Monday, February 8, 2010

The Family Tree

This McIntosh apple tree has been in our family for nearly 100 years. It's a tree that holds many special memories. My brothers and I used to climb the tree and pluck the apples that my mom and dad would use to make applesauce. The tree was also a calm place where I would go to often just sit and chill out..... and perhaps most importantly, it served as a refuge from our ornery calf that would often chase us after we taunted the poor thing. (well that was mostly my brothers:) You know who you are :)

My grandfather planted this tree after homesteading in the Dalton Gardens area and amazingly enough the tree continues to produce record size fruit. The home to the left, where the apple tree resides, is that of my grandparents who have long since passed away. The story on how my grandparents met is very cool and grandma loved to tell the story. I loved to listen and would sit with her on her sunny porch sipping tea and eating cookies as she told it. Her thick french accent made it all the more enticing to listen to. The story goes something like this: My grandfather was an MP in WWI and stationed in Mimizan, France. His job included securing various buildings in the village. One of those buildings happened to be a hotel owned by my grandmother's parents. Here, they met and courted for the duration of my grandfather's military term. The two could not go anywhere alone during their courtship as my grandmother's parents made her have a chaperon at all times. Although, according to grandma they were able to ditch them every once in a while. (The need for the chaperon was in part because she was very young -14 years younger than my grandpa.) When my grandfather's military term was over, he left France and headed back to the states. He left with only a promise to return and marry my grandmother. From what I can remember of the story my grandfather then homesteaded a property in Glacier, Montana. He stayed his required number of years according to the Homestead Act and once he had title to the property he sold it. With the proceeds, he was able to make his way back to Mimizan, France and it was there that he asked my grandmother's parents the permission to marry their daughter. They were married soon after.... and get this....the wedding party, which took place at the family owned hotel, went on for an entire week. (Do the French know how to party or what?)

The newlywed couple resided in Mimizan for (I don't know the exact timeline) quite some time and later boarded a ship and headed for the U.S. (The boat ride took nearly two weeks.) My grandfather and grandmother eventually homesteaded in the rural outskirts of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho what is now called Dalton Gardens. It was many years later that my grandparents had enough money saved to bring my grandmother's parents to the U.S. as well. My grandpa spent his free time adding on to his home so they would have enough space for their growing family. Later, upon arriving here, my grandma's parents lived with them up until they passed away some years later.

I was lucky to be able to grow up in an area surrounded by family and equally lucky to have the wonderful stories to share with my children. By the childhood home is the one on the right and this is where the family garden is. This same property was all vegetable garden at one point as my grandpa was also an avid gardener. Hmmmm...not a bad idea :)

That must be where I get it :)


  1. Wow, what an amazing story! So romantic :D

  2. A wonderful story, and a beautiful, very special, apple tree too! I'm impressed it still produces fruit!

  3. Nice story, thanks for sharing. Life seemed much more interesting way back then. Now the norm is public school, secondary eduction and then off to the office, What a drag!

    Love that apple tree by the way :-) Every made hard cider from the fruit?

  4. Thanks Kyna...they were an amazing couple.

    Curbstone..thank you....we are also amazed that the old tree is still going.

    Thanks Dan...I know what you mean...growing up is really not all that fun....ah the good old days of climbing trees and chasing the never know what you have until you lose it huh?

    We have not tried making any cider yet but that is a great idea....When we get ready to try it we will visit your beer blog and take some notes. What type of apples did you use?

  5. Sunny, What an awesome story! Thanks for sharing! You truly have a very rich heritage!

  6. The cider I used was made from Empire but Mac's would be equally as nice. Most brew places rent presses that you can use for juicing them.

  7. What a cool story. It's rate to live in a place with that much history.

  8. Thanks mother's side of the family also has a neat story that I will post about sometime soon.

    Dan....We will definitely look into that...thanks!

    Thanks Rob....I think everyone should try to pass along family history to each generation. For me, writing about it helps me to remember it. (it's an old age thing) lol