In Minnesota in the 1800s, the cold and harsh winters prevented many kinds of fruit from growing, including apples. The result was that no apples grew in Minnesota or any of the northern states. The pioneers labored with the daily tasks to survive in the Minnesota Territory and most grew food to survive. They didn't have the money to afford to import fresh fruit but needed fruit to vary their diet.
Col. John H. Stevens said: “True, we were under a cloud for a long time. We planted but did not harvest. Our trees withered and perished. Whether it was the frosts of Winter or the sun of Summer that caused them to prematurely die, no one has been able to determine. Plant as we would, the trees sickened and died. No wonder, then, we became discouraged. Orchards to the third and fourth planting failed, a constant drain on the pocket without a ray of light in the future, influenced us in abandoning the enterprise. But those days, and their trials, have passed.”
Peter Miller Gideon was born on February 9, 1818 in Woodstock, Ohio. As a young boy, Peter was interested in growing fruit. After moving from Ohio to Illinois, Peter moved to Excelsior, Minnesota in 1853. He arrived on a steamboat, months before it became legal in 1854 to move west of the Mississippi.
- Peter brought many kinds of apples seeds with him. However, they did not grow in Minnesota. Peter picked a plot of land with very fertile soil so he could grow fruit. He picked that particular plot of land because it was just outside of newly developing settlement of Excelsior so he could still go to the town, but not have anyone ruin his fruit trees.
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