Historic New Jersey oak tree dead at 600

A New Jersey tree with a history dating back to the area’s first English settlement has come crashing down.

The Salem white oak stood proudly for nearly 600 years before it was uprooted Thursday evening, prompting residents to pay tribute to its rich history, according to NJ.com.

Under its branches, it is believed Quaker John Fenwick, the man who brought the first English settlement to West Jersey in 1675, brokered a treaty with the Lenni Lanape Native American tribe.

And many of Salem’s earliest residents were also buried in a graveyard under the local landmark, NJ.com reported.

“It is always sad to see iconic treasures and important pieces of history go away,” Salem County Freeholder Charles V. Hassler told the news outlet. “This tree was a vital piece of history. It was Salem’s treasure.”

The group that owns the tree and surrounding area, Salem Religious Society of Friends, said the oak had declined in health over the last 100 years. It will meet to decide what to do with the tree’s debris.

“A tremendous amount of effort had gone in to preserve that tree over the last few decades,” group member Jim Waddington told NJ.com. “None of this is getting out alive. I never thought I would outlive the oak tree.”

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