Snippets of Bay Village History: Growing up in the David Foote apple orchard
Warm summer days and cold summer nights got the juices flowing in fruit trees and vineyards. Our early settlers usually had a few acres in orchards on their farms. One of the first things Joseph Cahoon did when he arrived in Dover Township in 1810 was to plant apple and peach orchards on the east side of Cahoon Creek.
The Wischmeyers had apple and peach trees behind Granny Wischmeyer‘s house on the south side of Lake Road, east of Dover Center. Picking fruit was a summer job at Wischmeyers for Bay High School boys who wanted to store their boats in the boat house on the beach. The Cahoons talk, with pride, in their personnel papers housed at Rose Hill Museum, about their two-acre Baldwin apple orchard on the southeast corner of Wolf and Dover Center roads.
With the coming of families from Hanover, Germany, in the 1850s, fruit growing took center stage. It was the west end of Bay where acres of orchards could be seen along the roads. The Germans settled on Bassett, Bradley and Walker roads and their main crop was fruit planted in orchards and vineyards.
Up on Lake Road, David Foote had a few acres in orchards on the south side of Lake Road, west to the Eagle Cliff woods. Two of those acres were sold to my family and the family next door to the west. Both families were farmers at heart and fed and pruned their fruit trees. These trees gave us much fruit for our labors.
Not all our apple trees were of the same species. We had a Baldwin tree near the house. My dad put a large swing in it and I remember knitting many a pair of argyle socks under that tree in the 1950s. Some apples were fat and red, some green, and some looked like what they call an eating apple today. One species had an oily skin. It actually had a shine to it and you could feel the oil in the skin. Dad said that was so it would last all winter. We also had a Queen Anne and a Montmorency cherry tree and two peach trees. In the fall we had to pick up all the apples before we cut the grass.
When my parents passed in the 1970s, and we sold the house, all the trees were still standing in the backyard. For the next 30 years the apple trees in both yards still survived. Today all the trees are gone from the backyards.
The last orchard sold in the 1960s along the west side of Bradley Road and north of the Wolf Road extension. I remember apple trees behind the Starke chrysanthemum farm on the west side of Bradley Road south to the Peters and Toensings farms. In talking to the families living in the ranch houses on Bradley they confirmed there were apple trees in their backyards and the backyards of the houses on both sides of Walmar, Bexley and Carlton.
Today, I watch two apple trees just west of city hall by the sidewalk. Back in the '70s, while walking one day, I picked up an apple and bit into it. It was the sweetest apple ever. I would take the wagon up with a peck basket and pick up apples from the ground. The city never sprayed the trees and they were wormy but they made the best applesauce. I often met another lady who was doing the same thing. At one time there were four trees there on the old Cahoon property.
I am the Historian for the Bay Village Historical Society. Member and Past President of the society. Lived in the village since 1936.