All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Maine Woman Introduced Navel Oranges to California

Rebecca (Blodgett) Warren—a native of Gilead—claimed in 1906 to have started the navel orange industry in California. She was then living in retirement in Norway, and gave an interview published in the Lewiston Journal Illustrated Magazine Section of Jan. 20-24.
"Yes, I introduced navel oranges into California. I was in San Francisco one day and purchased the old roots of two navel orange plants. The wholesale man was doubtful of their worth. He offered them for $10 each, should they live. If they did not, the bargain was to end.

"They lived all right, and in a short time I was selling the buds for 25 cents apiece. These were the first navel oranges ever raised in California. Many have claimed to be the first to introduce them, but they are mistaken, as any wholesale man at San Francisco or the fruit men of Orange county—then Los Angeles—will vouch.

"More than that we—for I married William Warren shortly—were the first to ship oranges by the carload from California to the East. We used to get cattle cars, clean them well and ship them. After our marriage our brand became the W. H. W. brand, and New York has consumed many carloads of our oranges."

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