History of Arbor Day

Arbor Day

“He that plants trees loves others besides himself.”-Thomas Fuller

Arbor Day is officially April 29th, but many celebrate Arbor Day at various times throughout April. The City of Brentwood held their Arbor Day celebration a few weeks ago and today, Saturday April 16th, the City of Franklin holds their celebration at Pinkerton Park.

How Arbor Day Began

(from arborday.org)

As a formal holiday, it was first observed in 1872, in Nebraska.

Among the pioneers moving into the Nebraska Territory in 1854 was Julius Sterling Morton from Detroit. He and his wife, Caroline, were nature enthusiasts.

Morton was a journalist and soon became editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper. Given that forum, he spread agricultural information.

In 1872, the State Board of Agriculture accepted a resolution by J. Sterling Morton “to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.” The Board declared April 10 Arbor Day and offered prizes to the counties and individuals that properly planted the largest number of trees on that day. More than one million trees were planted in Nebraska on the first Arbor Day. With this first tree planting holiday observance, J. Sterling Morton became known as the “Founder of Arbor Day.”

For many years, Arbor Day was celebrated on April 22nd, Morton’s birthday. Now, Arbor Day is celebrated on the last Friday in April, but many U.S. states celebrate it on a day that is the most appropriate for tree planting.

“Arbor Day … which has already transplanted itself … to every state in the American Union and has even been adopted in foreign lands … is not like other holidays. Each of those reposes on the past, while Arbor Day proposes for the future.” -J. Sterling Morton

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