James W. Costilow and his brother attended scholl at the " Armstrong Academy ". The article appeared in The Sunday Gazetteer of Denison on October 06, 1889. The article gave an account of a young man, Fred Brownlee of Arkansas who was pursued by a posse for crimes that he supposedly did not commit. He left Arkansas and traveled southwest into Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Following close behind the posse was his sweetheart, nineteen year old Sarah Wilson from a nearby farm. The posse caught up with Brownlee near Armstrong Academy. He proclaimed his innocence, however the posse strung him up from a tree and left him behind to die. Sarah Wilson arrived just in time to find him hanging from a tree and quickly cut him loose. The couple headed south searching for safety and crossed into Texas near Colbert’s Ferry. The couple stopped to rest, however some of the posse members were also in the area and soon spotted them. Brownlee and Wilson were once again on the run as the posse once again pursued them. The couple traveled south until they were captured in Mormon Grove. Brownlee was once again hung from a tree in the southwest portion of the grove. This time, the posse filled his body with bullets to ensure his death. Sarah Wilson, heartbroken and unable to carry on, apparently killed herself or perhaps simply died from a broken heart. The next day, the bodies of Fred and Sarah were found side by side and the couple were buried beneath the oak tree. As summer ended, the tree also died and was forever known as the “haunted tree.” It was also told that nothing living, not even a bird would occupy the limbs of the now dead tree. Furthermore, it was said that for several feet around the base of the tree nothing would grow, creating a barren landscape beneath the tree. The large tree was said to be located in “the center of a clump of trees and standing at a considerable distance from any tree or any vegetation of any description, stands a massive tree of the forest oak variety, on which no leaf or bud has been seen for twenty-two years. The tree referred to stands in the southwestern portion of Mormon Grove.
Location: Armstrong Academy