Fatal Tree monument unveiled

Sunday, September 30, 2012
An event of historic significance in Stoddard County was marked recently as the 9th historical sign commemorating the Civil War was unveiled in Bloomfield. Among those on hand for the occasion were Norman Harty of First Commercial Bank, his wife Billie, Jim Mayo, and Dr. Frank Nickell of the History Department at Southeast Missouri State University. (MADELINE DeJOURNETT-advancensc@sbcglobal.net)

BLOOMFIELD, Mo. -- In this modern, civilized age, motorists driving along Highway 25 past the First Commercial Bank of Bloomfield would never guess that the location holds a deadly secret.

According to an article in the Cape Girardeau Missouri Democrat of July 3, 1862, three "Union men" were hanged at the location on a tree called the "Fatal Tree."

The story is further corroborated by a Pvt. Josiah Ripley White of the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry, who wrote his wife about the incident on July 4, 1862:

"We are encamped just outside of the town. There were about 1000 inhabitants here before the Rebellion. The most of them left at that time. They are coming back again some of them. I am in sight of a tree where there were 3 union men hung and 4 graves. I filled my endurance to hang 4 here from ropes and 4 graves but one was not hung. He got away or became Secesh. (Confederate)."

Dr. Frank Nickell, who spoke at the unveiling of the monument, pointed out that both the North and the South obscured the reasons why they went to war. He quoted Abraham Lincoln as stating that both sides profited from slavery.

"We never see the truth for the first time," Dr. Nickell said, as motorcycles and large trucks roared by the location.

He pointed out that even New York had slavery.

According to recent figures, it is estimated that one million deaths can be attributed to the War Between the States, and seven million horses were killed.

The "Fatal Tree" monument is the 9th historical marker in Bloomfield. When all the signs are complete, much more will be known about the Civil War in the region. A map and driving tours are planned for the future.

A total of 20 signs will tell the story of the Civil War in the region. The signs are expected to last 100 years.

"We have Jim Mayo to thank for saving the history of Bloomfield," said Dr. Nickell. "He is our foremost historian in this area."

Mayo pointed out that the real thanks should go the the Stars & Stripes Historical/Cultural Byway Committee, which has been a driving force behind the historic marker project.

Other individuals on hand for the commemoration were Norman and Billie Harty, who supplied the funding for the sign, Sue Tippen, Dr. Bill Shell, Doris Liggett, and Sonja and Michael Hobbs.

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