When Europeans first immigrated to the New World, they faced an uncertain future in an untamed land. Things could go sour at the drop of a hat if they weren’t careful.
To help immigrants as they arrived in Massachusetts, English Puritan John Endicott set out to make the terrain as inviting as possible.
While no one could’ve expected such a gesture, it’s what he did next that would continue on as a legacy for hundreds of years.
In 1630, things were rapidly changing in the United States of America, and so John Endicott planted a single pear sapling tree that was imported from all the way across the Atlantic. This was, of course, done as a symbolic gesture…
In the first place, Endicott said that he meant to make incoming Pilgrims and Europeans feel at home upon immigrating to their new and untamed world — Massachusetts, U.S.A., and that it did. Many people enjoyed it when they first arrived.
Though it is located in Danvers, Massachusetts, the symbolic pear tree was originally planted on Endicott’s 300-acre farm in Salem. As it turns out, the settler and former governor cultivated extensively up until his death in 1665.
Over the years, that single tree stuck around for all to see. Unfortunately, the pear tree started to show signs of decay as early as 1763, but it still continued to bear fruit into the future. Perhaps, a symbol of what hope it represented.
By the early 1800s, the pear tree had become something of a legend around those parts of Massachusetts. Even President John Adams was said to have been a fan of its pears. He would often eat them and talk about how great they were.
Descendants of John Endicott continued to maintain the pear tree, and soon it was a popular figure in American literature. Writers who referred to the Endicott pear tree included Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the poet Lucy Larcom.
The pear tree survived numerous snowstorms and severe hurricanes, but in 1964, it was struck by a human catastrophe. Vandals attacked the tree overnight, leaving nothing but a jagged stump, but that wasn’t the end of the story…
Standing behind the symbolism of the tree, locals rallied around the historic Endicott pear tree, erecting a strong fence to ensure its protection from harm’s way. A year later, the stubborn tree started to show signs of rejuvenation.
After that, it appeared as though nothing was going to stop the pear tree from growing to its full potential. Eventually, the tree grew back to its original glory, and in 2011, it amazingly became an official American landmark!
Today, the Endicott pear tree is the oldest surviving cultivated tree in the United States of America. It is also an important symbol to many people around the country and holds a special place in the hearts of the people of Danvers.
At one point in the early 2000s, members of the Danvers Preservation Commission lobbied to have the tree featured on a stamp that would be circulated around the United States. Unfortunately, it never came to fruition.
Surprisingly, not only is the Endicott pear tree still alive and thriving to this day, but it still bears fruit every year! That’s right, people from around the world can come and receive a pear right from this historic tree in Massachusetts.
When Endicott planted the tree in 1630, he was quoted as saying: “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.” It looks like his dream finally came true after all!
Almost four centuries later, it’s probably safe to say that this resilient pear tree has more than exceeded Endicott’s wildest expectations. What an amazing story!
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