Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

September 7, 2012

The ‘family tree’

TAHLEQUAH — Special preference is often given to items of historical significance, such homes, buildings, furniture, and art. In fact, entire registries are created to recognize them.

Area resident Michael Christie hopes the same consideration will be given to the state record chinkapin oak tree growing on his family’s land when the rural road by his home is widened.

The Christie family was recently told by an unnamed Cherokee Nation road crew employee that the tree would be removed when the road was widened. But on Wednesday, a Cherokee Nation spokeswoman said crews had never planned to cut down the tree.

The Christies hope the tribe will keep its word.

The tree stands 79 feet tall, and it takes five or six men to reach around its breadth.

Located off State Highway 100 and Rocky Mountain Road, it is on the Cherokee side of the Cherokee/Adair County line on the old Richard Christie land allotment. Today, the parcel is remembered as the Daniel Christie homestead.

Daniel’s daughter, Lucy Christie, 86, lives on the land where she grew up. History matters to the Christie clan, so as the family discussed how to save their tree, Michael, Lucy’s cousin, became the one to spread the word. They consider the tree  part of the family, having shared and shaded family events for generations.

Michael, 53, is 6 feet tall, and is dwarfed by the giant tree.

“If I see something is wrong, I’ll stand up and say something,” he said. “I’m defending this old tree because it’s part of state history, family history and is irreplaceable.”

Michael’s father told him his ancestors farmed the land during the day, but spent their nights in the hills, where they thought they’d be safe.

The tree was measured in 2012 by Dale Lenz, of the Oklahoma Forestry Services. It turned out to be 6- to 6-1/2 feet in diameter, Christie said.

“I told him it took five or six people to hold hands around it, depending on how long their arms are,” he said.

Lucy said Lenz asked if he could measure the behemoth, thinking it probably would set a record – if not for height, then circumference.

“The forestry guy came by and asked me if he could measure it,” said Lucy. “The picture he took is at the Northeastern State University in a state book of records.”

Lenz confirmed he measured the tree in 2010, and to his knowledge, it’s the biggest chinkapin in Oklahoma.

It’s a good-sized tree, a nice specimen, he said. “It would be nice to keep the tree.”

Lucy recalls sitting on the porch of her father’s cabin while her aunt Aggie played the fiddle while sitting in the old rocking chair. Now, Lucy lives in a mobile home beside the homestead.

“The falling acorns sound like hail hitting the roof of the trailer,” Lucy said. “The acorns look like a chinkapin, with little separate parts inside. You can eat those.”

Michael has found snake skins on the branches when he’s climbed the tree.

“Up on one branch, there’s a cavity that I think [the snakes] used for nesting, but I never saw snakes up there,” said Michael. “The dog uses the tree for a dog house, getting down under the roots in a hole. The squirrels use this tree for a highway to get to the next tree. Blue jays, woodpeckers and wild canaries like it up there.”

Mistletoe has started growing in the boughs, and mushrooms come up under and around the hollow roots.

“People gather the mushrooms. Aunt Lizzie Caldwell used to gather [mushrooms] under the giant oaks at the Methodist Home. In her 80s, Aunt Lizzie is the sole elder in my family, besides Lucy,” said Michael.

Orchards used to grow all around the mammoth tree, he said.

“See that wild plum? It’s the last of the trees,” Michael said. “People thought this place was called Hungry Mountain because you’d be hungry here. But really, you came here if you were hungry because you’d never leave hungry, my dad, Charlie ‘Cooney’ Christie, said.”

Michael hopes that bringing attention to this literal “family tree” will ensure it is spared during the widening of the road that curves by their property.


To see the complete version of this article, subscribe to the Daily Press e-edition by following the link below.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered every day to your home or office.

Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition. It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

Text Only
Local News
  • CN, UKB battle over trust land application

    Two Tahlequah-based tribes presented oral arguments Friday in a protracted fight over a land-in-trust application.

    Over the course of five hours, attorneys for the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, Cherokee Nation Entertainment and the Department of the Interior made their cases before Northern District Judge Gregory Frizzell in a hearing that was originally scheduled for February.


    July 25, 2014

  • ts-NSU-Main-1-a.jpg No NSU pool, for now

    NSU experiencing delays in fitness center construction

    Earlier this month, Northeastern State University announced it is experiencing delays in the renovation of its fitness center and pool.
    The facility was officially shuttered Sept. 17, 2012, and at the time, the projected completion date for renovation was this fall.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • jn-Suspect-1.jpg Officials: Images of suspects may help nab church burglars

    Cherokee County investigators hope surveillance footage captured around the Crescent Valley Baptist Church in Woodall helps lead to the suspects accused of breaking into the complex and setting fire to one building this week.
    According to Undersheriff Jason Chennault, cameras captured footage of two suspects on bicycles early Tuesday morning, July 22.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • svw-movie-night.jpg Local library hosts family movie night

    Nova Foreman and her two daughters were about to leave the Tahlequah Public Library Thursday, when they saw the Family Movie Night flyer.
    The three decided to stay and enjoy a movie they had not yet seen at the free, theater-like event.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-Keys.jpg Grant to fund stepped-up Keys PE program

    Kair Ridenhour’s new office is filled with pedometers.
    Ridenhour officially started his new position as assistant elementary principal at Keys Public Schools on July 1.
    But his other role at the school – that of physical education project coordinator – prompted the influx of pedometers.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • jn cvbc fire.jpg Church catches fire after burglaries

    Authorities are looking for the person accused of breaking into the Crescent Valley Baptist Church two times this week and likely causing a fire that damaged the youth building early Wednesday morning.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • svw Humane photo.tif More volunteers needed to house strays, help with spay-and-neuter

    Furry friends may seem like the perfect addition to round out a family.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marijuana, seeds lead to four arrests

    Four people were arrested on marijuana related charges early Wednesday morning after a traffic stop on South Muskogee Avenue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Sex offender found living in tent at river

    Cherokee County sheriff’s investigators arrested a convicted sex offender this week when they discovered he has been living in a tent along the river.

    July 24, 2014

  • ts-NSU-MAIN.jpg Fledgling RiverHawks arrive

    Over 200 incoming freshmen took part in orientation class at Northeastern State University

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo


Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp