Ben Jones (?) With Large Tree, Probably West Granville. MA.

Jones Ben with large tree-283.jpg

Title

Ben Jones (?) With Large Tree, Probably West Granville. MA.

Description

According to the note on the back of this photo it is Ben Jones, standing next to a very large tree. However the gentleman also resembles George Aldrich, who probably took the photo or posed in the photo and had someone else take it. The note on the back of the photo is fairly recent however the photo likely dates from about 1909.

Date

Circa 1909

Rights

Digital Image: Mabel Root Henry Historical Museum, Granville, MA., (2023)

Citation

“Ben Jones (?) With Large Tree, Probably West Granville. MA.,” Granville History Digital Collection, accessed February 24, 2024, https://granvillehistory.omeka.net/items/show/1520.

Comments

Corey Phelon Geske

See Granville History's Facebook Post, March 23, 2023 reading: "Flashback Friday: A very large tree in West Granville, probably around 1909. According to the note on the back of the photo this is Ben Jones, who lived in what was Ernie Sattler's house just north of the West Granville School on Beech Hill Road. Mr. Jones had a deep love of Granville and nature. The tree looks to have been in pretty tough shape at the time and is probably long gone. Can anybody identify the tree by the bark?"

My comment was: "My guess is the North American Chestnut Tree, “giant of the eastern forests,” that could reach a diameter of more than 10 feet (see USDA picture/link here). According to Albion Wilson (p. 143), the chestnut trees in Granville were hit with the (nationwide) blight about the time Ben Jones’ picture was taken, and in Granville, birch trees started to grow where the chestnut trees had once thrived (looks like birch trees to our right of Ben). Though this is Beech Hill Road, beech tree bark is smoother, not so furrowed. This great Granville tree was there when David Rose was an advance scout, apparently accompanied by his map-making brother Daniel Rose, during the Dwight map survey (1738) of Bedford (that’s how the brothers chose adjacent settler’s acreage in West Granville). This tree’s bent branches suggest it was an old settler’s property line ‘marker-tree.’ See USDA at https://www.usda.gov/media/blog/2019/04/29/what-it-takes-bring-back-near-mythical-american-chestnut-trees

Darcy Jill Clifford commented:

"Granville had a lot of American Chestnut up until the 20s and 30s. My family home in West Granville had All chestnut beams and my grandma told me that the first telephone poles on her road (West Hartland Rd) were chestnut." Don Rawling commented: "American Chestnut."

Granville History

The area of the Granville reservoir (northeast Granville) was originally thick with chestnut trees. The land was taken over by the water authority via eminent domain in the late 1800's into the early 1900's, which coincided with the chestnut blight. In 1913 the water authority secured permission to cut all the chestnut trees on the taken land. They were then milled using the sawmills that had been taken from the landowners along with the purchased land. The wood was sold resulting in a tidy net profit of $2000 in 1914, a significant sum in those days.

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