Inspired by the recent episode Going to Seed, I’ve summarized a history of the Ponyville branch of the Apple family. I know that the writers did not have this planned out before it happened. But the way I’ve put it all together, it actually plays out like the life of a real person and family, precisely because of how messy it is. Several of the characters have a lot of dirt on them, which is unnoticed unless you collect all of the information we know about the characters, and then make connections. I’ve refrained from pointing out where this is conjecture, as opposed to details mentioned in the show, in order to increase its readability. Obviously, I’ve made several things up where there are holes. If you bother to read the whole thing, tell me what you think!
As narrated by Granny Smith at the end of the episode Family Appreciation Day, the Smiths were travelling seed sales ponies. Mr. and Mrs. Smith had three children. The first two were stallions, and the third was Granny Smith. The Smiths went to market in Canterlot, and a chance meeting with the Princess gained them the plot of land that would become Sweet Apples Acres. Celestia was impressed by something in them. Perhaps she was looking far ahead into the future, and preparing for the return of her sister, and this is why she gave them the land on the edge of the Everfree Forest.
In this recounting of their origins, Granny portrays herself as older than she really was at the time. A photograph shown in Apple Family Reunion depicts her as a younger filly. Granny Smith was not her given name, since the Smiths had no relation to the Apples. The dual grandmother-apple pun in the name Granny Smith only came after she became a grandmother. The Smiths planted fruit trees, with the eventual hope of selling them for profit. On the side they planted crops for sustenance. But being alone in the wilderness, a bad year would force them to leave or starve. On one such occasion, Granny Smith entered the Everfree Forest in search of food and discovered the zap apples. She and her father planted the seeds of these fruits, which inexplicably grew into full size trees immediately. Zap apple product was a hit, and gained some notoriety for the Smith family farm.
For the first few years, there was no town of Ponyville, and the Smiths sold zap apple products to Canterlot ponies who would buy them, including Stinkin Rich, while waiting for their natural fruit trees to grow. The Smiths had planted a variety of crops: Apple trees, Pear trees, even carrots. But their specialty was in sales, not keeping orchards. Field hands were hired to apply their expertise and cultivate the fruits. These were none other than the Apple and Pear families.
Among the Pear family who moved to the farm was Grand Pear, and among the Apples was Granny Smith’s future husband. The land had been granted to the Smiths alone by Celestia, but the Apples and the Pears entered into tenancy with the Smiths upon moving to Ponyville in order to participate in the fruit business. This arrangement persisted for some time, and in the meanwhile, the town of Ponyville was founded as the Smiths’ success grew on the market. Granny Smith loved one of the workers from the Apple family. The wedding followed soon after.
Present from out of town at the first Apple Family Reunion were Apple Strudel, Auntie Applesauce, and Apple Rose. In fact, the “first Apple Family Reunion” was no such thing at all. The first reunion was, more properly, the occasion of the “union” of the Apples and Smiths: the wedding of Granny Smith and her husband. Applesauce was his aunt, a young sister of one of his parents, and Apple Rose and Apple Strudel were his cousins, the children of one of his parents’ siblings. (There are other Apples that are more distantly related; it was a large family). He and his immediate family are not pictured in the Barn photo, but that photograph does not picture everyone who was present, such as Granny’s brothers. In the subsequent generation, the Apple Family Reunion was held regularly “every 100 moons,” a length of time that seems to be variable. Ponies of the Pear, Apple, and Smith family at times left the farm to settle in the town. Granny Smith became a champion high diver in her spare time.
Once Granny married into the Apple family, some lines were blurred, and the Pear family resented the kinship of their Apple colleagues and the landlord. At first, the rivalry remained healthy. After several years, Grand Pear had his daughter, Pear Butter, and Granny Smith had Bright Macintosh, her only child.
The father of Granny died shortly after his first grandson was born. The Smith property and the apple orchards were given to Granny and her husband. But the pear orchards were donated to the Pear family, in return for their years of service. Still, the Pears were irritated about the privileges and prestige the Apples insisted on in the town. The mayorship was previously held by Mr. Smith while he lived. But after his death, and until the election of the New Young Mayor Mare, the mayorship succession was closely controlled by the Apple family. Further, the Apple family assumed the social influence in the town that Mr. Smith had by right of being the founder. The Pears resented the transfer of power from the Smith patriarch to the Apple family.
