Lewelling/Luelling Pioneer Horticulturalists: Part I

Clete Ramsey - Mar 20, 2011

Trying to solve my Richard Lewelling/Gracie Stokeley mystery, I’ve been Googling “Lewelling” quite often.   One of my random searches hit on the Lewelling Wine Company (951 Olive Avenue, St. Helena, CA 94574) and its vineyards (http://www.lewellingvineyards.com).   That sent me searching for more information about John Lewelling, the pioneer winegrower and horticulturalist mentioned in the Lewelling Vineyard’s history.   I found quite a bit on John and his brothers, including information I’m sure Billie Harris covered in her book.   Despite the possibility of duplication, I thought I’d compile and post what I’ve found here.   I’ll post it in three parts.   Any additions in brackets [---] are mine.   I’d welcome any corrections or additions.

Part I

I’ll start with the Lewelling Vineyards history:

     "The vineyards of the historic Lewelling estate were established in 1864 near the western foothills in St. Helena by pioneer winegrower and horticulturist John Lewelling.   Janice Lewelling Wight, John Lewelling’s great-granddaughter, and her husband Russ built a home on the family property in 1950 and quickly became involved in operating and replanting the vineyard.   Today Russ, together with his three sons, Alan, Doug and Dave, farm a 28-acre vineyard on a portion of the original estate, one of the oldest continuously-owned family vineyards in the Napa Valley.

     During the 1870’s and 1880’s the vineyards of the St. Helena area established a reputation for producing some of the finest wines in the United States, a reputation that is now acknowledged world-wide and is attributed to the unique combination of soils and climate found here.   Over the years Lewelling Vineyards has consistently harvested exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that have been sold to such fine Napa Valley wineries as Caymus, Viader, and Beaulieu.   In 1992 the Wight Family began production of their own vineyard-designated wine.

     Each member of the family plays a role in crafting Lewelling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon.   Russ, now officially retired, offers the perspective and insight of his years of grapegrowing. Dave studied philosophy at Harvard before returning to the Napa Valley to work in the cellar at Inglenook.   He has a degree from U.C. Davis in viticulture and enology and is the winemaker for Lewelling Vineyards.   Doug graduated from Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo and managed vineyards for Martini Winery prior to starting his own business in 1977.   Today he operates the family vineyard as well as managing 500 additional acres of Napa Valley vineyard.   Alan, an engineer for Agilent Technologies, is a key member of the winery tasting panel and decision-making team.

     The Wight family is committed to making wines that showcase the exceptional fruit from this unique vineyard site.   Crop size, irrigation, trellising and vine nutrition are managed for optimum grape quality.   The wines are carefully hand-crafted using traditional winemaking methods and aged in 90% new French oak barrels from a selection of coopers.   Gentle winemaking and minimal handling are emphasized to preserve the natural richness of the grapes.   A program of experimentation with root stocks, clones, trellising and winemaking techniques seeks to enhance the texture, complexity and elegant natural balance of the wines."


More Googling found a biography of John Lewlling on page 515 of the 1881 “History of Napa and Lake Counties,” compiled by Lyman L. Palmer and published by Slocum, Bowen & Company of San Francisco.   Converting that biography and others to Word, some punctuation marks were lost or changed in the transition (commas to periods, for example).   I tried to restore those changes, but probably was not 100% successful, as I may have sprinkled a few more commas in than the original text had, and missed a few other conversions.   Here’s the John Lewelling biography from the history of Napa and Lake Counties, California:

     LEWELLING, JOHN.   The subject of this sketch, whose portrait will be found in the body of this work, was born in Randolph County, North Carolina, January 16, 1811, and is the son of Meshach and Jane Lewelling.   In 1822, when he was but eleven years of age he, with his parents, moved to Henry County, Indiana.   Here he grew up on a farm and received a common school education.   In 1837 he moved to Henry County, Iowa, where he remained until 1850.   He then came across the plains to California, arriving at Hangtown (Placerville), July 7th of that year.   He immediately began mining which he followed until that fall, when he went to Oregon, and worked for his brother, who was then engaged in the nursery business, in Milwaukee.   The next spring he returned to California and mined, and in the fall went back to Oregon.   The next spring he returned to his old home in Iowa, going via Nicaragua.   In November, 1853, he started for California a second time, with his family, coming via Nicaragua, and arriving in San Francisco, January 4, 1854.   He engaged with E. L. Beard to plant a large orchard at the Mission San Jose, and remained there for two years.   In 1855 he went to San Lorenzo and planted a large orchard, and in 1856 he moved his family to the place.   He had there one hundred acres in orchard, which was principally cherries.   He remained there until 1864, when, on account of poor health, he came to Napa County, and began planting vines in 1865.   He has now one hundred acres of vineyard, which is in a thrifty condition, and presents a handsome sight when laden with fruit.   He has a beautiful residence, and nicely located place, and is surrounded in his declining days with all that goes to make up the complement of earthly comfort and enjoyment.   While he was a resident of Alameda County he was a member of the Board of Supervisors for several terms.   He was married in May, 1832, to Miss Elvy Elliott, who was born near Richmond, Indiana, October 11, 1815.   They have two sons living, Eli, now on the old farm at San Lorenzo, and Harvey J., who is living with his parents.


Placerville (formerly Hangtown) is the county seat of El Dorado County, California.

Mission San Jose and San Lorenzo are both in Alameda County, California, which was formed in 1853 from a large portion of Contra Costa County and a smaller portion of Santa Clara County.

The Milwaukee noted in the Napa history actually was Milwaukie, a town in Clackamas County, Oregon.

E. L. Beard, with whom John Lewelling engaged to plant a large orchard at Mission San Jose, was Elias Lyman Beard.   He was born in Wayne County, New York, in October 1818.   He moved in 1836 to La Fayette County, Indiana.   In February 1849, he left Indiana for California.   He arrived in San Francisco in May 1849, and settled near Mission San Jose in June 1849.   In partnership with John M. Horner, he purchased some 30,000 acres of land, eventually growing grain, potatoes, and fruit.   He died in May 1880.   So far, I haven’t found any pre-California connections between John Lewelling and Elias Beard or John Horner.   I was interested to see if North Carolina-born Enoch Beard (1810-1900) of the Society of Friends' Salem Monthly Meeting in Iowa could have been a link, but found no evidence he was.

I found this household on the 1880 census of St. Helena, Napa County, California:

LEWELLING John Head Married Male White 69 NC NC NC Horticulturist
LEWELLING Eloy [Elvy] Wife Married Female White 65 IN NC NC Keeping House
LEWELLING Harry I. [Harvey J.] Son Single Male White 25 CA NC IN Horticulturist

I strongly suspect the brother mentioned in the Napa County history’s biography of John Lewelling was most likely Henderson.   The 1905 Biennial Report of the Oregon Board of Horticulture contained a biographical sketch of Henderson Luelling and another Lewelling brother, Seth, on pages 103-106 of its Appendix.   The sketches describe Henderson Luelling and Seth Lewelling as “Pioneers of Horticulture in Oregon.”   H. M. Williamson, the author of the biographical sketches of Henderson Luelling and Seth Lewelling, addresses the Lewelling and Luelling spelling variants near their end:

     “Henderson Luelling and his brother, Seth, were the worthy descendants of honorable ancestors of the best type of American pioneers.   Their father, Meshic Lewelling, was of Welsh ancestry.   Their mother’s maiden name was Brookshire, and she was either a native of England or of English descent.

