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"Witness Tree Table"

There is a tradition wherein trees, that were "witness" to historic events, have been deemed "witness" trees. These trees are so cherished that, when they are within Federal Parks, they are protected from cutting or removal under Federal Law. Unfortunately, their natural demise,
from disease or old age, cannot be prevented.

This "Witness Tree Table", was made from the "Last Tree on Seminary Street".

Likely over 140 years old, the tree was "witness" to many of the events that make up Mercersburg's rich history. As a recently planted sapling it would have been "witness" on October 10, 1862, to J.E.B Stuart's cavalry as they rode through the streets, during the Civil War, looking for shoes and clothing.

A few pieces saved when the tree was cut down, have been carefully restored and assembled, in the most creative way by Glen Martin Jr., owner of Martin Millwork Inc., into a beautiful table.

The table is an exquisite example of the "art of furniture making", as it captures the color and texture (including the bark) of the live tree perfectly. Most important, encased and protected under a thick polished surface, yet clearly visible, are the "rings" that attest to the trees age and what it has "seen" and endured.

Deemed the "Witness Tree Table", this work of art is a fitting remembrance and an important piece of Mercersburg's history.

The "Witness Tree Table" was donated by Mr. Martin Jr. to be raffled for the benefit of the Civil War Commemoration. Tickets will be available starting the 26th of August from the Chamber of Commerce and Commemoration Committee Members. The drawing for the table will be December 14, 2002. 100% of the donations go to the J.E.B. Stuart Raid Fund in support of the Fendrick Library - Building Fund.

Last Tree on Seminary Street

On March 6, Mercersburg lost the last remaining tree standing, literally, "on" East Seminary Street.

Known locally as "the tree in the street," the old basswood tree which stood in front of the First United Methodist Church had grown to more than three feet in diameter and almost 100 feet high. Estimated to be over 140 years old, it was planted sometime around the time of the Civil War.

Although there has never been an official accounting of the older trees in Mercersburg, this tree was probably one of the oldest remaining trees in the town.

Over the years, as the street was widened to make way for automobiles and the growing traffic to and from the Academy, the tree, which at one time set comfortably within the confines of the sidewalk, became almost totally surrounded by macadam and a concrete curb.

Although the tree stood tall and even had a few leaves last spring, it had actually stopped growing sometime in the 1950's, according to the tree surgeons who removed it. It had remained "mostly together" until just recently, although it was almost completely hollow from top to bottom. Church officials had been concerned that the tree would come down on its own one day.

Located, as it was, on East Seminary Street, the tree was likely witness to many of the events that make up Mercersburg's rich history. As a recently planted sapling, it would have been within earshot of the cannons at Antietam, and later witness on October 10, 1862, to hundreds of General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry, as they rode through the streets of Mercersburg looking for shoes, clothing and hostages.

Sadly, in spite of its years of majesty and its place as a witness to history, most of its wood was too rotten to be used even as firewood. But, as luck would have it, a local resident and Civil War buff happened to see the tree being cut, and, knowing that the tree was quite old, saved a few sections of the base of its trunk.

Happily, the tree slice will now become part of a beautiful piece of furniture. A table is being created by Glenn Martin, Jr., owner of Martin Millwork, Inc., a local Mercersburg woodworking factory.

When completed, the table will be donated to the Committee for the Commemoration of J.E.B. Stuart's Raid, and ultimately will be auctioned off for the benefit of the upcoming event.

A reenactment and related events are scheduled the weekend of October 11-13, 2002.

Interested collectors should check back here for more information.

The lucky person who acquires this piece of furniture will have a unique relic of Mercersburg's history, and a piece of one of the last living witnesses to one of the most important chapters in our nation's history - the Civil War.