His name was Thomas Redway. He headed west from Connecticut with his family, driving a team of oxen and herding a flock of sheep with a staff cut from a tree.
Stories from early settlers say that when he reached what is now the southwestern part of Onondaga County in the State of New York, he found a hillside area above a small wooded lake. He said, “Here will be my home” and stuck the staff into the ground.
Family history says Thomas settled on the site in 1806 and built a one-room log cabin where he lived with his family. The cabin was eventually replaced with a larger house, and the house that sits on the property today was built sometime around 1867.
The staff that he stuck in the ground sprouted, sending out roots and leaves, growing for 173 years. I don’t know how big it was when it finally fell, but in 1937 it measured 23 feet in circumference waist high, and 27 feet just above the ground.
It stood well over the farmhouse that my dad grew up in, fifth generation to live on Thomas Redway’s homestead.
My family has numerous photos going back three generations of Thomas’s descendants standing in front of the enormous tree. The photos below are of my grandmother taken around 1937, when a Syracuse Newspaper published a story about the tree.
Here are pictures of the tree towering over the house.
The tree finally fell September 14, 1979, taking a part of my family history with it.
© Drusilla Mott and https://drusillamott.wordpress.com, 2014