The Story of
Louis Pellier (1817-1872) left his home in Saint-Hippolyte, France, for the golden hills of California in 1847 hoping to join in the riches of the gold rush in Trinity County. His hopes ran dry as the back-breaking work of mining proved difficult and unsuccessful, so he and his partner Giacomo Yocco headed to San Francisco where he soon realized that fruit being sold for $1 proved more of a fortune than gold.
Louis, a horitculturist, headed south to the fertile lands of San Jose and established the City Gardens Nursery, in October of 1850, located at the current site of Pellier Park. Louis realized the need for a sturdier stock of prune and sent his brother Pierre back to France to obtain scions of the la Petitie Prune d'Agen. Pierre returned in the winter of 1856-57 with prune, peach, pear, apple, cherry, and grape cuttings that were then grafted onto native fruit stock. Lore has it that the scions were stuck in potatoes and then packed in straw and brought over in trunks to protect them from their long journey.
The prune d'Agen sparked an industry in the valley and soon over 52,000 acres of prune trees thrived throughout San Jose. The transcontinental railroad increased the market for dried plums across the nation and in time California’s crop displaced imports, which reached a high of 46,000 tons in 1887. The California prune industry was in full swing.
Because of Louis and Pierre, California produces 96% of the nation's prunes and 40% of the world's prunes.
The Story of Pierre Pellier
Pierre Pellier (1823-94) was the brother of Louis Pellier. He first joined Louis in the Santa Clara Valley in 1852 where the two brothers decided there was more to gain financially in growing fruit than in finding their fortune in gold and the nursery, City Gardens, was established in the current location of Pellier Park. in 1853 Pierre returned to France to bring back scions of the petite prune d’Agen, apples, pears, and wine grapes. He sailed to France a second time in 1857, returning to San Jose in 1858 with a new wife, Henriettea Renaud, and brought back more cuttings and seeds to expand the nursery. Pierre eventually moved to the Evergreen area where he died in 1895. He and his wife were the parents of five children.
Where is Pellier Park?
Pellier Park, San Jose, CA