Apples in North America before Columbus

some recent research by Yuri Kuchinsky


This subject has not been considered very often by mainstream scholars of North American history. And yet it emerges quite clearly from recent research that, way before the Europeans arrived, the Native North Americans in what is now US and Canada had already been expert agriculturalists, who cultivated a large variety of fruit trees. Their fruit gardens were often very large, consisting of hundreds and thousands of trees.

Even now, there are quite a few places in the US that bear the name "Indian Orchard" (the towns by this name in Massachusetts, and in Pennsylvania are best known, but there are also quite a few other smaller places, such in the Town of Guilford, Connecticut; the "Old Indian Orchard", in Vigo County, Indiana; "Indian orchards" in Onondaga County, New York, etc.). It seems like there are still quite a few "old Indian orchards" that can be found all over the US and Canada; a search on "old Indian orchard" brings in quite a few results.

These names and places still remain, often only in the memory of the oldtimers and of the local historians, but it seems like nobody wants to see the larger significance of all that... The larger significance of all that seems to have vanished in the old Memory Hole.

In any case, here's some interesting material about all that. It created quite a furious discussion in Usenet at the time but, typically, there was a lot more heat there than light. The usual deniers of the Native American creativity were there in full force.


 From: Yuri Kuchinsky (
 Subject: lots of Native American apples 
 Newsgroups: sci.archaeology, sci.anthropology
 Date: 2002-05-04 09:29:13 PST 

Greetings, all,

Yes, it sure looks like I've stirred up quite a hornet-nest of
Hyper-Diffusionists and worshippers of the Great White God Columbus

Look at all the vitriol that they're pouring on me. In their little
"minds" anything that encroaches on the Glory of their Great White God
must be stomped out as soon as it appears. They are just so happy to
repeat their usual mantras that the Natives were "not sophisticated
enough" to domesticate apples independently.

And of course they will abase themselves to the max, and will eagerly
clamber aboard even a Hyper-Diffusionist bandwagon, in order to defend
their White God. According to them, the Indians just couldn't wait to
embrace anything that comes from the white man... so they practically
_rushed_ to borrow apple cultivation from the first European settlers.

Excuse me, but this is Hyper-Diffusionism plain and simple. The
Indians had plenty of their own food crops, so why did they have to
borrow _anything_ from anyone with "lightening speed", which is, of
course, the usual mantra of the Hyper-Diffusionism.

Instead, it's my view that ancient Native Americans domesticated
apples independently. And here's some good new information that will
go to demonstrate quite a few things. What it will demonstrate is that
the Natives had _many different types of apples_, the ones that were
unknown to European settlers. Also, that a great many types of apples
grew in the bush, in the woods of North Carolina, and so they were
fully available to be domesticated by the Native Americans, who of
course knew their own woods very well...

For example, take a look at this "Junaluskee Apple",


Junaluskee - also called Junaliska, Junaluska

Probably discovered by McDowell. In a letter to Charles Downing,
McDowell wrote: "The original tree was owned by a Cherokee Chief of
the above name, residing in Macon or Cherokee Co., NC. I do not now
recollect which. When the state purchased of the Indians this portion
of their territory, Chief Junaluskee refused to part with his lot on
which grew his favorite tree. To induce him to part with it, the
Commissioners agreed to allow him $50 for his apple tree."


So here we have the Indian Chief Junaluskee who obviously had a very
strong attachment to his own brand of apples. If he got it from the
Euros, do you think he would have been so greatly attached to it? But
the Euros didn't even know of any such type of an apple!

So all this information pretty well proves that the Natives cultivated
apple trees prior to the White God Columbus. Look at all the different
and quite unusual varieties of Indian apples that are listed in this
article! Of course, genetic variability is one of those first things
that the botanists look for when deciding if a crop is native to the
land or not... Thus, judging by the great and well-demonstrated skills
of Native American agriculturalists, it surely stands to reason that
the Native Americans domesticated apples independently.




Apples and Silas McDowell

              McDowell grew apple trees commercially
              from 1833 or 1834 until 1858 when his
              trees were severely damaged by a killing
              frost. He spent more than 20 years selecting,
              grafting, and growing from seedlings the
              best native apples and developing an
              extensive orchard of prize stock. His
              orchard at its height in 1858 (the 1850
              census showed that he owned 230 acres) had
              at least 600 trees. He is credited with
              discovering or developing at least 15 apple

              McDowell himself wrote in The North-Carolina
              Planter (1858, p. 126):

                   "My new varieties, as I dragged
                   them from their secret abodes, I
                   wrote out the history of each,
                   and gave it a name, generally the
                   name of the stream on which it
                   originated; but sometimes the
                   name of the Indian who was the
                   occupant of the old field where
                   it grew . ."

