Frank Holston

Holstons Crossing BHA 1980.2.428

Holstons Crossing
BHA 1980.2.428

Frank Holston & the First Strawberry Business

Excerpt from Men of the Hour

Bayfield Progress, George W. Boutin – Publisher – April 8, 1915

In the spring of 1882 Frank V. Holston came to Bayfield from the City of Milwaukee where he had lived for twenty years prior.  Here he engaged in the lumber business for 4-5 years. In 1884 Holston moved on the farm of his present location [1]. The Holston farm was located about a mile from the railroad depot, just south of the city limits, and from the viewpoint of location and beauty is unsurpassed by any in this peninsula.

During the summer of 1885 Holston sold the first tame strawberries that were ever sold outside this city.  He merely planted a patch of berries for his own use, and having a surplus, found a ready market for them at the St. Louis and Spaulding Hotels at Duluth.  The venture proved such a financial success that he decided to enlarge the acreage in the industry and has sold strawberries ever since.

While Mr. Holston does not claim the distinction of being the first commercial orchardist in the peninsula, he does claim, and rightly, the distinction of being the first commercial fruit grower in the county of Bayfield, for he was the first to raise strawberries and other berries for the market.  At present time Mr. Holston, being associated with his nephews, E. L. and Frank E. Holston, have an orchard consisting of over 6000 trees which are just coming into bearing.  Most of these are cherry trees of different varieties.

[1] The present location is the old farm site located near 84800 Lakeshore Drive 


Carver, Knight and White…Write

Bayfield County Press – Friday, January 17, 1908

Rapid Progress in the Establishment of Commercial Orchards by Experienced Fruit Man read the headlines this date.

There are many reasons for believing that the Lake Superior counties will become a noted fruit area. The climate appears to be peculiarly suited to large fruits common to northern latitudes, particularly the apple and cherry. This fact has been known to residents, but only lately attracted the attention of experienced and extensive fruit growers.           

Following are three letters sent to Mr. A. D. Campbell, Commissioner of Immigration, in Madison Wisconsin written by Mr. Nathan E. Carver and William Knight of Bayfield, Wisconsin. The third letter of support is written by George H. Whiting of Yankton, South Dakota

Dear Sir;-I here with send you a list of men who have bought land from the Bayfield Realty Company to set out fruit: S. H. Strand, Orlando Flanders, Alonso H. Wilkinson, Frank V. Holston, J. M. Smith, H. C. Hale, C. T. Andreas, John Walters, and John Keith, all of Bayfield.

Signed N. E. Carver


Home Grown Strawberries: John A. Keith and wife drove in Tuesday (June 30th) evening from their farm one mile south of this city.  Mr. Keith, who has a start in a nursery and small fruit business, presented the Progress office a box of luxurious, ripe Senator Dunlap strawberries, which he picked from a three-year old bed.  Their beauty and flavor convinced the Progress press force that the stories told of Bayfield as a fruit country were not fiction but facts.  Mr. Keith says there are enough strawberry fields in operation now in this vicinity this year, to ship in car lots to the outside markets. The earlier varieties will still commence to ripen in fair quantity to commence picking next week, and if frequent rains occur the season will be extended a month.  The Blackberry crop also promises to be fine. W. H. Holmes- Editor-Journalist, Bayfield Progress July 01, 1909

October 11, 1902: Anyone who believes that fruit cannot be raised profitably here should take a look at the apple trees in Orlando Flanders orchard, and also the grapes on exhibition at Johnson’s fruit store that are raised on the Holston farm one mile from the city. We never saw any nicer and finer fruit than that raised by Mr. Flanders. Mr. Bell (Currie G.- then editor-owner of the Bayfield County Press) has an apple tree in his garden by the lake that is a wonder. The tree came up from the seed, and although there has been a few apples on it, what there are there are of the finest quality. Bayfield County Press

This history brief was written by Robert J. Nelson. Generously sharing our local history through his research and writing.