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Clapp Pear Originated in Nineteenth Century Dorchester, Mass.

I remember my visit to Forest Hills Cemetery. The cemetery, which is in Jamaica Plain, part of Boston, was built in the nineteenth century in the new style of the park cemetery, where visitors could enjoy a picturesque setting with a manicured lawn, trees, shrubs, walkways, and even a lake.

In the Forest Hills Cemetery I found the tombstone of Dorchester fruit-grower Thaddeus Clapp (1811-1861).  Clapp  introduced the pear that bears his name.  Fruit growing had played an important role in agriculture  for the first half of the nineteenth century.

The Thaddeus Clapp headstone in Forest Hills Cemetery shows his famous pear.
The Thaddeus Clapp tombstone in Forest Hills Cemetery shows the famous pear that bears his name.

Dorchester, which became part of Boston in 1880,  enjoyed the reputation as the home of many orchards in the nineteenth century.

Philadelphia nurseryman Thomas Meehan gave a bit of the history of the Clapp pear in the 1886 issue of his magazine Gardener’s Monthly.

Meehan wrote, “At  a recent meeting of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society Mr. Wilder said, in reference to the Clapp’s Favorite pear, that when it was introduced, the Massachusetts Agricultural Club desired to possess the control of the variety and give it his name, and authorized a committee to offer a thousand dollars for the stock; but Thaddeus Clapp, who raised it, preferred to have it dedicated as it was, and a figure of the pear is carved on his monument in Forest Hills Cemetery.”

The pear is still available for American gardeners at nurseries like Miller’s in New York.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Good Morning, I am the Superintendent of Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston; Richard Carey.
    I am in the process of securing and planting the Clapp’s Favorite Select Pear, at the location of Thaddeus Clapp’s grave, as a horticultural interest and in commemoration of Mr. Clapp’s contribution to agriculture. In addition I will be planting a Bartlett pear at the Bartlett grave as well. Previously this spring (Apr 2022), I planted John Richardson’s Lot with his ‘Festiva maxima’ Paeonies, which he hybridized. These gentleman are apart of our residents of the cemetery, whom are featured on our Horticultural walking tour.

    1. Richard, thank you for your contact.
      I am happy you are maintaining the important horticultural history of Forest Hills. The cemetery is a treasure of 19th century landscape history.

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