The symbol of Sheffield itself is a tree. The Big Elm appears on the town seal. This giant tree grew for over four hundred years at the corner of Route 7 and Silver Street. It had to be cut down in 1926.
The Big Elm was featured in paintings, photographs, postcards and even had songs composed about it. Below is a description of festivities centered around the tree from the book “Republic of Shade” by Thomas J. Campanella:
“Venerated by the first settlers for its grandeur and beauty, the Sheffield Elm served in lieu of a meetinghouse during the 1730s. In later years, festivals and orations were held beneath the tree. So expansive was the Sheffield Elm that five hundred people — nearly all of Sheffield’s population — could gather together under its canopy. The tree itself was the subject of occasional fetes. For such an event in 1896, a song was specially commissioned to honor the arboreal citizen. In a scene evoking Old World rites of tree worship, Sheffield children (dressed all in white) circled the base of their big tree, singing.
Father of elms, we offer thee,
The homage of true loyalty;
Dear Sheffield, was but a baby sprite
When first thy branches met the light.
CHORUS: We’ll rally round the brave old tree,
Emblem of all that’s good and free.
You’ve known our woes, also our joys,
Our winsome lassies and sturdy boys
How well you know a lover’s tread,
Or silent anguish of our dead.
Dids’t thou that gallant deed inspire,
Which fills each breast with sacred fire;
The deed we celebrate today,
Whilst Nature smiles in sweet array.
Father of elms! long may you stand,
A joy and wonder in our land;
A rallying spot for meetings gay,
With speech and song on a summer’s day.”