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.
Written by Noel W. Tenney
Cutright, W. B. History of Upshur County. Buckhannon: 1907, Reprint, McClain, 1977.