The History of the Pecan Tree at Jason’s Deli
By The Lone Sentinel as told to Margaret Haker Smith
My name is “The Lone Sentinel”. I was given my name by Nelle Turney who was the granddaughter of William Murphy for whom the town is named. I was born sometime in the early 1880s but I’m not sure of the exact date. I started life in a fence row that divided the King property from a neighboring property. Dr. King was Nelle Turney’s father and her mother was Dorothy Murphy King the daughter of William Murphy. As Mrs. King was visiting with a neighbor at the fence one day, she saw me there and pulled me to her side of the fence, as she proclaimed that I was “her tree”. As I previously reflected in an article for the Messenger on December 5, 2013, I have seen many changes in and to the city of Murphy. What I’m about to tell you are the latest changes in my life.
As I stood watch in January of 2014, I began to notice that the homestead just east of me became very still. I became concerned that something had happened to Dessie Haker who had lived on the homestead since 1962. I was pleased to learn that Dessie had simply moved about a mile west down FM544 to an assisted living facility, but I wondered “what about me”? I really had nothing to worry about because Dessie’s daughter and son-in-law, Margaret and Jim Smith, continued to look after both the property and me. They mowed around me, picked up limbs that I dropped and saw that my low-hanging and broken branches were trimmed.
After a couple of years, I really panicked when I saw a “For Sale” go up on the property. I learned that Dessie had passed away and that the property now had to be sold because it was just too expensive for her daughter to maintain. During the zoning change process, when Margaret and Jim would meet with the powers that be at Murphy City Hall, someone would always ask “What’s going to happen to the tree?”, meaning me. I continued to worry until one day Jim and Margaret placed a sign at the base of my trunk. The sign stated “Haker Homeplace Pecan Tree Deed Restricted”. I didn’t know exactly what that meant but I hoped that it meant that I could not be cut down or damaged.
As I watched (that’s what a Sentinel does) I saw engineers and surveyors walk and drive their trucks across my black land home. I was frightened when I saw the firemen use Dessie’s beloved home for training, but I knew that she would be pleased that the training the firemen received might save someone’s life. I was really frightened, a little later, when the house and my tree friends were bulldozed down and hauled away. But my sign was still at the base of my trunk.
However, then one day my sign was gone! I began to fear for my life again! I learned that Jason’s Deli wanted the property where I stand but that they really didn’t want me or the responsibility of my upkeep. I’m really glad that Jason’s Deli finally decided to buy the property and to keep me. They built a nice building and now I am a part of their well-designed landscape. I am pleased that the patrons of Jason’s can see my beauty as the season’s change in my home town of Murphy.
I hope that I live at least another 130+ years so that I can see what changes those years bring to Murphy, and I should because I have learned what “deed restricted” means. It means that I can only be cut down when a certified arborist determines that I have become diseased and am dying (per recorded property deed in Collin County records dated May 24, 2016).