Mershannock Variety

OdysseyJuly 6, 2003

I'm looking to find information about a potato variety called, Mershannock. It was grown in Central Ohio, Columbus, circa 1845. I've done a cursory check on Google, SSE, and the USDA data base with no results, of course, there may be variation of the spelling that will slow the hunt a little. Any suggestions will be appreciaiated.


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Hi Jim,

You might have noticed Clara's post, "Heirloom or Old Potato Varieties." She has grown more heirloom potato varieties than anyone I have heard off. We exchanged one or two emails a couple years back. Sounded like she was interested in putting together a book about heirloom potatoes. She is not a frequent poster so you might send her an email.

Wish I had room to grow more potatoes. Best wishes.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2003 at 7:23PM
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Thanks for the information. I'll look for the post and send off an email to Clara and see if can she direct me in this minor 'quest'. Taters are not my thing but the farmers who noted the variety farmed about 1 and 1/2 miles from where I'm sitting now. The farms have long been sold off and the land used for a shopping mall, many shops are going into a minor abandonment do to an urban shift in ecomonic demographics.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2003 at 10:25PM
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I am Clara. I have been looking through my old books, but still have not found any mention of Mershannock potato variety. I have a feeling that the name has since been changed, but that will be hard to learn. I have grown White Flint Hard Ohio. I have grown it, but I need the history, parentage, etc. information. I am putting a book together about the different potato varieties that I have grown. I am still looking for more potato varieties that I have not grown. Those will be put in book 2.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2003 at 8:25PM
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What's in a name? A lot when it's mis spelled!! I searched thru Fearing's "Field and Garden Vegetables of America" and came across this listing called "Meshannock". It seemed to satisfy some questions at the moment but am now unable to find Mercer County County, New York!!!! Perhaps the writer meant, New Jersey? Anyhoo, all's well that ends!!


    Bookmark   July 12, 2003 at 3:49PM
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It would not surprise me if the name has not been changed a few more times as the years passed. Now we know that there as a potato variety by the name of "Mercer". I have learned over the years of growing different potato varieties that there are people who see nothing wrong in changing the name of a potato variety. That is why my book is not out on the market yet. I looked for years for information about many varieties and then learned that some man had changed all of the names. Why? "just so I could remember where they came from or who I got them from". I wish people would not do that. Now I will continue to look for more old potato varieties to grow for next year.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2003 at 5:27PM
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Clara and others following this odd and somewhat bazarre post....

To the 'for what it's worth' file the following link should add further confsuion of what is what and who said what about who....if W W Weaver's comments regardng the 'Mercer' is as accurate as his comments regarding tomatoes this should be very interesting.

What is it they say about history? A pack of lies agreed upon by a bunch of experts.....

For the time being I'm hoping to put this 'issue' to rest..too much information ....but then this is a 'gnaw bone for me' for me.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2003 at 7:36PM
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I only recently discovered this post, 14 months after the fact, but perhaps this is still of some interest to you. My research on the Mercer potato variety of the nineteenth century would seem to corroborate what WW Weaver has indicated. That is:

Mercer, syn. Neshannock, Mershannoch, Meshanoch, Gilkey, Philadelphia

A long, flattish potato with sunken eyes, Âskin marbled, purplish, and of a dingy white. Flesh is also marbled. Has a good flavor baked or boiled. Yields well and ripens early. Has a ready market. Very susceptible to late blight. Mercers were also apparently referred to as Black Mercers, Purple Mercers, and White Mercers.
This once widely known and grown variety may have originated on the John Gilkey farm (1798-1826) in Washington Township, Mercer County (now Lawrence County), Pennsylvania. It was popular and widely grown, not only in New York state but throughout the northeast during the mid-nineteenth century, and so it is somewhat surprising that it does not show up in variety databases. Perhaps it acquired a more popular synonym?

I can send you citations for the above if you wish.

I hope this is of value to you.
Dick Tucker

    Bookmark   September 4, 2004 at 7:25PM
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I am interested in growing the Gilkey or Neshannock potato. I live in the area of Pennsylvania where it was developed and think it would be interesting to plant our local spud. Does anyone know where or even if that variety of potato is available?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 2:17PM
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