Grafitti saying “Trump” is painted on the historic bur oak tree

Grafitti reading “Trump” shows on the historic bur oak tree Monday near McBaine. This is the second time in a week the tree has been vandalized with the outgoing president’s name.

The state’s champion bur oak tree near McBaine has been vandalized again, this time with “Trump” sprayed in orange paint on the trunk.

John Sam Williamson, owner of the property where the historic bur oak tree stands, said he noticed it Sunday and figured it happened Saturday.

Removing the paint has become problematic without harming the tree, he said, because of its age and condition.

“The arborist and the forestry folks have said that anything you put on the tree, or try to scrape off, or try to use something like turpentine or paint thinner would be bad for the tree,” Williamson said.

The solution Monday came from a visitor, Doree Bardes, who covered the recent graffiti with mud.

This is not the first time the tree has been vandalized. In 2016, three men were charged with property damage after painting red symbols on the tree. One of the men, Joseph C. Cary of Boonville, spent 120 days in jail after pleading guilty to the damage.

In October, the tree was struck by lightning, splintering its north side and causing it to catch fire. County firefighters had to cut holes into the center of the tree in order to reach the fire in its core.

On Monday, a Boone County sheriff’s deputy said he had taken other reports of weekend vandalism.

One example was spotted on Log Providence Road, where Trump’s name was sprayed in black paint on a stop sign and an offensive statement about President-elect Joe Biden was painted on the road.

  • Public Life reporter, fall 2020 Studying public policy journalism Reach me at or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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