“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Bloomfield in Stoddard County, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

The Fatal Tree

The Fatal Tree Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, October 23, 2012
1. The Fatal Tree Marker
Inscription. (Front):
An article in the Missouri Democrat, a Cape Girardeau newspaper, dated July 3, 1862, described the war-weary community of Bloomfield. It also told of a certain tree used for sad occasions.

Two or three of us went down and saw the tree on which Lowe hung three Union men. It is better adapted to hanging purposes than any live tree I ever saw. At about the height of ten or twelve feet from the ground it makes a sharp bend, running horizontally some fifteen feet, where it makes another sharp turn upwards. It has but few branches on, and the place where the ropes were the bark can be plainly seen. They dug three shallow holes and tumbled the bodies in, threw a little dirt over them - not half filling the excavations - and left them to their eternal rest. The bones are all exposed in one of the graves. I asked why in the world they were not covered. The answer was, "They are left to keep alive the memory of their wrongs in breast of those who will avenge them."

The following day a Union cavalryman wrote his wife in Wisconsin also telling of the town and describing the same tree which he called "The Fatal Tree."

My Dear Wife - July 4, 1862
... We are encamped just outside the town. There were about 1000 thousand inhabitants here before the Rebellion. The most of them left at
Back of Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, October 23, 2012
2. Back of Marker
that time. They are coming back again some of them. I am in sight of a tree where there were 3 union men hung and 4 graves. I filled my endurance to hang 4 here from ropes and 4 graves but one was not hung. He got away or became Secesh. I have forgotten which. Any man that was suspected of unionism was made to join the Secesh or hang or be shot at one time. The woods about here stunk with dead union men shot and left and not burred 6 & 8 in a pile. Can you realize that this has been an awful place. Pomroy put the Ropes on the same tree to hang 3 Secesh in retaliation for the killing of Doc Gregory. He took them out, put the ropes around their necks, put the capes down over their eyes, had their coffins before them, prayed for God to soften Maj. Pomroy's Heart and I supposed he did for he did not hang them. I will draw a cut of the tree for you and you can paint it. I have the cut drawn. A very correct sketch. I think. I also went to see the 3 graves the 4th vacant. There was the 3 graves filled and one open a person cannot realize until he sees the evidence and here it is. I have drawn the halters as they were the marks on the tree where they were drawn over the tree. The tree is Elm about one foot in diameter...
Pvt. Josiah Ripley White, 1st Wisconsin Cavalry
Erected 2012 by Harty Family of Stoddard County.
The Fatal Tree Marker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, October 23, 2012
3. The Fatal Tree Marker
36° 52.98′ N, 89° 55.46′ W. Marker is in Bloomfield, Missouri, in Stoddard County. Marker is at the intersection of State Highway 25 and East Shawnee Street (State Highway E), on the right when traveling north on State Highway 25. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bloomfield MO 63825, United States of America.
Categories. War, US Civil
In Memory of Private George Baker image. Click for full size.
By Craig Swain, October 23, 2012
4. In Memory of Private George Baker
While not directly associated with the Fatal Tree, in the nearby Confederate cemetery is the grave of Private George Baker with another hanging story. Baker enlisted in the 13th Missouri Battery early in the war. Later he deserted and swore allegiance to the Union (possibly serving in some capacity for the Federal Army). He was captured by Confederates and hung on July 28, 1863. Notice the location of the hanging is not mentioned on the stone and is only placed in memory of Baker. The location of his grave, if known, is not mentioned.
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 442 times since then and 106 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on .   4. submitted on , by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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