Liberty Oak History

The story behind the name

The white oak figured into the battle of Guilford Courthouse in 1781. American Gen. Nathanael Greene and his troops are said to have camped around a white oak on the morning of the battle. Legend has it that Greene’s horse bit the top out of the tree, which must have been small then.

The tree, near the intersection of New Garden Road and Lawndale Drive, became known as the Liberty Oak, a symbol of the battle.

When the Liberty Oak died in 1986, it stood 78 feet tall and had a circumference of 222.4 inches. Two years later, the tree toppled from rot. A retired Asheboro textile owner gathered enough wood to make commemorative clocks.

Even before the tree died, a Greensboro restaurant took the name Liberty Oak and now thrives as a downtown eating place. The tree decorated the cover of historian Ethel Arnett’s 1955 book “Greensboro, NC” and was the subject of a 1904 poem by well-to-do Greensboro resident Joseph Morehead. It opened, “You saw within these single ‘Western wilds’ an infant nation’s birth.”

The Liberty Oak Tree