The Angel Oak of Charleston, Majestic Oak in Savannah, Treaty Oak in Jacksonville and Thomasville’s Big Oak. Many of us stare in awe at the beauty and wonder of these very old trees. Taking time to think about the history these trees have experienced has a way of transforming what they mean altogether. They stand as living witnesses to our past. My recent visit to Blakeley State park was as good a representation as I’ve seen and two of the trees there, while not as famous as the ones mentioned, represent so much. The Hanging Tree and the Hiding Oak.
Blakeley State Park is the site of an abandoned town. Few ruins remain but one can’t help imagine what life was like. Near what seems to be the town center stands a giant oak tree. This tree is a known spot of executions by hanging. Now, what hangs from the tree is a simple sign, “The Hanging Tree” I wish I could ask the tree what it thinks of its history and its name. The tree is a living witness of a darker past. But a past nonetheless that’s a part of southern history.
Not even a half mile away stands another tree with a known place of significance in our history. The Hiding Oak was used by Confederate soldiers as a hiding spot as they retreated from the advancing union troops. A huge hole in the truck provided enough shelter to save capture and perhaps the lives of southern men. I wonder if the tree would be proud for the lives it saved, happy for a union win or maybe saddened by the sight of battle.
Two trees so close. One represents death and the other life. I wish they could share their stories.
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