J. STERLING MORTON
The founder of Arbor Day started by planting orchards on treeless plains.
Like many people involved in founding Nebraska, J. Sterling Morton had several interests. He was a:
He also served as territorial governor of Nebraska, and later he was appointed U.S. secretary of agriculture.
Arbor Day Founder
But Morton is best known for starting Arbor Day in 1872, with a resolution before the State Board of Agriculture. A prize was designated for the person who “properly planted the most trees.” On the first Arbor Day, more than a million trees were planted. Morton said, “Other holidays repose upon the past; Arbor Day proposes for the future.”
In 1874, Governor Robert Furnas issued a proclamation asking Nebraskans to observe Arbor Day. In 1885, Arbor Day was changed from April 10 to April 22 in honor of Morton's birthday. Today, Arbor Day is designated as the last Friday in April and is observed in many parts of the world.
Arbor Lodge, Morton's home in Nebraska City, grew from a four-room farmhouse into a 52-room mansion. A 65-acre arboretum with more than 250 species of trees and shrubs provides the setting for the house. Morton himself planted most of them. Today, Arbor Lodge is a state historical park.