     Both were “Friends,” or Quakers, as the members of that denomination are commonly called.   Meshic Lewelling was, during the period of time in which his sons, Henderson and Seth, were born, a resident of Randolph County, North Carolina.   He was a physician, a plantation owner, a nurseryman and fruitgrower, and a slaveholder.   He was one, however, of that noble band of southern practical abolitionists who showed their belief by their works in the early part of the Nineteenth Century:   left their pleasant homes in the well-developed communities in North and South Carolina, and other southern states, and transported themselves, their families, household effects, and negroes hundreds of miles over execrable mountain roads or trails to Ohio or Indiana in order that from themselves and their children might be lifted the burden of wrong-doing inseparable from slave-holding, and that those who had been their slaves might be free in free states.   Thus did Meshic Lewelling move from his home in Randolph County, North Carolina, in 1825 with his family, and with those who were in North Carolina his slaves, to the free state of Indiana, where he established a new home at Greensboro, near Newcastle.   There he not only practiced his profession, but, as was the custom with pioneer ministers and doctors, also engaged in farming, and made a specialty of fruit-raising.

     Henderson Luelling, the second son of Dr. Lewelling, was born April 23, 1809, and was 16 years old when the family crossed from North Carolina to Indiana.   On December 30, 1830, he married Miss Elizabeth Pressness [?], who had also come from North Carolina to Indiana, and was also a member of the denomination of Friends.   In 1830, in copartnership with his brother John, he was engaged in the nursery business in the vicinity of Newcastle, Indiana.   In 1837, he and John decided to move to Iowa, and in 1838, Henderson, John, and their older brother, William, all secured land near Salem, Henry County, Iowa.   At this place was born William’s son, Lorenzo D. Lewelling, who was a few years ago governor of the state of Kansas.   Henderson and John carried on at Salem the nursery business begun in Indiana, until 1841, when Henderson became sole proprietor of the nursery.   In 1840, the pioneering tendency caused Henderson to look to Oregon as his future home, and the inspiration came to him to transport by wagon a nursery stock to this distant land, then becoming the mecca of the cream of American pioneers.   It was a bold conception characteristic of the imaginative foresight of the broad-minded pioneer.   At the time when Henderson Luelling formed his resolve there were less than 5,000 white people in all the Oregon country.   Those who had come across the plains reached their journey’s end almost destitute of the property with which they started.   The son of Dr. Meshic Lewelling was not the man to be discouraged by prospective obstacles and hardships.   He proceeded with his preparations for the journey.   He made two boxes, which, together, just fitted into an ordinary wagon box.   These boxes were tied with carefully-prepared soil, and in this soil he planted about 700 grafted or budded trees, shrubs, and vines, including a large number of standard varieties of apples and pears, and a few varieties of plums, quinces, cherries, and flowering plants, one Isabella grapevine, one gooseberry bush, and a few currant bushes.   Among the cherries was one Napoleon Bigarreau, which for some reason was called the Royal Ann, and the effect of the bringing of that one tree may be inferred from the fact that to this day the Napoleon Bigarreau cherry is everywhere on the Pacific Coast known as the Royal Ann.   Most of the trees were propagated by Mr. Luelling himself, but to complete his assortment he bought a few from Avery’s nursery [not further identified] at Denmark, Iowa.   On April 17, 1847, Henderson Luelling started from Salem, Iowa, on the long journey across the plains with his traveling nursery, hauled by oxen.   On May 17th, he crossed the Missouri River.   He arrived at The Dalles, Oregon, in November, and from that point took the water route to Milwaukie, where he settled.   The great amount of work and painstaking care involved in keeping those trees alive and growing through that trip can hardly be imagined by one who has not had experience in traveling by wagon across our arid, interior plains and over rugged mountains where a trail was a substitute for a road.   Many of those who started with lighter loads, but handled their teams with less care and judgment, were compelled to throw away a greater part of their loads.   The croaker was in the party who frequently assured Mr. Luelling that he was undertaking a task which could not be accomplished.   A well-meaning minister of narrow vision urged Mr. Luelling to unload his trees and replace them with the household effects of those whose teams were giving out.   Fortunately for Oregon, Mr. Luelling was not moved by this well-meant but shortsighted advice.

     During the long and arduous trip, Mr. Luelling was ably assisted by his son Alfred, then a youth of 15.   William Meek, who was a frequent visitor at the home of Mr. Luelling in Iowa, and subsequently became his son-in-law, followed his future father-in-law’s example, and also prepared a few grafted trees for the trip.   He started at the same time as Mr. Luelling, and brought his trees safely through to Oregon.

     In the spring of 1848, Mr. Meek joined Mr. Luelling at Milwaukie, and they entered into partnership under the firm name of Luelling & Meek, to carry on the nursery business.   The firm showed great energy and enterprise in the development of the business.   They were fortunate in finding some seedling trees here, and in being able to buy apple and pear seed from others who had brought them across the plains.   They also used native trees as stock.   In 1850, the sales of trees by the firm are said to have amounted to 18,000 trees, for which prices ranged from 50 cents to $3.00 per tree—$l.00 to $1.50 being the most common figures.   In the fall of 1850 Seth Lewelling arrived from Indiana with a supply of apple and pear seed, and soon afterward he became a member of the firm.

     The Western Star, published at Milwaukie, Oregon, said in its issue of April 3, 1851, that Luelling & Meek’s peach trees were in full bloom March 23th:   that the nursery then had on hand about 10,000 trees and over 100,000 scions.

     In the winter of 1851-2, Henderson Luelling went east by way of the Panama route, and secured from leading nurseries an additional assortment of standard varieties of trees, which greatly strengthened the nursery at Milwaukie.

     The business of the nursery was at that time pushed with great vigor.   1n 1853, the firm had four branch nurseries in operation in Oregon, and was doing a most flourishing business in selling trees, while it had also a considerable income from the sale of fruit.   Mr. Henderson Luelling had, however, been sorely afflicted during his residence at Milwaukie by the death of his wife, and of his daughter, Mrs. William Meek, and by almost continual sickness in his family.   His brother, John, had settled in California, and influenced, probably, by him, Henderson Luelling disposed of his interest in the Oregon nursery business to his partners in 1854 and went to California, where he lived during the remainder of his life.   He settled in Alameda County, where his son, Alfred, joined him.   They engaged in the nursery and fruit-growing business.   Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Luelling applied the name Fruitvale to the beautiful locality which is now a popular residence suburb of the city of Oakland.   Henderson Luelling was one of the substantial, prominent and honored citizens of Alameda County.   He died at his home in Oakland December 28, 1870.

     The services rendered to Oregon by Henderson Luelling in bringing his traveling nursery across the plains in 1847 have never been overrated.   It is often said of the man who has performed an act of great service to his country that if he had not done it some one else would have rendered the service.   This saying is far more often false than true.   There are no grounds to justify a belief that either grafted trees or scions would have reached Oregon before 1852 if it had not been for Henderson Luelling.   There were others who conceived the plan of bringing trees across the plains in wagons, but the only person who actually brought live trees to Oregon, aside from Mr. Luelling, was Mr. Meek, and Mr. Meek would not have come across with his trees if Mr. Luelling and his family had remained in 1owa.   There was not at that time any practical method of bringing trees to Oregon except the one adopted by Mr. Luelling.   The great rush of gold hunters to California a few years later led to the establishment of regular transportation routes by way of the Isthmus of Panama, but the first fruit trees which came to Oregon by that route did not come until 1852.   The five years gained by Oregon by reason of the arrival of Henderson Luelling’s stock in 1847 gave Oregon a prestige in the nursery business, and as a producer of apples of the best quality which it has never lost.

