Brothers John and Samuel Pringle lived in the hollow of a large sycamore tree at the mouth of Turkey Run on the Buckhannon River near what’s now Buckhannon, West Virginia, in Upshur County from about 1764 to 1767.
Deserters from the British-American forces mustered at Fort Pitt, at Pittsburgh, during the French and Indian War, they found the wilderness along the river ideal for hiding.
In 1768 John returned from a visit to a trading post on the South Branch of the Potomac River and became convinced that he and Samuel were no longer considered renegades. In 1769 they led a small group of settlers back to the valley to establish a permanent settlement.
A highway historic marker on U.S. 119 north of Buckhannon marks the location of the first Pringle Tree. The present sycamore is supposedly the third generation of the famous tree. Sycamores are among the largest trees native to West Virginia and are capable of growing to a height of more than 100 feet. It was not uncommon for hunters and others to find temporary shelter in sycamores, which often develop hollows in the maturity. Stephen Sewell, who settled on the Greenbrier River at Marlinton, West Virginia, in 1749, lived for some years in a sycamore there.
The tree is now the centerpiece of Pringle Tree Park, maintained by the Upshur County Commission. Facilities include a boat-launch ramp along the Buckhannon River, toilets, parking area, picnic facilities, open field areas for athletics, and playground equipment. Overnight camping is not permitted. The park is open to the public from May 1 to Nov. 1. Follow the Facebook page for the Pringle Tree to stay up-to-date on developments regarding the park and landmark.