The Tree That Owns Itself

The white oak tree that stands on the corner of Finley street and Dearing street in Athens, Georgia, has a unique claim to fame – it’s commonly regarded as being the legal owner of the land that surrounds it, and confusingly, the owner of itself. The story goes that the tree was originally on land belonging to a Colonel William Henry Jackson, who supposedly cherished childhood memories of the tree1, and as a way of protecting the tree, in 1832 deeded to the tree ownership of itself and the surrounding land. Two stone tablets stand at the foot…

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