Tree honoring late mayor grew from shoot of iconic Liberty Bur Oak

by Michele Collins

About 25 years ago, a tree was planted at Case-Barlow Farm by the then-city arborist Curt Van Blarcum. The tree, a Bur Oak, was placed there in honor of Van Blarcum’s friend, the late Hudson Mayor John Krum for his 1999 inauguration.

“At the time, I wanted to honor Mayor Krum’s adventurous spirit, so I picked a bur oak tree that was a seedling from the famous tree in Mark Twain’s book, ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’” Van Blarcum said.

Yes, that bur oak – the one still thriving in front of the Case-Barlow homestead – came from the Liberty Bur Oak in Hannibal, Missouri, childhood home of Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain. As a boy, Clemens often played in the nearby caves. In front of one of those caves stands a 300-year-old oak tree, which started as a seedling in 1721. The caves and the tree influenced Mark Twain’s stories, according to the American Heritage Trees website.

When Van Blarcum thought about the type of tree to get for Krum, he remembered the famous bur oak and for $75 purchased what he described as a whip, or a tall seedling, from that tree. He planted it at Case-Barlow Farm that same year.

Van Blarcum said planting this seedling meant the city of Hudson would have a continuously growing landmark. Today, the tree is 40 feet tall, and Van Blarcum, a trustee of Case-Barlow Farm, takes personal pride in how the tree has grown and what it means to the farm’s mission.

“We have a certificate of authenticity from the American Forest Association, as part of the famous and historic tree collection,” he said. “It signifies the importance of these trees in American history. And to have the tree here, as it continues to honor my dear friend Mayor Krum, just adds to the wonderful history of Hudson.”

Krum served as Hudson’s mayor from 1999 until 2003, having to step down from his position when his wife became ill. Krum and Van Blarcum remained close, however, and often remarked about how the tree had grown when they saw one another at various Hudson events.
While visitors to Case-Barlow Farm might have noticed the prominent tree as well, many may not realize its significance and relationship to American literature.

“A visit to Case-Barlow Farm is often part of a family adventure,” Van Blarcum noted. “And I think it is very appropriate that families can see this tree and appreciate it.”

And perhaps even take a photo with Hudson’s tree that came from a 300-year-old bur oak inspiring the stories of one of America’s greatest writers. ∞

John Krum served as Hudson’s mayor from 1999 until 2003. His friend and city arborist Curt Van Blarcum honored Krum’s 1999 inauguration by planting a seedling tied to storyteller Mark Twain. ScripType archive photo.

Case-Barlow Farm retains a certificate
of its famous tree’s authenticity from the
American Forest Association. Photo by
M. Collins.

On our cover (photo/main): Former Hudson arborist Curt Van Blarcum stands with a bur oak he planted in 1999 at Case-Barlow Farm to honor then-Hudson Mayor John Krum. The seedling came from the famous Liberty Bur Oak in Hannibal, Missouri, childhood home of Mark Twain. Photo by M. Collins.