The Falling of Hartford’s Historic Charter Oak Tree Took Place 166 Years Ago
Way back in August of 1856, a storm with a lot of wind and rain took out a very historic Connecticut landmark in Hartford. A very old oak tree that, according to The Connecticut Historical Society, from local legend, earned the nickname "The Charter Oak." It had a hollow space that was said to keep safe from prying eyes, the colony's charter.
Well, I have heard of dudes hiding things in trees before, but it certainly wasn't anything nearly as important as a colony's charter. Connecticut's Royal Charter of 1662, to be exact. The tree became a symbol of American independence by being used as a hiding place for an extremely important document.
Years before the giant oak tree was used by the colonists to hide their charter, Native Americans held their council meetings under its widespread branches for generations. The land where the tree stood was purchased by a guy named Stephen Wyllys, an inaugural landowner in Hartford. He was asked by the Indians to not remove the giant tree and he agreed, that was almost 200 years before it was blown down by Mother Nature. Here is a pic of the large tree and a young woman next to it when it still stood.
After the old oak was blown down, the people of Connecticut took pieces of the tree and treated them like a Yankees fan would covet a baseball signed by "The Babe" himself. Maybe even in higher regard, anyway, The Charter Oak, or pieces of it, became three chairs, among other things, including one that is a ceremonial seat of the president of the State Senate, according to the Connecticut Historical Society.
Today a monument stands where the tree once was in Hartford's downtown on the corner of Charter Oak Avenue and Charter Oak Place.
The Charter Tree is still a symbol of Connecticut with paintings that are a part of the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and in the collection of the Connecticut Historical Society. From "The Charter Oak" Wiki page, there has also been a commemorative stamp and the oak tree appears on the 1999 state quarter.
You'll also be happy to know that descendants of The Charter Tree are growing all over the state of Connecticut including Bushnell Park in Hartford and Fairview Cemetery in New Britain. Check out the pics and thanks for hanging out with me again.