Sunday, May 17, 2009

Follow the Apple

A couple of years ago I planted a Stayman Winesap apple tree in my backyard. I since found out that it's self-unfruitful, meaning it needs another variety to pollinate it. Yesterday I bought two Cortland apple trees at Home Depot, instead of a Cortland and a Jonagold, (mis)remembering that they were good pollinators for Stayman. I just did some online research and found out that Cortland and Jonagold are the absolute wrong trees to plant with Stayman, as they won't cross-pollinate. Not that the Stayman has produced any flowers to date. But, ever the eternal optimistic (or deluded) gardener, I want to be ready for next year.

Deep into my Google search, I found this tidbit on a website about old apple varieties:
During the American Revolution, captured Hessian soldiers held near Winchester VA planted an orchard with Fameuse (aka Snow) apples.

My curiosity piqued, I did a search for Hessian soldiers Virginia, and found some fascinating--and appalling--stuff.

In a Wikipedia article on Winchester:
Hessian soldiers were known for walking to the high ridge north and west of town and purchasing and eating apple pies from the Quakers. Thus, this ridge west of town became affectionately known as Apple Pie Ridge and the Ridge Road built before 1709 leading north from town was renamed Apple Pie Ridge Road.
In the New York Times there is a March 31, 1912, article with the innocuous headline Virginia Mountains Shelter Colony of Lost Hessians.

And then there's the subhead:
Descendants of Hirelings in Revolutionary War Who After Their Release Took Refuge in Gloomy Hills Near Charlottesville, Live There in Rude Huts, A Law to Themselves and a Forgotten Band.
Those would be the same hills that visitors ooh and aah over when I take them for drives around C'ville.

The article tells how, after the Revolution, Hessian soldiers who had been imprisoned in Charlottesville (which named Barracks Road and Hessian Hills after them) took off and settled in the nearby Ragged Mountains, "a small range of black, gloomy hills." The Times's anonymous reporter then wrote, apparently forgetting that Hessians were, um, Saxons:
As we have recently learned, the Blue Ridge mountaineers are a fearless, lawless folk of the purest Anglo-Saxon blood. They have a native intelligence and furnish the best kind of material for a civilization to be built upon. A good citizen can be made out of a Blue Ridge dweller when put in the right environment....

The Hessians are quite different. They have little if any understanding of modern morality. Marriage is a luxury, which has seldom lingered at their doors.

There is hardly a cabin in these mountains which does not harbor an idiot, the result of atrocious family relations.
Wow! It gets even better:
When neighbourly quarrels arise they usually fight it out with sticks and stones and their big bony fists. Firearms are reserved for the wild turkeys and quail.

The Hessian women do most of the heavy work. The men cut a little wood and train the coon dogs. If the women become unruly they are whipped by their husbands.
The reporter supposedly heard a woman being beaten by her husband. Next day the reporter asked her brother what he was going to do about it. The supposed reply?
"Well, I reckon I can't do much. Fact is, I was a beatin' my own wife last night."
In the Good Old Days at the Newspaper of Record, I guess reporters weren't required to actually report and cite sources if unsubstantiated opinions and vaudeville jokes would do just as well.

P.S. Now I'm on the lookout for Delicious, Lodi, Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious or Fuji apple trees.

1 comment:

Obie Joe Media said...

Oh, were it so that one could ship a mature apple tree via FedEx to Colorado! Our apple tree planted too close to the back door, and now threatens to swallow the house, produces way too many apples. Not sure of the pedigree, they are delicious, but the numbers are too much. We are happy to let the squirels carry off 1/2 the harvest.