The Legend of the Buckeye Surprise

Read the story of the how the original Buckeye Surprise© Brand lucky buckeyes came to be.

See Brian Patrick Monaghan in video taken at the Buckeye Surprise Grove.

Hey, don't just take our word for it. Read more here about Buckeye Legends.

We also have a buckeye education video we did and you can see it here
on the YouTube.


The Legend of the Buckeye Surprise

"... As he husked the first nut, he was astonished to see something sparkling, almost as if a light were coming from within. He rubbed the nut clean and was amazed to find a gem-like protrusion amid the rich brown luster of the buckeye nut. He excitedly husked more and more nuts, and found that all contained the same brilliant protrusions, though the colors varied from tree to tree. On that beautiful fall day, Brian Patrick sat in the grove and wept tears of joy ..."

They were the Monaghans. With bitterness in their hearts and tears in their eyes they had fled The Potato Blight. They had fought it with the blood and sweat of their hands but they could no more defeat it than they could the oppressive landlords and the thieving tax collectors.

They were growers of potatoes but also shamrocks: shamrock clovers that were prized among the local population. Certain four-leafs of the medick clover were known to bestow good fortune upon the bearer, and in the mid-nineteenth century good luck was a rare and sought-after commodity in Ireland.

They arrived in New York City but could find no land suitable for potatoes nor shamrocks. They were still among the poor. They struggled, unaccustomed to the close quarters and gritty industrial life of the Irish ghetto. The land speculator made them a deal: work the land, 80 acres of potatoes in the Western Reserve of Ohio. After 20 years, half of the 80 acres would be theirs by title.

For the family patron, George Alloysuis Monaghan, there could not have been a better offer, an offer of hope for the three sons he and wife Marge had brought to America. George enquired of the speculator: would they be able to grow and sell shamrocks? The speculator said there was no market for shamrocks, but if they wanted to keep a garden for themselves it was up to them.

They journeyed westward on foot, following dirt roads and working fields and odd jobs as they went, eating whatever they could afford or find wild, and they slept in a canvas tent on the side of the pike. They were spat at and called filthy when they came to country towns. But they knew they would arrive at their own farm and happiness, truly the end of the rainbow, soon enough. After nearly two months of travel they arrived in northeastern Ohio.

George and the boys went to work. They managed to hew a small log home and made the spring potato planting just in time for a season's crop. Marge planted a small garden of medick clover shamrocks next to the cabin.

Some 20 years later, the 40 acres were titled in the name of George Monaghan. Proud, landed citizens of the United States, they farmed not only their own 40 acres but also an additional 30 acres they leased. The boys, now grown with wives of their own, had fought with the Ohio Infantry in the Civil War and returned home intact. The sons built clapboard houses on the land. The potatoes were plentiful and selling at a good price. But it was Marge’s four-leaf shamrock clovers that had brought notoriety and good fortune to the Monaghan family farm.

An Irish candidate for Mayor, having heard the tale of Marge’s shamrocks, had sought them out. He won the election handily in a time when the Irish were still distrusted by the general public, and he befriended the Monaghan family from that day forward.  A local minister’s daughter, a married protestant girl who could not conceive a child, had passed by the farm one spring day. As they chatted in the garden, Marge gifted the girl a lush emerald four-leaf. The following Christmas day the young wife gave birth to healthy twin boys. A local poker player, always broke and down on his luck, arrived after dark on one cold Saturday eve, and paid Marge a desperate $25 for a large four-leaf. For the next four weekends he ran the table in the back of the barbershop, collecting over $250. He cleared his debts and became sober. The word spread and the legend grew.

Fast-forward to 1981. Four generations down the Monaghan family line. The same 40 acres, now inhabited by George’s great grandson, also named George, and noted as the third in the lineage. He runs the farm with his own three sons: eldest son Conor Michael; second-son Brian Patrick, and the youngest, Seamus. The family now owns nearly 700 acres and are fairly well-to-do. Potatoes have served them well over the years, and so have the clover shamrocks, which are packaged as whole plants and sold across the country to florists and garden supply stores.

But there was some discontent among the sons. The middle son, Brian Patrick, had grown tired of the repetition of potato seasons and packaged clovers. He wanted to bring new ideas and products to the Monaghan farm, and to retrieve the legacy of the great Monaghan luck. He suggested they plant a grove of buckeye trees, then harvest and sell the brown nuts, which are regarded as lucky charms. With Ohio being known as the Buckeye State, the nuts would surely be an extra-lucky grade, Brian Patrick argued.

His father and brothers laughed at him. “What have you been smoking?” they teased. George III firmly told Brian Patrick that the farm was profitable and manageable as it was, and there would be no messing with the formula of potatoes and shamrocks.

Brian Patrick brooded. The rejection by his father and brothers had stung. How could they not see the role that luck and good fortune had played in the Monaghan family? Why would they not want to capitalize on this legacy? Determined to follow his dream, Brian Patrick planned a strategy that hinged on good luck. On the date of his 21st birthday, on July 11th, 1981, he arranged the cash purchase of exactly 21 acres along a north-south running stream in a high-sided valley. He used his life savings of $7,000 - earned in the fields of potato and shamrock - to buy the rough plot of land, which was not accessible by roads and unsuitable for farm crops. The moist, fertile valley floor was partially shaded, partially sunned, and perfect for growing buckeye trees of the Ohio variety.

That fall Brian Patrick planted Ohio buckeye seed pods, knowing full well that his first full crop of nuts was not likely to arrive until 2001. But patience was also a virtue of the Monaghan family, and for twenty years Brian Patrick tended the grove in secrecy while he continued to work the family farm. He planted shamrocks - legacy descendents of Marge's original medick clovers - around the perimeter of the grove to protect it from the Blotch, a fearful scourge of buckeye trees and reminiscent of The Blight that had driven his ancestors from Ireland some 140 years before.

During the growth years strange things occurred in the valley. One hot August night, a meteor shower rained overhead. The next day Brian Patrick found scorched branches and leaves lying about the ground in the center of the grove. To his astonishment he found a blackened hole the size of a softball punched into the soil. Realizing that additional great luck had literally befallen the grove, Brian Patrick covered the hole, leaving the unseen meteor in the ground, so that it might work its effects on the roots of the trees. There were other mysterious occurrences, including the arrival of a green parrot that spent an entire summer in the grove. Surely the parrot had escaped from a home somewhere, but what were the odds of it selecting a remote buckeye grove for its summer home? There were flakes of gold that speckled in the streamside sand bars. A geologist friend told Brian Patrick that the flakes were remnants of a glacial melt during the Pleistocene era, some 10,000 years before. Gold in Ohio: could there be a luckier valley in which to grow buckeyes?

Over the years some of the trees matured and began to produce seed-pod nuts. Brian Patrick let these pods fall to the ground, and soon a second generation of trees sprung up around their parents. These native trees, having been born and cultivated in the mystical grove, were deemed particularly lucky by Brian Patrick.

In the fall of 2001, in the first year of the new millennium, Brain Patrick harvested his first crop of buckeyes. The pods looked promising in size and color, and he was eager to see the nuts inside. As he husked the first nut, he was astonished to see something sparkling, almost as if a light were coming from within. He rubbed the nut clean and was amazed to find a gem-like protrus