, when they began to be affected with blight, and by 1830 they were mostly all dead. Pears, ever since, have been very uncertain. The peach, about this time, began to be diseased, and soon acquired, and has continued to bear, the same character for uncertainty it has in other parts of the State. Cherries have also much deteriorated.

In 1796, Israel Putnam, who lived on the Muskingum River, six miles above Marietta, returned to New England, partly to get scions of the choicest apples there and partly on other business. He obtained quite a quantity—a one-horse wagon load—and hired a man to bring them out. The man delivered the scions, as directed, but went on with the horse and wagon, which were never regained. A list of some of the leading kinds brought out by Israel Putnam was published in the Ohio Cultivator in 1846. I am informed by L. I. P. Putnam, a son of Israel Putnam, that this list embraces only about half of the kinds. There were some forty or fifty of them. The record of them has been lost—at least we have not been able as yet to find it.

A portion of these scions were distributed to the settlers, who had trees, to engraft. Thus we find in the old orchards, now and then, a large engrafted tree. My grandfather had a few of the scions, and some of the trees engrafted with them are still standing ; among them the Putnam Russet, Holstone Sweeting, Harvey Stripe, and Queening, showing kinds not published by Mr. Bateham, and thus confirming what L. I. P. Putnam says about the original list. I will hope yet to find this list, or to get the names of part of the kinds, if not all.*

Israel Putnam, on the Muskingum River, and his brother, Aaron Waldow Putnam, living in Belpre, opposite Blennerhasset Island, immediately commenced the nursery business. They were from Pomfret, Connecticut. The first trees planted were now yielding some apples, from which they obtained seed sufficient for a small beginning. The scions brought from New England, not distributed, were used by the two brothers to commence with. These were the only two men who carried on the nursery business or cultivated trees for sale, till my father commenced, about the year 1817. I have tried to obtain the early records of these two nurseries, but they have been destroyed, or cannot now be found. These nurseries were kept up till the death of the proprietors, which occurred about 1821. Both died nearly the same time. A. W. Putnam, of Belpre, had just engrafted 16,000—1 suppose the largest number he had ever done in one year. The business was wound up by their executors, and the nurseries discontinued. I cannot obtain very definite information about the extent of their business. I suppose a large part was local, or to the country within forty or fifty miles of them. But they had some orders from Kentucky, Cincinnati, and Louisiana, and sometimes they sent boat loads down the river to sell. Their price was usually 25 cts. each, or $20 per hundred. They confined their attention principally to the apple.

*The following is the list referred to above as published in the Ohio Cultivator in 1846, and furnished to Mr. Bateham by Mr. Wm. B. Putnam, who was a son of the first nurseryman, and claimed to have the original list in his possession:

1. Putnam Russet. 7. Natural (seedling). 13. Striped Sweeting. 19. Prolific Beauty. 2. Seek-no-further. 8. R. 1. Greening. 14. Honey Greening. 20. Queening.
8. Early Chandler. 9. Yellow Greening. 15. Kent Pippin. 21. Eng. Pearmain. 4. Late Chandler. 10. Golden Pippin. 16. Cooper Apple. 22. Green Pippin. 5 Gillyflower (Red). 11. Longlsland Pippin. 17. Striped gillyflower. 23. Spitzenberg.
6. Pound Royal. 12. Talman Sweeting. 18. Black Gillyflower.

One-third or one-half of the above varieties have long since been lost, or dropped from cultivation, as not being profitable.

In 1816, A. W. Putnam introduced four additional kinds from New England: Baldwin, Pound Royal, Ribston Pippin, and Siberian Crab.

My father commenced a nursery about 1817, enlarging it gradually. For a long time this was the only nursery in the county. He did not attempt to do a very large business. His sales were principally to those who came to get trees for their own use. Since I became associated with him, in 1845, I have had the principal charge of it. It is now much larger than ever before.
Among all the apples brought out from New England, or introduced here, the Putnam Russet soon became the prominent one. In 1810 or 11, whole orchards were planted of it, and perhaps the nurseries cultivated nearly as many Russets as of all other kinds. It has continued to be the prominent apple till within a few years. Now the Rome Beauty is most in demand. Many kinds that did well for a number of years, have become diseased or worthless, but the Russet still maintains its good name. It has never been a trait of our nurserymen to be seeking for new kinds, and hence but few were introduced after the first, till they were common in other parts of the State. The Russet they found a great, sure and constant bearer, of all good, well-matured apples, superior for eating, cooking, drying and cider, and it still maintains its character, although, abroad, the Rome Beauty is now most in demand.

Belpre, 0. Geo. DANA, Jr.

These articles published in the Pomology Proceedings provide some background as to the varieties of apple trees that were historically planted in Lawrence County and southeastern Ohio. Before going on further with the apple varieties note the connections with the Gillett family to other farmers and orchardists in the County (this is not inclusive). The Gillett family members were related to other families that also made their home in Lawrence County including Thomas Gardner (Joel’s son-in-law), Elhanen Winchester Wakefield, George Washington Wakefield, William Reed, D.W. Jones, Charles Radford and Emily Reckard, Mark Singer, Nelson Cox and U.T. Cox and others not listed. In a letter written to the Ohio Cultivator April 1847, H. N Gillett talks about their farmers club meeting at Quakers Bottom and that Thomas Gardner once lived with Israel Putnam in Marietta and performed most of his grafting.