     Who can measure by dollars and cents the pleasure and satisfaction it gave the settlers of Oregon, after a number of years of abstinence, to pick and eat from their own trees the favorite varieties of fruits grown at their old homes, and to find that these old favorites, grown in Oregon, were of surpassing quality and beauty.

     The financial aspect of the case was a large one.   The gold miners of California were hungry for fruit and careless as to prices.   The first shipment of grafted apples from Oregon to California was made in 1853, and the fruit sold in San Francisco for $2.00 per pound.   The volume of shipments increased rapidly until l860, when the supply of California grown apples had become sufficiently large to affect the demand for Oregon apples.   Prior to 1860, however, the farmers of Oregon had found in California a market for a great amount of fruit at prices far higher relatively than those of other farm productions.   During the time when the Oregon farmer was selling his grafted apples at from $5.00 to $10.00 per box he was getting from $1.00 to $1.50 a bushel for his wheat; 30 to 50 cents a pound for butter; 20 to 40 cents per dozen for eggs; and from 75 cents to $1.50 a bushel for potatoes.   That he enjoyed the benefit of one high-priced, as well as abundant, crop was due to the work of Henderson Luelling.

     Seth Lewelling was born March 6th, 1820.   When his brothers, William, Henderson, and John, moved to Iowa he remained in Indiana.   Prior to 1850 he was for a number of years engaged in the boot and shoe business at Greensboro, Indiana.   In the fall of 1850 he came to Oregon and engaged in the nursery business established by his brother and Meek.   In partnership with others or alone he continued the nursery business at Milwaukie until his death, which occurred on February 21st, 1896.

     Seth Lewelling’s great work for the fruit-growing industry was in originating new varieties.   He commenced the work by planting in 1851 the seeds of Isabella grapes, the only variety then grown in Oregon.   From this planting he secured one variety named the Lewelling, which yielded fruit of high quality and twice the size of the Isabella.   Encouraged by this success he grew during the next twenty years a great number of trees from the seeds of apples, pears, plums, prunes, cherries, small fruits, etc.   Of the great number of seedling apples and pears he deemed none worthy of propagation.   In 1860 the original Black Republican tree grew from the seed of a Black Eagle cherry.   In 1875 the Golden prune tree grew from the seed of an Italian prune, and the Bing cherry tree from the seed of a Black Republican cherry.   In 1872 the true Lewelling cherry tree grew from the seed of a Black Tartarian cherry, and the cherries grown from this tree made n sensation at the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia in 1876.   The Black Republican cherry proved to be the best shipping cherry grown on the Pacific Coast, and has been of immense value commercially.   The Bing was not introduced systematically, and it has taken a long time for its merits to become known.   It is now fast supplanting its parent, the Black Republican, being superior to it in both size and quality.   It is without a question one of the largest and best cherries grown, and the commercial fruit-growers of the Pacific Northwest owe a large debt of gratitude to Seth Lewelling for originating this cherry.   The Golden prune, had it been well advertised, would have attracted great attention.   The fruit, whether considered as a prune for drying or as a plum for canning, or eating out of hand, is, in my opinion, superior to any one of the remarkable prunes originated by the great California wizard of horticulture, [Luther] Burbank.   The fruit is large, and the variety has never received the attention and thorough testing which the intrinsic merit of the fruit justifies.

     In addition to the varieties mentioned, Mr. Lewelling found among his seedlings a number of other cherries which he deemed of greater value than most of the standard varieties known.   A gooseberry and a variety of pieplant originated by him are of more than ordinary merit.

     Seth Lewelling was the pioneer in Oregon in the work of endeavoring through the raising of seedlings to obtain new varieties of fruit of superior merit, and although he carried on this work as a side issue to his regular business, he was remarkably successful.   His work was of great value, not only in the worth of the new varieties originated by him, but also in showing others that there is in Oregon a promising field for the man who will systematically originate new varieties of fruits.

     Both Henderson Luelling and Seth Lewelling have done work for the fruitgrowing industry which entitles them to be held in honor among the foremost of those who laid the foundations of Oregon’s industries.

     An explanation of the two spellings of the names—Luelling-Lewelling—used in this article may not be amiss.   The original name in Wales is Llewellyn.   After coming to America some ancestor of Henderson and Seth changed the spelling of the name to Lewelling.   When Henderson moved to Oregon he adopted the spelling used in this article when his name is mentioned, and always thereafter spelled the name Luelling.   When Seth came to Oregon he for a time adopted Henderson’s spelling, but for many years prior to his death always wrote the name Lewelling.   Every man has the right to spell his own name as he chooses, and for this reason the names in this article are spelled as each of the brothers preferred in his own case.

     Special acknowledgment is due to Miss Janie H. Luelling, daughter of the late Alfred Luelling, of Oregon City, and grand-daughter of Henderson Luelling; to Dr. J. R. Cardwell; and to Mr. Geo. H. Himes for their kind assistance in supplying data for the preparation of this article.”

Clete Ramsey - Mar 20, 2011

Part II:   With a Southeast Missouri Detour

The 1905 Biennial Report of the Oregon Board of Horticulture also had another article by H. M. Williamson, which contained the few paragraphs below pertinent to Henderson Luelling and Seth Lewelling.   The paragraphs add a few more details:


     "By H. M. Williamson, in the National Nurseryman."

     "The nursery business on the Pacific Coast had its beginnings in Oregon.   The first cultivated fruit trees on the Pacific Coast were planted in California by the Mission Fathers.   The Hudson Bay company had an assortment of apple, pear, peach and plum trees growing in its garden at Vancouver, now in the State of Washington, more than seventy years ago.   The missionaries, Whitman and Spalding, a little later brought to the Pacific Coast and planted seeds of apples and pears, from which trees were grown, some of which are bearing excellent fruit to this day.   All of these planted or propagated trees for their own use, and not for sale.

     The first movement of homeseekers to the Pacific Coast was to Oregon.   Naturally, therefore, it was Oregon which first attracted the attention of nurserymen.

     In 1845 Mr. Henderson Luelling, of Salem, Henry County, Iowa, conceived the idea of transporting across the plains in a wagon an assortment of growing trees of standard varieties as a basis for the establishment of a nursery in Oregon.   He commenced preparations in the fall of that year, but did not start until the spring of 1847.   He had made two boxes which together just fitted into an ordinary wagon box. in carefully prepared soil in these boxes there were growing seven hundred trees, shrubs and vines, representing standard varieties, and including a large number of varieties of apples and pears and a few varieties of plums, cherries, quinces and flowering plants, also one Isabella grape vine and one gooseberry plant.


     Mr. Luelling's undertaking was so bold as to be audacious.   The trip across the plains was a long and arduous one.   The majority of those who started counted themselves fortunate to reach their journey's end with a small fraction of the articles with which their wagons were loaded when they started.   Mr. Luelling crossed the Missouri River with his precious load on May 17, 1847.   On his way across the plains he was advised a number of times that his undertaking was hopeless.   A clergyman urged him to unload his trees and take the more valuable (?) effects of other emigrants who had more than their teams could haul.   The trip was through a dry and thirsty land and over mountain ranges, but about October 1 Mr. Luelling arrived safely at The Dalles, Oregon, with nearly all the trees alive.   From that point he proceeded by the water route to Milwaukie, Oregon, where he established himself.   Mr. George H. Himes, assistant secretary of the Oregon Historical Society, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of the pioneer history of Oregon, says it is an unquestioned fact that no other one importation of pioneer days did so much to add to the income and wealth of the people of Oregon as Henderson Luelling's traveling nursery.

