Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Armstrong, 20 February 1804

From John Armstrong

Cincinnati February 20th. 1804


Captain Lewis on his way to the Westward called on me and requested that I would at the proper season furnish you with some cuttings, from my Nursery, which you will receive herewith,

No. 1. 2. 3. & 4 were sent me from detroit two years since. No. 5 & 6 are from bearing trees in my Orchard—

No 1 Large White apple—tied with a White string

No. 2 Large Red apple tied with a red string

No. 3 Pumgray an apple much admired and will keep the year round tied with a blue string

No. 4 Calvit apple which is without comparison the best apple that ever was Eaten—tied with a green string

No. 5 Ox Eye striped apple ripe in the fall, highly flavoured weighs from 16 to 20 Oz—tied with a yellow string

No. 6 Egg Plumb as large as a hens egg light coloured rich & Sweet with a small stone will succeed by engrafting on a Damson, Wild Plumb or Peach stock—

I generally cut my cions at this Season of the year, and place one end of the cuttings about two inches in the ground in a perpendicular position and there let them remain until the proper season for placing them into the stock—I practice Tounge Grafting, and seldom lose five trees out of one thousand, have had trees to bear the second year after ingrafting them—

It would oblige me if thro some of your friends I could obtain a few cuttings of the Virginia Cyder apple generally called Hughes Crab with a description of the fruit—

While I have the honor to be with due respect your Obd. Servt.

John Armstrong

RC (MHi); at foot of text: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson”; endorsed by TJ as received 6 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.

John Armstrong was married to Tabitha Goforth, the daughter of William Goforth, on whom Meriwether lewis relied for information about the mammoth excavations at Big Bone Lick. News of the legendary produce of Armstrong’s nursery in Columbia, Ohio, circulated beyond Cincinnati in 1802 (Jackson, Lewis and Clark description begins Donald Jackson, ed., The Letters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, with Related Documents, 1783-1854, 2d ed., Urbana, Ill., 1978 description ends , 2:684-5; Peacham, Vt., Green Mountain Patriot, 27 Oct. 1802; Philadelphia Repository, 6 Nov. 1802).

The pomme gris (pumgray) was a dessert apple that came from French North America. The calvit apple was an anglicized form of the Calville Blanc d’Hiver variety that had been introduced into the Michigan territory by the French. The egg plumb, or Yellow Egg, was a variety of the magnum bonum plum known for its golden yellow hue, large shape, and usefulness in preserving and baking. TJ tried to graft it with the popular damson or Damascene cultivar (Peter J. Hatch, The Fruits and Fruit Trees of Monticello [Charlottesville, 1998], 49, 76-8, 112, 114).

cions: scions.

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