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The Milam Apple
Origin: Virginia, 1700's

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
by Mark Twain, 1876

Chapter 18:   "Here's a big Milum apple I've been saving for you, Tom,
if you was ever found again -- now go 'long to school."

How Mark Twain came to know the "Milum" Apple, is currently unknown, but apparently he liked it.
The parents of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain) were from Virginia prior to removing to Missouri, as were many Milams.  It is possible that this is how he came to know the Milam Apple. 

The Origin of the Milam Apple

Memo from History of Madison County, Virginia
by Claude Lindsay Yowell, 1926

page 53:
"The Milam apple, a native of Madison County and very highly prized by the citizens of this county, had its origin near Milum's Gap (Sometimes called Fisher's Gap).  It originated in a seedling that came up in the yard of one Joseph Milum. The apple proved to be so good that people came from far and near to graft trees from this one. The apples were named for the man  who owned the seedling, Joseph Milum and afterwards the gap in the Blue Ridge near his home was also named for him."


Judge W. E. Bohannon of Criglersville in his letter of 16 October, 1927 in reply to a letter of H. M. Milam of Atlanta, Georgia, dated 11 October, 1927 says, "Thomas Milum received a grant of land of 203 acres from Lord Fairfax, dated 31 January, 1749 and upon which Thomas Milam lived and died in 1785.   This grant of land is located in Madison County, Virginia at the eastern foot of the Blue Ridge Range and situated ten miles northwest of Madison, the county seat.  The "Milam Apple" known all over the country, originated on this farm and got its name from Thomas Milum.  Also the first pass over the Blue Ridge Mountains from this county to the valley was opened by Thomas Milum and bears his name to this day, "Milam's Gap."  No Milam has lived in this section since the death of Thomas.  He with the old families came up from Eastern shore as the county was being settled, Thomas Milum had no sons.  

(Madison County was cut off from Culpeper County in 1792; Culpepper from Orange County in 1748; Orange County from Spotsylvania County in 1734; Spotsylvania County was formed in 1720.)

Note: Judge Bohannon was reportedly a descendant of Thomas Milam, on his maternal side.  At the time of his writing, he  was past 80 years old.   We believe that the Thomas Milam who received the grant from Lord Fairfax is the same Thomas Milam who later removed to Bedford County.  Records show that Thomas Milam of Bedford County did have sons.  Whether Thomas and Joseph Milum were related, is not known.  It is even possible that they were one and the same.

Comments about the Milam Apple

The Milam Apple is medium in size, with large speckled areas of red and green-yellow.  It has a sweet taste similar to the Red Delicious, but with an added touch of tartness.  The combination of sweetness and tartness makes it very tasty.  It is reported to also be a fine cooking apple, and if stored well, is a "good keeper," meaning it will last longer than most without spoiling.  It ripens from late September to early October.

During The Great Depression of the 1930's, the land which contained former orchards of Milam Apples was purchased and converted to use as park land within the Shenandoah National Park.  Because it has a trait of sprouting new trees from the roots of older trees, it continues to grow "wild" in a few areas of the park.