Famous Trees of Texas - Battle lines

    Standing tall, trees have seen many hardships our ancestors have gone through. Land claims across Texas naturally precipitated conflict. Conflict between opposing claims inevitably led to battles. Some were battles of combat, while others were battles of life on the frontier. Texas trees fight to survive, as strong and tenacious as Texans themselves.

    Each of these trees played a special role in the history of our state, some still standing, and some left with a historical marker, marking their importance in history.

    Las Cuevas Ebony

    Along the north bank of the Rio Grande stands a giant Texas ebony, known as the Las Cuevas Ebony. In 1846, General Zachary Taylor moved his army upriver from Fort Brown and invaded Mexico from this spot. Later, in 1875, customs men learned that Mexican rustlers were picking up a large herd of cattle and heading south. They were met in Las Cuevas by a small force of Mexican troops and townspeople, who engaged in a half-hour gun battle leaving five Mexican men killed.

    The Las Cuevas Ebony has stood the test of time and has witnessed numerous other occurrences of cattle rustling, smuggling and banditry.

    Learn more about the Las Cuevas Ebony, which stands at the end of Farm Road 866, on the south edge of Los Ebanos, by clicking here.

    Famous tree of Texas _ Las Cuevas Ebony

    Turner Oak

    When the War between the States broke out, Charles Turner, one of the founders of Fort Worth, opposed the secession of Texas from the Union. However, when the state voted to secede, he abided by the majority decision of his kinsmen.

    Evidence of his acceptance of the mandate was manifested in his creation of a company of local volunteers out of his own pocket. When the Confederacy demanded citizens exchange gold for Confederate notes, Turner chose to bury his gold under the Turner Oak tree growing on the farm he had settled in 1851.

    He later returned to use his gold to aid in restoring the town of Fort Worth. The Turner Oak is in what is now Greenwood Cemetery, in Fort Worth, Texas. Click here to learn more about the Turner Oak.

    Famous tree of Texas _ Turner Oak

    Muster Oak

    The Muster Oak, a historic live oak in Fayette County, has become a living shrine to the citizens of La Grange and the surrounding area.

    The Muster Oak has served as a mustering point for men of the area who have gone forth to serve their country. Many parents, wives and sweethearts have seen their loved ones depart from the shade of this tree to defend their rights in the War with Mexico, the War between the States, the Spanish-American War and both World Wars.

    The first recruitment of citizen soldiers took place under this tree in 1842 when Captain Nicholas Mosby Dawson, a young captain from La Grange, recruited about 15 men before leaving to join Colonel Matthew Caldwell of the Texas Army. Two days later, 35 of Caldwell’s 53 men, were massacred by a troop of Mexican cavalry.

    What remains of the Muster Oak is located across from what is now the Fayette County Courthouse, in La Grange. Click here to read more about the history of the Muster Oak.

    Famous tree of Texas_Muster Oak

    Dueling Oak

    On February 5, 1837, in an open grassy spot near the Dueling Oak, located west of the Lavaca River, two brigadier-generals of the Texan Army faced one another in mortal combat.

    The challenger was Felix Huston, a Kentuckian who had come from Mississippi to fight for Texas and arrived too late for the Battle of San Jacinto. The challenged, Albert Sidney Johnston, also a Kentuckian who came to fight in the Battle of San Jacinto but arrived too late.

    After General Sam Houston was elected president of the Republic, he nominated Colonel Johnston as senior Brigadier-general of the Army causing General Huston to be reduced to the rank of junior Brigadier-general and relieved of command of the Army. Huston was outraged and challenged Johnston to a duel.

    Right next to the Dueling Oak, the two Brigadier-generals fired toward each other, leaving Huston with a grazed ear and Johnston with a non-fatal shot to the hip.

    The Dueling Oak still stands hundreds of years later west of the Lavaca River, in Jackson County near the Lavaca River. Click here to read more information on the history of the Dueling Oak.

    famous tree of Texas_Dueling Oak

    Old Bayview Mesquite

    According to Lt. Col. Ethan Allen Hitchcock’s diary, commanding officer of the first American troops to occupy Texas soil by authority, the place where he helped bury seven soldiers was “beautiful.”

    The place he was referring to is now known as Old Bayview. It is the oldest federal military cemetery in Texas. For years, it was used as a community burial place and contains the graves of many pioneer settlers, as well as those of veterans of the War of 1812, the Texas War for Independence, the Mexican War, various Indian campaigns, the War between the States and the more recent global conflicts.

    At the center of this historic cemetery, near the brow of the hill, the venerable Old Bayview Mesquite stood as a monument to their honored dead and a witness to the beginning of the Mexican War. Sadly, the tree died and was removed in 1987. Read more about the Old Bayview Mesquite here.

    Famous tree of Texas - Old Bayview Mesquite

    Parker Oaks

    In the 1850s Isaac Parker moved his family to a fine log cabin, tucked away in a post oak grove, located in the then Tarrant County seat of Birdville.

    It was in this cabin in 1860 that Parker brought his niece, Cynthia Ann Parker, and her infant daughter when she was recaptured from the Comanches. Cynthia Parker, borne of frontier life in Texas, was captured by Indians at the age of nine. She grew to know the culture and family of the Comanches and had three children with Chieftain Peta Nocona, one of whom went on to become the last great Comanche chief.

