Pat Shingleton: "Charting the History of the Charter Oak..."
Our majestic oaks have weathered not only hurricanes and tropical storms but episodes of severe thunderstorms. Most of our oaks can withstand intense winds however, not tree can endure a direct lighting hot. The sap in any tree is quickly "cooked" when a strike hits, splaying the tree. Yesterday's column noted a famous tree, offering how Dutch explorer Adrian Block described an unusually large white oak growing in a clearing on what is now Hartford, Connecticut. In the 1930s, a delegation of Native Americans approached the property's owner where the tree was located. Intending to remove the tree, Samuel Wyllys preserved it because it was planted ceremonially for the sake of peace when their tribe first settled the area. Local legend states that in 1687 the cavity of the tree was cored to hide the Constitution Charter from King James II. At that moment it was renamed the "Charter Oak." August 19th marked the 158th anniversary of the famous tree and on August 21, 1856 it was severely damaged by a fierce wind storm.