A slice of history

Rings on a tree

In the Frelinghuysen Arboretum, there’s a display with an old stump. It has numbers to point out which rings are associated with what years, and why those years are historically relevant— much like the famed Giant Sequoia in NYC’s Museum of Natural History, but on a much smaller and more local scale.

“19,” for example, is for 1968, when the Great Swamp was officially called a National Wilderness Area.

Almost all of the associated history is of local interest only, and even some of those local interests are questionable. (Since when does Morristown care about Atlantic City?) Here’s the complete list, in case you have some burning curiosity:

  1. 1738 – Morris County is created by the state legistlature
  2. 1738 – Colonel Lewis Morris of the province of colonial New Jersey becomes first governor
  3. 1755 – The Morristown Green is first used and constructed to serve as the town courthouse and jail
  4. 1777 – George Washington spends 5 months in Morris County with his troops
  5. 1787 – New Jersey becomes the third state to join the Union
  6. 1790 – Trenton is selected to become the state capital
  7. 1816 – The First Presbyterian Church is founded in Morristown
  8. 1835 – Morris and Essex Railroad Company chartered
  9. 1861 – The Civil War begins
  10. 1865 – The sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth
  11. 1879 – Thomas Edison invents the first light bulb
  12. 1887 – Matilda Felinghuysen is born in New York City
  13. 1891 – “Whippany Farms,” now known as Frelinghuysen Arboretum, is built as a summer home for the Frelinghuysen family
  14. 1915 – Alison Turnbull Hopkins, Officer of the Women’s Political Union, campaigns for New Jersey’s suffrage referendum in Morristown
  15. 1926Bell Laboratories converts a dairy barn into experimental radio station to develop high power broadcasting
  16. 1929The Seeing Eye is originally incorporated into Morristown
  17. 1930 – Charles B. Darrow develops the game Monopoly. Names in the game originate from Atlantic City street names
  18. 1939 – More than 50,000 New Jersey residents join the WWII effort
  19. 1968The Great Swamp is classified as a National Wilderness Area; it is a landmark event
  20. 1969 – Matilda Frelinghuysen dies at the age of 82
  21. 1971 – The Frelinghuysen Arboretum is dedicated
  22. 1978 – New Jersey legalizes gambling in Atlantic City. One of four casinos opens to an enthusiastic response
  23. 1975 – “Branching Out!,” the children’s gardening program, is started by the Garden Club of Morristown in conjunction with the Morris County Park Commission

Just in case you thought I was making this up, you can read it for yourself.

2 Comments to “A slice of history”

  1. Very interesting!
    When and why was the tree cut down?

    • I have no idea why it was cut down.

      But as for when… I had assumed it was sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s, since the last noted date on the tree is 1975. But according to this webpage, “the Redwood tree cross section was obtained in 1992 from California’s Redwood State Park.” “Obtained” and “cut down” are of course different things, though, so… I dunno. It was refurbished in 2005 for an Eagle Scout project (which is stated on the display itself).

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