Thursday, June 19, 2008

Historic Oak Tree on Morgan Street

Dear Nancy/Lin,

Here is a picture of the plaque on the tree. I went up this weekend. It's still there, but pretty well hidden...

It says 'White Oak' (Latin name), 'Selected as South Hadley's Bicentennial Tree May 1976', and on the bottom it says 'determined to have been 1 foot in diameter in 1776'.

Pretty interesting.

Ben Haley

----- Original Message ----
----- Original Message -----
From: Ben Haley
Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 10:22 PM
Subject: Re: 1776 TREE


Thanks a lot for looking at the tree. As of a year or two ago there was a metal sign on the tree trunk, sort of where the branches start, saying something about it being an 'Independence Tree'. I will try to find older photos I took of the tree that shows the sign.

I know next to nothing about the history of the tree, except that it was deemed historical in 1976, and the fact that any tree of that age (and it is obviously ancient) should be properly cared for. I think the College should take care of it regardless of whether it has a documented history or not... does that make sense? I'd be willing to write a letter as well to the College - to whom do you recommend I write?

Let's stay in touch!

Thanks for writing back,

Ben Haley

----- Original Message ----
Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 7:24:37 PM
Subject: Fw: 1776 TREE

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 6:53 PM
Subject: 1776 TREE

Hello Ben;
We are very involved with the South Hadley Historical Society and have an interest in the TREE you have described. Live not too far from the College.

We think we have found the tree you described but it is not across from the new dorm. It is on Morgan Street on the right going East (just before going up the hill) and next to a Fire Hydrant. It is also just in front of the College Maintenance Buildings. We just looked at this tree closely and it is grown in with brush and does have a large hole (5/6 Ft tall) in the bottom (road side) of it. There are no SIGNS, MARKINGS, PLACES ETC. on this tree at this time. We have the opinion that this tree is on College Property (more than six feet from the Street Edge).

We would be very interested in where you came up with the History. If you could perhaps give us some History on the tree we could talk to people at the College, to have it Cared For. I could clear the brush from around it but sealing up the hole is not in my range.

Thank You
Nancy & Lin Pickle (Curators)
South Hadley Historical Society

Ben Haley
date Mon, Jun 9, 2008 at 3:31 PM
subject Historic Oak Tree on Morgan Street

Hi there,

I am curious about the historic oak tree on Morgan Street, roughly opposite the new Mt Holyoke dorm. Has it ever been cared for? It has a plaque on it saying that it is our town's "Independence Tree" or words to that effect - that is, it was already fairly mature in 1776. I have written to both Mt Holyoke and to the town in the past about the tree, but no one has ever responded to me. It looks as though it is slowly dying, especially with the gaping hole in its trunk. Since it is such a massive tree and with such an interesting history, it seems terrible that it should be surrounded by scrub and not be kept up. Do you know who owns the land on which it sits? I'm guessing the college, but I'm not sure. Is there anything you can tell me about the tree? I'm interested in having it "saved" (that is, better taken care of). I've contacted a cultural landscape group about the tree and they're very interested in hearing more about it, so I wanted to check in and see what is known about the tree and whether any efforts have ever been made towards its upkeep. It's a shame that both Mt Holyoke and the town failed to respond to my messages (which were both sent more than one year ago).

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