The Scythe Tree

Atlas Obscura article.

Roadside America article.

Local newspaper article.

James Wyman Johnson attended a Union army recruitment meeting at the Vail country schoolhouse in October 1861, about five months after the start of the Civil War. As he was mowing with his scythe the next morning, he decided to enlist. When he returned to the house, he hung his scythe in the small tree, about 8 inches in diameter and just a few feet tall, near the kitchen door. He told his parents he was going to enlist and remarked that the scythe was to stay hanging on the tree until he returned from war.... He died on May 22, 1864, from his wounds and was buried in an unknown grave.... Years passed and the handle fell away, the tree grew and gradually surrounded the blade. The long scythe blade only protruded a few inches outside the mammoth tree trunk.

     Posted By: Paul - Fri Nov 03, 2023
     Category: Agriculture | Death | Family | War | Fables, Myths, Urban Legends, Rumors, Water-Cooler Lore | Nineteenth Century

Eight inches in diameter and just a few feet tall ? That was one stubby tree.
Posted by F.U.D. in Stockholm on 11/03/23 at 09:26 AM
When I read the 8", "only a few feet tall" thing, I thought it must have been coppiced (tree cut down a foot tall, allowed to send up a shoot to replace the original trunk ((it's done so you get more logs/lumber from one tree))).

But from the pictures, that was never done to that tree.

Since trees grow from the tip instead of the base, the scythe is at the same height as when it was put there. Looks to me to be at least eight feet.
Posted by Phideaux on 11/03/23 at 04:50 PM
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