Soil from the site of Fort Massachusetts was contributed to the planting of the Liberty Tree in New Bedford, Massachusetts, along with soil from Bunker Hill in Boston, the Lexington and Concord battle sites, the old Burial Hill of the Pilgrims in Plymouth, and soil from many other localities either hallowed by memories of colonial and revolutionary struggles, or possessing other historical associations.
|Picture postcard circa 1910|
The planting of the Liberty Tree in the New Bedford Common Park was part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of the City’s Grand Army of the Republic on October 6, 1896. It was quite the spectacle, with city officials and school children partaking in the festivities.
In the invitation from the William Logan Rodman Post, No. 1, of New Bedford, Massachusetts to the Charles D. Sanford Post, No. 79, North Adams, Department of Massachusetts, G.A.R., they wrote:
"We would leave to posterity some living, visible memento which shall constantly bring to mind the three great principles of our order and inspire others to do and dare all their fathers did in the cause of our national liberty and unity. And so while in our present jubilee year we shall seek to cement anew old ties of comradeship and form new ones, we desire also to so influence coming generations that charity and loyalty may abound, though our fraternity may exist only as a memory."
Soil from the roots of "Perry's Elm," which marked the site of Old Fort Massachusetts, was sent by the Charles D. Sanford Post, No. 79, North Adams, Department of Massachusetts, G.A.R.
The soil that gave it nurture came from Brandywine's battlefield and that of Monmouth; from Forts William and Mary and Fort Griswold, King's Mountain, Sands Point, Bunker Hill, the right of the line at Lexington, the old North Bridge at Concord, Bennington, Saratoga, Trenton, Dorchester Heights, the route of Leslie's retreat, the Battle Pass of Brooklyn, Fort Greene and Yorktown. And with it is mingled other soil from the old Burial Hill of the Pilgrims, from the site of the first Indian church, from around the roots of the Natick oak, where Eliot preached, the site of Trumbull's war office, that of the building in which the first Continental Congress assembled, the old Stevens Tavern, the graves of Commodore McDonough and General Mansfield, of General Stark and of ex-President Pierce; Sir William Pepperell's grave and the tomb of John Langdon; the camping ground of De Soto, the Charter Oak, the ruins of Falmouth House, from Barrack Hill, where the prisoners of Burgoyne's army were confined after surrender at Saratoga; from the spot where Lord Percy's train of supply was captured; from the summit of Holy Cross Mountain, from Hamilton's grove of thirteen trees, from Groton Heights, from the Washington Elm and Washington headquarters at Cambridge; from the old Fort Massachusetts, from the martyr's tomb in Brooklyn, from Saranac bridge at Plattsburgh, from Fort Washington, whence was fired the ball that remained for a century in Brattle Street Church; from Chattanooga, from General Putnam's house, from the birthplaces of Nathan Hale and Daniel Webster, from the cabin where Abraham Lincoln was born, and from the holiest spot in the holy land, Nazareth itself; from all these hallowed spots came the soil. And even the waters which mingled with these various soils came from the seas which lave the Atlantic and the Pacific shores, the river which extends from our northern boundary to the gulf, some from the spot at Put-in-Bay, where Perry won his victory; some from the remains of the "Royal Savage" in Lake Champlain; some from Washington's crossing upon the Delaware; some from Rutland well; from the Nathan Hale well; from King Philip's spring and some from Mollie Pitcher's well.
The planned tree was to come from Mount Vernon. However it did not arrive in time, therefore a “New Bedford Elm” was planted in its place.
Currently there is a large European Beech tree in the center of the park which many assume is the Liberty Tree, however recent research related to the rehabilitation of the park has found that not to be the case. There is documentation that the city’s park system lost over 600 trees due to The Great New England Hurricane of 1938. And the Dutch elm disease also took its toll on the elm population.
- The North Adams Transcript, North Adams, Massachusetts. September 22, 1896 · Page 1
- The North Adams Transcript, North Adams, Massachusetts. September 26, 1896 · Page 2
- American Gardening, Volume 23, A weekly Illustrated Journal Devoted to Gardening and Fruit Culture in the Open and Under Glass, and Record of Current Events in Horticulture. Rural Publishing Company, 1902
With much gratitude to Anne Louro, Preservation Planner for the Department of Planning, Housing & Community Development. www.newbedford-ma.gov/
And Catherine Potter, Administrator of the New Bedford Preservation Society www.nbpreservationsociety.org