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.
Lake Minnetonka history
The history of the business also serves as a family history.
Much of what we know about early Lake Minnetonka history comes from the pages of Lydia Ferguson’s diaries. She recorded it all, from 1854 to 1886, in a clear-eyed chronicle that includes her own family’s tales of suffering, insanity, death, love and endurance.
Last September, Excelsior’s Bob Williams received a Distinguished Service Award from the Minnetonka Alumni Association. “It was really very nice,” he says fondly. “It was really fun.” Williams exudes modesty, but his friends and family can’t say enough wonderful things about him. And when talking with Williams, you start to see how many different—and inspiring—forms his community dedication has taken over the past decades.
The historic grand hotels of the late 1800s evoke regality, respect and awe. Images of men in tails and women in ball gowns float to mind when we reminisce about the good old days.