              Some of the varieties credited to McDowell
              are listed below. His efforts focused
              primarily on winter apples, those which
              would keep well through the winter months.
              He travelled throughout southwestern North
              Carolina grafting apples for a number of
              customers, and apparently travelled as far as
              Asheville to perform these duties. He
              carried on an extensive correspondence with
              other apple growers in North Carolina and
              Georgia including Charles Downing, Jarvis
              van Buren, and others. He also sold trees and
              grafts to both the public and to other
              orchardists. For example, a letter from
              Jarvis van Buren dated Dec. 30, 1856
              contained the following request:

                   " Enclosed I send you two dollars
                   to pay some man to go forthwith
                   and get a bundle of grafts of the
                   Sol Carter or Equinally and
                   Junaluskee . . . I would like
                   enough to graft 200 trees of
                   each & I do not intend to sell
                   one of them for less than 50
                   cents, & if I cannot get that shall
                   set them out in my orchard, but I
                   have no fears about it."

              At least two apple varieties introduced by
              McDowell are still in cultivation: Callasaga
              and Nickajack. The first record of these two
              varieties was apparently in a letter from Mr.
              Camack (Southern Cultivator,
              1847:12-113, dated Dec. 1846) which
              mentioned that McDowell sent him 6 apples
              labelled Nick-A-Jack and one labelled
              Cullahsaga. McDowell wrote those he called
              Nick-a-jack were:

                   "...from a Cherokee seedling in
                   an Indian improvement on a
                   branch of the Sugartown called
                   Nick-a-jack creek or river -
                   hence its name. The other I have
                   given the Indian name of the
                   Sugartown River Cullahsaga,
                   which is in English sweet creek,
                   or river as they have no word to
                   distinguish the two. The
                   Nick-a-jack you will find is a
                   very superior apple, and with
                   care keeps the winter through.
                   But the Cullahsaga is, in my
                   opinion not inferior to any apple
                   in the Southern States. Its
                   firmness renders it hardy and not
                   easily injured by rough handling.
                   It will keep until midsummer. As
                   it ripens it becomes so highly
                   aromatic as to be disagreeable to
                   some tastes. It however suits
                   mine, and, as I before stated is
                   my favorite."

   Some apple varieties introduced or developed by
                    McDowell :

