The Brunswick chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution will replicate a historic event with a tree-planting ceremony at 2 p.m. in Queen Square on Thursday, Nov. 10.
On that same date in 1906, the chapter pulled off the nearly impossible, a dedication and planting of a Liberty Tree on that site.
The earlier event drew a large crowd, dignitaries and remarkably, governors from 49 states and territories mailed soil. Fifty small girls poured the soil during the tree planting on the square at Newcastle and Mansfield streets, while other girls carried flags.
Because of age and disease, the Southern magnolia had to be removed in late 2015 and now, the DAR chapter will dedicate the new tree, also a Southern magnolia, in Queen Square. The tree itself will be installed on Wednesday, Nov. 9, with the ceremony to follow the next day.
In advance of the ceremony, Signature Squares of Brunswick is coordinating plans on Friday to gather volunteers at Queen Square for the installation of landscape plants, beginning at 8:30 a.m. Local garden club members and other enthusiasts are asked to participate with gloves and shovels in hand.
DAR members Linda Hinson and Carolyn Nugent said Signature Squares director Julie Martin had called them last year about the old tree’s health and suggested planting a new one. The club members have located original articles and photographs from The Brunswick News’ coverage at the time of the original planting. They plan to have copies displayed at the ceremony next week.
The members are thrilled the organization is preserving history through a kind of time capsule.
“It’s amazing,” Nugent said.
The nonprofit Signature Squares has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years for the renovation of eight historic parks and squares downtown. The organization, a collaborative program with the City of Brunswick, will also celebrate its 10th anniversary, joining the DAR chapter at the ceremony.
The original plaque honoring the Liberty Tree has been removed temporarily and at the ceremony, it will be re-installed, along with a new one. Children and teenagers are expected to sing “America.” Speakers will include Martin, Brunswick DAR chapter Regent Carol Russell, Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey, Downtown Development Authority executive director Matthew Hill and Signature Squares’ volunteer landscape architect Jerry Spencer.
Nugent and Hinson are thrilled with the endeavor. The original dedication “was a fantastic event, really huge for that time period,” said Nugent, “and we’re recapturing something close to it.”
The downtown area has 14 historic squares in all, and Signature Squares focuses on restoring them as designed by General James E. Oglethorpe in 1771.
“These squares were all but forgotten,” Martin said. “I had not realized what a big deal the Liberty Tree was 110 years ago.”
In newspaper coverage of the Liberty Festival in 1906, U.S. Congressman W.G. Brantley did a decent job of predicting the future, that the Liberty Tree and the dedication would become a part of history. He also said its planting would stimulate patriotism in the hearts of people in Brunswick and far beyond.
“So is liberty both free and national,” Brantley said in 1906. “If it lives, it will be because it is fed by each state and territory of the nation.”