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liberty elm tree

Lane Place was the proud recipient of an “American Liberty Elm” tree that was added to the beautiful Lane Place Arboretum surrounding the Senator Henry S. Lane home. The City of Crawfordsville was named a Liberty Tree Memorial town and chose Lane Place as the recipient of the “American Liberty Elm”. The delivery of the 18 foot Elm tree was coordinated by Pat McDowell, Special Projects Coordinator, City of Crawfordsville, and Don Bickel, Forester. The tree was planted Friday, April 24, 2009, in front of the home by Bickel, McDowell, and Montgomery County Historical Socity Board of Directors President Mike Barton. A pedestal for the rock and plaque was added in 2014. 


The “American Liberty Elm” is a focus of patriotic inspiration, a familiar landmark, and a green and growing tribute to the birth of freedom in America. The site of the first public shade tree planting in the New World was in Boston, Mass. in 1646. The American elm was a symbol of freedom to the colonists and became known as the “Liberty Tree”.


The “Sons of Liberty”, formed more than a century later in 1765, and other protesters of British oppression, gathered under the sheltering branches of the “Liberty Tree” to organize opposition to the Crown. The Sons of Liberty grew in numbers and strength and as a symbol of resistance to oppression the settlers planted Elm trees all over New England. The 129-year-old Boston “Liberty Tree” was axed by the British in 1775 but the American elm tree as a symbol of freedom lived on with a population anxious to be rid of Crown rule.


Settlers carried the seeds west as they settled the new land and generations grew up under the shade and beauty of the majestic American elm. However, in the 1930s disaster struck. Dutch Elm disease, carried by a tiny beetle, came to American shores with a load of elm logs from Europe. By the 1950s, over half of the elms in the country were lost to this devastating disease.

John P. Hansel founded the Elm Research Institute in 1967 and through genetic research developed a purebred descendant of disease-resistant American elms. Since its introduction in 1984, more than a quarter of a million ”American Liberty Elm” trees have been planted in over 1,000 communities including Gary, Hammond, South Bend and Lafayette in Indiana and prominent historic sites in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

The Liberty American Elm was inspected by a Certified Arborist during the 2019 tree inventory who assessed it as "Poor" with a recommendation to Remove.  A second arborist diagnosed what was killing the tree in 2021.  The Elm did not die from Dutch Elm Disease (DED) or Elm Necrosis. The primary cause of death was a wound or wounds that led to Slime Flux bacterial infection.  In spring of 2021 the MCHS decided to remove the infected and dying Elm tree and replace it with a new Valley Forge American Elm, which is touted as the American Elm most successfully resistant to DED.

The original Liberty American Elm trees were sponsored and made available to towns by generous donors. The Elm Research Institute is currently accepting letters of interest from towns who wish to participate. For more information about this national project, phone Elm Research Institute, (603) 358-6198 or visit online at or write to 11 Kit Street, Keene, NH, 03431.

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