In the book by James Keyes circa 1880 (Pioneers of Scioto County,) there is a story about an amazing tree. The pioneers were able to capture in their time the splendor of an unpolluted land. What they found was untouched and unspoiled. The imagination can only create the thought of pure beauty – in the nooks of one’s mind. We can only imagine what that mammoth work of nature was like. Mr. Keyes has for posterity sake, given us that story of long, long ago.
“On the land owned by Abram Millar in the township of Seal, (now Valley Township,) and county of Scioto. There is growing a forked hollow sycamore tree, which measures on the inside, 21 feet in diameter, and more than 60 in circumference, tapering from the base upward. So that at the height of five feet it only measures 42 feet. The opening of the cavity at the bottom is 10 feet wide, and seven at the height of five feet, terminating at the height of nine feet and a half. The fork is about 8 feet from the ground. One of the branches is dead and broken off about 20 feet high; the other green and thrifty. The spacious cavity attracted the attention of the neighborhood, 14 of whom assembled on the 5th of June, 1808, on the spot, and thirteen of them advanced on horseback to the trunk, and at the same time sat there with perfect ease, the other being on a skittish horse, did not venture in, but there was room for two more to be perfectly secure from a falling shower of rain.
“The public are indebted to the philosophic mind of Mr. William Headley, of Fredrick County Virginia, for the description of this adventure, who was one of the adventurers, and examination of it by Major William Reynolds, of Zanesville on the 30th of November after, who affords this communication.”
Two daughters of Mr. John W. Millar, were in the tree at the time above mentioned, and furnish the names of those who entered the tree at that time. The names of the persons entering the tree were E.W. Hall and wife, J.W. Miller and wife, Abram Millar and wife, William Trimmer and wife, William Headley, Elizabeth Millar, John Hayes and wife, and Cornelius Millar. James Layne rode the skittish horse. There were besides those above named, six or eight children. It being a pleasure party, their parents took them along to enjoy the ride. The tree was suffered to stand until the farm fell into the hands of Thomas Dugan, of Portsmouth, who wanted to turn it into a first class farm. He purchased some fine blooded stock including bulls for improving breed, and turned them into the field where the tree was. The cattle soon made the discovery that for their purposes is suited about as well as a small barn. Accordingly they took possession of the tree. But unfortunately bulls are possessed of a belligerent disposition, so that when two or more of them got into the tree together, they soon got up a fight, and the result was where the vanquished could not retreat, as in an open pasture, one of the belligerents would be driven to the wall and gored to death. This was not profitable for raising stock, so Mr. Dugan gave orders to have the tree cut down. The stump remained for many years, and was visited as a curiosity by the younger portions of the community, who had not seen the tree in all its majestic grandeur. But the trouble did not end here. They wanted to raise hogs, as well as cattle, and the swine soon resorted to the stump as being the best place they could find to make their bed. This was all well enough for some time, but the cholera breaking out among the hogs, and large numbers of them dying, they jumped at the conclusion that so many hogs of all sizes, ages, and sexes piled up together in one old stump, were what caused the disease. Therefore orders were given to have the stump entirely destroyed, obliterated, removed from the face of the earth, and not a trace of it left to mark the spot where it stood.”
Quoted from an article from the Ohio Gazetter, published in 1833 – On page 256 we find the following – “Jefferson a township, of Scioto County in which the town of Lucasville is situated. …One Sycamore tree on the farm of Abram Millar in the early settling of the country, admitted at one time within the hollow of the trunk, fourteen horses such as could be collected at the time among which were several mares heavy with foal, all mounted with a man or boy on each; and Mr. Millar informs that there was then sufficient room for two more mounted horses.” Believe it or not!
Bob Boldman is a local historian. He can be reached by email: [email protected]