Information from Gary Buerman and Darrell Vasseur
Darrell Vasseur sent me a note on the Apple Dry Houses in Alton. There were at least two commercial apple dry houses in Alton. Besides the Burn’s dry house(pictured above) there was a second dry house where the Continental Can building was built. This was the site of the Alton Fruit Growers Cooperative Association. Also in Alton, my great-great uncle JM Buerman had a dry house behind his house and there was another private dry house across the road from my parent’s house. This one was torn down about 1962
Attached are picture of the deeds from the cooperative and a bill of sale of “evaporated” apples from John Buerman to Chas Burns Sept 15, 1914.
Story from “The Fruit Industry in Wayne County, New York 1823 – 1984 pp 19-22
Story and photo of Samuel Burn’s Dryhouse courtesy of Wayne County Historical Society
Sodus, always a large fruit producing area in Wayne County, developed an important business in the buying, packing and shipping of dried fruits. A handbill dated 1870 and printed to promote the business of four dried fruit dealers in Sodus, urged dryers to produce good quality dried apples and they would receive a fair price and aid the dealers in “establishing a good reputation for our dried fruit in other markets.” Those who produced poor quality dried fruit, half-pared, half-cored and half-dried were reminded that they would receive a low price for their product or as stated in closing — “poor fruit, we do not want at any price.”
In describing Sodus, Mclntosh’s History of Wayne County, New Hark cites further evidence of the important trade in dried and fresh fruits to the area in the 1870s.
Mclntosh noted –
The town is adapted to a mixed husbandry, — grain, stock, and fruit-growing. The latter proves especially successful. Year by year more land is devoted to orcharding than before. The quantity of green apples shipped rivals the most prolific portions of Orleans and Niagara counties, and there is more dried fruit bought from first hands at Sodus village than at any other place of equal size in the world.
The use of dry houses for drying fruit, especially apples, became widespread during the last half of the nineteenth century. In a dry house, five steps are involved in turning fresh apples into dried apples — peeling and coring, trimming, bleaching, slicing or quartering and drying.
Hand-driven and later power-drive peelers were used to remove the peel and the core from the apples.
This photo of an old hand cranked apple peeler is courtesy of Mary Jane Mumby. She and her grand kids still use it to make applesauce.