A single pear tree in Danvers, Massachusetts, has been growing and producing fruit for almost 400 years. John Endecott (sometimes spelled Endicott), the first governor of Massachusetts, received a grant for a 300-acre farm in 1632. He planted many fruit trees in the next few years and called his spread Orchard Farm. The sole surviving tree from that period is now a Historical Landmark, known as the Endecott Pear Tree.
The Endecott Pear Tree has taken on a life of its own. It has lived through all or part of five centuries. It has been celebrated in history, art, and poetry, as well as illustrated in books, magazines, murals and postcards from as early as the 18th century. Many writers have waxed poetic in describing the tree’s heritage. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote of its longevity and President John Adams spoke of its significance. Written up in scores of periodicals, including being featured in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not,” this modest tree has become iconic. It has survived hurricanes, century snowstorms, neglect, soil stripping, industrial development and even a murderous attack of vandalism in 1964.