On Monday, residents of Bernards, North Jersey were slated to say farewell to a 600-year-old oak tree under which former President George Washington once picnicked during the Revolutionary War.
What happened? Don’t worry, folks, the cutting of this amazing tree had nothing to do with social justice. It turned out that the tree had been declared dead and was believed to be incapable of withstanding another harsh winter or spring storm.
What Is The Tree’s History? Long. Very long. Situated outside the Basking Ridge Presbyterian Church, the tree had already stood for nearly 300 years before the church was even built in 1717. Moreover, it had ties to some of the greatest figures in American history.
“Among its notable visitors was Gen. George Washington, who town officials say picnicked at the tree with the Marquis de Lafayette,” reported NBC News. “The Rev. George Whitefield, a noted evangelist, also preached to more than 3,000 people beneath the tree in 1740.”
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How Does The Community Feel About This? Sad but understanding.
“It has been an integral part of the town, that’s for sure,” said Jon Klippel, a member of the church’s planning council. “It has always been there, even before there was a town, and over the years many people have met there, been photographed there, had a meal under the tree. We’ve been blessed to have it here.”
“I know it seems funny to some to mourn a tree, but I’m really going to miss seeing it,” added local resident Monica Evans.
When Exactly Was It Removed? Starting Monday, though it may take several days to complete the removal. According to NBC News, the removal crew plans to first remove the large limb segments and then remove the remaining trunk in one piece.
Will There Be A Legacy? Somewhat. Another white oak, reportedly cultivated from the original tree’s acorns, was “recently” planted on another part of the church’s property and stood 20 feet tall as of April 2017. Hopefully, and God willing, it will follow its predecessor’s lead and live for a very long time.