Saturday, September 23, 2017

1884 Who stole all of those fine, large, mellow apples out of the garden.

Tupelo Journal (MS) County News - Guntown, Baldwyn, Verona November 21 1884

Messrs. Agnew & Hinds will soon have their spacious shop and warerooms read for occupying.
Mr. J. M. Agnew is very anxious to know who stole all of those fine, large, mellow apples out of his garden. 
From Noah Webster (1758-1843) American Spelling Book.

A blog on the American Orchard tells us that as far as 19C American law was concerned, "taking apples from a roadside orchard was a trivial offense–at most an instance of trespass, for which the owner was only entitled to sue for the value of lost fruit, which in any given case would be so small as to not be worth the trouble. But as good roads & canals connected farmers to urban markets, & improvement-minded farmers invested more of their labor & resources into carefully cultivated, grafted fruit orchards with marketable winter apples, they began to perceive the passerby who pilfered a shirttail full of apples in the same light they did the pickpocket. Market-minded farmers grew increasingly frustrated that the law did not agree. As early as 1832, a court case in New York gave horticulturalists some hope that the legal system & the public might begin to take their grievance seriously. The case involved an apple-pilferer who took a farmer to court for assault. The pilferer had been caught in the act by the orchard owner who was holding a horsewhip when he demanded that the thief put down the fruit. When the brazen scoundrel refused, the orchard owner took the whip to him. The plaintiff’s lawyer confessed to the jury that he himself had on many occasions taken fruit from other men’s orchards, that no doubt the majority of the jury members had done so as well, & therefore the assault with horsewhip was entirely unwarranted. The jury disagreed & found for the farmer defendant. The story circulated among editors of agricultural journals, who read into the jury’s decision “the pleasing hope that we were on the eve of a revolution in regard to the plundering of fruit, & that a great improvement in public sentiment is taking place on this subject.”