By Marie Roberts / Guest writer
The Meridian Star
When longtime resident Thomas Kittrell decided he wanted more information about an oak tree on his property, located in the Vimville community of Lauderdale County, his journey began with a phone call to the Mississippi Forestry Department.
“I’ve been on this property since 1969 and always wondered about the old oak tree,” Kittrell said.
Kittrell admires the tree's strength and resilience, and hopes it continues to leave a legacy for future generations to come.
When his phone call to the Mississippi Forestry Department left him with more questions than answers, Kittrell decided to seek out alternative organizations for more information. After getting in touch with the Mississippi Garden Club, Kittrell decided that his first order of business was finding out just how old the enormous oak actually is.
“I found a formula online used to calculate the age of trees, give or take a year or two,” Kittrell said.
The algebraic formula, which incorporates the circumference of the tree trunk, diameter and estimated growth time, determined Kittrell’s oak to be approximately 257 years old.
“That’s older than the United States,” Kittrell said.
Once the question of age was answered, Kittrell decided the oak should be verified and registered. Contacting the Society of Trees, Kittrell began the registration process, which required a unique identifier for the oak tree.
“I was given the honor of naming the tree, and as a student of Civil War history, I decided the oak tree needed a historical-related name. My favorite general from the Civil War was Nathan Bedford Forrest,” Kittrell shared. Thus, the Bedford Oak was titled.
The tree, emphasized by the picturesque Southern landscape surrounding it, boasts a resilient trunk and numerous branches, which create a scenic shaded area perfect for summer relaxation.
When asked why he wanted to share more information on the Bedford Oak, Kittrell confided his fear of future inclement weather which may destroy the nearly three-century old tree.
“I wanted to get some documentation and share the story behind it before anything happened to it,” Kittrell said.
As for the future of the Bedford Oak, Kittrell plans on leaving it be: “I want more people to see it as a piece of history … something to appreciate and respect.”