Apple Orchard Records Reveals Ag History

In the early years of Daviess County, many orchards were developed. This is a detailed record of one orchard once located a mile west of Civil Bend. Learning about it offers some understanding of local ag history. The records were kept by Edward Smith from 1890 through 1905.

In the early years of Daviess County, many orchards were developed. This is a detailed record of one orchard once located a mile west of Civil Bend. Learning about it offers some understanding of local ag history. The records were kept by Edward Smith from 1890 through 1905.

Edward Smith was born in Indiana in 1846 and came to Daviess County at age 11. His father, Daniel, came to the area in 1857 with his seven sons. Edward, at age 16, joined the Union army in Company C 33rd Regt. E.M.M. in July 1862 and also served in Company A 4th Prov. Mo. Militia and Company H 43 Regt. Mo. Vols. Inft. from which he was discharged June 20, 1865. Edward married Sara Bristow from Gallatin. Her father died in the war serving the Union. The last of their eight children, Alton, died in 1979.

Edward farmed part of his father’s land and by 1985 he owned 220 acres just west of Civil Bend. Ed also loaned money to family and neighbors during his orchard years, and these records also survived in family records. His records end when he turned the land over to two daughters.

By 1906 Ed had sold 2400 bushels of peaches and had sales each year after 1895 except for 1899, 1902 and 1904 — years of crop failure. By 1906 Smith had sold 9,045 bushels of apples, including the big apple crop year of 1904 with a yield of 4,000 bushels when prices averaged 25 cents a bushel (obviously, many others also had bumper apple crops for sale). In 1901 and 1903 Smith got 80 cents for a bushel of apples.

In 1890 Smith planted 375 Ben Davis apple trees, and 550 more the next year plus 50 Jonathan trees. The trees cost about 7 cents each and were purchased in Gallatin from Alexander and Howell. Fifteen trees were replaced in 1894 of the Ben Davis type. The peaches were probably Conover Free Stones and were started from seed. The number of peach trees was unreported, but the apple orchard must have had about 975 trees. Edward planted corn between the trees until 1895 when he seeded the orchard to clover and then to bluegrass in 1900.

Smith’s recorded sales for 15 years was $5,200 in corn, hay, peaches and apples. His recorded cost was $973.60. Cost of picking labor and baskets must have been about 5 cents per bushel. The price of peaches ran from 71 cents per bushel in 1897 to $1.25 per bushel in 1905.

Written by David Stark, Gallatin, published in the Gallatin North Missourian on March 29, 1995