TexasEscapes.com 
HOME : : NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : TEXAS HOTELS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : BUILDINGS : : IMAGES : : ARCHIVE : : SITE MAP
PEOPLE : : PLACES : : THINGS : : HOTELS : : VACATION PACKAGES
Texas Escapes
Online Magazine
Texas Towns by Region
  • Texas Hill Country
  • Central Texas North
  • Central Texas South
  • South Texas
  • East Texas
  • West Texas
  • Texas Panhandle
  • Texas Gulf Coast
    Texas Towns A - Z
    Over 2800 Towns

    Texas Ghost Towns
    Over 700 Ghost Towns

    Book Hotels
  • Columbus Hotels
    Find Hotel Deals in
    Columbus, Texas
    Book Here
    Texas | Features

    Texas Historic Tree

    THE COLUMBUS COURT OAK
    Columbus, Texas

    On the east side of the Colorado County Courthouse
    Travis Street, downtown Columbus

    Book Hotel Here > Columbus Hotels
    TX  Historic Tree - Columbus Court Oak
    "First Court Colorado County Republic Texas 1837"
    Columbus Court Oak Old Photo (No Date)

    Courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library

    Trees have always featured in the history of Colorado County. The forest of stately, moss-draped Live Oaks with their massive branches frequently touching the ground captured the imaginations of the early settlers, many of whom had never seen an evergreen oak.

    Back in the 1920s, the city of Columbus held a contest for an official city motto and the winning entry was "Live Oaks and Live Folks."

    The Columbus Court Oak was one of two famous trees in Columbus. The second being the Columbus Oak - the second largest Live Oak in the state. Although the Columbus Court Oak has died in recent years; the trunk was left in place and today a marker and replacement tree mark the spot.

    The Story >
    The Court Oak Lives
    >
    More Columbus Court Oak Photos
    >
    Columbus Court Oak Historical Marker >

    TX  Historic Tree - Columbus Court Oak & Historical Marker
    Columbus Court Oak & Historical Marker
    TE Photo, 2001
    The Story:
    In 1836, both Columbus and nearby San Felipe were burned rather than have them fall into the hands of the advancing Mexican Army. After Independence the settlers returned to rebuild. While waiting for a courthouse to be built, court was held under the shade of this tree.

    The first term of the Colorado County District Court was held in April of 1837, with Judge Robert McAlpin Williamson, presiding. Judge Williamson, aka "Three-legged Willie" was a famous Texas jurist who had had his right leg permanently bent at the knee. A false leg extending from the knee to the floor - won him the nickname. Williamson won praise for both his judical acumen and his dancing ability. Williamson County was named in his honor.

    While there may have been earlier cases heard under the tree, the earliest recorded case was held in May of 1837. It was noteworthy for the severity of the punishment ordered by the court. William Babbs, charged with grand larceny, "threw" himself upon the mercy of the court. The court wasn't feeling particularly merciful that day and Mr. Babbs received thirty-nine lashes - plus his right hand was branded with the letter T (for thief).

    Babbs was also fined the cost of the lawsuit against him, but being unable to pay, he was then released by Judge Williamson.

    The Court Oak Lives

    Although the famous court oak is now officially dead, don’t believe everything you hear. The late Colorado County historian Bill Stein would tell interested parties that it was alive and well and living just a few blocks from the courthouse – and has been since it was an acorn.

    According to Mr. Stein, it was well-known to Columbus residents which tree was the real McCoy, but when Highway 90 from Houston to Austin was paved, certain “ adjustments” were made for the convenience of motorists. Moving the tree was out of the question, so the court oak was given a stand-in right alongside the courthouse. It wasn’t exactly a crime, but over time (and the erection of a historical marker), the stand-in became the star.
    TX  Historic Tree - Columbus Court Oak vintage photo
    Historic Tree Columbus Court Oak Old Photo (No Date)
    Courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library
    TX  Historic Tree - Colorado County, Columbus Court Oak
    Columbus Court Oak Old Photo (No Date)
    Courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library
    TX  Historic Tree - Columbus Court Oak
    Columbus Court Oak Old Photo (No Date)
    Courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library
    TX  Historic Tree - Columbus Court Oak 1970 photo
    Columbus Court Oak in 1970
    Photo courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library
    TX  Historic Tree - Columbus Court Oak Today
    Replacement Tree - foreground
    Columbus Court Oak - background

    TE Photo, 2001
    TX  Historic Tree - Columbus Court Oak Historical Marker
    "District Court Tree"
    Columbus Court Oak Historical Marker

    TE Photo, 2001
    TX  Historic Tree - Columbus Court Oak vintage photo
    Columbus Court Oak Old Photo (No Date)
    Courtesy Nesbitt Memorial Library

    Columbus, Texas Historic Trees:

  • Columbus Court Oak
  • Columbus Oak - Texas' Second Largest Live Oak >
  • Columbus Hanging Tree >
  • Columbus Courthouse Magnolias >

    Related Topics:
  • More Texas Historic Trees >
  • Goose Island Oak - Texas Largest Live Oak >
  • © John Troesser
    More Texas Historic Trees


    See

    Columbus, Texas
    Colorado County Courthouse

    Book Hotel Here:
    Columbus Hotels

    Related Topics:

    Texas Vintage Photos
    Texas State Parks
    Texas Town List
    Texas
    More Texas Historic Trees

    Texas Escapes
    , in its purpose to preserve historic, endangered and vanishing Texas, asks that anyone wishing to share their local history, stories, and vintage/historic photos, please contact us.
    Custom Search
    Book Hotel Here - Expedia Affiliate Network

    CITY SEARCH


    Columbus Hotels
    Find Hotel Deals in Columbus, Texas
    Book Now
    TEXAS ESCAPES CONTENTS
    HOME | TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE | HOTELS | SEARCH SITE
    TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES

    Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
    TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | FORTS | MAPS

    Texas Attractions
    TEXAS FEATURES
    People | Ghosts | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Texas Centennial | Black History | Art | Music | Animals | Books | Food
    COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

    TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
    Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Rooms with a Past | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Stores | Banks | Drive-by Architecture | Signs | Ghost Signs | Old Neon | Murals | Then & Now
    Vintage Photos

    TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | USA | MEXICO

    Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
    Website Content Copyright ©1998-2011. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved