This section is from "The Horticulturist, And Journal Of Rural Art And Rural Taste", by P. Barry, A. J. Downing, J. Jay Smith, Peter B. Mead, F. W. Woodward, Henry T. Williams. Also available from Amazon: Horticulturist and Journal of Rural Art and Rural Taste.
Fruits - indeed anything which have become celebrated - are an interesting subject of history. Of such is the Isabella Grape, a story about which, many years ago - perhaps twenty - I chronicled in the Genesee Farmer, published in Rochester. As my attention was again called to the subject a day or two since, in a pleasant interview with my old friend and acquaintance, General Joseph G. Swift, long connected with our army, and for many years past with the Topographical Engineer Corps of the general government, and now a resident of Geneva, N. Y., I refer to it for the purpose of putting the record in a more enduring form in the pages of the Horticulturist.
I first knew the Isabella grape, when a boy, in Norwich, Connecticut, about the year 1817 or 18. It then grew in several gardens there, and from its great luxuriance, and the fine flavor of its fruit, I became exceedingly interested in its origin. The parent vine was traced to the garden attached to what was called the "Vernet House," which stood near what was then "the Landing," now Norwich city. Into that garden, some years before the late war with England, say 1807, 8, or 9, the grape was introduced by Mr. Vernet, a French West Indian, who built the house, and there resided several years. Where he brought the grape from was unknown; but as he was largely engaged in the West India trade, it was supposed he brought it from one of the French West India islands. The vine then had no other name there, than the "Vernet Grape." I have since grown it from cuttings obtained from the original stock in Norwich, and roots of the Isabella sent me from the Brooklyn nurseries, side by side; and the vines, in leaf, growth, habit, and fruit, were identical.
In the city of New-York, about 1825, or '6, I became acquainted with the Isabella Grape, and immediately recognised it as the Vernet Grape of Norwich. In 1828. the