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Dedication Of The 

Johnson Scythe Tree Shroud, May 24, 2024


          Many have cherished the Scythe Tree as a living memorial located on routes 5 & 20 between Waterloo and Geneva.

          Back in April 1861, President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 troops from state militias to suppress the current Federal rebellion.

A young man from the Town of Waterloo, James Wyman Johnson, answered the call along with many others that outnumbered Lincoln’s first request for troops.

James was inspired during an Army recruitment rally attended by his Paster Dr. Samuel H. Gridley of the Waterloo Presbyterian Church.  A couple days later he came in from working in the field and placed his scythe in a crotch of the then, 8” round, Balm of Gilead tree in the front yard of his parent’s home.

He told his parents he was going to serve for President Lincoln in the Army and to leave his scythe there until he came home from the war.

          James entered and service bravely till his death during a skirmish in Plymouth, North Carolina, May 1864. His Mother would not believe her son had perished and objected to ever removing James’ scythe from the tree.

Johnson gave his life for his country and became one of the 58 men we know as the “Waterloo’s Fallen”.

The tree grew for another 162 years as a living memorial to Johnson. On July 19, 2023, a bright and calm evening, the old Scythe Tree just fell apart.

An arborist named Steve Skinner, along with his crew, cut up and removed the fallen limbs. Steve cut, from a hollow limb, the section we are dedicating on Friday, May 24, 2024, during the Illumination and Remembrance Ceremony at the American Civil War Memorial on the corners of Washington and Locust Streets, Waterloo, NY starting at 8:00 pm.

           The remaining trunk on Route 5 & 20 of the Scythe Tree still encompasses James original scythe. The section of the “fallen” Scythe Tree will partially enclose the cenotaph erected in memory of our “fallen” soldier, James Wyman Johnson.



            Join us Friday, May 24th when our Illumination and Remembrance Ceremony, 8:00pm, will start off with the Inaugural Presentation of the Preservationist Award sponsored by the Mary Gahan Tent 109, Waterloo, NY Daughters of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, 1861-1865 (DUVCW).  This award is offered a member of the DUVCW or a volunteer outside of our Order who has evidenced appropriate activities advancing our mission and objects.  

ACWM Illumination and events 2024.jpg
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