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COURTHOUSE CEDAR. An eastern red cedar tree growing near the southwest corner of the courthouse square beside the Brazos County Courthouse in Bryan has grown at the site of five Brazos County courthouses. The tree was a sapling in January 1841, when the Congress of the Republic of Texas established Navasota (now Brazos) County. That spring, county officers were elected and the first term of district court convened in Joseph Ferguson's home, near the Ferguson Springs crossing of the Navasota River. At that time the sapling grew beside Ferguson's cabin, which served as the county's first courthouse. Later that year Boonville was chosen as the county seat, and a new courthouse was built there. The cedar sapling did not grace courthouse grounds again until 1854, when a two-story frame building was erected on the previous Boonville site. At this time Harvey Mitchell, called by some "the father of Brazos County," decided to plant native shrubs and trees around the new courthouse. He moved the little red cedar that had grown near the Ferguson log cabin to the new courthouse grounds. In 1866 Bryan, three miles to the west, became the Brazos county seat. In 1879 a new brick courthouse was built on the present courthouse square, and Mitchell moved the historic cedar to the new site, its third courthouse home. The brick courthouse was adjudged unsafe after about twenty years and was replaced in 1891 by a stone building. The present courthouse, built in 1957, towers protectively above the red cedar tree, whose existence is interwoven with the history of Brazos County.


John A. Haislet, ed., Famous Trees of Texas (College Station: Texas Forest Service, 1970; 3d ed. 1984).

John A. Haislet

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

John A. Haislet, "COURTHOUSE CEDAR," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed December 01, 2015. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.