March 29, 1872 – The Arnold Arboretum (the nations oldest arboretum) formally comes into existence when, at the discretion of three Boston trustees (George B. Emerson, John James Dixwell, and Francis E. Parker), a residuary bequest of over $100,000 from New Bedford (Mass.) merchant James Arnold is legally transferred to the Harvard Corporation to develop a scientific station for the study and cultivation of trees. The Corporation agrees to let the fund grow to $150,000 before devoting the net income to (1) maintaining an institution to be known as the Arnold Arboretum and (2) supporting an Arnold Professor to oversee it. The Corporation also agrees to locate the Arboretum on 120 acres in the Jamaica Plain/Forest Hills section of West Roxbury (Boston) left to it by Benjamin Bussey. (Subsequent additions increase the size to more than 265 acres.)

The “Harvard Alumni Bulletin” paints this brief portrait: “For nearly forty years he has served the University, the trusted aid of three presidents, and the friend of ten generations of Harvard men. He commands respect by making friends. ‘If boys get in trouble,’ he says, ‘I do everything I can to help them out. And if some fellow doesn’t like my asking him not to ride his bicycle in front of the Navy men, I just tell him to report me. But I make him my friend, and he greets me afterwards when we meet in the Yard.’ ”

– From the Harvard Historical Calendar, a database compiled by Marvin Hightower