The Betsey Williams Sycamore is the most famous tree in Rhode Island. Its huge girth and spreading branches have been photographed, climbed on, and loved by generations of visitors to historic Roger Williams Park in Providence. But its history touches on the legacy of Roger Williams, Rhode Island’s founder; introduces overlooked characters, some noble and some "shady," including a forgotten tree; and features a Williams family crisis (and divorce trial) that threatened the tree and future park.
Director of the Museum of Natural History
Parks Dept., City of Providence
History Dept., Lincoln School
Special thanks to
Andrew Smith, The Rhode Island Supreme Court Judicial Record Center, http://https://www.courts.ri.gov/JudicialRecordsCenter/Pages/default.aspx
Rebecca Valentine, The Rhode Island Historical Society, http://rihs.org
Readers in order of appearance
Ed Nardell, Martha Douglas-Osmundson, Andy Sabo, Margaret Sabo, Laura Maxwell, Robb Barnard
Diccon Lee, www.deeleetree.com
Dahn Hiuni, www.dahnhiuni.com/home
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We want to hear about the favorite tree in your life! To submit a ~3 or 4 minute audio story for consideration for an upcoming episode of "Tree Story Shorts" on This Old Tree, record the story on your phone’s voice memo app and email to:
This episode was written in part at LitArts RI, a community organization and co-working space that supports Rhode Island's creators.
09/15/22 • 41 min
This Old Tree - The Betsey Williams Sycamore
The Betsy Williams Sycamore is the most famous tree in Rhode Island. It's huge girth and spreading branches have been photographed, climbed on, and loved by generations of visitors to Roger Williams Park and Providence dating back to the late 19th century. It can be seen as a stately tree in old postcards from 1905 and 1910. But what do we really know about our old friend? Why is the tree here? How old is it? And why is it so special? Who is
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