    Following recapture, Cynthia Ann mourned the loss of her family and never adjusted back to living in a white society. She was known to retreat to the Parker Oaks for refuge and died years later, never seeing her family again.

    Although Isaac Parker moved away in 1872, the Parkers’ cabin was moved to the Shady Oak Farms in Fort Worth. The Parker Oaks can still be found adjacent to the Parker Cemetery in Hurst, Texas. Read more about the Parker family and the Parker Oaks here.

    Famous tree of Texas_Parker Oaks 2

    Twin Oaks

    On Christmas Eve, December 24, 1866, a young man named William Willis was riding a mule from his father’s ranch to attend a dance in Hamilton. About a mile from town, a party of Indians attacked him.

    As he neared the home of Judge James Monroe Rice, the young girls playing outside saw Willis and his mule surrounded by Indians. Meanwhile, the Indians mortally wounded the mule, and Willis was forced to take cover behind twin live oak trees, now known as the Twin Oaks.

    After an arrow hit Willis in the back, he drew a bead on the chief and nearly unseated him with a single rifle shot, forcing the braves to abandon their attack. He stayed covered under the Twin Oaks until it was safe. Willis was taken to Hamilton to see a doctor where he died weeks later. His was the last death caused by Indians in Hamilton County.

    The Twin Oaks are still alive today, located on private property at the end of Baker Street in Hamilton. Read more about the Twin Oaks here.

    Famous tree of Texas _ twin oaks

    Cattle Raisers Oak

    On a cold, clear day in mid-February 1877, a sober, determined group of about 40 Texas ranchers filed out of a Graham hotel and down a rutted street to assemble around the Cattle Raisers Oak.

    Privacy was of the utmost importance, therefore leaving them no other choice than an outdoor convention. The purpose for their meeting was to organize a war against a common enemy known as cattle rustlers. Their war was declared more than a century ago and continues to this day.

    From that first meeting of 40 men under this oak tree, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raiser’s Association developed into one of Texas agriculture’s most powerful and progressive organizations. No obstacle, either natural or manmade, has been too big in size for the breed of leather tough independent men to tackle.

    The Cattle Raisers Oak was one of the first meeting spots for the association. Sadly, it was destroyed by a severe windstorm in 1976. There is now a state historical monument where the oak once stood, in Graham, Texas. Read more about the Cattle Raisers Oak here.

    Famous tree of Texas_Cattle Raisers Oak

    Rough Riders Pecan

    Rough, tough, we are the stuff. We want to fight, and we can’t get enough! Whoopee!

    This is the cry the Rough Riders expressed in San Antonio, in 1898. Near the Rough Riders Pecan, the Rough Riders were drilled into one of our country’s finest fighting units.

    Life in San Antonio was not easy for most. Few were used to the close confinement, the high humidity and heat and the choking dust kicked up by hundreds of horses during daily drills. However, relatively little trouble arose during those trying days, and the Rough Riders were trained for combat in record time.

    On June 8, 1898, all but four of the twelve troops of Rough Riders formed a part of the first military expedition against the Spanish in Cuba. On September 15, 1898, just four months after they were organized, the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry Regiment was mustered out of service.

    Sadly, the Rough Riders Pecan died in the 1990s due to road construction. The spot was marked by the Alamo Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America in 1935. Learn more about the Rough Riders Pecan here.

    Famous tree of Texas - Rough Riders Pecan

    Goliad Anaqua

    During the 1836 Texas campaign for independence from Mexico, Texan soldiers were imprisoned in the presidio at Goliad. On Palm Sunday, Col. Fannin and his 341 men were marched outside the walls and executed under orders from Santa Anna, making Goliad the site of the largest single loss of life in the cause of Texas independence.

    In 1846 the Goliad city council approved the disposition of the mission; they reserved the structure and twenty acres of land but granted citizens the right to carry away loose rocks. The ruins lay quietly, while the Goliad Anaqua tree grew steadily until 1931 when Goliad transferred the site to the state.

    In 1981, Architect Raiford Stripling did everything in his power to help this tree grow healthily in the ground. With a lot of digging and heavy machinery, the Goliad Anaqua still stands in front of the restored Mission Espiritu Santo in Goliad State Park. Learn more about the history of the Goliad Anaqua tree here.

    Goliad Anacua _ Famous Tree of Texas

    Battle Oaks

    The Battle Oaks, remnant of a once larger grove, were present on the original forty acres of the University of Texas campus when it opened in 1883.

    Legend says that when word was received that Northern troops had reached Galveston during the Civil War; the hill of oaks was destroyed to erect a fortress and protect the Texas Capitol.

    In 1923, plans emerged to build a new biological laboratory building in the northwest corner of the campus, which would have caused the destruction of the Battle Oaks. Students and faculty raised concerns with Dr. William Battle, chair of the Faculty Building Committee, due to the history of these oak trees. After much communication, the Board of Regents agreed to move the building farther east.

    These three oak trees can still be found today on 24th Street, one block east of Guadalupe Street, in Austin. Read more about the Battle Oaks here.


    Battle Oaks _ Famous Tree of Texas