Historical Trees of MVHS: Penn Treaty Elm



    Hi, I'm Abby and I took Horticulture II at Medomak Valley High School. In this class we saved and learned about heirloom seeds. We also learned about biodiversity and how to grow seeds. 

    Our elm tree came from Haverford college, who has t the great great grandchild of the original elm tree under which William Penn met with the Lanape Chief Tamanend in 1862 and pledged a treaty of friendship. The tree became famous during its lifetime among the banks of the Delaware River in Shacamaxon, what is now the Kensington area of Pennsylvania just north of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge (Haverford).

    William Penn was born in London, England on October 14, 1644 to Sir William Penn and Margaret Jasper (biography) Williams father was an English admiral and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1660 to 1670 and his mother was the daughter of a wealthy Dutch Merchant (wiki). Penn first went to Chigwell School while in Ireland, and later at Christ Church, Oxford. After a failed mission in the Caribbean admiral and his family were exiled to his land in Ireland, it was here that William around the age of 15 met a Quaker Missionary, and later when he was in his twenties he converted to Quakerism. In 1672 William married Gulielma Maria Sprignet they had three children together. In 1681 King Charles II gave William a large piece of land to satisfy a debt the king had owed Williams father, this land ended up being present day Pennsylvania and part of Delaware. Penn wanted Pennsylvania to be a peaceful refuge for members of all religious beliefs (biography). William had first called the new land 'New Wales' then 'Sylvania' (which is Latin for forest/ woods) finally he ended up calling it Pennsylvania.

    The Lenni Lenape Native Americans are also called the Delaware Indians they lived in an area they called "Lenapehoking" which means "land of the Lenape.” The Lenape’s territory encompassed the Delaware Valley of eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey from the Leigh River south into eastern Delaware and the Delaware Bay. Also along western Long Island, New York Bay, and the lower Hudson Valley in New York. Lenape comes from their autonym; Lenni which may mean "genuine, pure, real, original" Lenape meaning "Indian or man". Lenape Native Americans in the Northern part spoke a munsee dialect of the eastern Algonquian Delaware language, those I'm the southern part spoke Uniami a slightly different dialect of the same language (wiki). Family was very important to the Lenape Indians there were strong ties between the parents and children (lenapelifeways). The Lenape lifestyle was that everyone worked but men and woman did different tasks. The men were usually hunters and sometimes would go to war to protect their families; the women would do the farming and also did most of the child care and cooking. Both took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine (bigorrin). Small children began to learn the skills they would need to know when they grew up (lenapelifeways). 

    There is no actual record of this 'great treaty' (PennTreatyMuseum) but, it is said that William Penn met with the Lenape Chief Tamanend in 1862 at the village of Shackamaxon and pledged a treaty of friendship, which happened under this elm tree. William addressed the Native Americans the following "We meet on this broad pathway of good faith and good will; no advantage shall be taken on either side, but all shall be openness and love. We are the same as if one mans body was divided into two parts; we are one flesh and one blood" the reply from Tamanend was "we will live in love with William Penn and his children as long as the creeks and rivers run, and while the moon, sun and stars endure" (PennTreatyMuseum). William had bought this land for 1200 pounds, which a large sum, was fair on both sides (xroads). 


Citations - 

  • Penn's Treaty with the Indians. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penn's_Treaty_with_the_Indians
  • (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://www.biography.com/people/william-penn-9436869
  • Arboretum: Penn Treaty Elm. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://www.haverford.edu/    arboretum/collections/penn_treaty_elm.php
  • Welcome to Lenape Lifeways. (n.d.). Retrieved May 8, 2015, from http://www.lenapelifeways.org/lenape1.htm