Mostoller Wild Goose

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In 1977, a letter accompanied by a sample of beans and a story arrived at John Withee’s home in Lynnfield, Massachusetts. It was sent by Ralph V. Mostoller (1907-2011) and the letter described his family history and the history of their home saved bean variety called ‘Mostoller Wild Goose’. In 1776, Ralph’s ancestor, Fredrick Mostoller and his wife settled in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Around 1860, Fredrick’s grandson, Joseph, built a sawmill to process lumber from the forests of the area. A water raceway was built to divert water from a nearby creek to power the new sawmill and the stage was set. Joseph’s children: David and John, after returning home from their service in the Civil War, began working for their father. In the fall of 1865, at the height of the waterfowl migration, a lone goose was discovered in the raceway of their sawmill and was quickly bagged by John. The wild goose was sent home to their mother, Sarah (Mowry) Mostoller, to prepare for dinner. While cleaning the carcass, Sarah noticed that the fowl had an enlarged crop inside was a large number of unusual looking beans. Something about these beans piqued Sarah's interest and in the spring of 1866, the ‘Wild Goose’ beans were planted. These beans proved to be a tasty shell variety, working well for baked beans or in soup. Generations of sharing later, this variety has become well-known in the region of southwest Pennsylvania where the Mostollers lived.