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Tree City USA
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"An Act to encourage the planting of trees” became law June 10, 1887 in the State of Illinois.* The first Arbor Day was held the next year, April 22, 1888.*
The earliest recorded plantation events took place in Spain in the 16th century; the first official Arbor Day took place in 1805 in small Spanish village, Villanueva de la Sierra.** Also, in 1805, a French monograph*** noted the environmental, ecological, economic; and even esthetic necessity of conservation through tree planting. It is relevant reading today.
Local schools embraced Arbor Day efforts forthwith. Festive events included naming Linden trees after “famous men” (1897) and a speech entitled, “Tree Planting to Save the Country” by Colonel Harlan Page Davidson at the Northwestern Military Academy Arbor Day.
In the mid-20th century, the Men's Garden Club of Highland Park donated trees to the schools annually. Garden Pants, the organization's newsletter, shared thank you letters from the young pupils for the donation of 1500 trees in the former District 108 (1940) :
"Dear Mr. [Chief Rosarian Gene] Pfister:
Will you please thank the Men's Garden Club of Highland Park for the trees they gave us to plant? All the trees have been planted and We promise to take good care of them.
The Ravinia School
Grade 3 South"
"Dear Mr. Pfister:
We want to thank the Men's Garden Club of Highland Park for our trees. Trees help to make our city more beautiful, so we are going to take good care of the trees which were given to us.
The Third Grade
We would like to thank you, through Mr. Abt, for the trees that were sent to us on Arbor Day. They were received with great enthusiasm by everybody. We have been talking about tree conservation in our room. And we realize that if something isn't done soon, our country's trees will be scarce. Even those little baby saplings, if carefully planted and taken care of, will be a drop in the bucket, and many drops will soon fill it.
Thank you again,
One wonders if anyone recalled or knew that Davidson had donated Elm trees to these three schools in 1904? At that event “sealed lead boxes” -- time capsules were buried under the trees. Children read compositions with titles like “We plant this elm”/ by Harriet Leaming and “The Washington Elm” / by Egbert Spencer. Perhaps copies of these compostions remain buried under trees at these locations?
The National Arbor Day Foundation has designated Highland Park as a Tree City USA. The City will distribute 500 seedlings at the City's Arbor Day celebration tomorrow, April 27, 2019.
* Hurd. Revised Statutes of the State of Illinois 1893: Comprising the Revised Statutes of 1874, and All Amendments Thereto, Together with the General Acts of 1875, 1877, 1879, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1885, 1887, 1889, 1891 and 1893.
***Datty. Des plantations, de leur nécessité en France, de leur utilité dans les départemens du Midi pour l'assainissement de l'air; ou, Traité de la culture des arbres forestiers. Arles: G. Mesnier, 1805.