Joe Deutsch sent us the first two pictures of “The Hanging Tree” .
He also sent us these informative pieces about it’s history
On June 1, 2006 a terrific bolt of lightning struck the historic Old Oak located on the grounds of the Peekskill High School.
This tree was a witness to the history of the Hudson Valley, perhaps extending back to the explorations of Henry Hudson. Its most significant role was to serve as a "Hanging Tree" on January 7, 1777.
On that date Daniel Strang was apprehended when he was found observing the American troops, under the command of General Putnam, camped on the site. Notes and sketches were found on his person and there were reports of his attempt to recruit supporters for the British cause. A court martial was held beneath the tree. He admitted his involvement and was found guilty of spying for the British. The sentence of death by hanging was immediately carried out and the 1,000 or more troops encamped on the site were marched around the tree to witness the penalty for spying and collaborating with the enemy. Mr. Strang was then buried in a shallow grave at the foot of the tree as was the custom at that time.
In 1833 the property was purchased for the construction of the Peekskill Academy, later to become the Peekskill Military Academy. During construction of a new brick dormitory in the 1860s, a skeleton was discovered, presumed to be that of Daniel Strang. The remains were re-buried at an undisclosed site far removed from the school campus.
The Peekskill Military Academy was custodian of the Old Oak for 135 years. The tree served as a model to inspire the young cadets to be strong, upstanding and faithful. Following the closing of the school in 1968, drastic alterations were made to the site in preparation for the construction of the new Peekskill High School. Eight to twelve feet of soil was removed from around the tree base to provide access and parking for the new building. The root system of the old tree was severely damaged and over the succeeding years the health of the tree was in constant decline.
The Peekskill Military Academy Alumni Association was in the early stages of a fund raising campaign to pay for remedial treatment and lightning protection for the Old Oak two weeks before the tragic event of June 1st.
We have lost a national treasure and messages are coming in from around the nation expressing the feelings of history minded individuals who share our remorse.