New Hampshire Tidbits: The Best Mother

Jona-Red apple, grown in New Hampshire.

Regular readers of my Cow Hampshire blog know I’ve written many times about New Hampshire agriculture, and in particular about heirloom apple history. With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d present a tidbit story that combines both subjects.

On 24 October 1878 the New Hampshire Patriot and State Gazette of Concord published New Hampshire State Fair fruit being exhibited. Among them were: “Apples–Best five varieties, Best Mother, Chas H. Colburn, city; Foundling, Daniel Shirley, Goffstown; Baldwins and Northern Spy, Moses D. Page, Dover; Sweet Porters, J.P. Jameson, Dunbarton; Tolman Sweet, Leonard Robertson, Goffstown; Maiden’s Blush, B.W. Nichols, Bedford; second-best 10 varieties, Isaac Huse, city; best 10 varities, Golden Sweet, Hubbardston, C.C. Shaw, Milford; Blue Pearmains, R.M. Rollins, city; Baldwins, A.P. Joy, South Newmarket; Gravenstine, W.W. Howard, Milford.

Photograph of an agricultural exhibit inside a tent at the Franklin Street Fair in 1915. Manchester Historic Association. Used with permission.

It was the “Best Mother” variety of apples that caught my eye (though the “Foundling” one of Goffstown is interesting also). Who was this Charles H. Colburn who named an apple after his mother, or perhaps his wife who he thought was the best mother? At any rate, following some research, I present his story and his genealogy follows.

I could not discover more information about this specific apple, though I did find a description of one called “Mother” that had been grown in not too far off Massachusetts. The American Fruit Culturist by J. Thomas and William H. Wood shows a type of apple called: Mother.* Rather large, oblong-ovate, approaching conical; slightly and obtusely ribbed, color a high warm rich red on yellow ground; deep red to the sun–in obscure broken stripes and spots; stalk three-fourths of an inch long, cavity moderate; basin small, plaited; flesh yellow, more so toward the outside, moderately juicy, rich, very spicy, very mild sub-acide with an admixture of sweet. Somewhat resembles the Esopus Spitzenburgh in external appearance, and in its rich yellow flesh and spiciness. Growth slow. Fig 426. Late autumn and early winter. Worcester County, Mass.


Edward-1 Colborne & Hannah –. (Ipswich MA]

Thomas-2 Colburn & Hannah Rouf/Rolfe (Ipswich MA & )

Thomas Colburn & Maria –. (Dunstable MA)

Thomas Colburn & Mary Day (Chelmford MA & Nottingham West/Hudson NH)

Zaccheus-5 Colburn, son of Thomas-4, was born at Nottingham West/Hudson NH on 16 Feb 1765 and died 10 Oct 1851. He married 29 Apr 1788 to Rachel Hill, dau of Elijah and Miriam (Kidder) Hill. She was b 10 Apr 1765 and d. 23 Sep 1840. They lived at Hudson NH.
Children of Zaccheus & Rachel (Hill) Colburn:
1. Miriam Colburn b 26 Feb 1789; m. Daniel Pollard
2. Thomas Colburn, b 27 Feb 1792, d. in Medford MA
3. Mary Colburn, b. 21 Dec 1793; m. Thomas B. Wason
4. Elijah Colburn, b. 8 Sep 1795
5. +Zaccheus Colburn, b. 5 Jan 1801 at Hudson NH

Oil painting portrait of “Dr. Zacheous Colburn.” Manchester Historic Association Collection. Used with Permission. [Zaccheus-6]

