|The Fleming Oak
history surround the Fleming Oak. William W. Fleming and his sixteen
year old son, Martin V. reputedly camped near the tree as they passed
through the area about 1854 freighting on the Ft. Gates/ Ft. Phantom
Hill Road established to serve the short-lived military post located
above modern Abilene.
It was a prospecting trip, of sorts, before the town of Comanche
was established. The Fleming family was living in Williamson
County in 1850 at Georgetown
but they relocated about 1854 to a home near the site of modern
view of the Fleming Oak
Photo, August 2002
V. Fleming apparently visited in Comanche
again in the late 1850s as he returned to his Bell
County home from a deer hunt. He learned of the Civil War while
in Comanche and joined Co. G., First
Texas Cavalry under Col. Thomas C. Frost in May of 1861 with a group
of area men who mustered in at that time. Mart Fleming, wounded twice,
was discharged on disability in June of 1863 but he apparently did
not return directly to Comanche. He
lived briefly in Mexico
after the Civil War but settled in Brenham
about 1866. Some relatives lived in Washington
County and there he was married to his second wife, whom he brought
to Comanche in 1872. Uncle Mart, as
he was affectionately known, was a stockman and a farmer with business
interests in Comanche through the
years. He is best remembered for his meat market located on the south
side of Comanche's square opposite
the Fleming Oak and next to the original Comanche National Bank building.
The façade at the market site is being restored as part of Comanche's
Main Street program.
Trunk of the Fleming Oak
Photo, August 2002
A beloved Comanche
tradition arises from the city's effort to remove all the old trees
from the square about 1911. The often-told tale recounts the story
of Mart Fleming defending the tree with his shotgun and threatening
anyone who would take an axe to it. A similar story survives about
an event in 1919 when Uncle Mart, again, protected the tree from
a crew paving the square.
In an interview in 1921, Fleming says he did not mention his shotgun
but told those who threatened the tree that he would use his "No.
10's" on them, a reference to his boot size rather than a gun. Fleming
reported that some rough words were needed but workmen laid down
their tools. The shotgun defense legend has been told and retold,
spelled out on an historical marker beneath the tree, and is an
entrenched piece of local folklore. Another long established Comanche
tradition is decorating the Fleming Oak with lights at Christmas
Uncle Mart died in 1928 and is buried in Comanche
with his only child, Camille, who remained single and lived at home.
Uncle Mart, thrice married, is reputed to have helped rear several
orphans and his family included step children as well. A colorful
figure, tall, lean, and pictured late in life with a white beard,
Uncle Mart continues to remind one of Comanche's
past. The tree he saved is treasured.
© Margaret T. Waring