THE BIG POST OAK TREE COVERED WITH GRAPEVINES
By S. C. Turnbo
Among the stories of the early days of Ozark County, Mo., Is a brief account given by John Herd of the first settlement made at Isabella, Mo. Mr. Herd is a son of Marlin and Ruthy (Briggs) Herd and was born in Marion County, Tennessee, March 18 1834. He came to Arkadelphia, Ark., when he was quite young and after living there a short time he came to Ozark County, Mo., where he has spent the greater part of his life. He married Miss Malinda Forest, the youngest daughter of old Uncle Jimmie Forrest. He says that the ground where the small hamlet of Isabella now stands was first settled by Squire Hunter who built a cabin in 40 paces of the spring in the head of the hollow. One mile north of Isabella is where Noel Hutchison lived which was settled by Ben Bray. Mr. Herd said that the land where the village stands was once a glade or a small spot of prairie. A large post oak tree with part of the top broke off stood on this ground long before any settlement was made here and long afterward. This tree was covered with a fine cluster of wild grapevines which bore fine grapes of the summer variety almost every year. This tree when the grapes were ripe was a famed one among the hunters on account of so many wild turkeys stopping here to fill themselves on the grapes and the hunters would shoot them while they were in the tree. Squire Hunter built his hut near this tree but its nearness to Mr. Hunters domicile did not prevent the turkeys from approaching the tree in grape time. "I well recollect," said Mr. Herd, "that before Hunter built his house here a dim pathway lead near this tree and when I was married I sold a fine black white-faced cow that was very fat for a $10 gold piece and I give the money to Henry Bratton who sold goods where the Dick Martin spring Is for cooking vessels and other things for I and wife to keep house with. I recollect the day I went to Mr. Brattons to make my purchase of the things mentioned I passed by this tree and saw a large flock of wild turkeys there filling up on grapes, five of which was sitting in the top of the tree."
Since writing the above Mrs. Malinda Herd, wife of John Herd, died January 31, 1907, and was buried in the cemetery at Isabella.
Springfield-Greene County Library