The Treaty Oak tree was an old and cherished member of the community. For 600 years, it had stood proudly over the spot where the city of Austin, Texas would one day be. The tree was revered by the native people who predated the city. According to a legend, the tree stood as a witness when European settlers made a treaty with the Native Americans. It was a magnificent tree with branches stretching over 130 feet. The Treaty Oak was loved by all… except for one deranged man, who tried to kill it.
One day in 1989, the residents of Austin noticed that their favorite tree had a patch of dead grass beneath it. Upon further examination, they saw that the base of the tree also showed signs of disease. Residents were horrified when they discovered that it was not a natural disease. The tree had been poisoned.
Distraught, people came together to save the Treaty Oak. A total of $100,000 was donated to the tree’s recovery.
While people were frantically trying to save the tree, the police were on a manhunt for the culprit. They offered a $10,000 reward for information. Before long, they found and convicted Paul Cullen. It turned out that he had poisoned the tree while conducting an occult ritual. The ritual required the death of an oak tree and was intended to end the love he had for a woman and protect her from another man. He also saw the tree’s death as revenge for the outdoor work the state of Texas forced him to do while he was in prison.
Cullen was sentenced to spend nine years in prison and pay a $1000 fine. In the end, he only served 3 years.
The Treaty Oak’s recovery was touch-and-go at first, and half the tree died. Experts replaced the soil to remove the poison and allow the fresh soil to absorb more poison from the tree. And they installed a sprinkler system to ensure that it always had enough water. Many gave offerings of gifts and cards. And some took more mystical measures. For example, a psychic from Dallas tried to heal the tree by transferring energy into it.
Thanks to all the help given by the community, the Treaty Oak still stands proudly over Austin. In 1997, it even sprouted its first acorns since being poisoned. The community dutifully planted them in the hopes of continuing the tree’s legacy.