A 145-year-old pignut hickory tree at McKelvey Park was victim to Tropical Storm Colin’s winds Monday night.
The tree blew into Manatee Avenue West, where it took Donny Hagg, landscape and grounds supervisor II, 15 minutes to clear the road using a loader.
Lela Hartsaw, a historical preservationist, author and mother of two children who attend Miller, runs the park’s Facebook page.
She said the tree had heart rot, a common killer in hickory trees, which along with Colin’s winds took it down.
“I’m not a tree hugger,” Hartsaw said. Still, she’s sad not for what the tree represents, but “the history the tree has witnessed.”
In a post dedicated to the tree on the park’s Facebook page, Hartsaw wrote: “56 years and countless students later, this tree stood tall as the original building was demolished and the new school was built to replace it in 2007.”
According to her children, a second-grader and a fifth-grader, not many talked about the tree at school Tuesday.
In April 2014, arborist Norman C. Easey surveyed 112 trees in the northern 3-acre portion of the Miller campus.
The name “hickory” comes from an Algonquin Indian word “pawchoiccora,” a drink made from crushed kernals from the nut, according to Easey’s “Tree Inventory.”
“Native Americans also used the nut of the pignut hickory after the bitter compounds were leached out to make a paste for meal or flour,” Easey wrote.
Manatee School Board member Dave Miner wrote that the tree “served as a living reminder to students of our community’s history,” and was the only pignut hickory tree on the school’s campus.
“At least we know it had a good life,” Hartsaw said.