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The Carthage Press
  • Huge tree falls, just misses local artist

  • No one knows how long the red mulberry tree in Carthage Artist Andy Thomas' front yard has stood, but it likely bore witness to some of the very events Thomas has painted over the years.
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  • No one knows how long the red mulberry tree in Carthage Artist Andy Thomas' front yard has stood, but it likely bore witness to some of the very events Thomas has painted over the years.
    Thomas is known for painting interpretations of Civil War battles, including the Battle of Carthage on July 5, 1861, from extensive research.
    The red mulberry tree in Thomas' front yard on 13th Street in east Carthage was likely growing on that spot about a mile south of the current Carter Park and Battle of Carthage State Historic Site, where the soldiers on both sides slept, then fought, while the gunfire was going off around it.
    Soldiers likely walked the ground around that tree during that battle and subsequent engagements in the four years of the Civil War, when Jasper County fell into lawless chaos.
    The tree is the largest of its species in the state, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation, but that designation will likely be lost as of Saturday.
    Thomas and his wife, Dina, were mowing, and Thomas said he had just mowed under the tree seconds before when one of the three big trunks fell, narrowly missing him and his lawnmower.
    “I turned around and it had fallen,” Thomas said. “I didn't hear it or anything, probably because of the mower. I had just passed under the tree not 20 seconds before.”
    The tree was named the state champion red mulberry about five years ago, Thomas said. State records show the tree was 203 inches around, 64 feet tall and had a spread of 63 feet when it was named the state champ.
    Thomas said the tree apparently had rotted out where the three main trunks met. There was no wind at the time the tree fell, but there is visible rotting of the wood in the wound.
    Thomas said he would consult with the Department of Conservation's urban forester and a couple of people who remove trees before deciding whether the rest of the tree had to go, but it didn't look good for the two remaining trunks.
    “This is a sad day for us,” Dina Thomas said. “I'm so glad Andy's okay, but that tree is precious to us. I'd hate to have to cut it down.”

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