     Mr. William Meek, who was acquainted with Mr. Luelling in Iowa, and knew of his plan, followed his example in a small way.   He started at the same time with a few growing trees of standard varieties, and, having a lighter load than Mr. Luelling, reached the State first.   He temporarily located in Linn County, but in the following spring (1848) took his trees to Milwaukie and entered into partnership with Mr. Luelling in the nursery business under the firm name of LUELLING & MEEK.

     They were able to find at the homes of settlers a few seedling trees, mostly grown from seeds of fruit raised at Vancouver.   They also used the wild crabapple and the thorn as stocks for apple and pear trees, and the wild cherry as stock for stone fruits, but did not have the best of success with these wild stocks.   They also purchased some apple and pear seeds from settlers who arrived in 1849, and in the fall of 1850 were able to graft 18,000 trees.   In 1850 Mr. Seth Luelling (he afterward changed the spelling of his name to Lewelling), a brother of Henderson, arrived from Iowa with a considerable supply of seed and entered the firm of Luelling & Meek.   The business grew rapidly.   Henderson Luelllng went East in 1851 and returned in the spring of 1852 by way of the Isthmus of Panama with a fresh assortment of standard trees, plants, etc.   In 1853 the firm had four branch nurseries in operation in addition to the home nursery at Milwaukie, and had a total stock of 100,000 trees which were salable at one dollar and upward per tree."


I found this household on the 1850 census of Milwaukie Clackamas County, Territory of Oregon:

Dwelling 62

LEWELLING Henderson42 Male NC Gardener ($10,000)
LEWELLING Elizabeth 33 Female NC
LEWELLING Alford 18 Male IN
LEWELLING Rachel 13 Female IN
LEWELLING Jane 11 Female IA
LEWELLING Hannah 9 Female IA
LEWELLING Albert 5 Male IA
LEWELLING Oregon 3 Male OR
LEWELLING Eliza. Ann 1 Female OR

William Meek, Henderson Lewelling’s business partner, was head of a nearby household in Milwaukie:

Dwelling 64

MEEK William 30 Male OH Miller ($4,000)
MEEK Mary 19 Female IN [Henderson and Elizabeth Lewelling’s daughter Mary]
MEEK A.J.D. 1 Male OR

The given name of Henderson Lewelling’s son, Oregon, is unique enough to be a familial “marker.”   Oregon was head of this household in Green Valley, Contra Costa County, California, in 1880:

LUELLING Oregon Head Married Male White 32 OR SC -?- Farmer
LUELLING Emily Wife Married Female White 28 CA KY KY Keeping House
NEILSON Annie Other Female White 30 DENMARK DENMARK DENMARK House Keeper

According to one account, Oregon was Elizabeth’s ninth child and his full name was Oregon Columbia Luelling.   That account said Oregon Luelling was born very soon after the family arrived in Oregon in December 1857, and was living in a cabin in East Portland.   By another account, the family was traveling on the Columbia River portion of their journey, when a pregnant Elizabeth Luelling went into labor.   That account said she was being taken by canoe to The Dalles to get medical attention, when she gave birth to a “baby girl,” Oregon Columbia Luelling, en route.   On the 1900 census, where Oregon C. Luelling was listed head of a household in Hayward, Eden Township, Alameda County, California, his age was 52 and his date of birth was December 1857.   He had been married for 20 years to his wife, Emily (b. Feb. 1852, CA).   She had had six children, five of whom were still living in 1900.   One of the five was a son, Oregon C. Luelling, born in California in November 1892.

I found the following biographical sketch for Leo Norris in the 1882 “History of Contra Costa County, California” by J. P. Munro-Fraser (Publisher: W. A. Slocum & Co., San Francisco):

     LEO NORRIS.—The son of John and Barbara (Moore) Norris, was born in Nelson county, Kentucky, March 3, 1804, and there received his education, farmed, and for five years worked in a distillery.   When twenty-six years old, he moved to Morgan county, Illinois, where he resided seven years.   He next moved to St. Louis, and then up the Missouri river, to where is now the town of Weston, being there engaged in farming.   In the year 1840, Mr. Norris went to Atchison county, Missouri, where he remained farming until his start for California.   In May, 1846, in company, with his family, traveling with fifty wagons, our subject, commenced the journey to the far-away Pacific shores, and after a weary voyage of six months, on October 4th, arrived where Sacramento now stands, the march being continued to the mission at Santa Clara.   In June, 1847, he moved to mission San Jose, where he dwelt until the Fall of 1850, when he settled on the property he now owns, consisting of one league of land in San Ramon valley.   Married in Nelson county, Kentucky, July 21, 1829, Miss Jane Kizzie, a native of Kentucky, who died March, 1855.   By this union there are five surviving children, viz: William H., Mary, (now Mrs. Lynch,) Annie, (now Mrs. Perkins,) James and Emily, (now Mrs. Lewelling.)


I assume Oregon Luelling’s wife was the Emily (Norris) Lewelling mentioned in the biographical sketch of Leo Norris.

I looked at Leo Norris’ household in Township Two, Contra Costa County, California, on the 1880 census:

Dwelling 325

NORRIS Leo 64 Male White KY Retired Farmer
NORRIS William H. 38 Male White IL Stock Trader
NORRIS Margaret 30 Female White CANADA Keeping House
NORRIS Leo 9 Male White CA Attending School
NORRIS Thomas 8 Male White CA Attending School
NORRIS Henry 5 Male White CA At Home
NORRIS George 3 Male White CA At Home
NORRIS Mary 7/12 Female White CA At Home
NORRIS James. M. 22 Male White CA At Home

Emily J. Norris (18, Female, White, CA, Attending School) was living in Dwelling 312 in the household of farmer William Lynch (42, Male, White, b. NY) and William’s wife Louisa (38, Female, White, b. IL, Keeping House).

In what I’m sure is sheer genealogical coincidence, Leo Norris’ near neighbors on the 1870 census of Contra Costa County included these heads of households, all native Missourians:

     Dwelling 319, farmer Francis M. Bollinger, 36, b. MO

Francis Marion Bollinger, married to Catherine Ann Hahn (26, b. MO), was a son of Adam Joseph Bollinger (head of the next-listed household) and Sarah (Hahn) Bollinger.   I’ve yet to identify Catherine Ann (Hahn) Bollinger’s parents.   I’m certain she was kin to Sarah (Hahn) Bollinger and Mary Magdalena (Hahn) Bollinger (see below), but I don’t know how.

     Dwelling 320, farmer Adam J. Bollinger, 59, b. MO

Adam Joseph Bollinger, married to Sarah Hahn (58, b. MO), was a son of Matthias Bollinger and Priscilla (Peterson) Bollinger, both born in Lincoln County, North Carolina.

     Dwelling 321, farmer Joseph Bollinger, 26, b. MO

Joseph M. “Big Joe” Bollinger, 26, married to Sarah Elizabeth Bollinger (21, b. MO), was a son of Joshua Bollinger and his second wife, Lena Statler.   Joseph’s wife, Sarah Elizabeth, a cousin, was a daughter of John A. Bollinger and Mary Magdalena Hahn.   Mary Magdalena (Hahn) Bollinger was a sister of Sarah (Hahn) Bollinger, the wife of Adam Joseph Bollinger.

     Dwelling 322, farmer William J. Tinnin, 35, MO

William Jefferson Tinnin, 35, was a son of Andrew Antoine Tinnin and Synthia Moore.   William was married to Quintilla Priscilla Bollinger (27, b. MO), a daughter of Adam and Sarah Bollinger and sister of Francis Marion Bollinger.   William’s surname also appears in records as Tinen, Tinin, or Tinnen.

