SALEM CITY — What may in fact be the oldest oak tree in New Jersey toppled over on Thursday.

The symbol of Salem County, estimated to be 565 years old, stood on the property of the Salem Friends Meeting, which has maintained the tree since 1681. The county website said that branches and acorns that fall from the tree are often saved and preserved.

On Thursday, it all came crashing to the ground after decades of deterioration.

The Salem Friends Meeting did not immediately return a request for comment Friday.

Many residents came to see the toppled tree for themselves. Freeholder Charles V. Hassler told NJ.com the tree was a "vital piece of history" for Salem.

According to the sign at the tree, it is the last surviving tree from when John Fenwick brought a settlement of Quakers to New Jersey from England in 1675 and negotiated a treaty with the Lenni Lenape under its branches.

A message for the Salem Friends Meeting was not immediately returned.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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