The Rome Beauty apple is thought to be an offshoot of the Westfield Seek-No-Further. It was first recorded in 1848. Joel Gillette in Proctorville, Ohio had purchased a number of grafted trees from Putnam Nursery in 1816. One had sprouted below the graft and Gillett gave this tree to his son. It produced attractive apples he named Rome for their township of Lawrence County. The original tree was washed away in a flood in 1860.
Medium to large in size and uniformly round in shape, they are fairly smooth and well-colored, the greenish yellow skin is mottled and flushed with bright red which
deepens to a solid red on the sun exposed side. Originally it was green with a red stripe on one side. The creamy yellow flesh is coarse and juicy and the skin is tough. The stalk is long and thick and usually projects at an angle. The tree growth is narrow and upright and the bark is a reddish olive in color. Leaves are small, shiny light green, oval and sharply serrated. Its limbs are unusually supple and are therefore less often damaged by high winds. Rome Beauty is self-pollinating and blooms late, escaping late frosts. It is considered an all purpose apple. It is thought to be one of the best varieties for baking too. It stores well and ripens in early October.
There is no marker to denote the
approximate location of the first
Rome Beauty tree in Proctorville.
In the time it grew it was located
on the banks of the Ohio river as
most farms had landings for the
steam boats of that day. There
were no highways or railroads
so the river boats serviced the
farms. The river was not as wide
then so its site would be under
Above is a photo of what was the old McCowan farm,
taken from Rt 2 on the West Virginia side of the Ohio
River. The large white box is the area in which the
first Rome Beauty apple tree was planted. The small
arrow is the approximate area of the first tree. It was
planted much further up on the bank of the river so it
would be safe from the recurrent seasonal floods. The second half of the 1800's had three devistating
The photo to the left is taken in front of the old McCown farm house on Rt 7.. The small cottage was a tenants house, and if you walked by it to the river
you would be close to the original location.
Don Gillette says he is the Great, Great, Great Grandson of Joel Gillette.
His roadside market is a couple miles
to the left of the cottage in the photo
above in front of the Fairland East
Elementry School. Speaking with Don I learned that his grandad had
been elected to the Ohio Senate and
had then registered the apple as a
pure breed strain. The area east of
Proctorville to Miller, or Millersport as
some older folks still refer to it, was
heavily producing orchard lands. The
Rome Township of Lawrence County produced more fruit than any other area of Ohio at one time.