Wolcott History
Wolcott Historical Society

The Constitutional Oak
 

By Florence Goodman, August, 2000

The story of this oak tree dates back to the early beginnings of the Connecticut Colony in 1639 when the original Constitution was adopted. Parts of the Constitution of the United States were modified from Connecticut’s original document.

In 1818, another Constitutional Convention was held to design a new constitution. This was favorably passed by the people of the state and declared by Governor Oliver Wolcott to be “Supreme law of the state.”

In October of 1901, a vote was taken to hold another convention to revise the existing constitution. Although the electors voted to hold the convention, they were concerned about the proposed changes. In 1902, they voted against any changes. In the same year, 168 pin oak trees were obtained from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and presented to each of the delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Hartford. The purpose was that they were to be planted in their hometowns as memorials to the expected new state constitution. They were to be planted in public places and were to be known as “Constitutional Oaks.”

The Constitutional Oak in Wolcott was planted on Spindle Hill Road on the property that was then owned by Mr. Evelyn Upson, who was the delegate from Wolcott to the Constitutional Convention in 1902. Mr. Upson planted the pin oak seedling on his property so that he could maintain it while it was young. It was his intent to eventually transplant the tree to the town green. The transplanting never occurred and thus, the tree continues to grow after 98 years on the side of Spindle Hill Road across from the James Alcott homestead. When Mr. Upson died in 1918, the property was sold to the Peterson family. It was used as a dairy farm until the 1960’s. Today, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Current own the property.

The tree should not be confused with the Charter Oak, which is a totally different tree and another story in Connecticut history.

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