When Mayer resident Roselynn Fernwalt heard about the Arizona Centennial Witness Tree program, she knew she had just the tree - right in front of her house. She researched the huge cottonwood tree's history and nominated it for the distinction.
Witness trees are part of the Arizona Centennial observance, with 11 of these historic giants designated throughout the state. They are trees of many species - including mesquite, deodar cedar, white oak, cottonwood, American elm, ponderosa pine, thornless honey locust, California fan palm, emory oak, ironwood, and olive - all with the distinction of having lived for the past 99 years, and "witnessing" Arizona's history from beginning of statehood, Feb. 14, 1912, to the present.
"Mr. Who's Tree," named for its resident family of owls, has an imposing presence on Central Ave. in Mayer, dwarfing the Fernwalt's small home next to what was once the livery stables for the Big Bug Station Coach Line. If Mr. Who's Tree could talk, according to information in a Centennial booklet highlighting the 11 Centennial Witness Trees, it would solve the mystery of Joe Mayer's death.
The Centennial book states that Joe Mayer loved the streets lined with cottonwoods when he moved to the area and bought the community supply store in 1882.
Mr. Who's Tree also could speak of seeing such people as Wyatt Earp, Tom Mix, and Arizona's first governor George Hunt visit the town, and add to the stories of miners, because it grows near one of the richest deposits of onyx in the U.S.
The Arizona Centennial Commission and the Arizona Community Tree Council in April dedicated the first Witness Tree, an olive, in Scottsdale. Chaplain Winfield Scott planted the tree in 1896 in what is now Old Town Scottsdale.
The Fernwalts received a Centennial plaque similar to the one that stands near the old business district on Central Ave., just up the street from Mr. Who's Tree. Don Fernwalt built the bases for both monuments, and the one for the huge cottonwood also boasts a vintage gold pan donated by Mayer resident Gary Cooper.