The Mormon Tree, also called the Brigham Young Tree, has loomed over my studies of Florence history for a decade now. I’ve seen mentions of it in old newspapers and heard stories about it from older people. However, I couldn’t find anything about it all this time.
Until last month. Finally, after all these years, I wrote the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters to ask about the Mormon Tree.
They wrote back to say that the Mormon Tree was a cottonwood tree in Florence Park at North 30th and State Streets. Older people in their church used to say it was planted by Brigham Young and they called it his tree, but that can’t be verified. In the 1920s, one of the last remaining Florence pioneers denied that Young was ever connected to the tree.
What was verifiable was that the tree was located due east of the James C. Mitchell House at North 31st and State Streets.
When it was cut down, the age of the tree was confirmed to be dated back to the 1840s. Several stories sprouted about the tree which seem to be more rumor and folklore than fact, including that people were healed and cursed there.
In 1947, the tree was very large and weakened by age and insects, and was trimmed back to a height of 15 feet. In 1950, that stump was removed because people thought it would be a hazard to park patrons. Today, there are no traces of the tree left.
What are YOUR stories about the Mormon Tree in Florence?
- A Short History of Florence
- A History of the James C. Mitchell House
- A History of Pries Lake
- A History of the Florence Water Works and Minne Lusa Pumping Station
Special thanks to the Mormon Trail Center at Historic Winter Quarters for researching and sharing this information with me!