Calif. Families Lewelling Henderson Contact

Henderson & Seth Lewelling


Henderson Lewelling
Born23 Apr. 1809Randolph Co., NC
Moved1820-25Henry Co., Indiana
Marriedc. 1830 Henry Co., Indiana
Movedc. 1837Salem, Iowa
Moved1847Milwaukie, Oregon
Death1883Oakland, CA
Seth Lewelling
Born6 Mar 1820Randolph Co., NC
Moved1820-25Henry Co., Indiana
Marriedc. 1830 Henry Co., Indiana
Movedc. 1837Salem, Iowa
Moved1847Milwaukie, Oregon
Death?Oakland, CA

Henderson and his brother, Seth, were the first people to plant fruit trees in Iowa and were pioneering nurserymen in Oregon and Calif. 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, Sewth, joined him in 1850 and was responsible for propagating the Bing cherry. (The bing accounts for 2/3 of cherry sales today.) In 1851 he established branch nurseries in Salem and Albany. In 1853, taking advantage of the Gold Rush, Henderson moved to California, established a nursery and founded the community of Fruitvale in Oakland. 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. (Source: Article about his Salem IA, House at the National Park Svc. ParkNet.)

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.

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.

Source: The Lewelling Family--Pioneers by O.A. Garretson

Account of journey from Iowa to Oregon:
Henderson is also famous for bringing a wagon full of tree seedlings on the trip to Oregon.

See The story of their encounter with Indians

His house in Salem, IA is open to the public.

He is listed in Notable Iowa Persons.
See Also:
The Lewelling Family--Pioneers at The Iowa History Project
Million-Dollar Wagon
1. "The Royal Memory of Mr. Lewelling", a newspaper article (Prob. Sacramento Bee)
2. "Henderson Luelling, Sewth Lewelling and the Birth of the Pacific Coast Fruit Industry", Oregon Historical Quarterly, V. 68, no. 2 (June 1967)
Cherry City at
History of Fruit Growing in Oregon
History of Fruit Growing in the Pacific Northwest Henderson Luelling and Seth Lewelling
Fruit Genetics and Breeding at U. Wisc.,
Des Moines Register Article,
Dimond Park/Fruitvale History at Friends of Sausal Creek Page.
The Lewelling Family--Pioneers by O.A. Garretson

Other Genealogy pages:
Henderson Lewelling Family | Jean Leeper Charlotte Powell's database at roots web
Steve Harrison's database at roots web
Henderson Lewelling Page at FamilySearch

Return to the Lewelling Familiy Page.

last updated 2 July 2007