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Lue Gim Gong

Born: 1860
Birthplace: Canton, China

Lue Gim Gong emigrated from China to San Francisco as a boy of 12. When he was 16 he moved to Massachusetts, where he took a job in a shoe factory. There he befriended Fannie Burlingame, a Sunday school teacher who taught the Chinese workers at the shoe factory. He moved in with the wealthy Burlingame family, tended their greenhouse, converted to Christianity, and gained his U.S. citizenship.

In 1885, Lue moved to Deland, Florida, where Fannie and her sister had bought land, and began to work in the orange groves. There he developed the extraordinary horticultural contributions that would earn him the title “citrus wizard.” The most famous of his creations was the “Lue Gim Gong orange.” These oranges would mature in August or September, ensuring that the fruit would not freeze and be ruined. It was an enormous advance for the citrus industry. In 1911, he was awarded the Silver Wilder Medal by the American Homological Society, the first time an award was given for a citrus product. He also developed a grapefruit that grew individually on the tree rather than in clusters, a strongly scented grapefruit, and a rosebush that produced seven varieties of roses.

Died: 1925

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