     Dwelling 323, farmer Francis M. Tinnin, 32, b. MO

Francis M. Tinnin, 32, born in Madison County, Missouri, was another son of Andrew and Synthia Tinnin.   He married the widow Elizabeth (Bollinger) Sebaugh, a daughter of Joshua and Lena Bollinger and the sister of Big Joe Bollinger. Elizabeth had first married in 1854 Joshua Allen Sebaugh, who died during the Civil War.   Four of the seven children in Francis M. Tinnin’s household in 1870 were his step-children; all Missouri-born children of Joshua and Elizabeth Sebaugh, including an 8-year-old Joshua Sebaugh.   Francis and Elizabeth Tinnin’s three children were born in California.

     Dwelling 324, farmer Christopher Bollinger, 33, b. MO

Christopher Columbus Bollinger, 33, married to Joanna Perkins (19, b. MO), was another son of Joshua and Lena Bollinger and sibling of Big Joe Bollinger and Elizabeth (Bollinger) Tinnin.   Joanna was a daughter of Samuel and Martha Perkins, who moved their family to California from Osage County in central (not southeast) Missouri, after Joanna was born there about 1851, and before her younger brother Hiram was born in California about 1854.   The family appears to have first settled in Napa County, before moving to Contra Costa County.

The Bollinger, Hahn, Perkins, Statler (also Stadler), and Tinnin/Tinen/Tinnen families, familiar to me, are all connected to the area of southeast Missouri where my Ramsey family moved from Lincoln County, North Carolina, arriving in 1818/1819.   All those families, including my Ramsey family, settled in or near what is now Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.   Adam Joseph Bollinger’s father, Mathias Bollinger, who was born in 1768 in Tryon County (now Lincoln County), North Carolina, was an older brother of George Frederick Bollinger.   George Frederick Bollinger captained a party of some 20 families who left Lincoln County, North Carolina, in 1799, crossed the Mississippi River on New Year’s Day 1800, and settled along the Whitewater River in what was then Spanish Upper Louisiana, northwest of Cape Girardeau City, Missouri.   Bollinger County, Missouri, formed in 1851 in large part from Cape Girardeau County, is named for George Frederick Bollinger.   My late father was born in Bollinger County in 1912.   His father Paul Ramsey (b. 1890), grandfather Stoke Ramsey (b. 1856), and great-grandfather Albert Ramsey (b. 1819) were all born in Cape Girardeau County.

I understand there may be a Bollinger Canyon in/near San Ramon, Contra Costa County, California.   If that's correct, I suspect it takes its name from these Missouri Bollinger settlers.

Clete Ramsey - Mar 20, 2011

Part III

Having gone off on a Southeast Missouri tangent that was probably of interest only to me, I’ll get back to the Lewellings/Luellings:

This sketch of the Lewelling family of Iowa, entitled, “The Lewelling Family—Pioneers,” appeared in the October 1929 (Vol. 27, No. 4) issue of the “Iowa Journal of History”:

     "The pioneers of Iowa were possessed of unusual courage and self reliance.   There was no place among them for the weak and timid.   Among the pioneers who gathered their belongings into covered wagons and traveled for hundreds of miles into an unknown land was Henderson Lewelling and family who came from Indiana to Iowa in 1837, and in the southern part of the town of Salem in Henry County a large substantial two-story stone dwelling still stands as a monument to the energy and enterprise of this man.

     Henderson Lewelling, a skilled nurseryman, was soon supplying southeastern Iowa with the choicest of trees and vines.   After ten busy years in Iowa, he again assumed the role of an adventurous pioneer and moved to Oregon where in his zeal as a nurseryman he helped lay the foundations for the great fruit industry of the Pacific northwest.

     The Lewelling family originated in Wales and early history speaks of the members of this family as noted and powerful lords of the kingdom.   They were a sturdy, independent clan who successfully resisted the progress of the Roman legions at the time of the Roman invasion, and in later days fought against the tyranny of the English kings.

     At just what date the Lewelling family emigrated to America is not known, but there are traditions of the family in America for several generations prior to any recorded history of their activities.   When the record of the Lewellings begins in North Carolina they were not like the chivalrous and warlike clans of Wales.   Although they possessed many of the characteristics of noblemen, like William Penn, they had been converted to the peaceful ways of the Society of Friends or Quakers, and were living according to the tenets of that benevolent society.   The grandfather of Henderson Lewelling was said to have been a pious, God-fearing man, well versed in Biblical literature.   He named his three sons Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego.   Meshack was the father of Henderson Lewelling, the Salem pioneer.

     Meshack Lewelling was a practicing physician and a professional nurseryman; at the same time he also engaged in general farming.   He rode on horseback to visit his patients and carried his remedies in his saddle bags as was the custom in those days.   What the occupation of Meshack’s ancestors was is not recorded, but it is believed that they were nurserymen for several generations.   The Lewellings were located in Randolph County, North Carolina, which is in the southwestern part of the State.   Many of the finest apples in the world are now being shipped to various markets from this locality, and doubtless the foundation stock of these orchards came from the Lewelling nurseries.

     In 1825, Meshack Lewelling and a number of his neighbors, attracted by the glowing reports of the country in Indiana, disposed of their holdings in North Carolina and started on the long and dangerous trail over the mountains and through the Cumberland gap to the promised land of Indiana.   Contrary to the general rule among the Quakers, Meshack Lewelling was a holder of slaves.   When he sold the rest of his property in North Carolina, instead of selling his human chattels, he took them with him to Indiana and set them free.   Another member of the family inherited two slave children in Louisiana.   He went to that State, obtained possession of his human property, took them with him to Indiana, and gave them their liberty.   These acts were consistent with the traditions and spirit of the Lewellings.

     When Meshack Lewelling arrived in Indiana, he purchased land, started in the nursery business, and resumed the practice of medicine, which he followed to the end of his career.   Henderson Lewelling was sixteen years of age when he arrived in Indiana with his family.   He assisted on his father’s farm and in the nursery for several years.   On December 30, 1830, at the age of 22, he married Miss Elizabeth Presnell, who came from North Carolina and was also a Quaker.   He established a home of his own and in 1835 he and his brother John, who owned adjoining land, went into the nursery business together.   Shortly after this the brothers heard glowing accounts of the Black Hawk Purchase in Iowa.   Ever alert for something better, Henderson Lewelling determined to move to Iowa.   This change was made in 1837 and he and his brother John secured land near the new town of Salem and opened up a nursery there.   John continued the business in Indiana, while Henderson operated the Salem enterprise.   The joint enterprise thus continued until 1841 when John disposed of their interests in Indiana and joined his brother at Salem.   Here the business prospered.   The country was rapidly being settled by the home building Quakers, and other citizens of like character who planted large orchards of apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, and fruit shrubs.   Almost every homestead in the southern part of Henry County and the northern part of Lee County was bountifully supplied with fruit trees from the Lewelling nurseries.

     The Lewellings were conscientious men, who took pride in their business, and during the ten years that Henderson Lewelling operated a nursery in Salem, he made fourteen trips to Indiana and the nurseries of the East to secure the finest fruit trees and plants then-known to the science of horticulture.

     As the result of the work of the Lewellings, almost every homestead within a radius of many miles of Salem had in a few years an orchard filled with the choicest varieties of apples and other fruits.   So abundant was the apple crop of this section, that the local market could not absorb the yield.   Fortunately other markets were not too far away to be reached by ordinary wagon traffic.   The hauling of apples became a regular business for teamsters from August to the freezing weather of winter.   As soon as the summer apples began to ripen, the roads would be lined with covered wagons hauling the fruit to Ottumwa, Oskaloosa, Newton, Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids, and intermediate points.   Thus the fruit grower had a good market for his product, and the teamster an opportunity to engage in a profitable business.