Also the spelling of the ‘Gillett’ name varies in historic documents and included but not limited to Gylett, Gyllett, Gillett, Gillet, Gillette. Joel Gillett’s great grandson, U.T. Cox and U.T.’s father, Nelson, are mentioned in the continued history below.

The Ensee apple originated on the farm of Nelson Cox in Lawrence County, Ohio (current property and home owned by Mary Ann Ater located on Greasy Ridge and previously owned in 1847 by Roswell Gardner) and began to bear good crops as early as 1895. The Ensee was noted as a family apple for dessert and cooking, and as a highly ranked commercial variety. A farmer, Mr. Ballou grew this apple variety in Newark Ohio for several years and in that market his customers preferred them to any other variety through the winter.

The trees bloomed as early as the Grimes or soon after and the buds and bloom tolerated frost well. The Rome Beauties on the other hand were more readily damaged. Mr. Ballou showed the Ensee’s at the state fair one year and were deemed to be the showiest apples on exhibition.

The Ohio Experiment Station had a number of the Ensee’s growing on the station ground as well as other orchards in Ohio. Mr. Ballou indicated that a grower in northern Ohio says it was better adapted to their location and climate than the Rome Beauty. Opinion was that the Ensee retained its juiciness throughout the winter unlike the Rome Beauty. The Ensee apple trees were obtainable from many nurseries although the names of those nurseries are unknown (Ohio Farmer 1921).

The following is an article written by Mr. F.H. Ballou regarding the Ensee Apple for the Ohio Report on Research and Development, Volumes 4-6 (Botanical Abstracts 1921)

An Ohio Variety Coming Into Prominence
Unfamiliar to many growers. It is remarkable, in this era of extravagant praise and lavish use of brilliant-hued printers' ink in illustrating new varieties of fruits, that so excellent an apple as the Ensee should be so unproclaimedly discovered, and so quietly and locally propagated, planted, grown and marketed, that comparatively few orchardists are aware of its existence. For, in the estimation of the small number of apple growers who are familiar with the Ensee, as well as in that of the writer, nature has not, within the past quarter of a century, bestowed upon the fruit culturists a new, late-keeping winter apple possessing quite so many attributes of unusual merit.

The Ensee first appeared as a seedling (doubtlessly of the famed Rome Beauty) at the old farmstead of Nelson Cox, in Lawrence County, Ohio.

While the valuable characteristics of the Ensee for southern Ohio conditions were undiscovered at the time the original tree bore its first fruit, the passing years have proved its right to a prominent place among varieties of apples long recognized as standards for that section. Yet its name and its excellence are known in but few localities outside of the county in which it originated.

Comparison with Rome Beauty. The peculiar merits of the Ensee apple perhaps can best be demonstrated by comparison: the Rome Beauty long has been the standard variety for commercial planting in southern Ohio; and for this purpose its excellence is fully and widely recognized at the present time. The Ensee, the writer is confident, under conditions of soil and climate favorable to Rome Beauty, will not prove disappointing even as a substitute. It is similar and equal to its long popular parent in a number of respects, and far superior in dessert quality.

Trees of Ensee, in habit of growth, are strikingly similar to Rome Beauty, being upright in form while young, but becoming more spreading and drooping with advancing age and heavy fruit bearing. The bark of young trees of Ensee is noticeably lighter in color than that of the Rome Beauty, being a golden-brown instead of mixed brownish-red and green as is that of the latter named variety.

It occasionally has been observed that the Ensee does not make quite so vigorous a growth as the Rome Beauty during the years immediately following its planting in the orchard. This may be true to a certain but unimportant extent. The Rome Beauty itself is quite variable in this respect, generally thriving on light, well drained upland and the sandy and gravelly soils of the river valleys, but making very slow growth on soils that are heavy, cold and poorly drained, such as abound in the level agricultural areas of western and northern Ohio. It is the writer's observation that trees of the Ensee are so familiar in form, vigor and regularity of fruit bearing, to those of Rome Beauty, that there need be no hesitation in planting it on soils adapted to culture of its famous progenitor.

The Ensee, like its parent, is a truly winter variety. Fully as late in maturity, the fruit clings with equal tenacity to the trees until late in autumn, affording the orchardist ample opportunity to halves'; the crop. In coloring it is fully equal if not superior to Rome Beauty. In form, also, Ensee is similar; perhaps slightly more oblate or flattened—not quite so corneal.
The flesh of the Ensee is yellowish, crisp, rich and delightful; and its crispness, juiciness and high quality are retained long after the naturally lower-quality flesh of Rome Beauty has become dry or "mealy" and deficient in such flavor as renders the latter fairly acceptable for dessert use during its prime in early and midwinter. Ensee is an excellent storage apple.
Responds to good treatment. Never before in its brief history did the Ensee apple trees and orchards of Ohio produce finer fruit than in the season of 1920. With generous feeding and thorough spraying now so generally and intelligently practiced by orchardists in the hilly section of southern Ohio, and plenteous moisture during the period of development, the fruit was unusually large and perfect, while its attractive appearance and rich, luscious quality was exceedingly pleasing alike to growers, buyers and consumers.

