Ephraim Wales Bull

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Bull house with his original vine of concord grapes
PSM V82 D349 Bull house home of the concord grape

Ephraim Wales Bull (March 4, 1806 – September 26, 1895) was the creator of the Concord grape.

Biography[edit]

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Bull was apprenticed to a gold-beater at a young age. On September 10, 1826, he married Mary Ellen Walker of Dorchester, Massachusetts. Complaining of lung problems, he moved away from the city. He moved to Concord in 1836, settling with his wife on a farm next door to Amos Bronson Alcott.

Epitaph of Ephraim Bull. Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts.

In 1843, Bull began the deliberate process of breeding a grape that could thrive in the cold New England climate. By 1849, having planted 22,000 seedlings, he had created a large, sweet variety from a native species. By 1853, the grapes were for sale, but within several years, competing growers had begun raising their own crops of Concord grapes, purchased from Bull for $5 per vine. Bull saw little profit from the strain after the initial sales.

Ephraim Bull was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1855. In 1893, after a fall, he ended up in the Concord Home for the Aged. He died in 1895. His epitaph reads, He Sowed Others Reaped.

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