     After the coming of Henderson and John Lewelling to Iowa, other members of the family followed.   An older brother, William, settled in Salem and engaged in teaching.   He was a preacher among the Quakers and a public speaker of great merit.   A nephew, Jehu Lewelling, and a niece, Jane Lewelling Votaw, also came to Salem.   Jehu was a Baptist minister, and Jane Votaw was a preacher for the Quakers.

     The Lewellings became opponents of the institution of slavery, as were many members of the Society of Friends.   The controlling body of the church was too indifferent to the demands of the anti-slavery element, and a separation in the church took place, caused by the difference of views on the attitude which the church should adopt on the slavery question.   The new branch of the church was called the Anti-slavery Friends.   The Lewellings were prominent leaders of this group.   A branch of the new church was established in Salem, and Henderson Lewelling sat as head of the meeting.

     William Lewelling, the older brother, was also a powerful advocate of the abolition of slavery.   While in Indiana, engaged in lecturing on his constant theme, he was taken ill.   He arose from a sick bed to fill an engagement.   It is alleged that he addressed the audience with great power and energy, after which he immediately took to his bed from which he never arose.   William Lewelling left a family of small children who were reared by the widow and relatives.   The youngest son, Lorenzo Dow Lewelling, became one of the most illustrious members of the family.   After a severe struggle for an education, and a short career in the army, he became a teacher in Whittier College at Salem.   He was a reader of great ability.   His powers of elocution and impersonation were unusual, and he was in great demand at all literary entertainments.   His friends believed that if he had gone upon the stage he would have become a great actor; but having been reared in the Society of Friends, a career upon the stage was unthinkable.

     The writer was a friend of Lorenzo Lewelling, and assisted him in many of his endeavors.   Like most men of distinction, he met with many amusing incidents in his career.   On one occasion we were giving an entertainment at a country church in the vicinity of Salem.   The audience was large and appreciative. Lewelling was reciting a pathetic poem entitled “The Wounded Soldier” in which the attitude of the wounded during the battle was vividly portrayed.   He was rendering this with wonderful skill and had produced a profound impression on the audience.   When he reached the stanza which reads, “Raise me up, comrades, we have conquered I know, up, up, on my feet with my face to the foe,” Lewelling unwittingly transposed a sentence, and rendered it thus, “Raise me up, comrades, we have conquered I know, up—up on my face with feet to the foe.”   No one saw the error quicker than he, but it was too late.   The ridiculous attitude of the wounded was too much for the audience, and all the pathetic effect of the speaker was lost in a gale of laughter.

     Later he was appointed superintendent of the girls’ department of the State reform school.   He held this position for several years, and then moved to Wichita, Kansas.   During the Populist uprising in 1892, he was elected Governor of the State, and served in this capacity with great distinction.   L. D. Lewelling would doubtless have had a brilliant career, but in the height of his triumphs, he died.

     During the time that Henderson Lewelling engaged in the nursery business at Salem, he prospered, and acquired an adequate competence.   He built the stone dwelling, already mentioned, and was a leading and influential citizen of the community.   But this was not enough.   He had read with deep interest accounts of the travels of Lewis and Clark in the Oregon country and of the later expeditions of John C. Fremont, and emigrants’ reports of the wonders of the Willamette Valley.   As early as 1845 he determined to go to Oregon.   He began to dispose of his property with the thought of starting the following year, but not being able to close out his business until the season was too far advanced, the starting was postponed until the following spring.

     The writer’s father, Joel C. Garretson, was a warm personal friend of Henderson Lewelling.   They had worked together in the anti-slavery cause, and both had suffered the abuse heaped upon the abolitionists of that period.   When Garretson learned of Lewelling’s intention of going on the Oregon trip, he went to him and told him, in the way of mild reproach, that he thought that a man who had prospered as he had, and surrounded himself with so many of the comforts and luxuries of life, should be content to remain in his present situation.   Lewelling replied in that plain deliberate fashion, peculiar to the Quaker, “Well, Joel, it makes no difference how much a man has around him if he is not satisfied he will go off and leave it.”   His face was set toward the West, and no argument or persuasion would avail.   The time of starting was delayed by circumstances, but his mind was firmly fixed.   It was during this period of delay that Lewelling conceived the idea of carrying living grafted fruit trees to the Willamette Valley, and the Pacific coast.   The following account of the preparation for this enterprise has been related by his son, Alfred Lewelling.

     “When the next spring came, he (Henderson Lewelling) had secured the cooperation of a neighbor John Fisher for the prosecution of his plans to take the fruit trees.   They had procured a stout wagon and made two boxes twelve inches deep and of sufficient length and breadth, that set in the wagon box side by side they filled it full.   These boxes were filled with a compost consisting principally of charcoal and earth, into which about 700 trees and shrubs, embracing most, if not all of the best varieties in cultivation in that section of the country were planted.   The trees were from twenty inches to four feet high and protected from stock by light strips of hickory bolted to posts set in staples on the wagon box.   Three yoke of good cattle drew that wagon, and all other arrangements being completed we started on the 17th day of April, and traveled about fifteen miles a day through the southwestern part of Iowa and northwestern Missouri, reaching the Missouri river ten miles above St. Joseph on the 17th day of May.   Our train thus far consisted of three wagons for our family and goods, one for Mr. Fisher’s family, two for the Nathan Hocket family, and the nursery making seven wagons in all.”   Soon after crossing the Missouri River, the Salem expedition joined a train commanded by a Captain Whitcomb, and traveled with it for several days, but this organization soon dissolved, and the Lewellings joined Captain John Bonser’s part of the train, and traveled with it to the Platte River, where Mr. Fisher died.   His death was a severe blow to the enterprise as Mr. Fisher had agreed to assist in caring for the nursery.   Mr. Lewelling now had charge of the nursery wagon, and decided to carry it through in his own way and time, as he had already been criticized by some of his friends for attempting to haul that heavy load across the plains and over the Rocky Mountains.   The trees had to be watered every day if possible, and thus the maximum weight of the load remained the same throughout the entire journey.

     To all who sought to persuade him to abandon his “traveling nursery” Lewelling invariably replied that as long as it did not endanger the health and life of his family he would stick to his fruit trees.   The following note from Alfred Lewelling will illustrate the firm and determined character of the man who was promoting this enterprise:   “The last time I recollect any one trying to discourage him about the nursery wagon was on North Platte.   The Rev. Mr. White suggested that it would be better for him to leave it as the cattle were becoming weary and foot sore, and that the continued weight of that load would kill all of his cattle and prevent him from getting through.   Father’s answer was such an emphatic ‘No’ that he was allowed to follow his own course after that without much remonstrance.”

     After this Lewelling decided it was best for the Salem group to travel alone or nearly so rather than in large companies.   Subsequent events proved the wisdom of this decision.   The story of the trip across the mountains has been related by his son as follows:   “Instead of standing guard at night, we put bells on the cattle and watched them evenings until they had fed and would lie down, and father would invariably hear the first tinkle of the bell in the morning.   “I have no doubt that father devoted himself to the enterprise with as much watchfulness as any man that crossed the plains that year.

     “After losing two oxen on the Sweetwater River, one by poison and the other by inflammation caused by sore feet, we traveled pretty much alone; and our cattle began to improve, as two of the loads, being largely provisions and feed, were becoming perceptibly lighter.

