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From about 1764 to 1767, the brothers John and Samuel Pringle lived in the hollow cavity of a big sycamore tree near the confluence of Turkey Run and the Buckhannon River in present Upshur County. The hollow was supposed to have been so big that an eight-foot fence rail could be turned inside the tree. After deserting from the British-American army at Fort Pitt, the Pringles found the wilderness of the Buckhannon Valley a perfect hide-out. Upon John Pringle’s 1768 return from the trading post on the South Branch, where he had gone to buy ammunition, the brothers decided that they were no longer considered renegades and left their tree home. By 1769, they had led a small group of settlers back to the Buckhannon Valley to begin a permanent settlement there.

A highway historic marker on U.S. 119 north of Buckhannon marks the location of the Pringle Tree. The current sycamore is supposedly the third generation of the famous Pringle Tree, said to have grown from the roots of the original. Sycamores are the largest trees native to West Virginia, capable of growing to 100 feet or more. It was not uncommon for hunters and others to find temporary shelter in hollow sycamores, but the Pringles are the only ones known to have set up extended housekeeping.

This Article was written by Noel W. Tenney

Last Revised on October 22, 2010


Cutright, W. B. History of Upshur County. Buckhannon: 1907, Reprint, McClain, 1977.

Cite This Article

Tenney, Noel W. "Pringle Tree." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 22 October 2010. Web. 23 April 2014.

User Comments


Paul Marsh April 29, 2012 at 09:18 PM

I graduated from Buckhannon-Upshur High School in 1959 and studied about the Pringle Tree at Alton Grade School. I was in Buckhannon on April, 28, 2012, and was with my son, David, who is age 48. He went to school in Ohio and had never heard of the Pringle Tree. I am not sure how much of my story he believed, but when he got home he got online and read all about it and found it very interesting. I showed him the monument, so he knew I was not just telling him a story.

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