Erath County Family Saves The “Big Tree”

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The tree was there during the Texas revolution and the Civil War. Then, when Jacob and Sophia Koonsman found a place to settle south of Stephenville in Erath County, this big oak tree is there they made their home. Today it’s estimated that they tree is over 200 years old. The behemoth oak almost didn’t make it through the state’s need for more reliable power, however. Lone Star Transmission is a company that is in charge of building a 300-mile transmission line to carry wind-generated electricity from West Texas to other parts of the state. It is also intended to increase reliability of power throughout Texas.

Originally, the path for the line took it right through Koonsman’s land, and was set to impact the Big Tree. The tree is settled on a small rise just above a small pond on the family’s property. It is leaning slightly, and the huge branches on one side have grown all the way to the ground, and are now turning up to go back towards the sun. Small stones surround the tree and look like they were once fire pits. Other piles of stones have markings as a remembrance of family pets.

In order to save the tree the family started a public battle including newspaper columns, a web site, a community picnic and series of calls and letters to Lone Star and the state public utilities commission. The energy company responded and offered a new route that would not affect the tree, but the family turned it down. Koonsman said they did so because it would greatly reduce the amount of compensation that they family would be receiving.

Then another route was proposed that would go through a thick line of trees next to the family pond. The family prepared for the worst. Once they learned the date crews would arrive, they took every step possible to protect the tree. They built a tree house high in the branches where they could camp out if necessary. Luckily no camping was necessary. All their hard work paid off and an agreement was made, preserving the Big Tree.

In Erath County we value our history and heritage. It is an amazing place to live. If you are interested in buying or selling a home here, we are local real estate agents and would love to help.

Original Source: Stepenville Empire Tribune

 

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