Grand Pear pointed out that Granny’s marriage was the only reason the Apples were favored over the Pears, and so after the death of Mr. Smith, the figurehead of Ponyville, the business rivalry between farms escalated into a feud. The Pears contested the privileges that the Apples claimed for themselves as Smith kin. Grand Pear made public and slanderous comments about Granny Smith’s marriage being a conspiracy in order for the Apples to expand. Through the marriage, the Apples were taking advantage of the prestige of the Smith name in the long-term, and Granny was taking advantage of the Apple success in the short-term, to maintain matriarchy as long as she lived. Of course, the Apples defended the integrity of Granny’s marriage while Granny defended them as well, and the feud began. But Bright Mac and Pear Butter were fond of each other from a young age, even as the feud of their parents was an obstacle. In the episode The Perfect Pear, a stallion that has similar hair to Bright Mac and a mare that has similar hair to Pear Butter are shown growling at one another from either side of a fence. Assuming these are the spouses of Granny Smith and Grand Pear, they died early, because they are never present again, and their children never make reference to their absence. With the death of her husband, and with no remaining Smiths working on the farm besides herself, Granny integrated herself fully into Apple family tradition. This solidified the link between the Smith prestige and the Apples, to the extent that the two families are considered one and the same, and the Apples are often given credit for founding Ponyville.
Mayor Mare, who was a contemporary of Bright Mac and Pear Butter, was elected by popular vote after a particularly bad Apple-backed candidate was forced out of office. Since Ms. Mare was a friend, the Apples approved of her, and she had competence to boot.
Eventually Grand Pear did what he believed was the right choice to end the feud: concede, and move away. The clandestine wedding of Bright and Butter was crashed by Granny and Grand Pear. Granny welcomed Pear Butter “Buttercup” into the family, but Grand Pear disowned them, and left with the remaining Pears for Vanhoover. The Apples chopped some of the pear orchards down for lumber, and abandoned others. Granny greatly loved Buttercup. Granny’s marriage had also been the source of tension, and short, and since she had only been able to have one child, she looked forward to being able to help raise her grandchildren. In short, the reckless and ill-advised marriage of her son was the best thing that could have happened for her. She also “won” the feud this way.
With Mayor Mare, leadership and sensible policies, rather than family machinations, ushered the town into a new era. There was discussion about whether to hire Canterlot unicorn sorcerers to accomplish Winter Wrap Up more efficiently. The consensus, pressed by the Apples and the mayor, was to continue using the manual labor. The mayor questioned the financial benefit of hiring skilled unicorns, and the Apples appealed to tradition.
Big Macintosh was born to his parents Buttercup and Bright Mac, much to the delight of Granny Smith. At this time, she cleverly took on the name Granny Smith, integrating herself further in the Apple lore, while retaining her Smith heritage.
Relatively soon, Applejack was born. The Apple Family Reunion had been held semi-consistently for the past two generations at Sweet Apple Acres. Family life at the farm was idyllic, and then Apple Bloom was born. Applejack’s imagination of her “Apple Chord” alter ego begins here. She learned how to play a guitar as a young filly, and the arc of the character’s rise and is a reflection of Applejack’s desire to escape during her late childhood, and her rebelliousness in adolescence, while the arc of Apple Chord’s fall and retirement is a reflection of Applejack’s settling down into the honest family pony that she is now. The mythos is entirely a creation of Applejack’s imagination, but through various trials in her life she added to or altered the story of her alter ego. The story does closely incorporate the themes of Applejack’s early adolescence, but there is not a one to one correlation between Apple Chord’s life and Applejack’s. It should also be mentioned that musical talent runs in the family; Big Mac is a skilled bass, and even Apple Bloom has shown the ability to carry a tune.
Some ten years after Applejack’s birth, Apple Bloom was born. Meanwhile, Filthy Rich proposed to Spoiled Milk. An event occurred at the farm that the Apples call the Confluence, during which all of the fields give a high yield of apples. Applejack set traps for a mythical creature, but fell into her own trap and was unable to help harvest apples. This event became traumatic in hindsight for Applejack, because its memory is associated with subsequent tragedy.
