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Giant twins (Gortner) page 7

Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information


meetings were held under its branches. This is how it became known as The Liberty Tree. In 1840 some mischievous boys ignited gunpowder in a hollow place on the trunk, setting it afire. The citizens rushed out with as much zest as though a building was threatened, and saved the tree. The fire destroyed the parasitical growth; the next spring it burst into leaf with exceptional vigor. The tree today is more famous than ever. He can remember the coolness of its shade around commencement time, and its brilliant foliage during Autumn. As he writes these recollections he has received a letter from Dr. Richard D. Weigle, President of St. John's College, stating that he will visit the writer in the city of Detroit.

References to these trees makes manifest the sense of veneration the human family has for them.


The twin of the Giant Oak was Peter Gortner. The year of the arrival of Peter and his wife Barbara Schoenbeck (Beautiful Brook) was 1848. This year was infused with world history. It was one of the saddest years of the Irish famine and occasioned a great exodus to America. It was the year of Karl Marx's "Manifesto"; of the discovery of gold in California, and the end of the war with Mexico. More significant to Peter and Barbara was the extension of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad up the seventeen mile grade and starting across the Youghiogheny Glades where they were to dwell the rest of their lives. From Tidewater, across the mountains to the west, there was an intense surge towards unoccupied lands. This trek towards the western sun was to be halted by the clash of arms as a result of the mounting tensions between Yankee tradesmen and Southern planters.


Rev. J. C. Breuninger

The house in which Peter Gortner lived in 1830 in Langenau, Germany. This picture taken April 25, 1921. The picture was obtained while Rev. J. C. Breuninger was lecturing for the Y.M.C.A. in Germany following World War I.


Collection Location:
Ruth Enlow Library, Oakland

Original Size:
22 x 15 cms

Editor: Felix G. Robinson

Maryland, History

Western Maryland, 1750-1963

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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