Spring and Indian Marked Trees

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Springtime on the Kilby Farm


It’s that time of the year when the weather is getting warmer, but many of the days are still fairly cool. This weekend we had two warm days, and then yesterday, Sunday, was dreary and cooler; today, Monday, it is even colder, with the mercury hovering around 34 degrees. We don’t want it to get too warm too fast, because we know that March is notorious for snowstorms and ice storms in these parts. One year we had two snows in March, and I can remember March 4, 1989, when I needed to go to Joplin to take an important test and couldn’t, because the hills were covered with ice from an ice storm and my car wouldn’t make it up the Pineville hill.

We are getting rain, and it is good that we are. Saturday, my friend Marilyn and I went over to the bluff edge of our property to look at some trees I had discovered a few days before. I was out walking along the edge of the bluff and saw a very interesting looking tree.

The tree I found had been bent over as a sapling, pointing toward the water.

Curious, I asked my friend, Marilyn C., if she thought it might be a “marked tree,” or an Indian signpost tree. Years ago, these trees were common around here, but nature and man has conspired against them and the numbers of these trees are dwindling. Most are from White Oak trees that have a long lifespan. This particular tree is located in an area of woods that sees limited light. So the branches have to reach up, up, up several tens of feet for sunlight.

The tree soars more than 100 feet in the air to get sun.

Legend has it that these trees were used to alert those on the trail to water sources. The tree’s bent branch points to a large body of water on our property, but it is a man-made pond. My husband told me that this area used to be a branch of water before the large pond was created. Here’s some more pictures of the tree, which has three trunks – one was cut – and another is dying.

The three trunks. See the wedge placed in the one on the left?

A view from the other side of the tree.

As one can see, this tree is not going to around much longer; it is old and the branches are hanging by a thread. I’m so glad I found this and documented it before it goes. I also found some other trees of interest, that have grown up through the limestone rock piles at the edge of the bluff:

Look at the base of the tree, growing up through the rocks.

That this tree grew at all, is a miracle. Yet it appears to be more than 100 years old.

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