Owatonna Had Their Own Johnny Appleseed
Most of us have heard of Johnny Appleseed. His real name was Johnny Chapman and he is credited with introducing numerous types of apple trees to parts of the country. Owatonna had their own apple loving man who devoted a large part of his life to developing and promoting apples. When I tell you his name, you'll go, oh so that's where the name came from. E H S Dartt is the man. Dartt was born in Vermont in 1824 and traveled to Wisconsin and wound up in Owatonna in 1869. It was here that the horticulturist established an experimental state tree farm which he was in charge of. This farm was later under the guidance of Thomas Cashman till it ceased to exist in 1925.
In 1898 the farm had over a thousand varieties of apple trees with a total of over 5,000 trees in all. Dartts reports selling over 2,000 bushels of apples in 1883. He also was most impressive at the Minnesota State Fair. In 1888 out of 30 entries, Dartt's apples took first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, twelfth, fourteenth, sixteenth and eighteenth place.
Was Owatonna the apple capital of Minnesota? The Midwest? He established the Dartt's Park which was known as Dartt's Paradise. He died in 1902 and the park went into a state of disrepair and was later sold to a man named Diment in 1907. The park then came to be known as Diment's Park. In 1915 the city purchased the property and improvements began and somewhere around that 1915 sale date the name Dartt's Park once again reappeared replacing Diment's Park.
We've all heard of Dartt's Park but I think the man behind it was most interesting.
Here's a picture of Mr. Dartt