by 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.
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.
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.
David Gindratt and Francis Sutton were married in May of 1859, Governor
Wood gave young Thergood to his step-son, David Gindratt, who treated
the slave well.
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
All Things Historical
DECEMBER 31, 2000 - JANUARY 6, 2001
Published by permission.
(Bob Bowman is a former president of the East Texas Historical Association
and the author of 24 books on East Texas history and folklore.)
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