Some History of the Oak Tree next to the Blackwood Hotel.
Compiled by Margot Hitchcock, Historian for the Blackwood & District Historical Society. May 2017.
I’ve had a query about the age of the oak tree next to the hotel and have done some research into the person who planted it –
Photo of oak tree taken my Margot Hitchcock when registered for the National Trust Significant Trees Register in 1982 by Margot for the Blackwood & District Historical Society.
The Cann story of the Cann family owning the Hotel was written up by Frances Dillon (Nee Matheson) and published by Robina Brown in the August/September 2005 to December/January 2006 of the then Blackwood Times magazine.
Frances told me – “As had been told through the generations of the Cann Family, the large Oak Tree next to the Hotel today, was planted on Rebecca Cann’s 50th Birthday which was on the 27th of August, 1894. Rebecca’s daughter, Lucy May Kinnear Cann, then eighteen years of age, planted the tree. The occasion was celebrated with a grand party held in the hotel at the time. Rebecca Perry (Cann) was born on 27-08-1844 in Hobart Town, Tasmania.”.
Prior to this the Blackwood & District Historical Society registered the tree with the National Trust’s Significant Trees Register with myself and Penny Garnett in 1982 and the information Penny provided was – “Quercus Oak Tree planted 27 August 1908 by George Carruthers on the 50th birthday of Rebecca Perry Cann – owners of Cann’s Family Hotel – husband John Cann Owner and Licensee.
Another contradiction was in my book ‘Aspects of Early Blackwood’ where on pages 57 and 58 regarding the Wall family who claimed that Mary Shaw had planted the tree. ‘Joseph and Anne Shaw first came to Blackwood diggings in 1855 and their daughter was said by the family to be the first white child born on the Blackwood goldfield. Her name was Mary Shaw and she is said to have planted the big oak tree next to the Blackwood Hotel at the age of 7 years at some gathering to mark the occasion.’ (Not to be confused with the other family story of how the son of Matthew Sweet, Jack (John) Sweet was the first boy born on the Blackwood goldfield – born 1855, Golden Point, Blackwood.)
Frances told me – “The Cann family while acknowledging the belief of the Wall family that an oak tree had been planted by Mary (Shaw) Wall when she was seven years of age – she being the first white child to be born in Blackwood. The family coming to the Blackwood diggings in 1855. This would date the planting to around 1862. The hotel was not built until 1868. Grimes’ Store was originally on the site. Most likely Mary Shaw could have planted a tree there. With all the building works that would have taken place during those early days of establishing the hotel and coaching stables, this tree that would have been more than thirty years old in 1894 may have been replaced by the Cann Family. Rebecca was well known for her love of plants and the garden.”
Frances said in an email to me that – “Grandfather Edwin Cann had told the story to Mum (Nell Matheson – nee Cann), Aunty Oll (Olive Cann nee Cann) many times, and agreed that it should be written in the family bible. I sat down with Aunty Oll on the 1st May, 2004 and wrote it in officially, Aunty Oll signing the inscription.”
Also was written the future of the tree was uncertain with possible change of ownership of land. The Stockdale family, the owners of the Hotel in 1982, wished to buy the land for Motel Units but the present owner, Cyril Jones would not sell the land because he did not want to see the tree cut down.”
The tree has been preserved by Cyril Jones and his family who owned the land and they have retained and not sold the land, as they did not want the tree cut down if new owners wanted the land for building purposes.
Frances also said – “Cyril Jones together with his daughter Faye can be certainly credited with caring for the tree. At the time of doing all my research on the tree Faye put me in touch with Trevor Lawrence, the arborist that she had looking after the tree. He did work for the National Trust. Also, he told me that the tree was an “ALGERIAN OAK TREE”. So according to this, it is not a ‘Quercus Oak Tree’ as registered with the National Trust’s Significant Trees Register.
So we come back to the most likely story that the Algerian oak tree next to the Blackwood Hotel was planted on Rebecca Cann’s 50th Birthday which was on the 27th of August, 1894. Therefore making the tree this year to be, on the 27th of August, 1017, 123 years old. (Many thanks for Frances Dillon for all her family information) ©
Researched by Margot Hitchcock from her forthcoming book ‘The History and Pioneers of Blackwood’, hopefully to be published soon. Other books published by Margot Hitchcock – “Aspects of Early Blackwood”, Some History of Simmons Reef, Blackwood”and “The Billy Pincombe Tragedy”. See – www.blackwoodpublishing.com
For help with information on Blackwood ancestors contact Margot Hitchcock – email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Oak tree next to Blackwood Hotel from old post card.
Recent photo of the Blackwood Hotel with the old Oak tree behind it. A good place to view to tree is while eating lunch on the Blackwood Hotel veranda, and feeding the kookaburras.