         Cullasaga - also
         called Cullahsaga,
         Callasaja, Callasaga,
         and Winter Horse
                            Introduced by McDowell,
                            whose name for this
                            apple was Cullahsaga. 
                            Jarvis van Buren said this
                            variety was raised from
                            the seed of a Horse apple
                            by Miss Ann Bryson near
                            Salem Methodist Church
                            in Macon County, North
                            Carolina sometime
                            around 1830 (Southern
                            Cultivator. XI(2): 48). It
                            has pale yellow skin
                            partially covered with
                            dark red stripes and white
                            dots. The tender yellow
                            flesh is mildly tart to
                            almost sweet. It was
                            commonly grown in the
                            late 19th century and can
                            still be found today.  
                            Back to top
         Camack's Sweet* -
         also called
         Cammack's Sweet,
         Camak's Sweet,
         Camack's Winter
         Sweet, Grape Vine
                            Originated in Macon
                            County, North Carolina,
                            possibly by McDowell.
                            This variety was named
                            for James Camack of
                            Athens, Georgia the
                            Editor of Southern
                            Cultivator (and possibly
                            developed by him).
                            Camack was the first to
                            advise McDowell to graft
                            his trees with native
                            seedlings which led to his
                            first success at
                            developing winter apples.
                            Grown throughout the
                            South in the late 19th
                            Back to top
         Chestooah* - also
         called Chestoa,
         Chestooa, and
         Rabbit's Head
                            Chestooah is the name
                            McDowell used for this
                            apple; it is often referred
                            to by others as the
                            Chestoa. Jarvis van Buren
                            reported in the Southern
                            Cultivator (Vol XVI,
                            1858, p 28) that this was
                            a new variety sent to him
                            by Silas. Introduced in the
                            mid-1800s, it probably
                            originated in North
                            Carolina; trees were sold
                            commercially during the
                            1860s. A good winter
                            keeper that ripened in
                            November and could be
                            kept until at least January;
                            van Buren reported that it
                            kept until March.
                            Described in Gardening
                            for the South (1885) as
                            "somewhat distorted
                            about the calyx, so as to
                            resemble the nose of a
                            Back to top
         Ducket* - also
         called Duckett
                            McDowell mentioned
                            this apple in 1857
                            (Southern Cultivator.
                            Vol. XV: 123) but gave
                            no information about it. It
                            is unclear whether he
                            developed this variety,
                            and its origin is unknown.
                            Calhoun (Old Southern
                            Apples, 1995) merely
                            states that is was a North
                            Carolina apple still being
                            grown near Spruce Pine,
                            NC until about 1985.
         Elarkee* - also
         called Elarkie,
         Alarkee, Eluskee
                            A juicy, yellow apple of
                            North Carolina origin
                            introduced by McDowell.
                            A good winter keeper
                            which ripened in
                            Oct.-Nov. and was said to
                            keep until June.
                            Gardening for the South
                            (1885) describes this
                            apple as "acid when first
                            gathered, but becomes of
                            pleasant flavor in March
                            and April" and states that
                            the tree is "thrifty and
                            very hardy".
                            Back to top
                            A cooking apple
                            introduced by McDowell,
                            it originated sometime
                            before 1858 in
                            Clarkesville, Georgia.
                            Interestingly, the town of
                            Ellijay, Georgia today is
                            the center of a large apple
                            growing region in north
                            Georgia, but the apple
                            which is the town's
                            namesake is now thought
                            to be extinct.
                            Back to top
         Great Unknown*
                            The name of this apple
                            comes from McDowell
                            who wrote in 1858 that
                            he didn't know where it
                            came from or who gave it
                            to him. Ripening in
                            September, this variety
                            would keep until the end
                            of December.
                            Back to top
         Junaluskee* - also
         called Junaliska,
                            Probably discovered by
                            McDowell. In a letter to
                            Charles Downing,
                            McDowell wrote: "The
                            original tree was owned
                            by a Cherokee Chief of
                            the above name, residing
                            in Macon or Cherokee
                            Co., NC. I do not now
                            recollect which. When
                            the state purchased of the
                            Indians this portion of
                            their territory, Chief
                            Junaluskee refused to
                            part with his lot on which
                            grew his favorite tree. To
                            induce him to part with it,
                            the Commissioners
                            agreed to allow him $50
                            for his apple tree."
                            Back to top
         Kittageskee* - also
         called Kittageskie,
                            This apple is thought to
                            have originated with the
                            Cherokee Indians in
                            western North Carolina.
                            Jarvis van Buren reported
                            in the Southern
                            Cultivator (Vol XVI,
                            1858, p 28) that this was
                            a new variety sent to him
                            by McDowell. Calhoun
                            (Old Southern Apples,
                            1995) said this variety
                            was introduced into
                            Georgia about 1851.
                            Trees of this variety were
                            reported to be healthy,
                            dependable bearers of
                            heavy crops. Although its
                            apples were small, Beach
                            (The Apples of New
                            York, J.B. Lyon Co.,
                            Albany, 1905) said "its
                            quality is excellent and it
                            is attractive in
                            appearance."  H.P Gould
                            (Orchard Fruits in the
                            Piedmont & Blue Ridge
                            Regions of Va. & the S.
                            Atl. States, USDA
