The Pringle Brothers
Many people know the story of Rip Van Winkle, written by Washington Irving and published in 1819. Rip Van Winkle, who lived in the Catskills of New York in the 1770’s, fell asleep for twenty years at the base of a tree. He slept soundly through the Revolutionary War, the marriage of his daughter and the birth of his grandson. Sadly, he even slept through the death of his wife . Throughout history and in many cultures, there are folktales and legends about people falling asleep for long periods of time at the base of a tree. But what about living in a tree? And I don’t mean a treehouse, I mean living IN atree.
During the French and Indian War, two brothers, Samuel and John Pringle, served in the Army at Fort Pitt, near Pittsburgh, PA. In 1761, according to history, they decided to leave their post. They traveled along the Monongahela River until they came to Upshur County in West Virginia. There they found a massive sycamore tree, now called the Pringle Tree, next to a stream called Turkey Run. The tree was hollow and large enough for the two men to live inside. They decided to stay there since they feared they would be arrested as deserters.
The Pringle brothers made the tree their home until 1767. At that time, it is believed they ran out of ammunition, making it necessary to go back to civilization to buy more. John traveled over two hundred miles to buy supplies. He discovered that the war had been resolved. He and his brother were no longer wanted by the army as deserters.
When he returned to the tree, he and Samuel decided it was safe for them to leave. John eventually settled in Kentucky while Samuel returned with his family to make a settlement near the tree.
Today, in Upshur County, WV, an historical marker identifies the location of the settlement. A third-generation Sycamore tree stands in the place where John and Samuel made their home.
Where can you find information about the Pringle Brothers?
http://dla.acaweb.org/?CISOROOT=/WVWC&CISOPTR=320&REC=6 (post card image of tree)
What do you think? Would you like to live in a tree? Can you find other stories in history or folktales where people have made a home inside a tree?
Have a great day!