• Mothers of Influence

Mrs. Petty and the Cedar Trees

Updated: Feb 16


Shortly after Mothers of Influence was organized I came across the story of Mrs. Petty. In 1949 she and her husband traveled to the Holy Land and as they prepared for the return trip, she slipped two 7-inch cedar of Lebanon saplings into her purse. Somehow they managed to survive the entire 7,000-mile journey home! I read that the first tree was probably planted in her own front yard, and the other was given to the head gardener of her church temple grounds in Salt Lake City, Utah. That very tree is still growing there today and is a favorite at Christmas time when it is covered in tiny red lights. Of course, I can only guess at Mrs. Petty’s motives, but I like to imagine that she was determined to plant a piece of the ancient cedar forest as close to her own home as possible.

I often think about Mrs. Petty and her trees as I talk with other MOIers about deepening our roots, increasing inspired learning, and cultivating an encircling reach. In fact, I was just thinking about her two weeks ago. I was feeling a little sorry that I only knew her last name and that she might only be known to me as “Mrs. Petty.” I casually sent a thought to Heaven wondering about her a little more. I mused that someday maybe I’d find out her full name. Well, be careful what you wish for because this week Heaven answered back.


The answer came through twin sisters who have only known about the Well-Educated Heart for two weeks. It happens that they don't live too far from me and invited me to hear what happened to them. They came across the Cedars of God video through one of their daughters. They liked it so much that they shared it with several people from their church congregation. One of those friends mentioned that the Cedar of Lebanon tree growing in Salt Lake City, Utah, came from her husband’s great-great-grandmother. The twins were delighted to realize that their great-great-grandmother is Mrs. Petty’s sister. These two neighborhood families are related and had no idea. Now they are exchanging genealogy, stories and pictures.

I’m smiling too, because not only did I learn Mrs. Petty’s name, I also got a chance to read more of her history and life story. I’m so happy to introduce you to Maggie Cottam Petty. She looks just as you might imagine her on that airplane with her purse on her lap. But I especially love the second picture. I think it’s more telling of the lovely woman and Mother of Influence she’s been to her children, family, and even an entire community.

Sending Love,

Marley