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 The Story of McDade's Ancient Oak 


By Audrey Rother, Bastrop County Historical Commission


The Texas Historic Tree Coalition has accepted this ancient oak in McDade as a significant tree worthy of recognition. It is located on Austin Street in downtown McDade in lot 18 of Block 8. The town of McDade was established when the Houston and Texas Central Railroad Company reached this location in September of 1871, after that the lots began to sell.  Mr. William S. Rice, of Rice Institute bought lot 18 in Block 8, but Rice Institute chose Houston, Texas instead of McDade.

This tree was huge in 1871 and offered a giant umbrella of shade because the early settlers tied their mules and wagons under this tree while they traded and visited in town, thus this lot became known as the “Mule Lot.” Mr. Jack Ross, an early settler here, is known to have tied his mules here taking advantage of the shade as long as he was in town and sometimes that was all day long.

Mrs. Zina (Gladys) Jones and her parents lived on the lot beside this tree. Sadly, one morning Gladys, age 3, looked out her window to see a man hanging from one of the branches. 

A group of specialists from the University of Texas inspected the tree for Oak Wilt. It had none. The tree was estimated to be 350-400 years old at that time. The specialists noted a very unusual plant growing beneath known as Mandrake. This plant is a perennial herb which sends up umbrella shaped leaves and the creeping root stock has been used in medicines. The ancient tree appears healthy and will continue to live many years.

About the Texas Historic Tree Coalition

The Texas Historic Tree Coalition is passionate about bringing the story of significant trees to the public. We are a coalition of volunteers who seek the best information available from historians, arborists, archaeologists, anthropologists, environmentalists, and other experts in relevant fields. We strive to be the go-to group for people who need resources and help in recognizing historic trees in their communities.

Established in 1995 as the Dallas Historic Tree Coalition, our work took us to places all over Texas and points beyond. In 2014, we grew to become the Texas Historic Tree Coalition. We are an all-volunteer, non-profit group. We feel that we have a moral obligation to find, celebrate and document these living legacies for future generations to enjoy.

If you would like to nominate a historic tree in Bastrop County, please contact the Texas Historic Tree Coalition

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