Women’s service club finds living monument to patriotism
When Hazel Parkins and Dixie Judge of the Washoe Zephyr Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution read the item in Bill Dolan’s Oct. 5 “Past Pages” column, they set out on a quest.
Parkins and Judge were looking for a tree planted 70 years ago by members of their group. The tree they hoped to find was a direct descendant of an elm tree in Cambridge, Mass. under which President George Washington is said to have taken command of the continental army in on July 3, 1775.
To honor the bicentennial of Washington’s birth on Feb. 11, 1732, plantings from that tree were sent to all 50 states. Bill Dolan’s column described the planting as follows:
“70 Years Ago
An elm tree direct from the George Washington tree is to be planted and dedicated Oct. 5 by the Daughters of the American Revolution of Nevada. Similar tree is being planted in the capital of each state as part of the George Washington Bicentennial program. Mrs. E.W. Chism, State Regent.”
Parkins and Judge set out to see if the tree was still at the capitol and were surprised by what they found — a healthy elm more than 80 feet tall.
“It’s wonderful,” beamed Dixie Judge, the vice regent for Nevada’s Daughters of the American Revolution who lives in Gardnerville. “It’s so much nicer than we had ever imagined.”
The ladies weren’t even sure it would be there at all, let alone so big and strong.
“We thought, ‘Oh, it probably died in the 1960s when all that Dutch elm disease killed all the trees,” said Janelle Martin, Washoe Zephyr Chapter Regent. “I know that’s what happened to all the elms back in Iowa where I’m from.”
The Carson City tree, with its dedication plaque now high up on the trunk, is just northwest of the Nevada Veteran’s Memorial on the capitol grounds.
Its grandfather, a cutting, which died in 1923, is said to be descended from the tree under which Washington took control of the army after the victory at Lexington and Concord that launched the Revolutionary War on April 19, 1775.
The Cambridge Historical Commission Web site says there is no documentation to indicate the event took place under the elm tree, but admits the elm has become a symbol of patriotism in Cambridge.
The Washoe Zephyr Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution are planning a rededication of the Carson City tree in October of next year, the tree’s 71 birthday.
“I hate to be called a tree hugger but it’s something so historical that you just want to go up and touch it,” said Judge said. “And you never know with these elms — they could perish at any time.”
The group is also planning their state conference for the middle of March. They expect about 100 members of Nevada’s Daughters of the American Revolution to come. “That’s pretty good when you consider our whole state society membership is about 425,” Judge said.
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Cambridge Historical Commission