Imagine what life must have been like for the first European immigrants coming to the New Land. America was an untamed wilderness. The Eastern Seaboard was all forests and wild life. Nothing like the populated coastline with Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. today.
When the pilgrims first came to Massachusetts, Puritan John Endicott dreamed of making the terrain an inviting haven. What he did next, would be the start of a legacy lasting hundreds of years to the present day.
The year was 1630. Endicott planted one single pear tree sapling that he imported across the Atlantic Ocean.
The tree was symbolic and a way to make the Europeans feel more at home in the foreign land.
The pear tree was planted on Endicott’s 300-acre farm in modern day Danvers, Massachusetts. The settler and former governor cultivated the land until his death in 1665.
But the pear tree remained. As early as 1763, it started to show signs of decay but it still bore fruit. By the early 1800s, the tree had become a legend.
Even President John Adams said he loved eating its pears.
Endicott’s descendants took care of the tree. Soon enough the Endicott Pear Tree became a literary icon being mentioned by writers like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and poet Lucy Larcom.
The pear tree survived hurricanes and blizzards. But in 1964, vandals attacked the piece of living history and chopped it down to a deformed stump overnight.
Locals rallied to help the tree. They created a strong barbed-wire fence. The next year, like a miracle, the tree showed signs of rejuvenation.
The tree returned to its former glory and in 2011, it became an official American landmark.
Today, the Endicott Pear Tree is the oldest surviving cultivated tree in American history.
When Endicott planted the pear tree in 1630, he said: “I hope the tree will love the soil of the old world and no doubt when we have gone the tree will still be alive.”
The tree isn’t just alive. It bears fruit every year!
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