Yes, you read that right, a tree might own more property than most people living in America today. In the early 1800s (no one is exactly sure of the date), a man by the last name of Jackson fell in love with a tree. Maybe it was extremely beautiful, or maybe it held sentimental meaning – we can never be sure because the story has been partially lost to history.
He deeded the tree and the land that surrounded it to the tree itself so that no other person could cut it down or harm it. The only reason we know about it today is thanks to an anonymous article written in 1890 that was only seen by one person – probably. Not many people personally knew the story as most of them had died.
I, W. H. Jackson, of the county of Clarke, of the one part, and the oak tree … of the county of Clarke, of the other part: Witnesseth, That the said W. H. Jackson for and in consideration of the great affection which he bears said tree, and his great desire to see it protected has conveyed, and by these presents do convey unto the said oak tree entire possession of itself and of all land within eight feet of it on all sides.”
Of course, the tree can’t legally own itself thanks to common law, but William H. Jackson did own the property on the opposite side of the street from the tree, and a plaque was placed near the tree in 1832, the same year that the property was sold to a new owner.
The original tree died, but in 1946, a seedling from the tree was planted, and it is now known as “The Son Of The Tree That Owns Itself.”
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