Utah Division of
Forestry, Fire & State Lands

Utah Department of Natural Resources

Western Boxelder - Salt Lake City

Click on photo for gallery.

Common Name Western Boxelder
Species Acer negundo
Address NW Corner of 100 South 700 East, Salt Lake City
City Salt Lake City
Year Planted 1855
Height 49 Feet
Spread 45 Feet
Circumference 233 Inches
DBH Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) is the standard forestry measurement of the tree's trunk diameter at 4.5 ft from the base.
Name of Nominator Irvin Hull (Zenda)
Date Rated
Ownership Private

On February 4, 1848, in the beautiful village of Tealby, Lincolshite, England, a baby girl was born and she was christened Susannah Elizabeth White. She was my great great grandmother.

Before the baby was a year old, her family, with other families of Tealby, made ready to emigrate to America and there join the Mormon Pioneers at Council Bluffs, Iowa and from there make the long Mormon Pioneer journey by ox team across the plains to the valley of the Great Salt Lake. With the White family were an aunt and uncle Gunnell.

The ocean voyage was begun in January of 1849 and the families were three months of the ocean. Council Bluffs was reached at last and preparations were made at once for the journey westward.

Shortly before the families were ready to leave Council Bluffs, the father of the baby Susannah died, leaving her mother a widow with four small children, one boy and three girls. When only a few weeks journey on the plains had been made, a baby girl was born, making five little fatherless children. Aunt Ann Gunnell had no children of her own, so she took the baby Susannah and cared for her.

The Pioneer company, of which the White and Gunnell families were a part, arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley October, 1849. Soon after their arrival, the Gunnels bought a lot of ground from Thomas Atkins. This lot is the same lot that is now located on the Norwest corner of First South and Seventh East.

Often, Aunt Ann Gunnell was homesick for her home in England, and said it was because she missed the grasses, flowers, and trees of Tealby. So one day in the year 1855, when Susannah was a little more than seven years old, Ann Gunnell took her hand and they started out to find a tree. They walked east to the mouth of Red Butte Canyon and there found a little Box Elder, which they dug up, carried home, and planted in the southwest corner of the lot. The tree was about three feet high. The winter's cold caused the tree to die down to the ground and it was feared that the planting of the tree had all been in vain. But the warm days of spring arrive at last and to the great joy of the little girl and Ann Gunnell, two little branches came up from the root. It was given much care, and as more many summers had passed, it had grown to several feet in height.

Then when it was about four years old, an east wind-storm broke off one of the two main branches. To save the tree and have it grow even and straight, the other branch was cut down. Again, special care was given by Susannah and her Aunt, and it grew into a beautiful tree with out-spreading branches under which many a weary traveler stopped to rest. Its beauty stood out because there were no other trees of any kind around.

Aunt Gunnell passed away in April 1866 and her home and the tree became the property of Susannah's mother, Mrs. Clegg. During that same year, the said property was sold to Mr. Francis Armstrong who had the Gunnell home torn down and built in its place the beautiful large Armstrong home. But the Box Elder tree was protected while the home was being built and today is at the southwest corner of the house. It measures 233 inches in circumference four feet above the base and its beautifully leaved branches reach up into the sky several feet higher than the three story house.

A few years ago, the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers put a plaque on the tree as being one of the first trees planted in Salt Lake City.

Author Zenda Hull