• 57°

The old oak tree must go, but not the memories

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

CHINA GROVE — Upon driving the dirt road that leads to William “Wild Bill” Corriher’s home, it’s not hard to notice the massive oak tree that sits in front of his childhood home. The tree, which has been estimated to be about between 500 to 700 years old, maybe nearing the end.

The limbs are infringing upon the home, located off N.C. 152, and in order to save the home, the tree must go. A limb fell a few weeks ago and Corriher realized just how close it came to destroying the home where his grandfather, father and he grew up.

The tree has been cut back a couple of times before, including in 2000, when Corriher had the tree trimmed after it split. Impending turbulent weather gave Corriher cause for concern, so he hired a company to cut the limbs back.

In 2000, the tree’s height was estimated to be 75 to 80 feet, about 22 feet in circumference, and 81.55 feet was the crown spread or the distance the branches spread away from the trunk.

The tree has endured three lightning strikes, one of which set the tree on fire. Corriher said he poured water onto the tree. The old burned areas can still be seen inside the tree after a hole was made when the limb fell a few weeks ago.

Corriher said he thought the tree would’ve surely rotted by now, but it’s still standing strong.

Bill and his other eight siblings weren’t ever allowed to climb, swing on or even pull limbs from the tree.

“It was sacred. It was a family treasure,” Bill said.

The tree does have good branches for a swing, Bill noted, but neither he or his siblings ever tried to put up a swing, even after his father’s death in 1981.

“When mother and daddy said no, that was gospel,” Bill said.

He recalled when Superior Court Judge Anna Mills Wagoner was running for office, the family held a supper for her underneath the tree. The family has hosted many suppers under the old oak tree. On Bill’s 80th birthday, all of the Corrihers gathered under the tree for a celebration.

“We had 100 people that night,” Bill said.

Bill’s daughter, Rose, said the tree has been like a family member.

“We had family cookouts under the shade of the tree. We strung green beans and shucked corn under it’s cooling shade in the hot summer,” she said.

As long as Bill Corriher’s father, William, and his grandfather were alive, there was always that tree in the front yard. The family home that sits to the left of Wild Bill and his wife, Pauline’s home, was in part built in 1856. It says so on a brick on the outside of the chimney.

Bill’s older sister still baked homemade bread every day in the wood burning stove inside the home before her death.

Three generations of Corrihers were born and raised in that house. A midwife delivered Bill in 1929 in that house at the cost of $2. His childhood bed is still in the house as are the woodburning stove and a pie safe in the kitchen. On a shelf sits a bottle of castor oil, which Bill’s mother gave him a time or two as a child, some spices and a vintage tin bottle of Deodorized Liquid Wrench.

Bill insists in the coming weeks the tree will be cut down. It maybe going, but the memories are staying.

Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.

Comments

Crime

No injuries after car shot eight times on Old Concord Road

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament

News

Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina

News

House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges

Local

Rep. Amber Baker discusses legislative session during Rowan Democrats breakfast meeting

Local

Thousands of locals, out-of-towners gather for a groovy time at annual Hippie Fest

News

N.C. Zoo ready for expansion if lawmakers OK funding

Education

RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

Local

Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction

Business

Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured

Education

Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12

Local

Cheerwine Festival will stick to Main Street, stay away from new park in September

Lifestyle

Celebrating Rowan County’s early cabinetmakers

Education

Service Above Self announces youth challenge winners