Settling the Frontier

    Big dreams, open land, independence and freedom all drew settlers to Texas. Through Mexican and Texas independence’s of the 1820s and 40s, immigrants continued to arrive in Texas, spilling across the land and expanding the frontier westward.

    The following trees were planted during this time, leaving us with a glimpse into the lives of those who came before us.

    Founders’ Oak

    Located just over 500 feet from Comal Springs, the Founders’ Oak has stood sentry to centuries of travelers and settlers of the Guadelupe River region.

    Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, Commissioner General of “The Society for the Protection of German Immigrants of Texas,” came to the area in March 1845 and signed a deed for two leagues of land which included Comal Springs and the Founders’ Oak. Thus, New Braunfels was born.

    This grand oak has long played a part in the activities of the founders of the community. Each year, after 1846, people gather to read the Declaration of Independence on the fourth of July.

    Today the Founders’ Oak is near the Landa Park boat dock in New Braunfels. Click here for more information on the Founders’ Oak. 

    Founders' Oak _ Famous tree of Texas

    Old Evergreen Tree

    This long-lived live oak was once the center of Evergreen, one of Lee County’s earliest settlements. The town was founded on land granted to Abner Kuykendall by Stephen F. Austin in 1831. By 1836, Doctor J. M. Stockton built an inn beside this tree.

    In 1870, the Houston and Texas Central Railroad extended the Washington County Railroad west from Brenham and established a station in Giddings.

    All that remains of Lee County’s first recorded settlement is the Old Evergreen Tree and the community graveyard, located near the town of Lincoln. For more information on the history of the Old Evergreen Tree, click here.

    Old Evergreen Tree _ Famous Tree of Texas

    Ross Oak

    For years the Ross Oak has been quietly biding its time on a city-owned lot near downtown Waco. At present, it stands at the back of a small house. In 1849, one of Texas’ great pioneers, Shapley Prince Ross, supposedly camped with his family under this ancient live oak, later named the Ross Oak.

    Ross, his wife and two young sons were traveling to Texas in company with several families from Missouri, to find a homesite in the new republic. When Waco Village was being developed as a new townsite, one of the developers, Jacob de Cordova, offered Ross four free city lots, a franchise to establish a ferry across the Brazos and an opportunity to purchase additional land at less than half the price. Captain Ross accepted the offer and moved his family to Waco and camped under the Ross Oak until his first house was built.

    The Ross Oak still stands today in Waco; however, it is not available to the public. Click here for more information on the Ross Oak.

    Ross Oak_Famous Tree of Texas

    Boat Landing Cottonwood

    At the foot of what was then the Commercio Plaza in San Felipe de Austin, on the west bank of the Brazos River, stood the Boat Landing Cottonwood. This tree is the sole survivor of a group of large eastern cottonwood trees that played a part in the development of the capital of Stephen F. Austin’s colony.

    In laying out his town, Austin followed the plaza plan of most Mexican towns. These plazas formed the heart of San Felipe de Austin and from them ran streets to the residential areas.

    Although this venerable tree had been badly damaged by fire and its once stately crown was destroyed, it clung to life for decades as tenaciously as those early Texans clung to their desire for liberty. It was finally removed in 1974 when its remains became hazardous to visitors. Click here for more information on the Boat Landing Cottonwood.

    Boat_Landing Cottonwood

    Turner Redcedar

    The Turner Redcedar, which grows in front of an early East Texas settler’s home, was at one time the second largest of its species in the country. Ruffin C. Turner, the tree’s first owner was a “Tare Heel” from North Carolina.

    In January 1835, Turner applied for a grant of land in the Zavala Colony. On June 23, 1835, he received the title to a league of 4,428 acres and a labor of 177 acres of land in the Municipality of Bevil, now considered Jasper County. On the brow of a small hill in the southwest corner of his land, Turner built a house which still stands in the shade of the Turner Redcedar tree.

    In 2002, the Turner Redcedar was measured to have a circumference of 173 inches, total height of 80 feet and an average crown spread of 53 feet. Part of the top was blown out in a storm in the 1960s and succumbed to drought in 2011. For more information on the Turner Redcedar click here.

    Turner Redcedar _ Famous tree of Texas

    Seiders Oak

    Shortly after construction of the new capital city in Austin in 1839, Austin White moved his family to the new settlement and built a log cabin near a fine spring on Shoal Creek.

    While passing through a live oak grove, less than a quarter mile from his cabin, White was attacked by a band of Indians. The marks of several arrows and bullets which hit Seiders Oaks were visible for many years.

    In 1865, General George Custer and his men camped under the Seiders Oaks for shelter. By the 1870s, Seider Springs had become a popular recreation spot. The Seiders family made bath houses, picnic tables and a dance pavilion at the Springs and even provided a means of transportation to and from town.

    The Seiders Oak is still standing today, located in a city park along Shoal Creek in Austin. Click here for more information on the Seiders Oak.

