Jacob’s Cattle

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John Withee acquired this variety from his father-in-law, Charles ‘Charlie’ Sawyer (1887-1968). Charlie was an avid gardener and lived his whole life in Cumberland County, Maine. John Withee described this bean in his Heirloom Beans catalog as a “...continuing favorite in Maine for baking.” Although John Withee ate baked beans all his life, it was Charlie that “squeezed” flavor out of beans in a way that could not be duplicated. John Withee’s own baked bean recipe is a slightly modified version of his father-in-law’s and many of John’s particularities pertaining to the proper baking of beans were gathered from observing Charlie. John Withee reminisced with Rosalind Creasy stating, “The best baked beans I ever had were baked by my wife’s father, Charlie, in an old iron wood stove. Charlie was born in 1880 [sic] and, like myself, grew up on a farm. And on a farm, beans were a staple.” This same memory was shared with John Withee’s daughter who in 2016 told Seed Savers Exchange “[o]ne of my fondest memories is the big, black wood stove in [Charlie’s] kitchen, and the pot of beans that were cooking all day every Saturday... the aroma was heavenly!”