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Thergood's Pine

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman
Where is East Texas' oldest pine tree?

In a land with billions of pines, that's a tough question to answer. But in San Jacinto County, the Thergood pine tree--named for a pioneer who saved it from a woodsman's ax -- certainly qualifies as a candidate for the title.

Now more than 165 years old, the Thergood pine is still growing and bearing pine cones. The tree stands on a knoll with its branches reaching toward the sky. At its base is a flowing spring that never runs dry. Surviving in spite of countless odds, the Thergood pine -- located in the Outlaw Ridge subdivision near Point Blank -- is one of the last living pines that stood in East Texas during the Republic of Texas.

It bears the name of Collier Thergood, a slave who arrived with his family in Texas from Georgia in 1839 with the family of Governor-to-be George T. Wood.

When David Gindratt and Francis Sutton were married in May of 1859, Governor Wood gave young Thergood to his stepson, David Gindratt, who treated the slave well.

After the crops were laid by, Thergood often walked to Palmetto Creek to fish. When he started his return home, he often passed by the knoll where the pine tree stood to drink from the cold spring water. After cleaning his fish, he would stretch out on the grass under the pine and dream. "Some day this tree and all this land will be mine," he said hopefully. After the Civil War and the end of slavery, Thergood saved his money and eventually bought the land. He allowed his neighbors to carry water from the spring, but they had explicit orders to never use a knife or an ax on the pine tree. On wash days, women gathered under the pine tree and washed their clothes in wooden tubs with homemade lye soap, then spread their garments on bushes to dry. Meanwhile, the pine tree grew taller and shed its pine cones in the fall. The survival of the tree through all these years is remarkable, even managing to avoid the pine beetle which commonly strikes older pine trees. Collier Thergood died in August of 1875, and was buried in the Liberty Cemetery at Point Blank. Many of his relatives continue to live in San Jacinto County -- not far from the pine that became the focal point for a pioneer's dream.


All Things Historical
Dec. 31, 2000 column
Published by permission.
More Columns by Bob Bowman

Forum:
Subject: Thergood's Pine Update
On my last soiree through the east Texas pine trees I thought I would check on Thergood's pine located in the farthest reaches of Outlaw Ridge off FM 980 north of Point Blank. I had seen it about ten years ago and had spoken with the landowner there that was nice enough to give me a little history. To my dismay, the pine tree was dead. Still standing tall but never-the-less dead. Looked like it could have gone at least a year ago. There ought to be a way to get it cut and age-verified before the interior of the tree falls to decay. - Robert Surguy, March 18, 2014

Subject: Thergood's Pine
I stumble across an article be wrote called "Thergood's Pine" on the internet. Well I have never been much of a history buff, and since I am African American, I figured not many records existed of my family history past my grandparents. Well needless to say, I was terrifically shocked when I read the wonderful article written by Mr. Bowman and spoke to my father and asked him if we had any family in the east Texas area. He said that he thought we had family in Point Blank but the name was originally spelled "Thergood". Well the article written by Mr. Bowman was about a slave name Collier Thergood from... you guessed it. Point Blank! I just wanted to personally thank Mr. Bowman for sparking a renewed interest in obtaining my family history with his article. Thank you again. ... - Eric Thiergood, May 22, 2001

... I truly appreciate you for running that story and casting a different light on slavery. So often as an African American, I was told at ALL slaves where treated horribly and abused, and while grievous abuse did occurred, I have gained some additional insight by learning about my great, great, great, great (not quite sure how many greats yet- Im still running down that information) grandfather. Just so that you know about what ever happened to that land after passing through a couple of generations, my great great (again unsure of how many greats) was pressured to sell by some investors. He stood strong in refusing to sell the land the family loved so much. That relative was later found murdered on his porch and "investors" offering to purchase the land the following day. From what I understand that land was sold for pennies on the dollar and was later developed into quiet valuable real estate. Again thank you so very much for the story ... - Eric Thiergood and Family, May 23, 2001

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