Years ago, a huge elm tree proudly stood on Boston Common. At a near sky scraping height of sixty-five feet, it was affectionately referred to as the “Great Elm”, and its large hollow provided a play space for many children. In 1876, the Great Elm fell in a winter storm, estimated to have been over 250 years old.
Many folklore tales surround the Great Elm. It was rumored that Benjamin Franklin used to play under the tree when he was tending to his family’s cattle. But not all stories reflect such patriotic and picturesque. In the Colonial Era the Common was used for executions, which were public entertainment events. Among the many criminals and witches who were hung in the common, was Mary Dyer, a famous religious rebel. She was hung in 1660.
Tenants of nearby buildings have reported hearing clanking chains — believing the noises to be from ghosts. Today, a plaque signifies the spot where the Great Elm stood. So the next time you’re walking through Boston Common, keep your eyes peeled for the plaque and your ears open for any unusual sounds.