This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In the September number of the Gardener's Monthly, Mr. Gregory speaks of the old elm tree in Wethersfield, as one of great size. Though often noticed for its great size and. spreading branches, its immense hugeness was not realized until I stood near and under it, and took careful measurements on December 27th.
It stands in front of the house of James T. Smith, on Broad Street, on the eastern part of the level plain which comprises this part of Wethersfield. The soil of all this tract is of light loam, very rich and fertile, and celebrated for producing well known garden seeds and onions. The tradition is that it was planted by John Smith, the great uncle of James T., one hundred and fifteen years ago, who one day when riding on horseback, pulled up the young tree, then about as large as a whip stock, and when he arrived home set it out where it now stands. As the family have lived on the same spot for many generations, and the tree bears marks of past age, the tradition concerning it is probably true. It is sound in the trunk, and generally in the branches, though many small and some large ones have been broken by winds and storms of snow and ice. It was struck by lightning two years since which somewhat demoralized it, and probably it will never again show more signs of life and vigor than it does now.
Mr. Manning is correct when he says: "that few ever live much over one hundred years without showing some signs of decay." Except for some extraordinary storm or accident this one may live for thirty or forty years longer.
The circumference of the trunk thirty-nine inches from the ground, the line resting on the ridges, is twenty-two feet five inches. Following the depressions in the trunk at the same height, it is twenty-six feet three inches. This circumference was taken in the waist at its narrowest parts; from this point downwards, the ridges, like great buttresses extend outwards in the roots for so long a distance, that the circumference where they enter the ground measures fifty-five feet six inches. The under side of the lowest branch commences to swell out at a height of four feet and a-half, so that the trunk is unusually short and thick; there are five large branches, the lowest just mentioned, and the highest starting from the trunk at about ten feet from the ground; this is the largest, and is called the south branch in the dimensions given below. Circumference of south branch, sixteen feet eight inches; east, eleven feet six inches; north, eleven feet; north-west, ten feet three inches; west, eight feet seven inches.
These dimensions were not taken at the immediate departure of the branch from the trunk, but at a distance above, which fairly represented the true measurement. The diameter of the spread of the branches from north to south is one hundred and fifty feet; from east to west, one hundred and fifty-two feet. When clothed with foliage it is truly a magnificent sight, and its great size and heighth and spread, render it a most noble. tree. The circumference of the spread of the branches was four hundred and twenty-nine feet. It is estimated to be one hundred and twenty feet in heighth. At twenty-five feet from the ground there are twelve large branches.
Nowhere probably, does the elm flourish in more luxuriance and vigor than in this Connecticut River Valley, a most fertile region, full of all advantages for man, and perhaps the most blessed part of the whole earth. There are other large trees in this region of which I may give you an account some day.