Today, while working on chapter 7 for at least the 4th time, I read the answer to my question regarding if there were cranberries by Highland Lake in the 1850s.
In 1850, Highland Lake was called Hagan Pond. What follows is a letter from George W. Eldred, to Stephen St. John Gardner.
Both young men are a part of the story I am writing, and both are grandsons of James Eldred who arrived with his wife Polly Mulford and five children, including CCP Eldred (George W.’s father) and Eliza Eldred Gardner (Stephen’s mother), in what became Halfway Brook Village at the end of 1815.
I saw several definitions of whortleberry. I went with the definition that included mountain cranberry and lowbush cranberry.
I learned that Cranberries are low, creeping shrubs or vines…with slender, wiry stems that are not thickly woody and have small evergreen leaves. The flowers are dark pink…The fruit is initially white, but turns a deep red when fully ripe. It is edible, with an acidic taste that can overwhelm its sweetness.
George W. Eldred, Halfway Brook Village, 1850ish
To: Cousin Stephen St. John Gardner, U.of NE Pennsylvania, Bethany, PA
A friend and I went to Hagan whortleberrying yesterday. Got half a bushel, and no mistake. We got nicely [out] of the marsh, when it began to rain right along. We had the misfortune to spill about a peck of our berries and did not get more than half of them.
I know of nothing else to write only Oliver Calkins was here today and Oh! what a nice shower we had. He stopped and bunked in with us till most 6, when he gave out, and put for home, thinking it never would quit raining.
Grandfather [James Eldred] is well as common today, so are all the rest, except Palmer who had an attack of cholera morbus last even, but is coming up again.
—Eldred, Richard O. The Eldred Family, p. 73
March 23/2010 Update: There are both blueberries and cranberries in the area.