Mammoth Sycamore Witness Tree of Springettsbury Township; Civil War & Cow Weathervane Happenings
This mammoth sycamore is in front of the historic house located at 2901 Whiteford Road in Springettsbury Township. The tree trunk has a circumference of 18-feet; resulting in a diameter of 5-feet, 9-inches. One really does not appreciate how massive this tree is until you are standing on the sidewalk next to this sycamore.
I was curious about the age of such a tree. The International Society of Arboriculture has developed simple formulas to fairly accurately estimate a tree’s age. Each tree species has a unique growth factor; for a sycamore the growth factor is 4. Multiply the growth factor by the diameter, expressed in inches, results in an approximate age for the Springettsbury Township sycamore of 276 years.
Thus this sycamore sprouted from a seedling about in 1737 on this parcel in Lancaster County; York County having been formed from Lancaster County in 1749. In 1737, the parcel was transferred from Christian Stoneman to John Treichler (or Dreichler). Did either of these earliest landowners plant the seed that resulted in this tree we enjoy today?
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Continue readings for events this sycamore was witness to during the Civil War and more recently Cow Weathervane happenings.
Do high schools still have tree identification folded into one of their science courses? I know at Central in the 1960s we did this via a scrapbook album of collected tree leaves from around York County. I was pretty certain this Whiteford Road tree was a sycamore in observing it from afar, however a closer examination of the leaves confirmed my suspicion. The following photo, looking up into the sycamore, shows the classic green, tan & white camouflage bark of a sycamore.
Sycamore Witness to Rebel Invasion of 1863
Confederates occupied the City of York on Sunday morning June 28th 1863. A brigade of Rebels, under the command of Brigadier General John Gordon, continued marching to sites east of York. The Confederates rested at these sites until 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon, when they began the final push towards the Susquehanna River Bridge at Wrightsville.
Tradition has it that one of the Rebel campsites was in the general area where the sycamore stands today. This campsite is just north of the railroad tracks leading towards Wrightsville.
On June 28th 1863, Peter Lint owned the small farmhouse that would be transformed into the Meadowbrook Mansion by Edwin B. Myers in 1901. This mansion presently stands as Christmas Tree Hill along Whiteford Road. Many remember it as the Meadowbrook Inn & Tavern or as the Avalong Farms Mansion.
In 1863, Peter Lint owned land on both sides of what is now Whiteford Road. He also owned the only other farmhouse along this stretch of road; the house nearly across the road from his residence; i.e. the building currently numbered 2901 Whiteford Road.
During the Rebel Invasion, Peter Lint was 36 years old; his wife Leah was 34 years old. They had four children: Peter F. Lint, age 9; George E. Lint, age 7; Christopher C. Lint, age 4; and Jenny E. Lint, age 3. Leah was six-months pregnant with their fifth child Annie, when the Rebels camped at their farm.
Peter Lint had tenants in the farmhouse at 2901 Whiteford Road. Actually many of the future owners of this farmhouse, on up through this being part of Avalong Farms, utilized this building for tenants. If any of my readers have stories of their relatives living at 2901 Whiteford Road, I would like to hear from you.
Following the burning of the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge Sunday night, to prevent the rebels from crossing the Susquehanna River, the 126 year-old witness sycamore tree saw elements of the returning Rebels on Monday June 29th 1863. This is documented by accounts of farmers in the area filling damage claims after the war. Scott L. Mingus Sr. and James McClure note stories associated with these claims on pages 69 and 70 of Civil War Voices from York County, Pa.; Remembering the Rebellion and the Gettysburg Campaign.
Cow Weathervane Happenings
Earlier this year I asked What will be the Fate of the Cow Weathervane? Yesterday I took the photo at the beginning of this post from the parking lot bordering the bank construction; i.e. former site of the Avalong Barn. Turning to my left, I zoomed-in for this photo of the Cow Weathervane. It now sits atop the roof of the drive-thru windows for the Susquehanna Bank now under construction along Whiteford Road.Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts