Monday, October 29, 2018

Ashmead's Kernel - Just in Time for Halloween

The name Ashmead's Kernel is strange and mysterious. It kind of sounds like a novel title by Stephen King. Actually it is connected more to his wife Tabitha, owner of Pietree Orchard in Maine.

Ashmead’s Kernel is one of fourteen heirloom apple varieties we recently acquired at their orchard for a family apple tasting event.

They describe this apple variety on their website as "Tart and spicy, with pear and pepper notes" and conclude that "Ashmead's Kernel is an adventurous apple.

The Conway Public Library's Henney History Room offers a free outreach program to schools and local community groups on historic harvest activities including apples, pumpkins, corn and grain. 

Our collection of Samuel Bemis papers provides an interesting view into apple history.  See a link to this collection and our finding guides here. You can see his apple orchard in a number of photographs (click on the image to enlarge it).

Included in his papers is an invoice from Boston's Curtis and Cobb Company for the purchase of a cider mill for $25.

His papers also include detailed notes about the kinds of apples he grew and his experiments with grafting. These grafting experiments helped him win a silver medal in 1860 from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for his "Collection of Apples."

Apples have played an important role in Halloween activities for many years.

Bobbing for apples started out as a divination or fortune telling game that was supposed to give clues as to what kind of luck you would have in marriage.

Winslow Homer’s print from Harper’s Weekly magazine “The Apple-Bee” shows you can have fun while working (peeling and stringing apples to dry over the fireplace).  It also includes fortune telling, throwing the apple peeling over the shoulder spell out the initials when they land.

Snap apple was another fun game for the romantically inclined.

I leave you now with an apple head doll that closely resembles one of our retiring volunteers. I will leave it to you and to him to make that connection.

As always if you have have any questions or comments, please contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.

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