Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Tower Hill asserts that this antique apple is named for the famous Civil War general, but that seems unlikely.

My two samples are a medium and a large medium, each with a red blush (translucent to saturated) that almost entirely covers a light yellow. The fruit smells sweetly of cider.

McLellan's flesh, white and fine-grained, has a soft crunch with light cantaloupe flavors, vinous highlights, and a hint of honey. Its delicacy is overwhelmed by a chewy peel. Overall, nicely balanced, though the crunch could be more assertive.

Beech, who thought highly of this apple, traces McLellan to Woodstock, Connecticut about the time of the Revolutionary War. There are published reports of this variety under that name at least as early as 1851, when General George McClellan was in his 20s and still an army captain.

The apple had several names, all but one ("Martin") a variant, including "McClellan," the General's actual name.

My samples may have been a little past their peak for picking and eating.


  1. The following is from Page one of the Records of Isaac McClellan (excerpts from records of Mary Harris Stratton):

    "ISAAC McCLELLAN is thought to be the first of his family to come to this country. Mrs. W.C. (Alberta Alexander) Taylor, his great granddaughter, says he came from the Old Country, Scotland, she thinks, and she did not know whether he married before or after coming to this country. She said that tradition says that he brought apple seed (or sprout) with him of a yellow June apple, and it was known as the "McClellan Apple." All of the family had trees and she said that she had one.

    "This information was given to Mary Harris Stratton by Mrs. Taylor shortly before her death March 29, 1959, age 88 years.

    "Isaac McClellan was veteran of the War of 1812, and Miss Maggie Barnhardt, a great-great granddaughter, had a proven record of this."

    Isaac McClellan’s name is found in Sketches of the Olivers by Col. Hugh R. & Margaret T. Oliver, page 95, where he is listed as a witness on a military paper for John Oliver of Cades Cove, Tennessee. We have no proof that this is the same Isaac McClellan, but considering where each lived, and that each served in the War of 1812, we believe it is our Isaac McClellan who knew and served with our John Oliver. They lived "over the mountain" apart.

    John Oliver was a brother of my great, great grandfather, William Oliver (son of John Oliver, Sr. and of Mary), was also a soldier in the War of 1812. It is very interesting to find ancestors represented from both my mother’s and father’s families within the same book
    maybe sthe same apple? - Regards Stuart E. Barrentine

    1. Stuart: Thank you for posting this. I am always interested to know more about possible origins.

      In this case it is significant that yours is a "yellow June apple" and this variety is mid season (and blushed red) and is traced by Beach to 1790 in Connecticut (22 years before Isaac McClellan served in the War of 1812).

      Furthermore, though "McClellan" (with two Cs, like Isaac's last name) seems to be a variant name for this variety, its more common name is McLellan.

      None of this is 100% definitive. The genealogy of apples, like that of people, is endlessly subject to revision based on additional information.

      But I think the preponderance of evidence suggest that this apple and that of Isaac McClellan are probably not the same.

      I'd like to try that McClellan, though!


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