The Stratford Historical Society
Stratford Historical Society Box 382
A Tree With Provenance September 23rd
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A Tree With Provenance September 23rd
By Dolores Hoctor

   Monday, the 23rd of September saw the demise of a huge copper beech tree that had graced the grounds of the Stratford Historical Society for almost 150 years. Early that morning demolition equipment was in place on the grounds - the bucket crane to the wood chipper, a huge truck to catch the chips, a dumpster for the large branches, the machine with claws to lift boughs into the dumpster, the saws and the Razor's Edge crew.

   Throughout the morning the saws could be heard buzzing through the limbs, the chipper grinding them into mulch, an occasional thud as the heavier lower branches gave way and were grabbed, lifted, moved and deposited into the dumpster. In less than three hours there was nothing left but the trunk, seventeen feet in diameter, to be sawed through, wedged at the base and tethered at the top. With the steady pull of the claw machine there was one sharp crack and as it landed, a thud that reverberated across the yard.

   How did this majestic tree meet such a fate? A recent injury caused by a neighboring tree that grazed it and broke some branches, exposing a section of this dichotomous tree that was obviously dead. An arborous came to remove the damage and feed the roots, but to no avail. Insects could be seen boring into the trunk and bark fell off in chunks. The remaining branches on the good side leaned precariously toward the back of the Society's Museum.

   There was no denying that the tree was in decline and could not survive much longer. To remove it was a heart wrenching decision because this was not any tree. This tree had a connection to the Judson family. It had been planted in 1888 by the last of the Judsons to inhabit the House before it became the possession of the Stratford Historical Society, two great, great, great- granddaughters of David Judson, Celia and Cornelia Curtis. They lived in the House until their deaths in 1925.

   Imagine what that tree had witnessed in its long lifetime as it observed the growth of the Society from a fledgling group of dedicated people to the thriving organization it is today. For almost thirty years there was just the House and the tree grew to maturity. Eventually it witnessed the House restored to its original colonial appearance, construction of a Museum, then its addition, sheds in back, a Necessary and a Carriage House.

   As its branches spread and its trunk thickened, the Society membership increased welcoming tours, History Camps, festivals and other events held periodically in the buildings and on the grounds.

   The events and activities will continue without the protective shade of the copper beech. Its stump remains and a seedling the tree produced will take its place to flourish and stand witness to the continuing growth of the Stratford Historical Society.