“For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit.”
—Luke 6: 43-44.

In an evening ramble through Rock Creek last night my friend Brien, who has a keen eye, spotted the Tree monument (figures 1, 2) with its onomastic play. The inscription on the front (figure 1):

FRUCTU ARBOR COGNOSCITUR
LAMBERT TREE
BORN OCT. 14 1799 DIED DEC. 19 1881
LAURA M. TREE
WIFE OF LAMBERT TREE
BORN JULY 4 1804 DIED JULY 3 1860

The Latin at top is a paraphrase of Luke 6:44, “A tree is known by its fruit.” I think it was felt by Tree to be more “Tree is known by his fruit.”

One imagines Tree’s good works were at least part of his fruits. But looking at the rear face, his more literal fruits are tallied up (figure 2):

CHARLES MORGAN TREE M.D.
SON OF L. & L.M. TREE.
BORN JULY 15 1845. DIED DEC 4 1881.
ELLEN FULLERTON TREE
DAUGHTER OF L. & L.M. TREE.
BORN MAY 28 1839. DIED JUNE 6 1908.

Either being a son, or being a doctor, or being the first to die of the two children listed here led to Charles Tree being above his older sister on the rear face of the monument. I don’t know when the monument was erected, but see that Lambert and Charles died days apart in 1881, which would have provided a good occasion to erect the monument, leaving a blank area for Ellen when the time came. The serifed font for the name Tree seems right for the 1880s. The different punctuation habits between the front and rear face might argue for different hands, different times of carving, or both.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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