After much trial and error, Peter Gideon developed the hardy fruit.
In the fall of 1853, Peter Gideon came to Minnesota with his wife, Wealthy Hull, and their children. He planted a bushel of apple seeds and some other fruit-bearing tree seeds that he had brought with him on a 160-acre parcel of land next to what is now known as Gideon’s Bay. Gideon’s main goal was to develop an apple tree hardy enough to withstand Minnesota winters. After ten years of hardship and disappointment, Gideon was determined. He purchased seeds and scion (shoots) from an apple grower in Bangor, Maine and grafted a scion onto his lone crab apple tree that had survived a freeze. The resulting tree produced the apple that Gideon later named the Wealthy, after his wife.
By the early 20th century, the Wealthy apple was one of the top apples grown nationally. Gideon gave all seeds away for free, so he never made any money from the Wealthy apple. (The Wealthy apple is genetically related to other successful Minnesota apples, like the Haralson.)
You can visit the Gideon landmark that the Minnesota Historical Society erected in 1965, located in Shorewood.
Deanna Bunkelman is the president of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society and writes about local history in her monthly column.