by Linda Kaye
San Antonio, Texas
June 29, 2002
For centuries it survived searing summers, dusty droughts and whistling winds. It is the last survivor of a grove of fourteen trees known to local Indians as the Council Oaks. This tree takes its name from the role it played in the history of the Lone Star State. It is said that Stephen F. Austin signed the first boundary line agreement between the Indians and Whites under its branches. Great battles were fought and important conferences were planned, pacts signed, and feasts and religious ceremonies celebrated in its shade.
In recent years, the small one-quarter acre lot around the tree has been the site of weddings, school outings and picnics. In 1989, the tree was deliberately vandalized with massive amounts of poison. As the tree slipped into critical condition, a blank check was written by Texas industrialist Ross Perot and experts were summoned to treat this beautiful living tribute to Texas history and to deal with the crime against common decency. The culprit was arrested, tried and convicted for his deed and was sentenced to nine years in prison. The reason for his act? Unrequited love.
The efforts to save the tree were successful and while today only 35% of the tree remains, it still stands proud and bears witness to continuing hope for civil harmony. In 1997, the Treaty Oak produced its first crop of acorns since the poisoning. The acorns were collected and germinated. In 1999 all the Baby Treaty Oaks that were produced found homes in Texas and other states thereby ensuring its continuing legacy.
To reach the Treaty Oak, drive west on 6th street, past Lamar Street. At the next traffic light at Baylor, turn left. The tree is on your left between two shopping areas. There are parking meters lining both sides of the street. Sadly, on this day, we were the only visitors to view this magnificent tree.
From journal Austin--Deep in the Heart of Texas