Benjamin Heath and Delaware Grape Update

Genealogy for the Heath family's of Saffordshire and surrounding areas.

Benjamin Heath and Delaware Grape Update

Postby Donna Tunison » Sun Mar 17, 2019 5:46 pm

Periodically I try to find more information on the Delaware Grape. My original research was done about five years ago. Since that time a webpage has shed more light about the variety, which looks interesting.

My original research led me to books published in the mid 19th century on people who were trying to identify where the parent vine originated from and if it still existed. The two possibilities were that it came from Paul Henri Mallet-Prevost (died 1833), a Swiss banker who had ties to the French aristocracy, escaped to Hunterdon County, New Jersey with other French people in 1792 and settled on the banks of the Delaware River that contained a ferry and frost mill. Mallet-Provost purchased land and built a tavern, and eventually a hotel. The town was named Frenchtown for the refugees. Benjamin's father, Richard lived a few miles away in Baptistown, which would be logical that he would know about the vineyard. That search was unable to find any grape vines at this location.

The second possibility that the vine's origin was brought to America by Joseph Bonaparte, former King of Naples and Spain, and Napoleon's brother. Joseph became exiled in 1815 and moved to Breeze Point, New Jersey (south of Trenton) on a promontory of the Crosswick and Thorton Creeks that feeds into the Delaware River. Joseph left New Jersey for Europe in 1839, where he died in 1844. The 19th century investigation felt that the wine's flavor had the characteristics of wine from southern Europe. It is interesting to note that Joseph was a patron of Heath House resort. Again no grape vines were located at this location.

Benjamin Heath (1796-1879) was alive at the time when the research on these two publications and at least one printed.

Wein-Plus website says a 2015 DNA was done, and it confirmed that the Delaware Grape was connected to Mallet- Prevost. The fanciful tale of how the vine came into Benjamin's hand was amusing. It would be interesting to know how they did a comparison of DNA.
Donna Tunison
 
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