We're paying homage to the apple and giving a special acknowledgement to a very special variety, one birthed right here, circa 1840.
Have you heard of the Shiawassee Apple?
Having grown up in Shiawassee county and lived here nearly all of my 37 years, the first time I heard of the Shiawassee apple was upon the commencement of the inaugural Corunna Applefest.
Evidently, Shiawassee county played a pretty significant role in the development of the McIntosh that the world knows today.
"History of Fruit........
This beautiful chromolithograph print of the Shiawassee Apple, by artist E.I. Schutt, c.1911, United States Department of Agriculture, Sackett & Wilhelms, New York, Lithographers. These plates were a wonderful way to introduce different varieties.
Though the Shiawassee apple was known to be cultivated around 1840, it was a variety that was little known to the public. It's early history, as given by T.T. Lyon, states the tree was first cultivated in a nursery in Gaines, Genessee County, Michigan.
A portion of the trees was sold to Mr. Beebe Truesdell, who planted them in Vernon, Shiawassee County. Among these was the original tree of this variety.
Attention was given to the 'Shiawassee' in the Bitter Root Valley of Montana because of its usefulness in pollenizing the McIntosh Apple, the latter a long time favorite in the apple industry. This apple soon began to be widely planted throughout the apple producing Northern States and Canada.
A strong tree, producing very high quality fruit, hardy, highly esteemed for its home use, and attractive appearance are only a few of the reasons the Shiawassee Apple was named as a 'Promising New Fruit of 1911.' H.C. and M.D. Ward, Pontiac, Oakland County, Michigan grew the specimen illustrated in this plate."
My great grandmother lived in Vernon for many years. In the lot next to her house, which she also owned, stood a single apple tree.
My grandfather has told me on more than one occasion that our ancestors were friendly with the Johnny Appleseed.
-Josh Strickland, Curator
Yearbook of the Department of Agriculture, 1911