The Knauss Homestead in Emmaus recently hosted an Arbor Day celebration. To mark the occasion, Emmaus Mayor Winfield Iobst and members of the Emmaus Garden Club, gathered to plant an American Redbud tree in memory of Lucie Haley Laudenslager of the Emmaus Garden Club.
Laudenslager was involved in two garden clubs - Emmaus and Parkland. She was also a member of both the Pennsylvania State and National Garden Clubs, Inc. In addition to these, she served on the board of directors of the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania. She joined the clubs in the 1970s.
The honoree passed away April 16. The 99-year-old would have turned 100 June 7. She was predeceased by her husband Frank and daughter Martha.
Rosie Ebersole, president of Emmaus Garden Club and resident of Emmaus, began the observance ceremony with highlights of the honoree’s life.
In her speech, Ebersole referred to Laudenslager as the group’s “matriarch.”
“Lucie was a mentor who was always encouraging others,” Ebersole said.
Laudenslager gifted Ebersole a membership to the Garden Club Federation of Pennsylvania which led Ebersole to become a National Garden Clubs accredited judge.
Ebersole’s talk highlighted Laudenslager’s degrees in physics and chemistry from Roanoke University and another in mechanical engineering from Duke University. Laudenslager used her degrees to teach science and mathematics in the Montgomery County School District and then was recruited by the U.S. Patent Office in Washington, D.C. as a patent examiner.
Emmaus Garden Club member Ellen Wilson, of Emmaus, commented on Laudenslager’s legacy.
“We loved Lucie. She was so generous and really dedicated,” Wilson said.
Iobst read an Arbor Day Proclamation, which stated the virtues of trees such as their use for paper, environmental benefits and beautification. Iobst also encouraged citizens to “support the planting of trees and to promote the well-being of this and future generations.”
Everett “Reds” Bailey, president of the Emmaus Shade Tree Commission and a certified arborist for 40 years, spoke of the importance of tree planting, management of trees and as to why he became involved in tree-planting.
John and Anna Schmoyer, curators of the Knauss Homestead, gave tours of the Germanic style home, which was placed on the National Register of Historical places in 2008. The building was constructed in 1777 and bought by Sebastian H. Knauss, who is recognized as the founder of Emmaus. Over 300 of his descendants are presently living in Emmaus and Lehigh County. Sebastian Knauss donated the property for the establishment of the Moravian community of Emmaus.
Downstairs, Colonial- era handmade tools lean against an enormous fireplace in the kitchen. Revolutionary style furniture accents the eight room structure. Other historical features include rope-beds: a straw-filled mattress supported by a rope strung wooden bed frame.
In one of the upstairs rooms, a model of a Moravian style, “pyramid tree” is displayed. The originals were handmade in lieu of a traditional Christmas tree. The trees consisted of twigs, moss and whatever natural materials the builder could find in the woods. Apples and rolled up Bible verses served as decorations for the tree. John Schmoyer explained the reasons Moravians opted for this type of holiday tree.
“They felt the tree should be used for a purpose such as furniture or a house. It was the first Christmas tree in America, in the 1850’s,” Schmoyer said.
Gene Clock, president of The Knauss Homestead Society who spearheaded the event, was thrilled to have the club plant Laudenslager’s memorial tree at the Knauss Homestead.
“I was delighted to host this special event at the Knauss Homestead. It was very fitting to have this recognition event on Arbor Day and for this to take place at a ‘hidden historical gem’ in Emmaus, a property that dates back to 1777. By this tree, Lucie Laudenslager will be remembered by visitors to the Homestead for many years to come,” Clock said.