Bonds’ 260-year-old longleaf pine bites the dust

Inez and John Bond and grandson Daniel Wilson, 12, stand by lumber and round from old pine.

In the year 1760, a longleaf pine seedling sprouted on what is now the Bond Farm in the Terry’s Creek community of southeast Amite County.

Of course, at that time the United States was not a nation and Mississippi was not a state.

Just eight years earlier, Benjamin Franklin flew his famous kite that captured electricity from lightning.

Six years before the seedling sprouted, Gen. George Washington was leading troops in the French and Indian Wars.

Five years earlier, the British ousted the Acadian French people from Canada — people who would later settle in south Louisiana and become known as Cajuns.

Thirteen years after the seedling sprouted, outraged American colonists dumped tea into the Boston Harbor to protest British taxes.

Three years later, the Declaration of Independence was signed.

By the time Mississippi became a state in 1817, the longleaf pine was 57 years old.

When the Civil War started in 1861, it was 101.

And by the time the Bond Farm was established in 1865, the longleaf pine was already a respectable105.

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“We had about eight of these longleaf heart pines,” said John Bond, 87.

Over the years, all of them died but the one.

“This one lived to be 260. It outlived all the others,” Bond said.

The tree grew across the road from Bonds’ home.

“One day we looked up and saw it was brown on top. “We said, ‘Oh no!’ ” said Bond’s wife, Inez, 79.

“We don’t cut them unless they’re dead or they’re lightning-struck.”

That was a month ago. The Bonds got Harrell Alford of the East Fork community out of Kentwood, La., to saw the tree up. Now they have a stack of lumber plus several laminated rounds. The biggest is over 28 inches across.

“We’re giving each one of our daughters one ring,” Inez said.

The next-to-last longleaf that died was 225 years old. Lumber from it went into a barn that houses the Bonds’ museum of agricultural and community history beside their house.  

The museum has all sorts of agricultural implements dating to the 1800s, and much more besides.

Like several huge heart pine blocks taken from under Milton N. Bond’s porch, built in the 1880s.

“They were under water in the creek and (John) pulled them out,” Inez said.

Or part of an old quilt in a display case with an ancient black-and-white photo beside it.

“His grandmother started that quilt in 1861, kept it in a cedar chest,” Inez said.

The design was called Dresden Plate.

“That’s an old pattern from way back. She started it before the Civil War and put it away when the war started. After the war, she never picked it back up.”

There’s a faded photo of a group of men, including white-bearded Napoleon Bond — John’s grandfather, who was a county supervisor.

“He had a grist mill and a syrup mill,” John said. “He died before I was born.”

Napoleon Bond was born in 1840 and died in 1926.

Nearby is a book of check stubs written out to public school teachers.

“Back then the supervisors paid the school teachers,” Inez said.

There are lots of other old photos as well. Like Isaiah Bond, 1888-1901, who died of flu, possibly the Russian Flu pandemic that started in 1889.

There’s a photo of Inez’s grandmother, a beautiful brunette. 

“She died at age 36 of malaria while giving birth. Both died,” Inez said.

The lineages of her Wilson ancestors and her husband’s Bond forebears are intertwined — John and Inez are second cousins.

John is battling cancer but still gets out and works in the yard and around the farm — Inez can’t keep him inside. Some people, like some trees, just keep on standing, come what may.

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