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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/272

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Abbe, of the Signal-Office, at his request; although that, when forwarded, showed the rings much less conspicuously than when fresh and green.

Mr. P. C. Smith, in the August (1883) "Monthly," supporting the commonly received reliability of the rings, as an index to the age of the tree, refers to certain disputed corners and lines marked by hacks on trees, and the agreement of the number of the subsequent rings with the record of the surveyor. This indicates an uncertainty in the matter which is hardly receivable as scientific proof. If the record was reliable, why question the hack? If only for confirmatory evidence, how identify the one hack among the many which on old lines invariably accumulate in the vicinity of disputed lines by many resurveys? Is it not a mere assumption that the rings do indicate a like number of years; and that, as the record agreed with these rings, therefore, that hack was the one? Mr. Smith says, "It will be very difficult to convince an old surveyor, or an old lawyer, who has tried many of these land cases, that each concentric ring on an oak-tree, at least, does not indicate a year's growth only of such tree." Well, I am an old surveyor, having followed the business more or less for upward of fifty years, and the evidence before me admits of but the one possible conclusion; and, had Mr. Smith or any other intelligent man the same evidence, I am sure there could be no disagreement between us on the subject.

The Hon. James J. Wilson, of Bethel, Vermont, an "old lawyer" and late Senator in the State Legislature, writes me, under date of August 15th, that at a trial in the District Court at Woodstock, Vermont, on a disputed line based upon a cut on a hemlock-tree, a section of the tree embracing the cut was produced in court, and the rings outside the cut counted up from forty to fifty, while those on the opposite side were only nine or ten! The verdict of the court was, that "the rings were not a sure indication of the age of the tree."

Hon. Robert W. Furness, late Governor of Nebraska, so well known as a practical forester, has kindly furnished me with several sections of trees of known age, from which I select the following: A pig-hickory eleven years old, with sixteen distinct rings; a green-ash eight years old, with eleven very plain rings; a Kentucky coffee-tree ten years old, with fourteen very distinct rings, and, in addition to these, twenty-one sub-rings; a burr-oak ten years old, with twenty-four equally distinct rings; a black-walnut five years old, with twelve rings. Governor Furness adds that he has a chestnut of four years, with seven rings; a peach of eight years, with six rings; and a chestnut-oak of twenty-four years, with eighteen rings. He attended the recent meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, at Minneapolis, Minnesota, and presented this question and his specimens to the section on forestry. He reports that Professor Budd, of the Iowa Agricultural College, presented also a specimen