Shortly after the Confluence, on the occasion of Apple Bloom’s birth, the couple made plans to visit the Pears in Vanhoover, and then return to Ponyville with Grand Pear as their guest. Grand Pear consented because he was ready to put the feud aside for his daughter and grandchildren. Only Granny Smith knew the true purpose of this trip; Big Mac and Applejack never knew that their mother was from a feuding family, or that their grandfather still lived. The plan was to reconcile, and then explain everything in time. However, disaster struck, and the two died on the journey. Apple Bloom survived unharmed, and was returned to the Apples with the news. Grand Pear was devastated as well. He partly blamed himself for moving away. The whole town paid their respects and offered their continued support for the founding family of Ponyville, but Grand Pear did not attend the funeral in person. He would later deeply regret this. He kept tabs on Ponyville through old friends and connections, and he recognized that this would have been the best time to put the feud aside and reconcile with his Apple kin. He sent his regards, but out of shame he did not come to Ponyville for the funeral.
In memory of his father, Big Macintosh took to wearing the yoke he had used with him during the harvest. Big Mac experienced a growth spurt. He began expressing his opinions loudly to cope with his loss. But Applejack was affected the most. She decided to run away from the farm entirely, against the will of her grandmother and brother. Granny gave her a photograph of some relatives but didn’t expect her to make it all the way to the Manehattan. When Applejack tells this story today, she doesn’t mention its connection to her parents’ death out of shame. Applejack stayed briefly with the Orange family, but found herself homesick for Apple family cooking. Admitting her selfish mistake when seeing a rainbow in the sky pointing home, she returned home to her family on the farm and received her cutie mark. This could have been the end of the Apple family in Ponyville, if Applejack had not returned. She spent a few days at a summer camp and met Coloratura, ‘Ra-Ra.’ Then she returned to work on the farm, and regained her reputation for hard work. This is all within weeks of the birth of Apple Bloom.
Applejack experienced a growth spurt like her brother, and with it came vainglory. With her father deceased, she assumed that she deserved to take up his mantle and take over the farm. Without the permission of her grandmother, she made a deal with Filthy Rich. Mr. Rich was a good pony, and he was willing to give her a good deal, especially in light of the recent events. But when Applejack tried to renege, his generosity and patience was tested. Ultimately Applejack concocted the lie that Granny Smith was ill and in the hospital. Rich dismissed his anger at Applejack’s failing to honor their agreement, and visited the hospital immediately, but Applejack admitted that it all was a lie. Filthy Rich and Spoiled Milk got married and became pregnant with Diamond Tiara, who would be born a year after Apple Bloom. The town was willing to forgive Applejack, because of the recentness of the death of her parents. From that point on, she gained her reputation for being both hard working, and honest. The town of Ponyville could look back and recognize that the Apple family nearly fell apart several times within a few short months. The deaths, and then Applejack running away, and lastly, the trend toward delinquency of Applejack and Big Macintosh. Big Mac afterward resolved to speak less, and listen more.
Following this, something resembling a normal family life continued until the arrival of Twilight Sparkle. The Apples continued to host reunions at the farm. They did not talk about their parents. Apple Bloom grew up taking her parents’ perishing as a normal thing. When Twilight Sparkle arrived, some of Applejack’s family traveled to the farm to witness the Rising of the Sun and help set up. Applejack later described this as a family reunion, but the occasion was not the regular reunion, but the Summer Sun Celebration. When Applejack later reminisces on the most recent reunion, she is not taking about this event.
Significant for the Apple family after this was Applejack’s becoming the Element of Honesty, the near loss of the farm to Flim and Flam, Apple Bloom creating the Cutie Mark Crusaders, and Big Mac’s relationship with Sugar Belle. The Flim Flam brothers are Apples of some kind, but they have no connections with the Ponyville branch. Any cousins of the Apple siblings are second cousins at the closest. During the third year after the return of Princess Luna, Grand Pear came back to Ponyville. He was moved when he saw Apple Bloom, making sure she remembered his name, and he gave her a sample of his product for free, so that she would set in motion their reconciliation. Grand Pear did not have the courage to approach the Apples himself. As he expected, his arrival and identity became known to the Apple siblings. Grand Pear deescalated the feud with a simple apology, and he now lives in the town.