Calif. Families Lewelling Henderson Cherries Contact
Newspaper article (Sacramento Bee I think)
The Royal Memory of Mr. Lewelling, Farm Reporter, Henry Schacht
In Early June as cherries were ripening we had something to say here about one Henderson Lewelling.

He is the man who while transporting cherry seedlings over the Oregon Trail back in 1847 dubbed one of our most popular cherry varieties, the Royal Ann.

The twist to the story is that Lewelling lost the name tag on this particular cherry, could recall only that it had something to do with royalty, and named it Royal Ann when had his memory been better, he would have recalled it was really the popular Napoleon.

Now Paul Larsen, who writes "Out-On-A-Limb" in Western Fruit Grower, has added to the story. We thought you might be interested.

According to Larsen, Lewelling's ox-drawn wagon finally halted at what is now Milwaukie, Ore. where he set out the nursery trees he had grown in boxes of soil all the way from Iowa across the plains and mountains and deserts. He was nine months on the way. Three hundred trees survived, including peaches, apples, pears and plums. and several cherry varieties such as the Bigareau and Morello and, of course, the nameless one.

Writes Larsen. "That lost label was for one of the best of all cherries, the Napoleon, by which it is still known in eastern America and Europe. But to the confusion of variety names, western nurserymen and fruit growers have persisted with Royal Ann to this day."

Lewelling left Oregon for California in 1853, leaving behind his brother Seth who, according to Larsen, raised "many of his cherries from seed, some of which became popular varieties."

One of those did indeed become popular. It was the Bing. It came, writes Larsen, from a seed of another variety called Republican planted by Seth Lewelling. It was named for a Chinese worker in the Lewelling nursery. Why it should have sprouted from a seed of a lesser variety remains a horticultural mystery but sprout it did, and today over half the fresh sweet cherries sold are the big black delicious Bings.

Larsen continues, "Still another famous variety, the Lambert, originated as a result of the wagon train nursery Lambert grew as a seedling under a Napoleon tree that Henderson Lewelling had planted in the orchard of J. H Lambert. This variety was believed to be a seedling of Napoleon pollinated by Black Heart. It was introduced by Mr. Lambert about 1880. Today the variety is second only to Bing in fresh sweet cherry shipment."

California Cherry Growing is almost totally dominated by these three varieties that resulted from Henderson Lewelling's wagon train nursery and his brother's later efforts.

Next year will be the one hundredth anniversary of the sprouting of the first Bing seedling. Larsen suggests, and rightfully so, that it will be the time for some appropriate recognition of the Lewelling brothers.

Return to the Lewelling Family Page.