Story of the Buchbaum
Here is the story of the Buchbaum, as told by Dr. Mark O. Hagenbuch at the donation of a European beech tree, April 25, 2008.
Long ago, in a place we now call Switzerland, there lived four brothers: Ulrich, Balthasar, Stephen, and Georg. The four brothers served the Duke of the region and protected a large forest of beech trees, including all the wildlife that lived there. The beech trees were large and grew close together so that they shielded the animals from the winter snows, heat of the sun, and strong winds. To create even more protection, the brothers would take fallen limbs from the beech trees and weave them into hedgerows. This forest was called Hagenbuch, which in the German language means “an enclosure of beech trees.”
One day, the Duke visited the brothers and asked if they would accompany him on a journey. The trip would take them through dangerous, enemy lands, and the Duke needed protection. Ulrich, Balthasar, Stephen, and Georg all willingly agreed. After several days of traveling, the five were ambushed by a group of enemy soldiers. During the fight, the men attacked the Duke, knocking him from his horse. But, before he could be harmed, the brothers intervened and carried him to safety.
In gratitude for saving his life, the Duke gave the beech tree forest to the brothers. He also bestowed upon them a coat-of-arms and knighted them. The coat-of-arms displayed a beech tree surrounded by a hedgerow. Eventually, the brothers took their last name from the forest and were henceforth known as Ulrich, Balthasar, Stephen, and Georg Hagenbuch.
This is a true story of my ancestors, who lived in 16th century Switzerland. While the beech tree forest no longer stands, the town of Hagenbuch marks its former location just north of Zurich. My direct ancestor, Hans Hagenbuch, left that area in 1652 and moved to Germany. His great grandson, Andreas Hagenbuch, who is my great great great great great grandfather, emigrated in 1737 from Germany to Pennsylvania.
Today, I am donating a beech tree, which in the German language is called a Buchbaum, to South Mountain Elementary, a school in which I have much pride. To me, the tree symbolizes the love the Hagenbuch brothers had for the wildlife that lived in their forest and the protection they provided to the Duke. My wish for the staff and students of South Mountain and for all the people that will come here after I retire, is that the school will continue to be a safe haven, surrounding each person with love and learning.
I have planted the tree outside of my office window. While this will soon be another principal’s office, I hope that everyone will understand that this Buchbaum is a little like me, watching over the students and staff and making sure that everything is attended to – just like Ulrich, Balthasar, Stephen, and Georg Hagenbuch did when they cared for the forest of beech trees.
Image compliments of Martin Liebermann