Zaccheus-6 Colburn, son of Zaccheus-5 was born 5 Jan 1801 at Hudson NH and d. 21 Nov 1864. He married Mary Phelps, daughter of William and Elizabeth (Gordon) Phelps of Piedmont NH. She was b. 5 May 1806 in Piedmont NH and d. 23 March 1849. They lived in Manchester NH. He married 2d) 15 Nov 1849 to Judith Maria Morse, daughter of Joseph & Betsey (Corser) Morse of Bradford NH. She was b. 22 Feb 1823 in Bradford NH and they lived in Manchester NH. Physician [see detailed biography here]
Children of Zaccheus & Mary (Phelps) Colburn:
1. Mary Phelps Colburn, b. 17 July 1833, d. 27 March 1839
2. William Gardner Colburn, b 9 Sep 1835, d. 9 Sep 1875; A.B. Harvard College in 1860. L.L.B. Harvard 1862.
3. Eliza Colburn, b. 18 March 1837, d. 18 July 1843.
4. Charles Zaccheus Colburn, b. 13 Nov 1838, d. 14 March 1843
5. Harriet Mary Ann Colburn, b 4 Dec 1840, d. 4 Aug 1841
6. George Thomas Colburn b 2 June 1842, d. 21` July 1843
7. James Wheelock Colburn b. 7 Jan 1846, d. 7 Aug 1846.
Children of Zaccheus & Judith M. (Morse) Colburn:
8. +Charles Henry Colburn b 22 May 1852
9. Arthur Colburn, b. 17 April 1860
10. Jane Maria Colburn, b 3 Oct 1862, d. 3 Aug 1863

Charles Henry Colburn, son of Zaccheus-6, & Judith Maria (Morse) Colburn (Zaccheus-5, Thomas-4, thomas-3, Thomas-2, Edward-1) was born 22 May 1852 and died 12 June 1938 in Manchester NH. He married 1 Jan 1876 to Fannie H., daughter of Barnard P. and Harriett (Underhill) Robie of Chester NH who was born May 13, 1856. He received his education in the public schools of the City of Manchester. He chose, for his life work, the business of carpenter and builder. During the thirty-five years of his service, he has constructed some of the finest residences in the city, and his services have been in demand as a draughtsman to prepare plans for others to construct. He is a member of the Ancient Order or United Workmen, the Knights of Pythias, and the order of Red Men. *This story is about him.*
-In 1900 living at 734 Chestnut Street.
[Genealogy of the Colburn-Coburn Families, page 275]
Child of Charles H. & Fannie. H. (Robie) Colburn:
1. William Gardner Colburn, b. 26 October 1876 in Manchester NH. He died 15 March 1959 in Grasmere/Goffstown NH. He m1) 12 July 1905 to Edith Charlotte Coles/Cowles, daughter of Winthrop & Lula E. Coles. She was b. 26 May 1884 and died 21 January 1933. They had a child, Melvyn (see below). They lived at 912 Somerville Street in Manchester NH in 1917. They are buried in Pine Grove Cemetery.

Melvyn Emerson Colburn, son of William Gardner & Edith Charlotte (Coles) Colburn was b 27 June 1908 in Portland, Oregon, and died 9 July 1984 in Dade Co. FL. He married 6 Ma 1935 in Kings Co NY to Marie Kaderly, daughter of Clarence & Ruby (Nugent) Kaderly. She was b 5 Dec 1911 in Oklahoma. They divorced in 1950. He married 30 Sep 1950 in Detroit Michigan to Grace Mary Culpepper-Hall, dau of Charles Erastus & Nancy Lulu (Stewart) Culpepper. She was b abt 1910 in Sulphur Springs, TX. She married 15 Apr 1930 in Pottawatomie OK to John M. Chaney. He was a drug store clerk, moving to San Francisco to work at a whole sale drug dealership until 1905 when it was wrecked by an earthquake. For a short time he lived in Oregon, but by 1943 he had returned to Manchester NH where he owned a grocery store. In 1940 he was employed by the New Hampshire Jockey Club. During WWI (1943) he was a Seaman 1c in the U.S. Navy assigned to the L.S.T. 125, a Tank Landing Ship. At the end of his life he moved to Miami Florida where he died.


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4 Responses to New Hampshire Tidbits: The Best Mother

  1. Michael says:

    Maybe it’s the chilly wet spring day today, but this post had me wanting hot apple cider (and apple pie for good measure!).

  2. Amy says:

    Have you ever seen one? Or a photo? It sounds a bit bizarre!!

    • Janice Brown says:

      Apples were described in really interesting ways. I did an entire post of “heirloom apples” of New Hampshire. New varietals would be created by a particular apple grower and they would give it the name of their choice. The descriptions sounds rather normal comparatively 🙂 Thanks for reading Amy! and I always enjoy your comments. But no, the news article had no photograph. Many of the heirlooms apple books did not show a photo.

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