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History Lives Here Text

An Old Apple Tree

MayFrancis Heath was born in Saugatuck in 1873 and, in about 1930, published abook of history and recollections entitled Early Memories of Saugatuck that has become the primer for alllocal history. In addition to the book manuscript the attic in her old house onButler Streetis crammed with letters and other history-related writings. This is one examplefrom one of her many folders, loaned by the present owner of the house, hergreat-grandson.


While many of the pioneer settlers in westernMichiganplanted fruit trees of various kinds about their log cabins, very soon afterthey began clearing the land, not many such trees appear to have survived untilthe present time. One such, the age and history of which is definitely known,stands on Lake Ridge Farm on the shore of Lake Michigan in Saugatuck townshipabout two miles southwest of the Village of Saugatuck.


According to the late Stephen A. Morrison who came to Saugatuck fromVermont in 1834, this tree was one of seven seedling apple trees which had already borne fruit at Kalamazoobefore being transplanted to his lake shore clearing by the late HerschelSeymour about 1845. They were transported in early spring with frozen earth ontheir roots by flat boat down the Kalamazooto a point near Saugatuck.


The fruit was highly prized for boiling down in farm kitchens for theproduction of "cider apple sass" and apple butter.


From the evidence available, this sound,vigorous and productive apple tree appears to be more than one hundred yearsold.

Are thereolder apple trees surviving in Western Michigan?

--Mrs. D. A. Heath Granddaughter of the above Stephen A. Morrison

June 27, 1940


[Lake Ridge farm was purchased in 1872 by Rev. James F. Taylor who hadcome to Saugatuck from New York State in 1868 as pastorof the Saugatuck Congregational Church. Ill health forced him to give up hisposition and retire to the lakeshore where he ran a fruit farm and nurseryuntil his death in 1907. The land that would become Lake Ridge farm was earlierowned by William McVea. Just to the north of LakeRidge Farm was the Reid farm which had been purchased in 1853 by lakes' captainRobert Reid. Just to the north of the Reid property, across what would later becalled 130th Avenue,Mrs. Heath's grandfather, S. A. Morrison, owned farm and lakeshore land thatamounted to more than 100 acres.)