Baldwinsville History Mystery: Aug. 15, 2018
Question: Since the time of our earliest settlement, Baldwinsville has been known for its agriculture. The photo from this week shows some men harvesting a crop. Do you know what the crop is and why it’s laying on the ground?
Last week’s answer: The “square” west of the Four Corners has seen a lot of changes over the years. The street at the left is Charlotte Street and the one to the right is West Genesee Street. In the center is a very large tree in front of the Methodist Church.
A long-told story is that Charlotte Baldwin (Allen) and her mother Betsy went riding one day. Betsy took a branch from a willow tree to use as a riding crop. When they came back from the ride, the branch was stuck in the ground and it took root. It grew for almost a hundred years into the monumental tree commonly known as the “Baldwin Willow.” It may seem far-fetched, but in the early days that ground was extremely swampy and willow takes root very easily.
By 1886, the tree had decayed to the point that many wanted it taken down. At the same time the veterans were in the process of raising money for a Soldiers and Sailors monument and wanted that popular site for its location. Although its removal was somewhat controversial it is said that John Scoville rose early one morning and with axe and saw and plenty of help cut down the rotted willow. With much fanfare the monument was erected and dedicated on Oct. 12, 1887.
Reader Ben Heitman left the correct answer on the Messenger’s website:
“It’s the First United Methodist Church on Charlotte street. It’s sporting the original steeple which was lost in a storm sometime in the ‘60s I think. From what I’ve heard the tree was a willow planted by Charlotte Baldwin. She stuck a branch in the ground and it rooted out. The war monument that’s now across the river at the cemetery used to be there too till they changed the routing of 370 to swing closer to the church.”
Contact Editor Sarah Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 434-8889 ext. 310 with your guess by 5 p.m. Friday (please leave the information in the message; we are not generally able to return calls regarding History Mystery responses). If you are the first person to correctly identify an element in the photo before the deadline, your name and guess will appear in next week’s Messenger, along with another History Mystery feature. History Mystery is a joint project of the Museum at the Shacksboro Schoolhouse and the Baldwinsville Public Library.
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