The Lowell Area Historical Museum is offering a weekly feature to explore local history. The ABCs of Lowell History continues with a look at Lowell’s apple orchards. To learn more about Lowell history, visit the museum website to explore its collection of local artifacts and records.
Apple trees are not native to North America. Apples were brought by the colonists in the 1600s and orchards were soon begun. From then on, the pioneers carried tiny trees with them wherever they settled.
Apple trees have long dotted the Lowell area landscapes. The first apple trees in Lowell were brought from New York in 1836 by Sylvester Hodges. He is credited with being the first settler in Vergennes Township. He brought apple trees with him and transplanted them here and so began Lowell’s orchard industry.
The area north and south of Lowell proved to be beneficial for apple orchards. South of town Noah Husted and his business, Grand River Nurseries began in 1862 and he cultivated 130 acres with apple and peach trees. In 1873, Husted was boasting of the ‘Wagener’ apple arguing it was the “best and most profitable variety grown. It has a world-wide reputation, and the demand is constantly increasing.” Husted’s Grand River Nurseries supplied the country with Wagener trees, shipping to sites along the railroad. At his death, Husted was known for his square dealing and strong, intellectual personality.
Also south of town, on what is today known as Timpson drive near Alto, the Timpson Orchards were planted in the 1800’s by Edwin Timpson. He was born in Bowne Township in 1858 and planted 123 acres of apples. He was considered an authority on apples in his lifetime. The fourth generation of the Timpson family is now running the business which has expanded and changed, today known as Timpson Transport.
In 1915, J. F. Emery, who owned the largest apple orchard in this vicinity built a cold storage building to enable him to keep his crop until late fall or mid-winter. Emery Drive is named after him. He owned the orchard between Emery and Segwun preceding the Timpson northern extension to that area.
North of Lowell, the Kropf and Rasch family names define apple growing. Christian Kropf was born in Schwazenegg, Canton in Bern, Switzerland in 1870, coming to the United States in 1888 with his widowed mother and siblings. He with his son Carl began growing apples. At one time Kropf Orchards had 2500 acres of apples. His descendants still own apple orchards and market apples in innovative ways including Red Barn Market, Painted Turtle Hard Cider and Christian Kropf Fundraising.
Rasch Orchards started as a dairy farm by Carl Rasch. He moved from the Sparta/Conklin area to Vergennes in 1950 and started his dairy farm. He added apples and other fruits and now the Rasch name is well known locally for fruit growing.
Today we can be very thankful to Sylvester Hodges and all the apple growers through the years. In the spring we see the beautiful apple blossoms; we hear the fans running on frosty nights as the growers still have to work so hard to preserve their fruit. All summer they wage a constant fight against apple pests. But in the fall we enjoy the result of all their labors. How fitting that the Lowell Area Historical Museum is known for serving apple dumplings each fall at the Fallasburg Fall Festival!