The Tuttle Oak Story

The Legend of the Historic Tuttle Oak

In the summer of 1858, the Reverend Samuel L.Tuttle instructed road builders not to cut down a large white oak tree which stood for many years on his property. The tree, which was directly in the path of what would become Prospect Street, was left untouched and became a cherished Madison landmark.

According to local folklore, General George Washington may have tied his horse to the young Tuttle Oak. Growth rings indicate that the tree stood on the Tuttle farm from the 1700's. White oak is strong and decay resistant and was the preferred wood used in the construction of the keel and exterior planking of the U.S.S. Constitution.

In the winter of 1996 the Tuttle Oak was felled following an accident. The Friends of Madison Shade Trees, a private non-profit group which plants trees and shrubs on public property in Madison, was empowered to preserve the wood and to memorialize the significance of the Tuttle Oak. 

Madison Library Memorial to the Tuttle Oak

Authentic Tuttle Oak products are branded with the official imprint and sold for the benefit of FMST and the Tuttle Oak tribute. These products are individually produced by local artisans and are all of limited edition.  They're collectors items nowadays!

Chapter XLIX : The Samuel L. Tuttle Oak Tree

In the summer of 1858, Rev. Samuel L. Tuttle was opening Prospect Street through his property to join that of Mr. Henry Keep, who continued the opening to the railroad at King's Road. One morning as he came upon the ground, the workmen were preparing to cut down a large oak tree which stood nearly in the centre of the way. He checked then, saying that it was too splendid a tree to destroy, "But, Mr. Tuttle, you see it is right in the way," said the foreman. "Never mind if it is , ---don't touch it," was the reply; and the tree is still standing in 1916.

Reverend Samuel Tuttle's Journal

Tuttle bought property:

"of ABm & Wm Brittin on hill so West of village of Madison, laid out avenues and put it in lots for the purposes of attracting persons from abroad to become residents here. In twenty years that hill will be covered with beautiful dwellings & present a most attractive appearance. The cost of the 100 acres purchased was about $12,000. The first house was built there by the writer in the fall of 1857" (Viola Shaw & Barbara Parker).

Shaw, Viola, and Barbara Parker. An Intimate History of the Presbyterian Church of Madison NJ,  1747-1862 from the Journal of Samuel L. Tuttle. Madison: Arbee Co., 1980.

"Bottle Hill & Madison" by William Parkhurst Tuttle

"For about a year past the attention of gentlemen from New York City has been turned to this village as a place of residence and already quite a number of such persons have located themselves here... But a few years will pass before the village will become one of the largest and most attractive villages in North America. These beautiful slopes all around us will at no distant day be occupied by the most elegant residents , and large numbers, doing business in the city , will have their habitations here. The author is perfectly sure that there is no place within40 miles of New York where the scenery, the roads, the climate, etc, are better than they are here...This must become very thickly populated by the best citizens from New York and elsewhere".

Tuttle, William Parkhurst. Bottle Hill and Madison. Madison: Eagle Press, 1917.