For my birthday I got a fabulous seed catalog. (I may have purchased it for myself with birthday money, eh hm) Its enormous and bursting with colorful, gorgeous fruits, vegetables, and flowers. I've looked through the entire thing several times. This last time looking through I saw something incredibly fascinating. In the melon section I noticed a seed named Bidwell Casaba. Bidwell is a family name that takes only four generations back to find, starting from my maternal Grandfather > his mom > her dad > his dad. > his mom was a Bidwell. The description reads for the Bidwell Casaba melon:
This melon was grown by general John Bidwell, who recieved his seed stock by the USDA in 1869. He was a soilder in the civil war and also became a US Senator. He grew this melon in Chico California. It produces massive fruits that weigh about 16 pounds each and are football shaped. The orange flesh is sweet and creamy. Dr. Amy Goldman says "tastes like heavenly orange sherbet," in her book Melons for the Passionate Grower.
My grandmother was a passionate gardener. I only began to grow food in my yard two years ago. But the activity is something that thrills me. I'm can't get enough of watching each little seed sprout, staring at the tiny plants as they grow on my window sill, watching them then flourish in the soil in my backyard, before too long they flower, and then by some sort of mystical magic these little seeds have been transformed into enormous plants bearing spectacular food. I couldn't ever fully describe the fascination and delight I've found in gardening.
When I saw the Bidwell Melon I had to wonder if this man was a relative of mine. Bidwell is a name I've rather enjoyed looking into in my family tree. The Bidwell's have a good part in American history. Although the Bidwell name in my family tree is flourishing with John's I was a little doubtful that this particular John Bidwell would match up to my line because he was growing that Bidwell Casaba Melon in California and my Bidwells hail from Connecticut.
I'll just cut the suspense, John Bidwell of the Casaba melon is in fact (at least from what I've been able to deduce) my first cousin 6x removed. He shares his name with my 9x Great Grandfather, John Bidwell of Hartford Connecticut, who is his 3x Great Grandpa.
POST almost one year ago about my 4x Great Grandpa Mishael Beadle who moved from New York to Michigan in 1833, Mishael was married to a Bidwell. My 4x Great Grandma Ruth Bidwell was John Bidwell's aunt.
According to wikipedia John Bidwell was not only a US Sentor that fought in the civil war and moved to California (where he grew heavenly orange sherbet flavored melons) he was also a pioneer. Like my Grandpa Mishael and Grandma Ruth Bidwell who moved to Michigan to homestead, John Bidwell "was known throughout California and across the nation as an important pioneer... He is famous for leading one of the first emigrant parties, known as the Bartleson–Bidwell Party, along the California Trail, and for founding Chico, California."
I love history. I LOVE family history and I love LOVE love gardening! What a wonderful find.
So, who votes that I NEED to purchase these melon seeds and see what bit of family history I might be able to grow in my yard? I'm afraid I live in a bit too northerly climate but I'm itching to try...