Ashland Times Gazette 10/11/2010


Tree of hope: One of nation's oldest sycamores is helping local families in need

T-G Staff Writer
JEROMESVILLE -- Even self-proclaimed expert tree climber Cody Farner, 12, was in awe Saturday as he viewed one of the world's largest -- and oldest -- sycamore trees.
The Hillsdale sixth-grader climbed on and in the massive tree Saturday during the second annual Jeromesville Sycamore Festival.
"This is my first time seeing it and it's huge," Farner said. "It would be a challenge to climb it."
The festival, which featured hayrides from Lewis Memorial Park to the sycamore, served as a fundraiser for area families in need.
Local residents and out-of-towners took hayrides from South Street to Ohio 89 and into a cornfield before ending in the woods -- the home of the tree, a tree estimated to be 700 to 800 years old.
Lions Club member Keith Kaufman, who studies local American Indian history, said the tree's hollowed-out trunk once served as a shelter for area Native Americans.
Kaufman set up displays of arrowheads, mortars and pestles and sandstone he'd collected from the sites of former Native American villages -- Mohican Johnstown and Jerometown.
Chuck Eckert of Ashland discovered his own souvenir from the trip. Chuck brought back one of the sycamore's leaves -- a 12-inch wide leaf he planned to frame.
"Sycamores are my favorite tree anyway. They live to a ripe old age and I hope to," he said.
Chuck, who had never before seen the sycamore, said the trip was worthwhile. He and his wife, Gerry, plan to send their pictures of the tree to a friend in Pennsylvania interested in the sycamore.
The Eckerts' acquaintance was not the only out-of-state resident to take interest in the aging sycamore.
Doug Daily and his wife, Patty Federighi, of Seattle, were among some of the first to set eyes upon the tree Saturday.
"We weren't going to miss out on it," Daily said.
The couple was in town visiting Patty Federighi's brother, David Federighi, who lives near Olivesburg.
"We don't have sycamores," Daily said. "This is quite amazing."
Carla Butdorf of Jeromesville chose to capture the tree on video camera.
"We've lived here all our lives and never seen it," her husband, Tim, said.
"We saw pictures of it and heard about it," Carla said.

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