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Chortitza Tree Planting at Heritage Park

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The Henderson Mennonite Heritage Park will host a tree planting of a sapling descended from the original ‘Great Oak’ tree that was located in the Chortitza Colony in Russia. The tree planting will take place on Sunday, August 26, at 3:00 PM at the Henderson Mennonite Heritage Park.

Acorns from this historically significant tree were gathered during a 1997 Mennonite Heritage Tour, and a tree was grown in North Newton, KS at the Kauffman Museum. Lyle Preheim from Freeman, South Dakota, has been growing a sapling taken from an acorn from this tree in preparation for its new home at the Henderson Mennonite Heritage Park.

The Mennonites who immigrated to the Henderson area were from the Molotschna Colony in Russia but before settling there they passed through the Chortitza colony where the ‘Mighty Great Oak’ was located. 

This original tree was a landmark on the island of Chortitza (Kor-teet’-sah) along the Dniepr River near Zaparozhye, Ukraine. The giant landmark was a gathering place for German emigrants who held wedding receptions and large gatherings underneath the great oak tree. 

The massive oak tree shaded about two acres and measured 118.8 feet in height and 21 feet in width at the base of its trunk. In 1991, the ‘Great Oak’ began to decline and has since died. This descendent tree of the ‘Great Oak’ is being donated to the Henderson Mennonite Heritage Park by Ron & Lois Preheim. 

Everyone is welcome to come out to enjoy this unique event at the Heritage Park located 1 1/2 miles south of the I-80 Henderson exit #342. Refreshments will be served following the tree planting.

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