Saga of the Oak Tree

In the Ozark Region of Southern Missouri there are many large old Oak Trees that are fifty to one hundred yards apart. Prior to the 1830's, this Region was hunted by the Osage Indians. They burned the forests every year to clear the underbrush in order to facilitate their hunting, thus leaving these Oaks with clearings between them. One such area in Laclede County in South Central Missouri near the Wright County line West of The Gasconade River was acquired by Edward Benson Wright.


In the late 1880's, E. B. built his home under one of these large Oak Trees.

 
In 1921, E. B. Wright's funeral was held under this Oak Tree.
E. B. and his wife Martha (Allen) had raised eight of their nine children (one died in infancy) in this house next to the Oak. After Martha died in 1923, the house was acquired by their son, Edward Leon (Uncle Lon) and his wife Iva Dell (French). Leon and Iva raised their two children in this house next to the Oak. After Leon died in 1945, Iva moved away and rented the house to her cousin Paul Wright and his wife, Elizabeth (Northrip). Paul and Elizabeth raised their three children in this house next to the Oak.
Pauline (Smittle) Stone bought the property from her cousin Iva in 1968. The house had not been lived in for fifteen years. Pauline and Fred remodeled the house. Most of the work was done by Pauline's cousin Allen Wright. They also cleared the fields around the house, but that Oak tree was still there.

 
Allen made a swing for Pauline and hung it from the Oak. Pauline and Fred enjoyed many Springs

 
and Falls


in their country place. After Fred died in 1975, Pauline spent more time in her country place and enjoyed mowing with her little snapper.


 Many a family reunion were held under that Oak Tree.

 
Pauline's son Michael brought many a girlfriend and a couple of wives to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of the Oak and it's surroundings.
Pauline very much enjoyed having her grandson, Ryan, visit.


Michael and Ryan made many a visit.


When Michael found his true love and introduced her to "Pauline's Place" she too fell in love with its beauty and serenity. Pauline died in 2002 and the "Clan" gathered for her memorial under the Oak Tree. Michael and Beth inherited the property and have spent their vacations cleaning out the poison ivy from the trees and maintaining the serenity.
There were ice storms in '06 and '07 that knocked down several Pine Trees that Pauline had planted. Two of them barely missed the garage. On May 8th, 2009, a widespread and long-lived windstorm called a derecho (Spanish for straight) swept across the southern half of the state. With sustained winds up to 85 mph and torrential downpours dumping as much as 3 to 5 inches of rain in some locales, the storm left hurricane like destruction in its wake.
The driveway to the house on "Pauline's Place" was blocked by six downed Oak Trees.


Florence Hillhouse recorded the blockage and was saddened by the uprooting of the trees.


The sadness turned to tears when David and Florence finally reached the house on foot.

The chairs left for them to sit and enjoy the serenity had been totally destroyed.


The Mighty Oak Tree had been twisted and felled in the only spot it could have fallen without hitting the house or garage. All those spirits had once again protected the house. It was amazing that the well house survived with only one puncture in the roof. Along with several other trees, mostly large oaks down on the property, was one that took out one of the power poles leading to the house. This turned out to be a good thing. David was able to flag down one of the power company crews frantically trying to restore electricity and tell them about the downed pole. When Michael, Beth and Mr. Bear arrived the following week, the power company had cleared the driveway to the house so that they could replace the downed pole and restore electricity.


Michael and Beth had left Florida prepared to leave the truck on the driveway and carry their supplies to the house on foot and spend their vacation cutting away the trees blocking the driveway. The power company crews and the spirits had blessed them well. Now they could concentrate on removing the Mighty Oak from the yard.


The day after their arrival, Michael and Beth went to work hacking away at the fallen tree branches closest to the house.


Michael was able to trim back a lot of the limbs with his old pole saw with its 12" blade. An amazing chain saw with a 15 foot reach when expanded.


Beth was able to keep up with the hauling away of the cut branches.


She claimed to be the "Pack Mule" and this was only the first day.
The second day, Michael got out the "Big Saw"


Beth washed windows on the back porch and began painting the downstairs back bedroom while Michael cut some limbs.


Before she got started hauling, she commented that there was nothing like a 25" tool to get the testosterone flowing.


By mid-afternoon they had done a number on the Oak.

 
And Beth had some good piles going.

 
There were other trees down in the clearing


that would have to wait for another time to cut into smaller pieces. One of them was blocking the path through the woods to the meadow below.


So, after resting a moment, late on the second day Michael and Beth cut a new entrance to the meadow trail and cleaned it up so they could enjoy the view.


On the third day, David Hillhouse helped with the cutting.

 
With David's help, they were able to cut the limbs that had been sticking up too high to get to safely.


David had said that the ticks were especially bad this spring but Michael and Beth hardly saw any and Mr. Bear only had a dozen or so on him. Michael's theory was that they were scared away when the tree fell. Michael and Bear rested while Beth hauled away the days cuttings.


On the fourth day, the tree had been cut down about as much as it was going to be cut on this "vacation".


Michael just had to trim up some of the larger pieces.


Beth was glad that she could finally climb the tree and was thinking of planting vines on the trunk.


She was finally able to rest.


Mr. Bear was satisfied with all the work.


Beth waved goodbye


and looked forward to returning in the Fall.