Mullins Family Farm
The Mullins family farm was the site of the first Golden Delicious apple tree. The Golden Delicious apple was first discovered in 1912 by Anderson Mullins. His nephew, Bewel Mullins, built a cage around the tree, and kept records of the tree for 30 years. The Golden Delicious apple became widely popular nationwide, and on February 20, 1995, it was chosen to be West Virginia's state fruit. The original tree lived to be about 50 years old, and a historical marker stands in its place today. Clay County holds an annual Golden Delicious Apple to celebrate it.
Backstory and Context
Immediately, Stark traveled 1,000 miles by railroad and 20-miles by horseback to West Virginia and met up with Mullins. Believing it to be an incredible business opportunity, Stark purchased the tree and the land it grew on for $5,000. Stark built a two-story tall wire cage around the tree to protect it from burglars and vandalism, and hired a watchman to guard it. Stark attempted to insure the tree for $50,000 not only to protect it, but to increase the advertising for the new apple variety he was sure would be a success in the commercial market.
The "Golden Delicious" trees, so named by Stark himself, were reproduced and tested around the country. The success of the tree was lucrative - by 1918, hundreds of orders had to be turned down because Stark could not produce enough of a supply to fit the huge nationwide demand. Stark had predicted that the apples would be sold at a greater price than any other variety of apple, and he was correct - in 1921, the apples could be sold at a prices reaching 50 cents apiece.
The original tree lived to produce apples for almost 50 years, until the tree's death in 1950. Only the historical marker remains in its place today. The Golden Delicious apple's wide-spread popularity led it to have a spot on one of four apple variety stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2013. West Virginia declared the Golden Delicious as the state fruit on February 20th, 1995. Ever since 1972, Clay County has held an annual Clay County Golden Delicious Festival in the fall.
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