The Oak Tree at the Essex County Co-Op

This Oak Tree has witnessed over 400 years of Topsfield history

Historical Map of Topsfield

(Click on map to enlarge)

1. This white oak tree grows very slowly, and may be as much as 400 years old. It has the form of a pasture oak, which grows wide and not as high with no other trees close around it.

2. The Towne family arrived from Salem and established their home and farm here and south to the Ipswich River In 1652. The family included their daughters Rebecca and Mary, who forty years later became victims of the witchcraft delusion.

3. In 1697 local residents built a blockhouse or wooden defensive structure on what is now the Topsfield Fair grounds to defend against the French and Indians from Canada. Nothing remains of this structure. It helped defend the local area by being near the small bridge over the Ipswich River on Salem Road. The bridge would have been important to enemies raiding the area.

4. In April, 1776 the Topsfield Revolutionary soldiers rushed over the Salem Road bridge going to join the fighting near Lexington and Concord. And in June Topsfield soldiers passed over the bridge to help cover the retreat from Bunker Hill.

5. In 1803 the Newburyport Turnpike, an early straight road which is now Rt. One, was built with a new wooden bridge just downstream from the old Salem Road bridge. The Rt. One wooden bridge was replaced in the 1850’s with a stone arch bridge, now encased in concrete.

6. A three-story hotel with a cupola was built in Topsfield for Turnpike travelers. This structure was located about a half mile North where the traffic lights can be seen. In February, 1818, Essex County farmers met at the hotel to form the Essex Agricultural Society for the improvement of agriculture and agricultural economics. Detailed records of this meeting and of the Society have been kept for every year since.

7. Also in the 1850’s the Treadwell Farm of that time, which included this tree and the Topsfield Fair property across Rt. One, was given to the Essex Agricultural Society, the parent organization of the Topsfield Fair. The Fair has been held for 200 years and has been present at this location since 1910.

8. A railroad was also built in the 1850’s from Danvers to Topsfield and on to Georgetown. For a hundred years the limbs of this old tree were filled with the soot of the steam train as it crossed Rt. One.

9. In 1917 the Essex Cooperative Society was established as part of the agricultural efforts of the First World War.