                            Bull.135, 1911) stated
                            that this is one of the
                            surest bearers of any in
                            the southern Piedmont
                            with good keeping
                            qualities.  Ripened in
                            Nov. through Feb., and
                            the fruit kept well until
                            Back to top
                            Jarvis van Buren reported
                            in the Southern
                            Cultivator (Vol XVI,
                            1858, p 28) that this was
                            a new variety sent to him
                            by Silas. It came from
                            near Franklin, NC and was
                            described as a large, dark
                            (nearly black) apple with
                            yellow flesh and a fine,
                            aromatic flavor. It
                            reportedly ripened from
                            Nov. to Feb.
                            Back to top
         Maverick's Winter
                            McDowell mentioned
                            that he was growing this
                            variety in 1857
                            (Southern Cultivator.
                            Vol. XV: 123). No other
                            information is available.
         Nequassa* - also
         called Nequasse,
         Nequassa Sweet
                            Originated near Franklin,
                            Macon County, NC
                            probably by McDowell. J.
                            van Buren mentioned it in
                            several letters to
                            McDowell during 1855
                            and 1856 and kept Silas
                            informed as to its growth.
                            If McDowell is not its
                            discoverer, he at least
                            helped to promote the
                            Back to top
         Nickajack - also
         called many other
                            McDowell stated that this
                            variety came from near
                            Nickajack Creek, Macon
                            County, North Carolina
                            and that it originated with
                            the Cherokee Indians.
                            Although the first
                            dissemination of this
                            variety was by Col.
                            Summermour of Lincoln
                            Co., NC under the name
                            of Winter Rose, Downing
                            (The Fruits and Fruit
                            Trees of America. 1872.
                            John Wiley & Sons, New
                            York.) credits its
                            introduction to
                            McDowell. Calhoun (Old
                            Southern Apples, 1995)
                            states that it's probable
                            that Nickajack and Winter
                            Rose were two different
                            apples which closely
                            resembled each other.
                            Nickajack is a large apple
                            with greenish-yellow skin
                            flushed with light red and
                            occasional russet
                            patches. It is somewhat
                            tart, and its flavor is
                            reported to be only
                            average. A very late
                            season apple which ripens
                            from November-April, it
                            is a good keeper.
                            According to Downing
                            (1872), Nickajack
                            reproduces from seed to
                            be "so nearly identical as
                            to be impossible to
                            distinguish the seedling
                            from the parent, hence
                            one cause of so many
                            Back to top
         Sautouchee* - also
         called Panther
                            Another new variety from
                            Silas reported in the
                            Southern Cultivator
                            (Vol XVI, 1858, p 28) by
                            van Buren. It was a pale
                            yellow apple with white
                            flesh that ripened from
                            Nov.-Feb. van Buren said
                            that it was "without any
                            decided flavor" and was
                            too acid. Calhoun (Old
                            Southern Apples.
                            McDonald & Woodward
                            Pub. Co., Blacksburg, VA.
                            1995) lists a Santouchee
                            (Panther or Wildcat)
                            apple as a North Carolina
                            apple sold from 1858 to
                            1877 by Georgia and
                            North Carolina nurseries,
                            but describes it as having
                            "waxen white" skin
                            "sometimes flushed pink."
                            Calhoun further describes
                            the taste as subacid to
                            almost sweet.
                            Back to top
         Sol Carter*
                            This apple is of uncertain
                            origin, but Jarvis van
                            Buren in a letter to
                            McDowell dated Nov. 5,
                            1856 requested that
                            McDowell find a new
                            name for the variety
                            because there was already
                            an apple named Carter.
                            The Sol Carter, like the
                            Equinetelee (ne
                            Equinally), Iola,
                            Batchelor, and Queen
                            apples (among others)
                            which McDowell at least
                            helped distribute, is
                            considered by some
                            authors to be the same as
                            the Buckingham apple
                            which is still grown
                            Back to top
         Tillaquah* - also
         called Tillaqua, Big
                            This is another new
                            variety from Silas
                            reported by van Buren in
                            the Southern Cultivator
                            (Vol XVI, 1858, p 28).
                            The variety is said to
                            originated with the
                            Cherokee Indians and was
                            reportedly found about
                            four miles from Franklin,
                            NC, and Tillaquah is said
                            to mean "big fruit" in
                            Cherokee. Downing (The
                            Fruits and Fruit Trees of
                            America. John Wiley,
                            New York. 1878) said
                            that the fruit was "above
                            medium" in size. The skin
                            was yellow and nearly
                            covered with red
                            marbling. The flesh was
                            yellow-red, and was
                            described as having an
                            "admirable flavor." This
                            variety ripened in Nov.
                            and would keep until
                            Back to top
         Other Varieties
                            McDowell stated in 1857
                            that he was growing
                            Yellow Crank, Green
                            Crank, and Vincent apples
                            but that he knew nothing
                            of their origin (Southern
                            Cultivator. Vol. XV:
                            123). Further information
                            awaits discovery.


Yuri Kuchinsky  -=O=-

We found a large number of books in these characters and, as they
contained nothing in which there were not to be seen superstition and
lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they regretted to an
amazing degree   ===   Bishop Diego de Landa on his dealings with 
the Mayans.

Go to Yuri's Ancient American Fruit Trees Research.

Go to Yuri's Ancient Travellers Page.