Significant Garrett County State Forest and State Parks Monuments
“Washington Elm” Tree or “Cambridge Elm” at Garrett County Memorial Hospital in Oakland, Maryland
This tree was a sapling when planted in Oakland as part of the celebration of the 200th birthday of George Washington (1732-1932) but there is much “more to this tree’s story as you will see below. Please read on.
Three thousand years ago, the Prophet Job said, “There is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof shall not cease.”
In 1642 in Cambridge Town, Massachusetts Bay Colony, a tiny elm pushed through the ground, while nearby, Governor Bradford formed a Confederation of four colonies, as the first step toward national union. In 1775 the tiny tree had grown into a spreading elm. July 3, 1775, Washington, standing under it shade, took command of American’s first army, that final step toward national union. From that time, the Washington Elm was the town’s and nation’s meeting place. In 1875 the centennial anniversary of that great day was celebrated, a fence was built to protect the tree, with a memorial tablet to describe it honorably. In 1888, seeds from this Washington Elm were planted by an uncle of Mrs. Dorsey, and thirteen young trees were sent to Mount Vernon and one to Annapolis, where General Washington resigned his commission in the army. In 1923 the Washington Elm, the last living witness of the historic event of 1775, succumbed to old age, falling against the protecting fence. Cambridge sent pieces of the tree to every State Capitol, and erected a monument on the site as a symbol of liberty.
In 1925 the Washington Elm was honored by the U.S. Government, on the Lexington and Concord Commemorative Stamp. In 1926 Mrs. Alice Paret Dorsey (Mrs. James H. Dorsey), a descendant of Governor Bradford and old friend of Oakland’s Lottie Loar was inspired to carry on the memory of the Washington Elm by growing trees from seeds and root-shoots, the grandchild and great-grandchild of the famous tree.
About 1930 when Miss Lottie Loar was president, the Oakland Civic club was allowed the used of the Oakland Hotel grounds for a Park, and many trees were planted. Mrs. Dorsey sent several of the young Washington Elm saplings to Oakland to be used in the Park. Miss Loar was most careful of the tiny trees and planted them in her garden to establish their growth. In order to be sure of a protected place, one of the trees was planted in Oakland in the Episcopal Parish House grounds by Miss Loar, assisted by Mrs. Edward H. Sincell, Mrs. Milton Sincell and the Reverend David C. Trimble. Through Mrs. Dorsey’s untiring interest, Job’s ancient prophecy is fulfilled, the “tender branch shall not cease.”
Because of the development of a Rectory on the site of the Washington Elm in Oakland, the Elm tree was moved to the grounds of the Garrett Memorial hospital in April, 1948, by the Oakland Civic Club and the Rotary Club of Oakland. The Elm sapling that survived at the hospital is the 84 year old giant American Elm standing today beside the hospital parking lot. The plaque and stone identifying the Washington Elm was placed in honor of Lottie M. Loar by the Rotary Club of Oakland and the Oakland Civic Club on October 29, 1950.
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Photographs (top to bottom):
- "Washington Elm” Tree or “Cambridge Elm” at Garrett County Memorial Hospital in Oakland, Maryland
- Offutt Johnson holding seedlings from the "Washington Elm" Tree. Two survived from this collection in the photograph. One is planted at Green Ridge State Forest and another is planted at Washington’s Headquarters at Riverside Park, Cumberland ,MD.
This is the second in a series of articles from the following pubication:
Maryland State Forests and State Parks
Significant Monuments and Landmarks In Garrett County, Maryland
By Offutt Johnson and Champ Zumbrun
July 11, 2013