Great Salem Oak - Salem, NJ
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
N 39° 34.375 W 075° 28.228
18S E 459591 N 4380462
Quick Description: The Salem Oak Tree, located in the Friends Burial Ground in Salem, New Jersey, USA, was designated as the Millennium Landmark Tree for the state of New Jersey.
Location: New Jersey, United States
Date Posted: 8/24/2008 5:11:15 AM
Waymark Code: WM4H1D
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 68

Long Description:
From the America the Beautiful Fund website:

Millennium Landmark Trees

America the Beautiful Fund initiated the Millennium Landmark Tree project in the year 2000, with the goal of designating one historic tree in each of the 50 states for preservation in the new Millennium.

This program was supported by a grant from the US Forest Service as part of the White House Millennium Green Initiative. Individuals and their communities were encouraged to seek out the history of the trees in their area, and send a letter describing the type of tree they would like to nominate as well as any historical information pertaining to the tree.

The program was extremely successful in awakening public interest in preserving and protecting these Landmark Trees, which have stood witness to the historic growth of our country.

Once were designated as Landmark Trees, the community received a plaque and certificate, from America the Beautiful Fund, which was presented at a public ceremony attended by members of Congress, the media, local public officials and members of the community.

New Jersey

The Great Salem Oak was already mature when John Fenwick signed his treaty with the Lenni Lenape Indians to start the Quaker Settlement there in 1753. It was honored during the town’s 325th Anniversary.

The following tablet about the tree is located on the brick wall surrounding the burial ground.

A historical marker about the Salem Oak Tree is located just outside the burial ground. The marker was placed by the Salem County Cultural and Heritage Commission and it reads as follows:

Salem Oak Tree. Most famous New Jersey tree stands in cemetery. By tradition, John Fenwick made his treaty with the Indians in its shade, 1675.

The Salem County Historical Society provides the following history of the oak tree:

There is probably no historic site in Salem County better known than the Salem Oak. It has been celebrated in poetry and prose for over a century, and incorporated as a symbol of the county by both private and public enterprises.

Unlike any other local landmark, the oak is a living reminder of the county’s history. Estimated to be more than 400 years old, this ancient tree is said to have shaded the Lenni Lenape, and local lore maintains that John Fenwick treatied with Native Americans beneath its branches upon his arrival here in 1675. What is certain is that the Religious Society of Friends, Salem Monthly Meeting, has owned the tree and surrounding property since 1681. This was the site of Salem’s first meetinghouse and is still maintained as the Friends Burial Ground. The Friends Meeting cares for the grounds and the tree to this very day.

Since at least the 19th century the Salem Oak has attracted widespread interest and awe, even though it is not the largest nor oldest oak in New Jersey. In 1876, for example, a sapling from the venerable tree was planted in the First Presbyterian Church’s cemetery on Grant Street. Known as the Centennial Oak, the tree survives and thrives today. Fifty years later, in 1926, three of the oak’s progeny were planted along George Washington memorial Parkway near Washington, D. C., as part of the nation’s observance of its sesquicentennial. The following year, Charles Lindbergh flew over the tree in the "Spirit of St. Louis" as part of a national tour five months after his historic trans-Atlantic flight and dropped a message for the citizens of Salem.

So revered is this tree that scarcely a branch or acorn touches the ground without it being gathered and preserved in some way. We know that souvenirs and commemorative items have been made from the wood of the tree for at least a century. These cherished objects are interesting for what they represent, like some relic that connects its possessor with the past in some tangible way.

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