Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Endicott Pear Tree, Generosity of Newburyport Commissioner, History on Display in Saugus, High School Sports


Endicott Pear Tree

The primary purpose of the Essex Happenings BLOG is to provide topical information on the activities of Essex Heritage and how we as an organization interact with other like minded groups both in and out of this region. Today I want to provide a little information on the famous Endicott Pear Tree in Danvers. Many believe it is the oldest living cultivated fruit tree in North America. Likely brought to this country from England to Salem on the Arbella in 1630, the tree was planted in its present location by John Endecott a Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and one of the initial settlers of this region sometime between 1632 and 1649. It should be noted that the original spelling of the Endicott name that was originally spelled as Endecott is used here. The location where the tree was planted was at one time known as the Endecott Estate or the Collins Farm and was part of Salem before it later became Danvers.

The present location of the tree is at the rear of the recently constructed Massachusetts General/North Shore Medical Center facility on Endicott Street in Danvers. The hospital became the “caretaker” of the tree when they acquired the land and buildings from Osram-Sylvania. The Hospital continues to make substantial improvements to the security around the tree to protect it for the future. We want to offer our thanks to one of our Essex Heritage Commissioners, Attorney Wayne Eisenhauer the Treasurer of the Danvers Historical Society whose perseverance and interest in this regional historical resource and its preservation brought the matter to our attention. At the same time he provided information to the hospital officials about the valuable resource that has alerted them to action to be certain that the resource is protected. In July of 1964 vandals cut off branches of the tree and damaged the trunk of the tree and that action caused Osram-Sylvania to act and construct a security fence to protect the tree and the hospital under the leadership of Ms, Elena Sierra, Executive Director, Massachusetts General/ North Shore Center is now enhancing that security to an even greater degree to make certain that the resource is protected as best as possible..

Through the efforts of Attorney Eisenhauer, we have also recently learned that an organization exists of Endicott ancestors that have undertaken an even newer and energetic project to preserve the history surrounding the famous tree. We have recently been introduced to Mr. Gordon Harmon, the President of the Endecott-Endicott Family Association, Inc. That organization is a membership based international family association with the common ancestor of Governor John Endecott. Headquartered in Springfield, Missouri, that organization maintains a web site that can be viewed at www.endecott-endicott.com and has a strong interest in a continuing effort to preserve, protect and promote the Endicott Pear Tree. That organization offers full and no charge associate memberships and Essex Heritage will join to keep track of activities surrounding this important regional asset. The organization has already connected with Endicott College named for their illustrious ancestor and they have developed a Governor John Endecott scholarship. The first ever recipient of that award has produced a research article on the Governor for the college.

The most interesting project undertaken by that organization is a scion wood grafting project from the Endicott Pear Tree. To date seventeen states in the US are represented with a planting from the Endicott Pear Tree. A new effort to offer plantings is now underway and the organization is pleased that the heritage of the Governor John Endicott Pear Tree is thriving around the country with more states certainly to follow. In addition several botanical gardens are also participating in this effort. For more information on this project or to learn how one can acquire a cutting of the famous tree contact Cindy Endicott Levingston the Treasurer of the Endecott-Endicott Family Association at 1097 Derby lane, Howell, MI 48843.

We hope that you learned a little about a wonderful and treasured tree. I know that with the research that I undertook on this resource I learned a great deal of new information about its importance.

New Newburyport Commissioner Plays a Role in his Community

In the last week or so, one of the newest Essex Heritage Commissions has certainly distinguished himself as a friend of the environment and of the community where his company is located. Ralph Castagna of the construction company of the same name recently provided financial support to two local projects that certainly will have an impact on the environment that is most important to him. Mr. Castagna who just a month ago was elected to a position as commissioner at Essex Heritage provided a check to the Newburyport High School’s environmental club that will allow that group to purchase sets of low energy LED lights for the Town’s Christmas tree that will be erected in the downtown. The gift was much appreciated by the students in the club, as they had just about given up hope of being able to raise enough financial support to purchase the proper environmentally correct lighting for the tree. Then in a corresponding gesture, Mr. Castagna along with the support of two other local businesses Richey Woodworking and Keiver Willard Lumber Construction had a spectacular welcoming arch crafted and installed over the main entrance to the City’s 1, 1 mile Clipper City Rail Trail. The twenty foot wide and fourteen foot high arch will certainly welcome trail users for years to come. The two gestures were much appreciated by the residents and officials in the City of Newburyport and most certainly identified Essex Heritage Commissioner Ralph Castagna as the kind of community activist every organization is seeking. At Essex Heritage we are pleased that he has agreed to lend his efforts and support to the mission of Essex heritage as well as his other community endeavors.

History on Display in Saugus

It is always good to hear of a project that reflects the history of any community within this region. We have recently learned that the Town of Saugus that is such an important community to Essex Heritage as one of the National Park Services locations in the area is one of the highlights in that community. The Town with the help of the “Friends of the Town Hall” undertook a project to redecorate a heavily used meeting room in the Town Hall with pictures and other historical items that help tell the history of the Town. Many early photographs were provided to the Town by the National Park Service who operates one of the two park units in this region in Saugus. The Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site along with its Salem Maritime unit helps tell the story of this region to residents and visitors alike. The Town Hall that was built in 1875 was the site of an Essex Heritage Annual meeting several years ago, and the historical exhibit now in place will make the building an even more attractive spot to visit in the future.

High School Football on the Holiday and Beyond

We hope that all of you who took in a high school football game on Thanksgiving had a good day, and that if your team did not win at the very least they played hard and fair. Now that the Thanksgiving Day festivities are over several local teams can look forward to participating in the MIAA tournament that begins tonight. In Division I, St John’s Prep takes its first place three way tie in the Catholic Conference to Taunton for a game against New Bedford. In Division I A, Gloucester will take its undefeated record to Manning Field in Lynn and in Division Three and Three A, Beverly and Hamilton-Wenham will travel to Lynn and to Reading respectively for important games for those two schools. All of the games tonight are preludes to the Supper Bowl games scheduled for next Saturday, December 4, 2010. Good luck to all of the teams and regardless if tonight’s contest results in a win or loss in this tournament, the high schools, the players and their parents can be most proud of the accomplishments achieved in 2010.

One additional note of congratulations is offered to the Field hockey team from Andover High School who a week or so ago, won the State Championship in that sport. They won the North title with a victory over a Beverly team that beat my granddaughter’s team from Danvers, and then went all the way to a win in the State finals against perennial powerhouse Algonquin Regional.

As always we value your comments, questions and observations about the work of Essex Heritage. Please contact me with your thoughts or any questions you may have at www.essexheritage.org. We are always striving to make Essex Heritage work as effectively as possible and your input and suggestions are always welcome. We can always provide more information and better communication, and one of the goals of these postings on Essex happenings is to provide that opportunity. You can also contact me directly if you wish information on the August 2011 Travel opportunity to the Northern National Parks sponsored by Essex Heritage. I am signed up for and will be helping to lead the trip, and I hope that you will consider joining me on that trip. Thank You. Tom Leonard

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