By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times
PEPPERTOWN – The roots of Miriam Moore’s family tree run deeper into Itawamba County soil than the towering red oak in her backyard.
Moore, 84, said her family has lived on that piece of Peppertown area land longer than any other single family in Itawamba County.
The property was homesteaded in 1823 by Samuel Branch Moore, the great-great-grandfather of Moore’s late husband Ellie. Since then, the Moore family has expanded several times, but always has remained, at least in part, on that land.
“Where my house is now is about where he built his log cabin,” Moore said, pointing to her modest brick home. She then moved toward the side of the house to show off her pecan tree.
The tree was quite a bit shorter than the red oak, although it’s likely older. Planted around 1918 – just after World War I – by her husband’s aunt Ada Moore, the tree has roots in German soil.
As the story goes, Ada’s brother, Edgar, brought his family six large pecans that were grown in Germany.
“They were huge,” Moore said of the pecans, holding out her index finger to demonstrate their size. “He thought people wouldn’t believe him when he told them how big they were.”
The family ate four of them, she said, and planted two. Both sprouted and grew, although only one is surviving.
Moore reached up among the branches and pulled at a small cluster of bright green pecans.
“Just look at these,” she said, pinching one between her thumb and index finger. Ninety-four years old and still going strong.
As she walked around to the front of her house, Moore said that when she dies, the land – the house and trees and everything else – is to go to a close family member, under the condition that it can’t be sold.
She smiled slightly – possibly slyly – as she explained. It was her way, she said, of ensuring that the soil on which she lived and raised her family would always belong to her, just as it still belongs to her family’s forebears.
Returning to the backyard, Moore stood beneath the shadow of the huge red oak and looked up toward its outstretched branches. When asked the age of the tree, she shrugged her shoulders and pointed to a thin electrical pole across the yard.
“It was about that size when we built the house,” she said.
That was in 1946. Since then, the oak has grown to reach much higher into the sky above her head and much deeper into the earth below her feet.