     “After passing over the great back bone of the continent at Pacific Springs, we crossed the desert to Green River, thence via Hams Fork to Bear River, passing Soda Springs and crossing the lava beds or volcanic district, we passed Hot Springs and over the Portneuf Mountains to Fort Hall.   Then down through the sandy sage brush plains, crossing the Snake River twice, and through the Malheur and Powder River valleys, then through the Grande Ronde valley and over the Blue Mountains to the Umatilla River.

     “Here we met Dr. Marcus Whitman who piloted us over by way of Birch and Butter Creeks and Well Springs to Rock Creek.

     “There we changed the fruit trees to a lighter and better running wagon, by removing the two small boxes, and left the heavy wagon, doubling the teams in such a way that enabled us to get along quite comfortably, and thus to continue our journey, reaching the Dalles about the first of October.   I do not remember the exact date.

     “There father joined with others and constructed two boats to bring the wagons and other goods, as well as their several families, down to the Willamette Valley.

     “The boats were completed, loaded and started down the Columbia River, about the first of November.   They went down as far as Wind River, where they were unloaded and used to ferry our cattle and horses across to the north side of the Columbia River, then reloaded and taken to the Upper Cascades, again the boats were unloaded and the wagons set up and hauled to the Lower Cascades.   The boats having been turned adrift at the Upper Cascades went bumping and tossing down the scathing current and were captured below.   (As the Salem expedition carried no row boats, it has been suggested by later writers that Indians with their canoes were employed to capture the heavy barges.)

     “At the Lower Cascades the boats were reloaded and worked down the Columbia River to a point opposite Fort Vancouver, reaching there the 17th day of November, just seven months from the day of starting.   Those of us who drove the cattle down the trail did not get there until the 20th of November.

     “The fruit trees were taken out of the boxes when the boats were ready to start from the Dalles, and carefully wrapped in cloth to protect them in the various handlings, and from the frosty nights.”

     Lewelling had now reached the goal of his expedition.   He had arrived in the long cherished Willamette Valley with his cargo of precious trees.   The story of his journey shows with what matchless energy he persevered in his enterprise, and what infinite care he bestowed upon his trees.

     He next had to find a home for his family and a permanent lodgment for his traveling nursery.   He spent several days exploring the country and on the 10th of December moved his family into a cabin opposite Portland, now East Portland.   From here he made another survey of the valley, and finally purchased a tract of land where some clearing had been done adjoining the town site at Milwaukee.

     On February 5th, he moved his family to this place and began the making of a permanent home.   The land was densely covered with heavy fir trees, but by a vigorous application of the ax and torch, a clearing was soon made sufficiently large to plant the orchard and nursery. Lewelling’s ambition was now fully realized.   He had brought his cargo of living trees across the plains and over the Rocky Mountains to the Willamette Valley, the first cultivated, or grafted fruit to reach the Pacific Northwest.

     About half the trees he loaded at Salem, Iowa, survived the arduous transportation, and were now securely planted in the soil of Oregon.   Lewelling’s fame and fortune were assured.   Emigrants were rapidly pouring into the Willamette Valley and around the Puget Sound, and the demand for fruit trees was unlimited.   He was in a position to supply this demand with the choicest fruit trees America could furnish.   He had taken the pains to transfer to Oregon the same variety of apples that had proven so popular in Iowa.   There can be but little doubt that the superior quality of the apples supplied by his nurseries established the reputation of the Oregon fruits, and helped lay the foundation of the great apple industry of Oregon and Washington.   A few years ago, when the writer was touring Oregon, he was shown the locality of the original Lewelling nursery, and he found growing in that vicinity the same varieties of apples he had known when a child in his father’s orchard near Salem, Iowa.

     Prior to his emigration to Oregon, Henderson Lewelling had watched with great interest the controversy between the United States and Great Britain over the Oregon question.   It will be remembered that the boundary line between the British possessions and this country was in dispute for many years.   It was greatly feared that the controversy might result in war.   The Hudson Bay Company, which was a British organization, had established forts and trapping and trading stations throughout the country, and Britain claimed possession on that ground.   The claim of the United States was founded in part upon the discovery of the Columbia River by Robert Gray, an American navigator, who had sailed up the stream for many miles and had taken possession of the country in the name of the United States.   A very strong element in the United States claimed that 54 degrees 40 minutes was the rightful northern boundary and raised the uncompromising slogan, “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight”.

     Lewelling, who like his friend, Dr. Marcus Whitman, the missionary, knew the value of the region, was a strong advocate of securing as much of the Oregon country as was possible to obtain by fair and honorable means.   He was not, however, one of those who raised the cry “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight”.   His Quaker training led him to believe there was a better way.   He was greatly pleased when the final settlement secured to our country the Puget Sound, for he believed that these waters would some day be a powerful factor in the commerce of the world.   Soon after he established himself in Oregon, Lewelling formed a partnership with William Meek, a man from Bonaparte, Iowa, who had crossed the plains the same year, but not in the same train.   This firm not only engaged extensively in the nursery business, but organized the Milwaukee Milling Company, and operated several saw and grist mills.   At the same time they carried on several other enterprises.

     When Lewelling and Meek were selling trees in all parts of Oregon and Washington, John Lewelling left Salem, Iowa, in 1850, and located in California, buying property at San Lorenzo, Alameda County.   Here he started in the nursery business, obtaining his foundation stock from the Henderson Lewelling nursery, at Milwaukee, Oregon.   The enterprise was successful.   He reared his family here, and his descendants are occupying prominent positions throughout the State to-day.

     In 1853, Henderson Lewelling sold all of his interests in Oregon to his partner William Meek, and he and his son Alfred moved to California, purchased land in Alameda County, and engaged in the fruit and nursery business.   Alfred named the locality Fruitvale.   Soon a large population gathered in that locality, and Fruitvale became a beautiful little city adjoining Oakland.

     Henderson and Alfred Lewelling sent out from this place not only thousands, but hundreds of thousands of fruit trees all over California.   Again Henderson Lewelling was in no small measure responsible for the beginning of the great fruit industry of another Pacific Coast State—an industry which has brought more wealth to California than all the gold the State has produced.   Henderson Lewelling built a fine residence in Fruitvale which in later years was occupied by a Governor of the State.

     After these achievements, and having acquired for himself both wealth and an enviable reputation, he seemed to have reached the limitations of his work on the Pacific Coast.   But he could not be content to stand still, and look back upon past achievements.   He must still press forward, and be a leader among men.

     About 1858, he conceived the idea of founding a colony in Central America.   He had crossed the Isthmus of Panama in 1851 in his travels back and forth to the eastern States.   He was much impressed by the mild climate, the cheap land, and the luxuriant growth of vegetation in that semi-tropical climate.   He enlisted several others in the project, and in 1859 sold his valuable property in Fruitvale, purchased a ship and all necessary supplies, and he and his two younger sons together with his partners and their families, embarked for Honduras.

     Prior to this, Lewelling had been successful in his every undertaking, but in this project he met defeat.   The enterprise was a disastrous failure.   He was the principal capitalist in the scheme and he lost heavily.   Returning to California, he engaged in the fruit business again; but by this time he had lost his former vigor, and he never regained his former financial standing.   A part of the Lewelling estate in Fruitvale was sold to a man by the name of Diamond.   This tract was later donated to the city, and is now known as Diamond Park.

     On February 23, 1924, a memorial meeting, sponsored by the Women’s Clubs of California, was held in Diamond Park in commemoration of the great work of Luther Burbank, the plant wizard then living, and Henderson Lewelling, the nurseryman long since passed away.   Appropriate speeches were made to the assembled throng, and a Sequoia or Redwood tree was planted for each of the two men and suitable tablets erected to commemorate their unselfish work.

