The Dowler Elm

Beardstown was the site of a towering tree known as the “Dowler Elm.” The tree was located in front of the home of Mrs. Johanna Dowler, on the north side of Fifth Street between Jefferson and Monroe. Mrs. Dowler was a beloved teacher who instructed several generations of Beardstown children.

The trunk divided into massive branches, held together with a large iron bar and chains. Cavities in the trunk had been filled with cement to prevent an accumulation of water, which would have caused the wood to rot. Mrs. Dowler and some of her friends hired a specialist to care for the tree in 1924.

According to Mrs. Dowler, the tree was planted in 1837, which was the year Cass County was organized. When the tree succumbed to Dutch Elm Disease in the mid-1960’s, it was said to be the oldest and largest tree in the city.

Below is a 1909 postcard of the Methodist Church at the corner of 5th and State Streets. The y-shaped tree is visible in the background.