Arbor Day at Crete, 1896

Arbor Day has over the years been widely observed in Nebraska schools. The Cultivator (Omaha), May 1, 1896, reprinted an article from the Crete Herald describing contemporary Arbor Day ceremonies in the Crete schools: “In preparation for Arbor Day, Tuesday afternoon, about 4 o’clock, Superintendent Reed marched the children of the public schools, about 700 in number, down to the grounds of the Crete Nurseries. Here the school children were photographed by Mr. Smith, after which Mr. [E. F.] Stephens [proprietor] explained to them why in the annual distribution of trees to the school children the Crete Nursery had this year selected the peach tree. . . .

“In planting a peach tree or any other fruit tree, it should in our soil be set about 2 inches deeper than it grew in the nursery and should be cultivated weekly until the first of August. It should then be allowed to ripen its wood before winter sets in. In the spring of the year the new growth should be shortened in to keep the tree compact and stocky.

“This, from appearances, is likely to be a peach year. In this state no doubt, many thousands of bushels of peaches will be grown, and those who plant peach trees and care for them will be amply rewarded. It should be remembered that much of the loss and disappointment in our state has arisen from the attempt to grow peaches in sunny, sheltered positions, instead of planting the trees on the north side of buildings or of other trees, or windbreaks, so it may ripen its wood better in the fall, may remain dormant in the winter, and may not blossom too early in the spring. Commercial orchardists now proceed on this method and are quite successful in the growing of peaches. Russell & Sons, Wymore, marketed 25,000 baskets of peaches last year, and from present appearances are likely to market 100,000 this year.

“To encourage the planting of trees on the school grounds the Crete Nurseries donated to each grade in the public schools one of their very best trees for Arbor Day planting as well as giving each pupil a peach tree. The superintendent of schools entered heartily into the arrangements and it is hoped that our school grounds may receive more care and attention and that this which promises to be a successful year may see a great number of trees planted.”

(April 2004)

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