Historic Washington Magnolia

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General Grandison Royston was the one of the city fathers of Washington. General Royston was a general in the Mexican War, cousin of President Zachary Taylor, a plantation owner, a prominent lawyer, served as a delegate to the First Arkansas Constitutional Convention in 1836, and served as president of the Arkansas Constitutional Convention in 1874. He was a member of the Confederate House of Representatives during the Civil War.

In 1839, he planted a Southern Magnolia next to his Law Office (the office is no longer in existence) at the corner of Conway and Jay Streets facing the Main Town Square. The Royston Log House (saddlebag log cabin) has been moved into the city in the location of his Law Office next to the magnolia. The Pioneer Washington Restoration Foundation moved the Log house from the Royston Plantation just outside of the city. The Law Office location was across Jay Street from the Block-Catts House (c.1832, Abraham Block was a merchant and the first permanent Jewish settler in Arkansas). Later, General Royston built his residence (off of Water Street) in 1845 and planted another Southern Magnolia (AFHTP #21) n front of his new house (c. 1843-1845). The house is Greek Revival-style house and still remains.

The “Historic Washington Magnolia” was recognized as the state champion 1983-1996 and remains a landmark for Washington. Over the years, this magnolia has been referred to as the “Royston Magnolia” (AFHTP – 1997), the “Crockett/Bowie Magnolia” (American Forests‟ National Historic Tree Program – 2002), the “Jones Magnolia” (American Forests‟ National Historic Tree Program – 1970s) and/or the “Historic Washington Magnolia” (the common local name, AFHTP – 2004). The Jones naming resulted from two boys born the year the tree was planted: either Daniel W. Jones who became governor of Arkansas or James K. Jones who became a U.S. Senator from Arkansas. James Jones purchased the land where the magnolia stood and lived for thirty years. In 1975, the Washington Foundation passed a resolution naming the tree after Colonel James K. Jones. In reference to Davy Crockett or Jim Bowie, the tree has a slight reference to the bowie knife: In the 1930‟s, the very large Magnolia was a “wayfinder marker” for directing people to finding the location of the famous blacksmith shop of James Black which was down the road (Conway Street) from the tree and Mr. Black was cared for in his old age by the Dr. Isaac Newton Jones family in the residence next door to the famous Magnolia. Mr. Black tried to pass his craft secrets on to Isaac‟s son, Daniel Webster Jones (later Governor Jones) who also took care of him. There is only a slight connection with Davy Crockett in that he visited the town and “supposedly” met with Bowie and Travis in Elijah Stuart‟s Tavern to plot to take Texas from Mexico. It appears that the magnolia has insignificant connection with Crockett or Bowie since both Crockett and Bowie were killed in the Alamo in 1836 (three years before the tree was planted) and James Black quit the blacksmith shop due to eye damage in 1839 (the year the tree was planted). The champion black walnut in a stand of Black Walnuts near the blacksmith building has a strong connection to James Bowie and the Bowie knife.

Location: Historic Washington State Park
Registered: August 6, 2004
Species: Southern Magnolia

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