Oak in Austin
Baylor Avenue between
5th and 6th Street
(One block West of Lamar)
by Raoul Hashimoto
to legend, this live oak stood as a witness to a treaty between Indians
and the Anglo settlers. The man representing the settlers was reputed
to be none other than the "Father of Texas" Stephen F. Austin himself.
There has been no hard evidence that any such treaty took place -
but it makes a good story - and it may have helped save the tree.
The tree had been one of many that were collectively known as "The
Council Oaks". A imaginary line then ran through the cluster was supposed
to be a boundary-line between Indians and settlers.
In 1927 it was proclaimed to be "The most perfect specimen of a North
American tree" and was inducted into the American Forestry Association's
Hall of Fame in Washington-on-the-Potomac.
Treaty Oak as it appeared in January 2002
Photo by John Troesser
1937 it was nearly cut down by the owner. When he was told it was
"the most perfect specimen of a North American tree" he was impressed.
He started back to cutting it down - but with an appropriate display
of reverence. They tried to reason with him and they appealed to his
civic pride, but in the end, it was cash money that saved the day.
The tree became city property.
A stately marker was installed and the tree just grew there on Baylor
Street minding its own business and providing housing for generations
of birds until sometime in the 1980s when a drum of powerful herbicide
was poured at its base. The person responsible was apprehended and
served hard time. The tree's future looked bleak at best.
The ground was treated, neutralized, and some was replaced. The tree
was fed and injected and half of the crown was removed. It shed most
of its leaves while it was in shock and it wasn't known for many months
if it was going to send out new growth.
Treaty Oak Marker
Photo by John Troesser, January 2002
experts performed nothing short of a miracle in restoring the tree
Following a tradition of utilizing historic wood, the limbs were cut
into gavels and souvenir discs.
The tree lost the shape that once made it a perfect specimen - but
it's still here. It would be nice if another marker was placed near
the tree to tell of the enormous efforts that saved it from near-certain
Even without proof of a treaty - the Treaty Oak has been admitted
into the Texas Live Oak Society.
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