Lake Arthur residents reflect on 400 year old tree - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Lake Arthur residents reflect on 400 year old tree

By Crystal Price - bio | email

LAKE ARTHUR, LA (KPLC) - A piece of history came crashing down Saturday night in Lake Arthur, Louisiana.

The piece of history is a 400 year old oak tree owned by the Chapman family in Lake Arthur.

The tree had been a huge part of the Chapman family for decades.  

"It was like a death in the family when it went down," says Adeline Chapman.

"It was just a surprise Saturday with no bad weather or anything," says Rosie Chapman Shaw.

Rosie grew up with the oak tree in her back yard.

"Growing up I was raised here under the tree," says Rosie. "We had all of our family reunions and Sunday picnics underneath it."

Now the one thing she felt would never die is lying in pieces after the tree split in three different directions.

"I ran out with my sister and were crying and my children were looking at us like we had lost our minds," says Rosie.

The live oak tree is also a huge part of the community as well.

Many folks in Lake Arthur used the tree as a back drop for many portraits, picnics, and family reunions.

Despite the sorrow, the family reflects on all the events the almost 400 year old tree has been through.

"It has seen a lot, a lot has happened, I imagine the Indians were under it," says Robert Chapman. "It's also been through a few hurricanes, floods, and the 1940 freeze."

The tree has a circumference of 354 inches and a height of nearly 70 feet high.

There's even one prediction that the tree was at one time 4 separate trees.

"Someone said a deer might have eaten a part of the tree and four branches came out because that's unusual for a live oak to have four branches that close to the ground," says Robert.

Although it wasn't the largest tree in the state, Robert Chapman is sure of one thing.

"I think it's the oldest living thing in Lake Arther," says Robert. "It went through all of it and then finally gave up."

The chapmans say the damage will take months to clean up.

They are still trying to decide what they are going to do with what is left of the oak tree.

(Copyright 2009 KPLC-TV. All rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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