Jul 10



Because of safety and liability concerns, the Property Committee of Chambersburg Street’s Christ Lutheran Church has voted to cut down its two witness trees that stand in front of (north of) the building. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.

Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church is the oldest structure in Gettysburg continuously used as a Church. It was founded in 1835 to be the English speaking Lutheran Church in Gettysburg (St. James Lutheran Church, in existence since 1789, conducted its services in German), and to be the primary assembly hall for the Lutheran Theological Seminary and for Pennsylvania (Gettysburg) College. In our first post, Pastor Stephen R. Herr and Dr. Conrad B. Richter showed us some exterior parts of the structure and the narthex. In our second post, we saw some of the nave, or central part of the church, and we discussed the church’s roll during the battle. In our third post we looked at a picture of West Point’s Class of 1915 sitting on the steps of Christ Lutheran, observed some stained glass windows, and stood in the church area used as an operating room during and immediately following the Battle of Gettysburg. In our fourth post we learned about the church bell. In our fifth post we showed some panoramas from the Christ Lutheran Cupola. In our sixth post we were given a sample of the songs and stories from the summer program “Candlelight at Christ Church, Songs and Stories of a Civil War Hospital.” In today’s post we write about the witness trees that will soon be cut down.



The Church is afraid that a limb might fall off one of these Linden Trees and hurt someone, or that a whole tree could come down. This view was taken facing south at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.



The trees have seen a lot of history over the years. They were planted in the mid-1830s to the early 1840s. They would have seen Thaddeus Stevens at his law office across Chambersburg Street. They would have seen many Pennsylvania College members and Lutheran Theological Seminary members enter and exit the doors of what once was the “college church.” This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009. 2009.



They witnessed an area where thousands of carriages were made, and agricultural products brought into the town from the surrounding farms. They saw African-Americans being rounded up on Chambersburg Street by Confederates on June 26, 1863. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.



If Elizabeth Butler climbed into the cupola on June 26th to escape being captured by the Confederates, they were there to witness it. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.



They saw the first wounded brought into the Church on July 1st, the shooting of Chaplain Horatio Howell on the church steps, and the fighting in the streets on July 1st. They watched the Confederates withdraw from the town and the Union troops reoccupy the town. They saw the aftermath of the battle and the cleanup efforts, including the amputated limbs tossed outside of the church after operations. This view was taken facing south at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.



They saw the crowds arriving for the dedication ceremonies at the Soldiers’ National Cemetery on November 19, 1863. They witnessed veterans returning to Gettysburg to dedicate their monuments and attend reunions. This view was taken facing south at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.



They watched classes from the United States Military Academy including the Class of 1915 (The Class the Stars Fell On) posing beneath them on the church steps. They saw the Church used doing World War I as a “canteen” for soldiers assigned to Camp Colt. The saw the “boom times” of the Roaring Twenties, the 1950s and the 1980s. They saw hard economic times at different periods during the 19th century, the Great Depression of the 1930s, and today. They saw soldiers leave for World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Iraq Wars, and Afghanistan. This view was taken facing south around noon on May 3, 1915.



One of the many things we are not an expert on is trees. The Linden tree on the left side (east side) of the Church appears to have some limbs at the top that need to be trimmed. There has been a lot of trimming on other branches on both trees. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.



The tree on the right (west) of the church needs help with stabilization. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.



For years it has been filled with cement or cement-like materials in an effort to hold it together. This view was taken facing northwest at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.



Otherwise the trees appear to be doing well. We are told that some in the church are concerned that the people recommending that the trees be cut down are those who will be receiving the contract to cut them down. This view was taken facing northeast at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.



We hope those making the recommendation to cut down the trees are as objective as possible. And if they are, and if the trees do need to come down, then we have only a week more to “hug” these witnesses to some of the most important events in American History. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.



So come out and sit in their shade before they’re gone… This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.



…and think about the events that they witnessed. This view was taken facing southeast at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.



There isn’t much time left. This view was taken facing southwest at approximately 7:00 AM on Thursday, July 9, 2009.

See our previous posts on Gettysburg Witness Trees:

Pender Witness Tree Area on April 30, 2008,
Gibbon Witness Tree on May 27, 2008,
Honey Locust Tree Damage on August 10, 2008,
Sickles Witness Fence Damage on August 12, 2008,
McPherson Woods Witness Trees on August 16, 2008,
Arkansas Monument Witness Tree on August 27, 2008.
Farnsworth Charge Witness Tree on September 8, 2008.
Did the National Park Service Cut Down a Witness Tree? on October 19, 2008,
Sickles’ Witness Tree on November 10, 2008.
Abraham Lincoln Baltimore Street Witness Tree on November 19, 2008.
Henry Heth Wounding Tree Stump on November 28, 2008.
Culp’s Hill Witness Tree: Split by an Artillery Shell? on November 30, 2008.
Culp’s Hill Witness Tree: Photographed by M.B. Brady and Company on December 5, 2008.
National Cemetery Witness Tree, Sickles Witness Fence Update on December 10, 2008.
Another Baltimore Street Witness Tree on January 14, 2009.
National Park Service Cuts Down a Witness Tree and Damages a Stone Wall on January 17, 2009.
National Park Service Cuts Down Three More Gettysburg Witness Trees on January 19, 2009.
Gettysburg Cemetery Witness Tree, Sickles Witness Fence Update on May 11, 2009.


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