The Morgan Maple

On the farm of Mrs. Clara Tully, of Nicholson, Kentucky, 12 miles south of Covington, there strands a stump of a venerable maple that bears the scar of a conflict.

 The tree literally was wounded in the Civil War.

 The story was handed down to Mrs. Tully by former owners of the place, at the time she acquired it, 14 years ago.

 Prior to the Civil War, the farm was occupied by the Wilson family.  They built a large house, and planted a number of maple trees in the front yard.  The trees were still small when John Morgan and his roughriders made their famous raid thru Kentucky.  It seems a company of federal soldiers was encamped in the neighborhood, and when the men in gray appeared, a skirmish resulted.

 A Lively scrap took place which lasted most of the day, but evidently neither side had practiced marksmanship with a degree of seriousness for history says only a horse was killed. 

 One of the young maple trees in the Wilson yard, however, was cut off near the ground by a stray bullet.  The tree survived, and instead of growing up, like most other trees do, proud and erect, it sent out numerous branches from its wounded stump.

 The tree was allowed top work out its own salvation by the Wilsons, and by Dr. Nicholson, who afterward bought the farm.  The owners realized the importance of the tree in its relation to history and always pointed to it as “Morgan’s Maple.” [note: Morgan himself was likely never in Nicholson, although his men most certainly could have been.] 

 In the years that followed the limbs each became as large as an ordinary tree trunk, and the unusual tree was much admired by its owner and by others who saw it, or basked in its inviting shade.  It was a fixture on the place, and was guarded jealously by its owners.  It became a landmark on the old Madison Pike.

 When the concrete road [the “L-L-L”] was under construction five years ago, highway engineers set the seal of doom on the Morgan Maple.  Mrs. Tully was informed that the landmark would have to be cut to make way for the new highway.  She protested vigorously and explained that the tree was or historic significance.  But the Commonwealth of Kentucky was adamant, and the friendly arms of the cherished tree were sawed off.

 Mrs. Tully had the stump removed by its roots, and rather than suffer it to disappear from the face of the earth, transplanted it, farther back in the yard where it would be out of the way of progress.

 A sequel to the incident gave Mrs. Tully the heaviest blow of all.  In a re-check of the right-of-survey, a few weeks later, the engineers found that they had made a mistake, and the right of way was to be some distance from the place where the tree had stood.  To this day Mrs. Tully deeply regrets this error on the part of the engineers, which proved so costly to her – not in dollars and cents, but in sentiment, which is more precious.


From the Kentucky Post of June 13, 1930