Pictured with the Harry Hahn red oak are Joe Lucas, a member
of the tree committee; Margaret Schrishuhn, of the tree
committee; Wally Kautz, courthouse director; Sue
Schaffenacker, of the Mount Pulaski Courthouse Foundation;
Barbara Stroud-Borth, from the courthouse group; Janet
Maxheimer, with the tree committee; Vic Schrishuhn, from the
tree committee; and in front, Doug Johnson, of the
Mount Pulaski Courthouse Foundation celebrates Arbor Day
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MOUNT PULASKI —
On Friday, in observance of National Arbor Day, the Mount Pulaski
Courthouse Foundation planted two trees: a red oak to replace one
that had not survived a recent ice storm and the other a red maple.
The red oak was donated by North Fork Tree Farm owner Randy
Aylesworth in memory of Harry Hahn, the town's longtime and
nationally recognized Abraham Lincoln re-enactor, who died in 2000.
The oak was planted on the west side of the courthouse lawn.
Hahn made appearances at many Abraham Lincoln re-enactor
contests, winning most of them —
1981 in Springfield and 1982 in Hodgenville, Ky., to name just two.
He also was featured in many newspaper and magazine articles and was
a guest on many radio and television shows —
for example, NBC's "Today Show," "PM Magazine" and the Associated
Press book "Moments in Time."
The best tribute came from Abraham Lincoln's great-grandson,
Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith. Working with a slide presentation for
a talk on his great-grandfather, Beckwith actually incorporated
photos of Hahn in his presentation, later remarking that "of all the
men who have portrayed my great-grandfather, Harry Hahn of Mount
Pulaski, Ill., bore the greatest resemblance."
The red maple was donated by former resident Bill Downing in
memory of his father, Gene Downing. Gene was one of the charter
members of the board of trustees of Mount Pulaski's Vonderlieth
Living Center in 1973. A graduate of the University of Illinois, he
taught high school agriculture for several years, picking up a
degree in agronomy along the way. He was appointed to the agronomy
staff at the University of Illinois during his work on a Ph.D. in
agronomy. He dropped his studies to serve in World War II for nearly
four years and returned to other pursuits following the war.
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Arbor Day was founded in 1872 by Julius Sterling Morton in
Nebraska City, Neb. By the 1920s, each state in the United States
had passed laws that stipulated a certain day to be Arbor Day or an
Arbor and Bird Day observance. National Arbor Day is celebrated
every year on the last Friday in April. Each state celebrates its
own state holiday, and in Nebraska, it is a civic holiday. The
customary observance is to plant a tree, often in memory of someone.
On the first Arbor Day, April 10, 1872, an estimated 1 million trees
[By PHIL BERTONI]