Planting Trees

Celebrating Arbor Day with this excerpt from The History of Eaton, Colorado by Pauline Allison, 1936; pages 37-39:

Three ways of securing land included homesteading, establishing preemption claims, and planting tree claims…The tree claim or “timber culture” act of 1873 required that a prospective land owner plant ten acres of trees on a quarter section, and after five years of cultivation, the establisher of the tree claim could get a title from the government…The general practice was to go down to the (Poudre) river after flood time and pull out little saplings, mostly cottonwoods…

Probably the oldest trees in the Eaton vicinity were those planted on the A.J. Eaton tree claim, one half mile south of town.  Two carloads of trees were sold from that tree claim to the city of Cheyenne, Wyoming, for transplanting on one of its parks.

Trees contribute a service to mankind that cannot be underestimated.  In addition to the inspiration of their beauty and endurance, and among numerous uses of practical value, they serve as a natural windbreak. Eaton was once in the dust bowl area for lack of trees, which preclude the blowing away of the soil in large quantities by the tenacious grip of the soil by their roots.

In consideration of the fact that trees have contributed their part toward taming the prairie country and moderating its climate, it will be of interest to briefly note further the planting in Eaton of these monarchs of the countryside. Tree claims were responsible for the majority of trees that first dotted the country. Previously noted, the first trees were those planted on the A. J. Eaton tree claim…

The Amos Ackroyd land, west of town, was originally a tree claim. Another tree claim was developed south of the W.L. Baldridge place six miles west of Eaton, by Joel Roullard, who came from Maine and was one of the first among the pioneer settlers  in that neighborhood to have land under the Eaton ditch…

Roullard’s tree claim was different to most. The greater majority of persons establishing tree claims were content with cottonwood plantings, to enable them to “prove up” on their land, but not so with Joel Roullard. He made his claim serve a dual purpose. Probably figuring on his need of singletrees, shovel handles, and other farm implements or parts of them, he planted a practical tree claim of hardwood trees that would provide all these necessities on the farm.  Neighbors could walk onto Roullard’s claim and pick a wagon tongue, plow tongue, or wood for some practical purpose…

In the spring of 1885, John McCall and John Gillies planted trees by the flour mill and trees were also planted on the bank of the ditch which ran down the west side of Cheyenne Avenue from the lateral one-fourth mile north of town… A.H. Myers and Frank Foster also assisted in setting out the cottonwoods twigs on Cheyenne Avenue. Many of the residents planted trees for the shade they afforded and thus transformed the barren desert into a shady garden.  In their rarity in the 1880s, trees were indeed a luxury in which to delight…

Note: The History of Eaton, Colorado by Pauline Allison and other books on local history are available for purchase at the Eaton Museum.



One thought on “Planting Trees

  1. I enjoyed the tree history lesson. Those of us who live here can associate that rich heritage with the many streets with tree names in the town. It would be interesting to know who actually named the streets, especially in a subdivision such as Eaton Common which is only about 20 years old.


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