The Pecan is a species of Hickory that is native to North America. Most of these species are concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere of the New World, but can be found on every continent except for Antarctica. "Pecan" is from an Algonquian word, meaning a nut requiring a stone to crack. Native pecan trees are found growing in natural groves in bottom lands near rivers or lakes with nearby periodic overflowing water. Native pecans have a tremendously diverse gene pool and have developed with little care required.
Pecans were one of the most recently domesticated major crops. Although wild pecans were well-known among the colonial Americans as a delicacy, the commercial growing of pecans in the United States did not begin until the 1880s. Today, the U.S. produces between 80% and 95% of the world's pecans.
Pecans contain mainly heart-healthy fats with a total of 90% monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat. They also provide nutrients of calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, thiamin, manganese, zinc and various B vitamins. They are naturally sodium and cholesterol-free. Pecans also contain a form of vitamin E that benefits intestinal health and protective effect for prostate cancer according to research.
Pecans are a good source of protein and unsaturated fats . Like walnuts ( which pecans resemble ), pecans are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. A diet rich in seeds can lower the risk of gallstones in women. The antioxidants and plant sterols found in pecans reduce high cholesterol by reducing the "bad" LDL cholesterol. Clinical research found that eating about a handful of pecans each day may help lower cholesterol levels similar to what is often seen with cholesterol-lowering medications.
When explorers Lewis and Clark passed this way in 1804, Clark noted: ". . . a beautiful plain of bottom land, the hills rise at ½ a mile back. The lands about this place is either plain or over flown bottom. Capt. Lewis and myself walked to the hill from the top of which we had a beautiful prospect of surrounding country in the open prairie". In 1836 Methodist minister James Keyte founded Brunswick near this location.
The "Brunswicker" one of the 10 oldest newspapers in Missouri was published in 1847. Barges and then trains moved products through this trading town. During the civil war years there were supporters on both sides.
In March 1914, seven farmers gathered to form the Missouri Farmers Association (MFA). There is a monument to these men at the Newcomer School, North of town.
In 1937 the Brunswick Club was formed to promote the civic interests of Brunswick. They sponsored many social and community activities. When the new Chamber of Commerce formed in 1972, the Brunswick Club ceased to exist.
George James discovered and patented the Starking Hardy Giant pecan and created a pecan-hickory nut cross called a "Hican". In 1972 State Rep. Creason secured a state proclamation naming Brunswick the "Pecan Capital" of Missouri.
The first Festival was called "Riverside Days" and held in 1980 close to the Grand River next to Hwy 24. The following year, the now annual event was renamed "Pecan Festival" and moved to the present downtown location. It is held the first weekend of October. A heavyest replica of a pecan, weighing 12,000 lb now sits in downtown Brunswick.
Harvey's Pecans was originally started in the 1950's by Harvey Beale. Harvey and Mary Swan opened the pecan house currently located on Hwy. 24 between Brunswick and Keytesville, MO as Harvey's Pecans in the fall of 1981 after receiving the rights to use the name and logo. Harvey and Mary had previously operated a small processing facility on their farm prior to moving to the new location.
Mary had sold locally raised and processed pecans out of her beauty shop located in downtown Brunswick. She had the reputation of having some of the best pecans, that were readily available, since her shop was open 6 days a week. In the off season she kept a couple of freezers full of pecans in the back room. Harvey capitalized on Mary's idea and decided to run a distribution route through Northern Missouri and Southern Iowa as well as providing Mary with the pecans she needed.
Harvey and Mary continued to operate Harvey's Pecans until Harvey passed away in 1997. Mary, with the help of her children continued until her sudden death in 2008. Their children, Eddie Swan and Terry Smith operated on a smaller scale until 2011. In 2011, with no local pecan crop and Terry's health problems, Harvey's Pecans did not open and was offered for sale. Terry's health improved and the business had not sold so Terry decided to revitalize Harvey's Pecans. With renewed interest, Terry and Eddie reopened in 2012 to process and market the sweeter, more flavorful Brunswick area, Missouri Native Pecans.
They welcome you to give them a try. You may pick some up at Brunswick or possibly a grocery store near you in the produce section as they continue to expand their reach in Northern Missouri.