Neighbors concerned tree planted during American Revolution could be cut down

Some Marietta residents concerned about losing historical tree

Cobb County — A metro Atlanta neighborhood wants to protect a tree that was likely planted during the American Revolution.

The white oak in Marietta, known locally as the Cherokee Indian Trail Tree, is believed to have been planted over 250 years ago by Native Americans.

Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen was in Marietta, where builders have purchased about 4 acres of land along St. Anne’s Road where the 150-foot tree stands.

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Residents are worried the builders will cut the tree down -- and are fighting to save it. Neighbors said developers plan to build four or five large homes on separate lots on the property.

One thing that makes the Cherokee tree unique is a branch that is bent at an odd angle. Native Americans often took saplings, bent one branch and tied it down. As the tree grew, it would "point the way" to the main trail, or maybe a water source.

Scott Eaton said every time he walks by the tree, he is amazed.

"This is a living piece of history," Eaton said. "This stuff doesn't exist hardly anymore."

The tree has a marker at the base of the trunk, put there 10 years ago by the National Society of Colonial Dames of America, a women's group whose ancestors lived in an American colony before 1776.

Petersen reached out to the colonial group based in Washington, D.C. A spokesperson said the marker does not protect the tree from a chainsaw.

Eaton said what he's seen happen on another one of the lots worries him. That lot was just clear cut.

Eaton said that with the tree's history, the old oak deserves protection.

"It was bent over like that. You don't see these trees anymore," Eaton said. "There used to be three in the neighborhood. They all died and were cut down. This is the only remaining one."

Petersen talked to a Marietta City spokesperson, who said there are no protections for trees on single-family lots. Eaton hopes to appeal to whoever becomes the new homeowner.

"The individual has private property rights," Eaton said. "The community would just appreciate if the property owner spared this tree."

Messages left with the builder have not been returned.

Neighbors hope that because the tree is close to the road and probably far from where the home would sit, that there’s no reason to cut it down.