Question: "What's the top fruit crop in the state of Georgia?"
Is that not what you were expecting? It's really a relatively recent development. In the last dozen years, blueberries have bested peaches as the top fruit crop in Georgia. But that in no way diminishes the impact the humble peach had (and still has) on this state.
Georgia earned it's "Peach State" nickname in the decades following the Civil War, when annual production expanded to reach a height of about 8 million bushels by 1928. One of the people we have to thank for that is Samuel Rumph:
Samuel Henry Rumph, a middle Georgia peach grower during the late 1800’s, is credited with being the “Father of the Georgia Peach industry” as he revolutionized the industry with a new variety which he named after his wife Elberta. This yellow-fleshed peach was of superior quality and shipped better than previous varieties. Not only did he breed this superior variety but he also invented a way to ice train cars loaded with peaches, thus getting this "Queen of Fruits" into the populous Northeast. Rumph never patented his Elberta peach or the refrigerated train car. Instead he opted to share this windfall with his neighbors and the "Georgia Peach Boom" began. – Georgia Peach Council
Mr. Rumph died 22 December 1922, and as you might imagine, papers across the state of Georgia carried the news. Here is one such article from the Columbus Ledger, dated the day of Samuel's death [via GenealogyBank]:
Originator of Georgia Peach Industry Dead
Marshallville, Ga., Dec. 22. – Samuel H. Rumph, 70, known in this section as the father and originator of the peach industry, died at 3 o'clock this morning at his home here.
Mr. Rumph suffered a stroke early yesterday and members of his family were summoned to his bedside.
He was the propagator of the famous Elberta and George Belle peaches. The Elberta was named after his first wife. Mr. Rumph was the first man to ship a crate of peaches out of Georgia.
Practically all of Mr. Rumph's life was devoted to agriculture. When he first grew peaches for commercial purposes and announced that he intended to ship peaches out of the state, he received little encouragement and many who heard of his pro[s]pect regarded it with skepticism.
From the shipping of the first crate of peaches by Mr. Rumph the fruit industry began to grow and today in middle Georgia is second to cotton in importance.
Funeral services will be held Saturday morning at 10:30 at Marshallville.
The remains of Samuel Henry Rumph rest at Marshallville Cemetery in Macon County, Georgia. His fine tombstone is located between those of two important women in his life: his mother Caroline, and his first wife Clara Elberta.
Are you wondering what's up with all the "letter" posts? I am participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge (links to official page). This challenge lasts through the month of April, with Sundays off. Each day follows a different letter prompt, in order, from A to Z. Click here to see all my letter posts on one page (in reverse order). This blog as a whole is one of my themes – telling the tales of tombstones, primarily from those found in the Southern United States and usually the State of Georgia. You may follow along with me by email and other social media platforms listed at the top of the sidebar. I and other bloggers in the challenge on Twitter will also be using #atozchallenge.
Though this is my second year in the challenge, it's my first with two blogs. I am also participating with Lincecum Lineage. Though it is a one name study blog, my theme there is "kinfolk direct." These genealogy and family history posts all involve a direct relative.
Are you participating in the challenge, too? Please leave a link to your blog in the comments, I'd love to pay you a visit. Good luck to all involved!