Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 12, 2017

Henry County Historical Highlights

Salem’s Lewelling Quaker Museum
Nov 27, 2017

Students of Salem’s Lewelling Quaker Museum history know well of the remarkable contributions of the Henderson Lewelling family to the development of America’s fruit industry. At the museum interest and tradition continue.

The lead agenda item of the September Museum board of directors meeting read, “White Winter Pearmain Apple Sampling.” The meeting, held at the museum picnic area, featured board member and historian Mary Savage distributing White Winter Pearmain apple slices to attendees. The large white apple, firm and moderately tart, was harvested that day from a tree grafted from an Oregon scion (cutting) and local root stock. After planting three years ago, this was the first year for the tree to bear fruit.

The 1847 Oregon Trail travel of Henderson Lewelling, family, neighbors and 700 one year old grafted trees is widely known. With brothers John and Seth, who followed via the California gold fields, the west coast fruit industry was established.

The White Winter Pearmain was included in the inventory of cultivars that made the trip. It is also listed in the circa 1840 “Catalog of Apples For Sale by Henderson Lewelling & Brothers, proprietors of the Cedar Grove Botanic Gardens and Nursery, near Salem, Henry County, Iowa.” This early document listing 45 fruit varieties for sale can be viewed at the museum.

This apple has early English origins, possibly dating to the 13th century. It keeps well in storage, thus the “winter” description.

In April 2017, a small orchard was established on the lawn south of the museum. Seven recently grafted trees, scions form Oregon and grafted by Master Gardener Marty Schnicker, joined two older dwarf trees cut from an Oregon tree planted in 1969.

With tender care the museum board is hopeful the small orchard will prosper and carry on a tradition that forms a remarkable chapter in Henry County pioneer history.

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