The Boyington Oak is a very strange oak tree that is growing from a cemetery in Mobile Alabama, for several reasons.
Antebellum, (pre-Civil War) headstones, as well as crypts, stand very quietly in the shade of very old oak trees in this cemetery.
However, for a very odd reason, this Unique Oak is a baby compared to the vast majority of oaks found there.
While the cemetery is sometimes referred to as Boyington cemetery after this famous but young oak tree, the official name of the cemetery is the Church Street Graveyard.
It sets nestled in the historic downtown part of Mobile, in a small 4 acre lot of ground that is better known for winds whistling through the branches of the oak trees.
Established in 1819, it was officially closed in the year 1889, and the majority of all of the people there where killed by an epidemic.
It was originally established just for this reason; to bury the hundreds f people killed in a yellow fever epidemic that hit the area.
Most all of the victims are buried in raised tombs, and they were primary Spanish and French early settlers to the area.
The folklore and the center of this story however, centers on the Southern Oak tree, named the Boyington Oak, that was named after the main character.
Most of the live southern oaks in this graveyard and immediate area have extremely thick trunks and are covered over with moss.
They are also hundreds of years, old as a healthy southern oak can and often does live up to 500 years old.
But not the Boyington Oak; it is much younger than that and has a very strange story.
According to the folklore, it suddenly sprang to life in the year 1835 after a very horrible murder took place.
The story all centers on a young printer in the area, Mr. Charles R.S. Boyington, who came to the Mobile area from Connecticut in the year 1833.
Mobile Alabama was a thriving and rapidly growing town in the early 1830’s, and several of the locals took advantage of the situation.
Mr. Boyington was one of them, as he was reported to be quite a heavy gambler.
He, like most of the residents of Mobile at the time, lived in boarding houses that were found throughout the city.
On the night of May 11, 1934, Mr. Boyington was seen by several witnesses, in the company of a Mr. Nathaniel Frost.
It is said in the folklore legends, that Mr. Frost owed a lot of money through gambling losses to him.
They were apparently walking in what is now the historic downtown area of Mobile, near the old Church Street Graveyard.
Later that night, Mr. Frost was found stabbed to death by what appeared to the authorities, to be a robbery.
After questioning several witnesses, the authorities arrested Mr. Boyington for the murder and robbery.
He was tried and later executed for the crime on February 20, 1835.
He was buried near the scene of the crime, the Church Street Graveyard, in a section that was usually reserved for potters.
This is where the story of the Boyington Oak starts to get quite interesting, and where the folklore comes into play.
Proclaiming his innocence up until the time of his execution, he said the following
“A mighty Oak Tree would jump out from my heart and spring to life to prove I am not guilty of this crime.”
No one believed him or really cared what he had to say; except the Oak tree.
The reason for this is quite simple; a Southern Oak did eventually grow almost directly from his grave site.
As time passed, the city removed a wall to allow the Boyington Oak to continue to grow.
It still lives and is located on the edge of Bayou Street, in historic downtown Mobile Alabama.
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