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The Mexico Ledger - Mexico, MO
  • Old pine leaves legacy

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  • A little bit of history was exposed this week as a yellow pine tree from the old Newtonia Civil War Cemetery was sawn into boards. The tree had been dead a number of years, and experts recommended it be removed lest it fall on the headstones near it.
    When the tree was cut last fall, it was taken to Steve Chapman's sawmill on Kentucky Road. On Monday, Jan. 20, Chapman, along with Don Jessen, and Don Crites, put the tree to the saw. All three men are volunteers, donating their time and, in Chapman's case, the use of his sawmill equipment.
    The objective was to make lumber from the old tree and sell it to support the cemetery fund.
    No one knows how old the tree was. Yellow pines can live up to 500 years, and it usually takes 150 years for this species to reach maturity. The main log of the Newtonia tree measured at least 3 feet in diameter and produced about 40 boards.
    The boards are 1 by 8 or 2 by 8 and range from 12 to 20 inches wide.
    But as excited as the men were to be making lumber from the old pine tree, they got a surprise when about two-thirds of the way into the center, they found some lead bullets. When the lead was spotted, the saw was stopped and the men speculated whether the bullets came from the fighting in Newtonia during the Civil War.
    In all, six lead bullets were found and will be saved by the Newtonia Battlefields Protection Association. And, although no one can be sure of their date, there will be much talk and discussion of their origin. One can only wonder if the bullets could talk, what tales they could tell.
    Lead bullets were not the only thing the old tree gave up when she went down. When it was cut, a large bee hive was found in its trunk. A local beekeeper was called to extract the honey.
    Gen. Douglas MacArthur, when he was restoring Japan after World War II, begged the United States to send food to feed the starving people and to stave off fighting.
    MacArthur said, "…Give me bread (food) or give me bullets."
    With the discovery of honey and lead, an old yellow pine tree, in an old cemetery, gave both.

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