Choctaw Robinson Oak

Historical Period: Frontier Texas (1865-1900)
Historical Topic: Frontier Settlements, Religious Freedom
Species: Texas Live Oak (Quercus fusiformis)
County: Comanche
Public Access: Yes

At one time, Hazel Dell was the toughest settlement in Comanche County. It has been said that only one of the first ten settlers there, a preacher, died with his boots off. That preacher's name was William "Choctaw" Robinson.

Robinson was noted for his long sermons, which more often that not lasted three or four hours. He earned the nickname “Choctaw” while he was serving as a volunteer chaplain at Camp Colorado, in Coleman County, Texas. Some Choctaw Indians, invited to attend one of his services, sat patiently for a long time but finally withdrew one by one. When the chief was asked the next morning why he and his braves had left so early, his reply was, “White man lie. Him talk too long!” From then on Robinson was Choctaw Bill.

It is fully understandable why his congregations were usually small. But in his late years Robinson shrewdly chose a place to preach where he was sure to have an audience. He would ride up to a certain forked oak in Hazel Dell, dismount, tether his pony, and lay his rifle in the crotch of the tree. After invoking the blessing of the Almighty, he would begin preaching. Besides affording shade, the tree stood opposite a saloon, a store, and the post office and so Robinson was always assured of an audience. This tree later came to be known as the “Choctaw” Robinson Oak.

This historic tree is located near Hazeldell, along Ranch Road 591 in Comanche County.