The Giant White Oak Tree

Excerpt from radio broadcast of 1946:

Nature has preserved for us a living memorial to the Boone Chapel Church in a giant and majestic oak, which cast its beneficent shade over the worshippers at Boone Chapel for over one hundred and fifty years. This oak is twenty-five feet in circumference at the ground, and sixteen and one-half feet in circumference at a point eighteen feet above the ground where the branches begin to radiate from the trunk. It is one hundred feet in height and has a spread of ninety-seven feet. This white oak, at least two hundred and fifty years of age, is only one of a number of oaks which formed a grove destroyed in a tornado in 1923. At that same time, the Methodist Church at Cheltenham was razed and many barns on adjacent farms were carried into the woods by the storm. Still standing in good condition are stumps of the stelate oak, post oak, black oak, red oak, and the scarlet oak. The very nature of the soil--hardpan--was the typical or hickory climax before the storm. This is indicated by the presence of flowering dogwood, holly, red cedar, pignut holly, honeysuckle, and smilax or greenbrier, and the strawberry bush. The entire cemetery is covered with periwinkle or myrtle, common in early Maryland cemeteries, and indicating a graveyard of very great age.

The general topography of the mesa or flat elevation with a broad prospect looking towards the Patuxent River, would indicate that the chapel faced the east as it should and was located on the road running at that time from Cheltenham to the site of old Brandywine. There are few monuments or markers in the cemetery of stine or marble but there are many wooden crosses still standing which would seem to prove that burials were made as recently as twenty to twenty-five years ago. There are very many nameless graves, marked by depressions in the ground.

On a sad note, the storm winds that blew through the cemetary on Saturday evening. November 1, 2014, brought down our old giant. The main truck had rotted and could no longer sustain the weight of its branches. After a life spanning 320 or more years, the majestic white oak of Boones Chapel fell to the ground. [Thank you Marcel Courtillet for the photos.]

oak tree trunk
Our giant white oak tree collapsed after 320+ years.
fallen oak tree
With so much rot in the main trunk it simply collapsed.
oak tree trunk
The trunk of this giant oak tree that once stood beside Boone's Chapel is more than 25' in circumference.
upper oak tree
The giant oak is over 300 years old with a crown that once towered over the forest that has now grown up around it.
hilltop site
The chapel site is on a hill top/ridge surrounded by saplings and more mature trees, but none that rival the giant oak.
Graveyard around base of oak tree
The forest floor surrounding the old oak tree is covered with periwinkle, a flowering non-native ground cover brought over by early settlers.
Graveyard to left of oak tree
Several grave stones are still standing to the left
of the old oak tree as viewed from the road.
Several wooden crosses stand to the right
of the oak tree.