York Town Square

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Part II: Once the biggest and most beautiful tree in York County. No more.

This is the stump of what was once called the biggest and most beautiful tree in York County – the Seidel Oak in the Bryansville area of southeastern York County. ‘The black object to the right is my hat – in the photo for scale,’ Roger Wilson, who took this photo wrote. ‘The hat is 8 inches across. The top of what remains is about 6 feet in diameter.’ Some of the stump is no longer there. (See a photo of the tree below.) Also of interest: Part I: Once the biggest and most beautiful tree in York County and Of York County’s pesky black walnut trees and motorcycles and the May’s Oak of Emigsville blew down in 1997.

I wanted to know more about whether the Seidel Oak, which a contest deemed the top tree in York County in 1935, was still standing.

So I asked Doug Winemiller, student of Stewartstown-area history, if he knew.

He passed the query on on Dr. Roger Wilson, who found out.

It’s gone, but its stump remains.

Here’s the story from Roger:

‘I went to the Delta area today for several errands so I tracked down the oak tree and got some information.

I talked to Pat Thompson Peters, daughter of Dr. W. E. Thompson, at the Thompson farm.

‘The oak is gone. The final blow came from gypsy moths in the early 1980’s. The tree then had numerous repairs, including tree cement in holes and cables supporting limbs, see this review.

‘Some of the larger limbs bowed down to touch the ground. The tree had suffered damage from snow, ice, and wind storms.
‘The owners of the tree, Dr. Thompson (a dentist) and his wife Mary, took the tree down before it blew down.

‘Pat, using a dental pick, counted the tree rings at the time it was cut down and determined the tree was at least 360 years old. That means the tree would have started to grow around 1620 – amazing.’

Roger also talked with John V. Johnson, a retired social studies teacher, who lives nearby.

‘John and his father were good friends of Dr. Thompson. John helped to take down the tree and cut it up for firewood. John said that Dr. Thompson took excellent care of the tree, hiring tree surgeons to fill in holes with cement and place cables for support.’

In Roger’s photograph, the smaller stump to the left was a red oak.

‘The Seidel Oak was a white oak,’ Roger wrote.

So that is one tree mystery solved, thanks to Roger with an assist from Doug.

How about this one: Is this willow tree standing today on Powder Mill Road?

Also of interest:

A walk on the City of York, Pa.’s, wild (life) side.
Brook Leaf Love Nest tree house known as Hellam honeymoon spot
Trees commemorate WW I vets.