Why the Ensee apple has not been more largely propagated and planted is difficult to understand. Less valuable varieties have been noisily discovered, ardently praised through advertising, heavily propagated, the trees sold by hundreds of thousands and planted throughout the length and breadth of our country while, at the present time, we are not aware of a single nursery firm that is giving special publicity to the Ensee if, indeed, it is included in their lists at all.

4.2 Agricultural Societies and Clubs in Lawrence County
The Lawrence County Agricultural Society was organized in May 1847 and the first public meeting was held at the Burlington Courthouse (Burlington was the first county seat but was later moved to Ironton).

The following officers were appointed:
H. N. Gillett President.
John Newton, Vice President.
Benjamin Johnston, Treasurer.
S. M. Browning, Secretary.
John Bryan,
William Lambert, Esq.,
Thomas Gardner, }• Managers.
Salmon Reckard,
Alfred Hastings

A committee of one from each township was appointed to solicit members, subscriptions, and donations for the Society and are as follows:

Upper, William Lambert; Perry, Benjamin Johnston; Elizabeth, W. H. Kelley; Decatur, S. N. Shattuck; Rome, H. N. Gillet; Union, Jacob Proctor; Fayette, John Bryan; and Joshua Hambletou and Thomas Walton were chosen to be general agents for the county at large for the same purpose. Lawrence, James W. Stumbo; Symmes, John C. Stewart; Aid, Thomas Lambert; Washington, Joseph Jenour; Mason, John Massie; Windsor, E. W. Wakeficld (The Ohio Cultivator, 1847).

In 1846, the Ohio Cultivator published the Constitution of the Rome and Union Farmer’s Club. This is an excerpt from the Ohio Cultivator of that constitution:

We hold that agriculture is the great and in-exhaustible source of national, as well as individual wealth, and that the health, happiness, peace and prosperity of countries and communities depend in great measure on a healthy and skillful state of Agriculture, and that it tends to promote good morals and a true conception of our dependence on our great benefactor, and union of feeling and sentiment in community. Blessed as we are with one of the most fertile and productive soils, and congenial climates in the world, we feel it our duty, not to bury, but to improve the talent that is given us, by forming ourselves into an association that we may instruct one another, and thereby more abundantly reap the reward, and enjoy the blessings of the most honorable pursuit of life.

Article 1. We, the subscribers, agree to form ourselves into an association, to be known as the Rome and Union Farmers' Club, granting the right of membership to citize

Project Objectives:

OBJECTIVE: To preserve the antique and heirloom apple varieties found in Lawrence County Ohio that may otherwise be lost forever.

TARGET 1: Record and document current locations of former apple orchards and existing live trees within Lawrence County Ohio.
- Historic document and courthouse research regarding the orchard owners in Lawrence County starting in the 1800s until today.
- Locate existing historic apple trees/orchards, photograph, document, and GPS the orchard locations and any existing live trees. - Provide university students with experience in field research and data collection while interacting with the community.
- Evaluate field work for increased performance and adjustments using surveys/questionaires and discussions with university students.
- Completed final report that includes historic information, maps of former orchard locations and tree preservation lessons learned for SARE dissemination.

TARGET 2: Preserve and propagate existing antique and heirloom apple trees in Lawrence County Ohio.
- Collect scions from existing trees or use rooting pots for collection.
- Prepare and construct a garden area for fruit tree establishment and protection from deer browse for growing trees. PERFORMANCE INDICATORS:
- Successful propagation of antique and heirloom apple trees that are at risk of being lost.
- Results will provide the best method of collection that leads to higher livability.

TARGET 3: Educate and promote the importance and renewed interest in antique and heirloom apples as a local food source and for a variety of cooking uses.
- Articles will discuss the project and historic apple industry in southern Ohio in the quarterly farm newsletter.
- Periodic press releases about the project will be sent to media.
- Educational display will be designed for the Lawrence County Fair.
- Responses to request forms and questionnaires that are disseminated and collected at the County Fair display will be evaluated.
- Increased public awareness and interest will be evaluated after press and newsletter releases in which contact information is provided to the public.

TARGET 4: Take the initial step in building a sustainable antique and heirloom apple industry in southern Ohio and other areas of the midwest.
- Disseminate the information through SARE to the public and continue to promote the importance of preserving southern Ohio's apple heritage.
- Support the continuation and diversity of the old apple varieties that may otherwise be lost.
- Number of live trees successfully propagated to increase numbers of at-risk trees.
- Number of local farmers focusing on antique and heirloom apple varieties as a business or in addition to their current operations.


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  • Dr. Robert Culp
  • Adam Wilson


Participation Summary
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.