The apple, from the Garden of Eden to Rome

Published 3:43 pm Friday, October 17, 2008

Apples have been around a long time. Some think that apples were the forbidden fruit that Eve and Adam ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden of Eden. Eating that fruit got them booted out of the garden and made their lives considerably more difficult, so I doubt if apples were the forbidden fruit.

My great-grandfather, U.T. Cox, once ran an advertisement in the Ironton Register urging readers to eat sixteen apples a day to insure their good health. One fellow allegedly wrote to him that such a diet might insure his good health, but it would certainly increase his toilet paper bill. U.T. owned 15,000 apple trees on top of Greasy Ridge; from the sale of the apples his trees produced, in 1907 he built the Italianate house — now owned by Mrs. Ater — high on the ridge at the six mile mark. Most of those apple lands had originally been planted by U.T.’s father, Nelson Cox, who bought the land in 1854, I think, and proceeded to cut down trees and grub out roots so he could farm the land. But Nelson soon decided that the land was more suited to fruit trees than field crops. His wife, Kate Gardner Cox, niece of Lance Gillet — he who raised the first Rome Beauty apple tree — agreed, and with good apple scions from his wife’s father, Thomas Gardner, and her uncle, Capt. H.N. Gillet, Nelson began planting apple trees on the ridge top and the slopes.

He found them to be profitable. In the 1870’s Nelson built a grand home for his wife and six children on a knoll across the ridge road from their starter house. He also started Pomaria Baptist Church, which meets yet today, to make getting to church easier for the family. Previously, they had attended the monthly services at Lowgap Baptist (Union) church and at Slate Run (Pine Grove) Baptist church, with an occasional visit to Beulah Baptist or Storms Creek Baptist, all of which are still meeting — Praise the Lord!

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U.T. and his older brother Elton continued the family orchards for many years.

Elton built the large white house a mile north of the Ater home on the ridge road just above where the Pomaria school house once sat. In regard to the apple’s origin, some sources say apples originated as wild plants near Tiblisi, Georgia, on the northeast shore of the Black Sea. Other sources believe they first grew further east in what we now know as Kazakistan. One thing is sure: when they are ripe, apples taste mighty good.