4-H Club members, Scotland County commissioners, and University Extension personnel are pictured here after planting a Liberty Tree on the west side of the Courthouse Lawn Thursday, April 27, 2017.

by Andrea Brassfield

Members of Scotland County 4-H clubs, Scotland County commissioners, and University Extension personnel, Chris Kempke and Kristy Eggleston-Wood, took advantage of Mother Nature’s reprieve from the rain and planted a Liberty Tree on the Courthouse lawn Thursday afternoon.  The tree, sponsored by Crader Distributing and STIHL Dealers, was gifted to Scotland County 4-H after the clubs filled out an application to take part in a program designed to preserve the legacy of the Liberty Trees.  Following is the Certificate of Authenticity presented to the Clubs:

The Liberty Tree seedling you have received has a remarkable history. The first Liberty Tree was identified in 1765 by the Sons of Liberty in Boston in the context of their protest against the Stamp Act. As tensions mounted in the years leading to the declaration of American Independence in 1776, the practice of gathering support for the American cause around a large tree in urban centers began to spread throughout the colonies. One by one, through the years, these ancient trees have passed away.

The last standing Revolutionary era Liberty Tree, a Tulip Poplar estimated to be up to 800 years old when it died, was in Annapolis, Maryland and was felled in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Under this tree in 1776, the Maryland Sons of Liberty read the Declaration of Independence. From the seeds that were harvested from that venerable tree in 1999, only fourteen took root. These were grown under the watchful care of the non-profit organization American Forests (www.AmericanForests.org)

These seedlings of the last Liberty Tree were then secured by a nonprofit organization when they were quite small and were nurtured at the Mt. Cuba Center, a horticultural institution in Wilmington, Delaware (www.mtcubacenter.org). As they matured, they were planted throughout the original colonies at such auspicious locations as the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia and Mount Vernon in Virginia. In order to preserve the legacy of the Liberty Trees for generations to come, in cooperation with Mt. Cuba, as well as Pleasant Run Nursery (www.pleasantrunnursery.oom) and RareFind Nursery (www.rareflndnursery.com) both in New Jersey, a bud-grafting program was begun.

By the process of bud-grafting, each tree in the Liberty Tree program continues the exact life of one of the fourteen Liberty Tree Seedlings. Thus it is possible to present to you this living testimony to our American founding history. Your bud-grafted tree, due to the outstanding expertise of these horticultural centers, is nothing less than an authentic offspring of the Last Liberty Tree.

While it is hoped that this program will expand in the coming years, your Liberty Tree is one of the first group of bud-grafted trees that we have grown. It is one of less than one hundred bud-grafted trees that this year launches our new effort. Please care for it well. You are continuing the home-grown story of American liberty and Independence.

We want to express our sincere thanks to the Missouri 4H Clubs (http://4h.missouri.edu/) for their participation. We are truly grateful for their friendship, leadership and creativity.

In the years to come, from time to time, we hope that youth in Missouri will gather under the branches and grow in their understanding of the history of our nation and their leadership roles.

Sincerely,

Brad Crader

Crader Distributing and STIHL Dealers

The Liberty Tree is located on the west side of the Courthouse.  Underneath is a plaque which reads: Tulip Poplar, bud-grafted from the last standing Revolutionary era Liberty Tree, Planted by Missouri 4-H.

Kristy Eggleston-Wood, 4-H Youth Program Assistant for the Scotland County Extension Office, helped organize the project, saying all the 4-H Clubs in Scotland County got involved, including the Azen Jolly Timers, Jolly Jacks & Jills, and the Gorin Go-Getters.  She went on to say, “It’s a wonderful opportunity for the Scotland County 4-H program to bring a part of American history to Scotland County.  It will be special to watch a symbol of our freedom and liberties grow and prosper for years to come.”