The Cornwallis Tree

I hate to keep hitting the blog with postcard images (we’ve got a lot of other cool, interesting, and fun things at the NC Collection), but I’m working with them day in and day out. So…here we go.

Does anyone out there in the blogosphere know anything about the “Cornwallis Tree” in Carthage, North Carolina? I haven’t explored our collection for an answer, but I thought I’d throw it out there for your enjoyment.

7 thoughts on “The Cornwallis Tree”

  1. theres a color postcard, early 1900s, of ‘cornwallis oaks, cornwallis campground’ in charlotte…. so there may be more of them along his route…. of course, charlotte’s would surely be the biggest in the state, if not the biggest between washington and atlanta….

  2. I don’t know about the “Cornwallis Tree.” But it seems like there is a Cornwallis this or a Cornwallis that just about everywhere his Lordship went in North Carolina (and probably a couple places he didn’t). Snow Camp in Alamance County supposedly traces its name to the night it snowed on Cornwallis’s army while they were camped in that vicinity.

    And Cornwallis is also supposed to have camped near Buzzard Rock in the Village of Alamance, Alamance County:
    And there are many other such stories around. It would be a great folklore project to gather up all of the various Cornwallis tales from the piedmont of North Carolina.

  3. From: Lawrence Koster
    Sent: Fri 2/13/09 11:20 AM

    Dear Sarah and Mark
    Here is some information about the Cornwallis Tree.I hope this helps, Larry Koster.———————————-

    The Cornwallis Tree The Cornwallis Tree was located on the western edge of Carthage, NC. It was on the north side of NC 24/27 and just west of the Cross Hill Cemetery. The tree was an old mulberry tree that, in the late 1800s and early 1900s,was dead and contained a large hollow cavity. The people would gather there and have their picture taken with themselves in the tree. The tree was a tourist attraction and became well known in the area. The tree was cut down about 1914 or 1915 by a farmer who had leased the land. The locals were saddened by the loss of the tree. My Moore County postcard collection contains five different postcards of the tree. Two of the cards are unused, but the other three are postmarked 1906, 1909, and 1910.

    One card has the following caption: “Cornwallis Tree, at Cross Hill Camp, Revolutionary, (now a cotton field,) suburbs of Carthage, N.C.” Another card reads as follows: “CORNWALLIS TREE, Cross Hill Camp, Revolutionary, suburbs Carthage, N.C. Cornwallis horse bit top out of mulberry sapling. His comb was found near this spot, and is now in British Museum. Gravestone in left corner marks Dr. Glasscocks Grave, Surgeon in Army and first cousin to Gen. Geo. Washington.”

    The story is that Lord Cornwallis, after the battle of Guilford Courthouse, traveled through Moore County on his way to Wilmington in March of 1781. It was said that he stopped at the Glasscock house at the edge of Carthage. Sometime later, a comb was found under the tree. The comb wasmarked with the Cornwallis crest. The tree then became known as theCornwallis Tree. Is the story really true? — Probably not.

    Rassie Wicker, who has documented a good deal of early Moore County history, provides good evidence that Cornwallis did not pass through the Carthage area on his way to Wilmington. In 1981, George Glasscock was living at the fork of the Deep and Haw Rivers and did not reside in Moore County until sometime later. Wicker says that if the “comb story” is true, it happened at the Glasscock plantation in Chatham County.

    Some references: Edgehill Entry – Tale of a Tarheel Town, Meade Seawell, 1970, no publisher,pp. 10-13. Miscellaneous Ancient Records of Moore County, N.C., Rassie E. Wicker, TheMoore County Historical Association, 1971, pp. 363-364.

  4. The only Cornwallis tree I Know about was located on the north east edge of Guilford Battleground in Greensboro, NC. I think that it was finally cutdown in the 1980’s because of tree rot abd disease. However, as the story goes as told to me by my grandmother who was in the battleground park just 122 steps away from where the Nethaniel Green Monument stands today, the Cornwallis Oak as it was called was just a sapling in 1781 when Cornwallis fought Nethaniel Greene at Guilford Battleground. The British were encamped in the area north of Guilford Courthouse and the tree was growing where the british command tent was set up. Cornwallis one day, met his officers to discuss plans to fight the revolutionists and he tied his horse’s reins to the sapling. While in the meeting, the horse bit the top off the sapling which created as the tree continued to grow formed into Four separate trunks on a single root base from the ground. Over the years, the tree grew to over 150′ limb span and was deemed “The Cornwallis Oak”

  5. I read in a local published book that I cannot remember it’s title. That after Conwallis occupied Snow Camp after the Battle of Gilford Court House. Quaker and Founder of snow Camp. Led Conrnwalis to this tree. Forewarning revolutionary troops and causing a weakening of Cornwalis troops leading to the end of the British occupation. The book I am referring to was in the May Memorial Library in Burlington NC.

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