    Seiders Oaks _ Famous tree of Texas

    Kyle Auction Oak

    Between 1870 and 1880, the international and great Northern Railroad planned to construct a line between Austin and San Antonio. However, when the planners found that no towns lay on route between San Marcos and Austin, they decided to establish a station town at some point along their route.

    An offer by Captain Ferguson Kyle and D. R. Moore families was accepted and all the land, excepting a depot site and track right-of-way, was then deeded to the Texas Land Company for development as a town. The town was officially named Kyle, Texas, in honor of one of the men who donated the land.

    In the shade of the Kyle Auction Oak, all the business lots and most of Kyle’s residential lots were sold at auction. The land on which this historic Kyle Auction Oak stands was donated by the railroad in June 1881 for the construction of the town’s first school, Kyle Academy.

    The Kyle Auction Oak can be found next to a historical marker, in Kyle. Click here for more information on the Kyle Auction Oak.

    Kyle Auction _ Famous tree of Texas

    Plainview Hackberries

    Located in a city park in Plainview is the Plainview Hackberries, the last survivor of two hackberry groves which once dominated the landscape and served as a landmark to travelers on the high plains.

    Near this tree a spring flows into Running Water Draw. The trees and the spring later gave Plainview the name “Oasis of the Plains.” Near the groves, E. L. Lowe and Z. T. Maxwell made their first homes. In the spring of 1887, the two men established a town named Plainview because of the empty view in all directions.

    In the fall of 1887, the town was surveyed, lots were offered for sale and a grocery store was opened near the courthouse square. The following year Lowe and Maxwell deeded portions of their own lands to the town of Plainview for streets, alleys and a public square.

    In a small but important way, the Plainview Hackberries played a part in Panhandle history by pointing the way to two pioneers. For more information on the Plainview Hackberries click here.

    Plainview Hackberries _ Famous tree of Texas

    O’Brien Oak

    Sometime in the early 1800s, the O’Brien Oak, then only a seedling, was brought from the Boumstead Place on Village Creek by one of the area’s first settlers, Captain Cave Johnson.

    About the time Captain Johnson planted his live oak switch, another of Texas’ adopted sons, George W. O’Brien, was born in Abbeville, Louisiana. At the age of 17 years he traveled to Galveston and in 1852 he moved to Beaumont, which remained his home for the rest of his life.

    By 1880, O’Brien was a widely known citizen of south Texas and purchased the Johnson property. By then, this oak was almost three feet in diameter.

    According to local tradition, the first court of law in Jefferson County was convened under the branches of the O’Brien Oak, and early civil and criminal cases were tried in its shade.

    In 1966, the tree was designated a Texas historical landmark. In March 1975 the venerable old oak was struck by lightning, a blow from which it never recovered. An acorn from the tree, planted during WWII, has grown into a tree that now shades the Beaumont home of the late George W. O’Brien’s grandson. Click here for more information on the O’Brien Oak.

    OBrien Oak _ famous tree of Texas

    Teepee City Cottonwood

    An aging, wind-scarred cottonwood tree, known as the Teepee City Cottonwood, once maintained a vigil over the site of the first town in Motley County, settled over a century ago.

    In the mid-1870s, a 100-wagon train of settlers from Doge City, Kansas, crossed the small creek which flows near the cottonwood and camped there on their way south. When the wagon trained moved on, about a dozen families stayed to become Motley County’s first settlers. The town later became known as Teepee City.

    Under the historic Teepee City Cottonwood stood the hotel-saloon-gambling hall, the only plant building in the town. Every time cowboys from the Matador Ranch came by, they stopped off at the saloon.

    When the railroad was built west of Childress, freight routes were changed, and Teepee City began to decline. Little of the town remained after 1891.

    Sadly, the Teepee City Cottonwood died sometime in the 1980s, and all that is left is a historical marker for Teepee City. For more information on the Teepee City Cottonwood click here.

    Teepee City Cottonwood _ Famous Tree of Texas

    Kissing Tree

    Herman Strack, a blacksmith who emigrated from Prussia in 1848, was the first of five Strack brothers who landed at the Port of Galveston and settled in north Harris County. He sold barrels of tar harvested from pine trees at his homestead to customers downtown, which helped fund the purchase of hundreds of acres of property.

    According to Strack family records, the Kissing Tree marks the site of Herman Strack’s homestead and blacksmith shop. The Kissing Tree got its name because it was popular among couples and many proposals took place under its branches.

    Several years ago, the Kissing Tree was nearly lost to make way for a convenience store parking lot. Thankfully, Commissioner R. Jack Cagle purchased the property where the tree still stands today and created Kissing Tree Park. The tree is recognized as a valuable part of the area’s history through its Strack family ties. For more information on the Kissing Tree click here.



    Kissing oak _ famous tree of Texas