Pringle Sycamore, WV Edward Frank
April 30, 2009


A friend of mine was talking last night about the Pringle Sycamore in West Virginia.  I had not heard of it, so looked it up tonight.  It is a simple story of two army deserters living inside a hollow sycamore tree for three years in the 1700's.  The best reference was from Wikipedia:,_West_Virginia

The history of Upshur County begins with the initial discovery and settling of the Buckhannon River Valley. Englishmen brothers Samuel and John Pringle were soldiers serving in the French and Indian War. In 1761, they decided to abandon their post at Fort Pitt (present-day Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). They traveled southward and upstream along the Monongahela River and Tygart Valley River. When they came upon a fork in the latter river, they took the right-hand-side river that branched into the main river. This junction is located at the mouth of the Buckhannon River.

The two brothers arrived in present-day Upshur County in 1764. They took up shelter and residence in an eleven-foot-deep cavity in a once-towering American sycamore. The hollow of this botanical giant was made their sole dwelling for about three years. This Sycamore, known as The Pringle Tree, is now a third-generation tree. It stands beside a stream named Turkey Run in a meadow beside the Buckhannon River. While living in this naturally beautiful river valley, the Pringle brothers survived frigid winters. They hunted rabbits, turkey, the once-plentiful American Bison, and fish-notably trout. They also skillfully avoided prowling timber wolves. It is written that Samuel survived hunting experiences with an American black bear and later a Mountain Lion.

In the Autumn of 1767, their ammunition was running dangerously low; two charges of powder more exactly. Although they feared capture and incarceration for desertion, it was John whom finally decided to return for supplies. The closest settlements to their newfound home were on the South Branch Potomac River or Wappatomaka, located north-easterly about two hundred miles away. When he eventually returned to the Sycamore, he brought back news that neither man was wanted by any military authorities. Peace had been declared between the two warring parties and the brothers could safely return to the nearest civilization.

The Pringle Brothers decided to leave the river valley and move to the South Branch settlements. John never returned to resettle at the Sycamore, but later made a home in the Commonwealth of Kentucky instead. Samuel returned with his wife Mrs. Charity Pringle (née Cutright). Settlers accompanying them include John Cutright, Jr.- (Charity's brother), Thomas Hughes, John and Elizabeth Jackson, and their sons George and Edward Jackson. A permanent settlement was finally established by 1770 including the fortified structure known as Bush's Fort.


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