is East Texas' oldest
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
Dec. 31, 2000 column
Published by permission.
by Bob Bowman
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
by Bob Bowman
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