Originating in a seedling grove planted by Thomas Howell of New Haven in 1829, this prolific winter pear was thought to have generated from a Jonah Pear. The Jonah trees were interplanted with White Doyenne and the Summer Bon Chretien, and a natural cross between one or the other of these produced the seedling Howells. The first public notice of the variety occurred in the pages of Charles Mason Hovey’s Magazine of Horticulture 15 (1849), x.

From the first the beauty of the fruit captured the imaginations of growers and produce buyers. The pears were uniform in shape—large, obovate, verging on pyramidal. The smooth skin developed from a fresh green to straw colored, adorned with a spray of tiny russet dots. The sunside cheek would sometimes flame red. The flesh nearly matched the appearance for charm—modestly perfumed, meltingly sweet, fine-grained, white and juicy. It was an autumn rather than a winter fruit.

Image: "U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705" Mary Daisy Arnold, 1913. 

David S. Shields