     Prominent among the pictures hanging on the walls of the rooms of the State Historical Society of Oregon will be found the portraits of Henderson, Seth, and Alfred Lewelling, all pioneers of Iowa, who moved on to wider fields of usefulness in the undeveloped West.   Other members of the family in later years followed the pioneers to the western coast.   Asa Lewelling, a nephew of Henderson and a brother of L. D. Lewelling, the Governor of Kansas, was superintendent for a number of years of the boys’ department of the Oregon State Reformatory.   Jonathan and Jane Lewelling Votaw moved to Washington.   A son, Henry L. Votaw, became postmaster of Tacoma.   Another son, Moses, entered the banking business, and became a prominent citizen of the State.

     How many of the original trees carried by Henderson Lewelling from Salem over the plains and mountains to Oregon still survive is difficult to ascertain.   There is one tree, however, whose history has been accurately recorded and is worthy of mention here.   In 1845, Lewelling planted a cherry pit which sprouted and grew.   In 1846, he grafted this seedling with a Black Tartarion Scion.   In 1847, he carried this tree on his seven months journey to the Willamette Valley.   In the spring of 1848 this tree was planted in the soil of Oregon at Milwaukee.   In 1849 the tree was sold to David Chamberlain for five dollars.   Mr. Chamberlain carried the tree by canoe, down the Willamette River to the Columbia River, then down the Columbia to the mouth of the Cowlitz, thence to Cowlitz landing where Toledo now stands, thence by horseback, seventy miles to Chambers Prairie, four miles from Olympia, Washington.   Here the tree was planted and it is still bearing fruit.   It is an immense tree now, and three feet from the ground it measures nine feet in circumference.   Its limbs have a spread of sixty feet.

     George R. Haines, Curator of the Oregon State Historical Society, in speaking of this tree said:   “I stood under its branches in 1853.   In 1854 I ate cherries from the tree, and for many years thereafter. In 1895 it bore a crop of forty bushels of cherries.   In 1920, the crop was 1200 pounds.”

     Moses Votaw, a great nephew of Henderson Lewelling, visited this tree in July, 1928.   It was after the cherry season, but he found many dried cherries still hanging to the branches, and many dried cherries on the ground.   One of the lower limbs had been removed by the saw.   A measurement across the saw kerf showed that the limb had a diameter of sixteen inches.   That this little cherry sprout, originating at Salem, should withstand the risks of transportation across the continent and the hazards of frequent transplanting, and still live, a towering monument to commemorate the energy and enterprise of a Salem pioneer, is to the writer a fact stranger than fiction."

     "O.A. Garretson
     Salem Iowa”


These short biographical sketches of brothers Seth Lewelling and Henderson Luelling appeared in, or were abstracted from, an article, “Henderson Luelling, Seth Lewelling and the Birth of the Pacific Coast Fruit Industry,” written by Thomas C. McClintock for the June 1967 (Vol. 68, No. 2) of the “Oregon Historical Quarterly” (pp. 153-174) (http://www.ohs.org):

   "Seth Lewelling 1820-1896
     Milwaukie, Oregon"

     "Pioneer nurseryman and horticulturist who introduced several important varieties of fruit, including the 'Black Republican' and 'Bing' cherries.

     Lewelling came west on the Oregon Trail in 1850 and joined his brother Henderson Luelling at his nursery in Milwaukie in 1853.   After Henderson left in 1854, Seth carried on, expanding the nursery.   Over the years, Lewelling developed and introduced many fine varieties to horticulture.   They include the ‘Bing,’ ‘Black Republican,’ ‘Lincoln,’ and ‘Willamette’ cherries, ‘Lewelling’ grape, ‘Golden’ prune, ‘Sweet Alice’ apple, and ‘Lewelling’ almond."

     "Henderson Luelling 1809-1879
     Milwaukie, Oregon"

     "Pioneer nurseryman who introduced hundreds of varieties of choice fruit to the old Oregon Country.

     In 1847, Luelling, his wife, and eight children came west on the Oregon Trail, bringing a wagon loaded with an assortment of 50 or 60 varieties of apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries, quince, black walnuts, hickory nuts, gooseberries, currants, and grapes.   All told, the wagon had about 700 young plants.   By fall, he and his family had arrived safe and sound in Oregon.   Settling in Milwaukie, Luelling started a nursery with his son-in-law, William Meek.   He planted his "traveling orchard," and began grafting trees.   By 1853, he had 100,000 trees for sale, selling them for $1 to $1.50 each.   Orchardists snapped up these trees, using them to plant orchards and start nurseries.   Before Luelling, growers relied on seedling fruit, which was often small, with insipid flavor, and other problems.   By bringing the finest varieties of fruit to Oregon, Luelling moved gardening a giant step forward."


This piece on the Henderson Lewelling House in Salem, Iowa, comes from a National Park Service online list of sites connected to the Underground Railroad (http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/states.htm)

     "Aboard the Underground Railroad:   The Henderson Lewelling House"

     "The Henderson Lewelling House is located in Salem, Iowa, the first Quaker community in Iowa, founded in 1835.   Henderson Lewelling, a Quaker from Indiana, moved to Salem in 1837 with his brother and opened a general merchandise store and established a small commercial nursery.   Like other Quaker Meetings across the country, the Salem Monthly Meeting experienced a schism within in its membership over the action the community should take in opposing slavery.   The Society of Friends opposed slavery, but some members felt that they should not participate in helping fugitive slaves to freedom.   Lewelling represented the more active side of this decisive question and in 1843, along with other members of the Salem Monthly Meeting, established the Abolition Friends Monthly Meeting.   By 1845, Salem Meeting had disowned 50 of its members, an indication of how divided the Society of Friends was over participation in the Underground Railroad.   Some of the Abolition Friends most probably met in the Lewelling House, built c.1840, to discuss their Underground Railroad activities, and the house may have also been a haven to fugitive slaves.   Salem was only 25 miles from Missouri, a slave state, and many of its residents had strong anti-slavery beliefs, making the town an active stop on the Underground Railroad.

     Lewelling is also known for promoting the fruit industry in Iowa and later in Oregon and California.   He and his brother were the first people to plant fruit trees in Iowa.   In 1837 they planted 35 varieties of apples, pears, cherries, peaches, plums, and small fruits.   Ten years after arriving in Salem, Lewelling moved to Oregon and established a new nursery with 350 plants that had survived the long journey--the first grafted nursery stock planted on the Pacific Coast.   Lewelling's brother later joined him and was responsible for propagating the Bing cherry.   In 1853, taking advantage of the Gold Rush, Lewelling moved to California, established a nursery and founded the community of Fruitvale.   Today, Lewelling is known as the Father of the Pacific Fruit Industry.   His activities in Salem, Iowa, also make him an important figure in the Underground Railroad movement."

     The Henderson Lewelling House is located on West Main Street in Salem, Iowa.   It is open to the public May through September on Sundays only from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.   During the rest of the year, tours are given by appointment by calling the Henry County Welcome Center at 1-800-421-4282.   (http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/ia3.htm)

Regards from Virginia,


Billie Harris - Mar 21, 2011

Great pieces of information, Clete, and lots of research here.   It's going to take some time to digest it all, but I congratulate   and thank you.   I'm sure we all do.   Fortunately, we have had one member of this family do a DNA for us.   It's a perfect match with individuals who've tested for Anderson and Wiley, etc.   so it's very possible the Richard and Grace Stokeley are part of this family.