Page's Tree

Historical Period: Republic of Texas (1836-1845)
Historical Topic: Law & Order, Mob Justice
Species: Post Oak (Quercus stellata)
County: Red River
Public Access: Yes

This towering post oak was in its prime when it was selected, more than a century ago, to serve the cause of frontier justice for the early settlers of Red River County. Its first recorded service came in 1837, when a man named Page and his son were hanged from one of its sturdy limbs.

When Captain Charles Burkham and Levi Davis, settlers from the Avery area, failed to return from a search for some runaway slaves, their friends set out to find them. On questioning a man riding Burkham's mule, they learned that he had bought it from Page.

When the group took Page, his son, a son-in-law, and a Mexican hand into custody, the Mexican confessed that Burkham and Davis had been murdered. During their trial by the vigilance committee in Clarksville, Page's son told the “whole” story and all four men were hanged.

Page's Tree was used many times as an instrument of final judgment for some and as a threat to others.

When the sheriff of Miller County, Arkansas, was sent to Clarksville in 1837 to collect taxes in an area still in dispute between the Territory of Arkansas and the Republic of Texas, he had an unfriendly reception. The town's committee promptly took him to Page's Tree and explained its use and what would happen if he delayed his departure. The sheriff left promptly.

When judicial law finally replaced committee law, Page's tree was relegated to near anonymity, and thus it would have remained had it not been for Clarksville's noted historian, W. E. Bowers, who brought to light this tree's historic contributions to justice on the Texas frontier.

The tree is in the northwest corner of the old Clarksville Cemetery, which is located at the corner of Washington and Grove Streets, in Clarksville.