Boyington Oak: A Ghost Story That Lives Beyond Legend and Literature

Many ghost stories that live in legend also find their way into the pages of literature, but the unique story of Boyington Oak in Mobile can claim to reside in a living thing itself: an oak tree that continues to thrive after almost two-hundred years. Charles Boyington was executed in 1835 on a conviction of murdering his best friend in Mobile, Alabama. On the day of his execution, he foretold that his innocence would be proven when an oak tree grew up out his grave a year later, and residents were astounded when his prediction came true. Today, that tree still stands in Mobile’s Church Street Graveyard as a living reminder of Boyington’s passionate story of poetry, lost love, and innocence cut down in the prime of life. Boyington left behind a legacy of literature that many young lovers continued to quote from generations after his death. His case also influenced legal precedent after his execution when two other people confessed to the murder he was accused of committing.

Mary Palmer’s book Boyington Oak: A Grave Injustice uses the power of creative nonfiction to cast readers into the minds and hearts of the people in Boyington’s world and walk the streets he knew in real life. The book is now available from Universal Publishers and serves as a prime example of how to promote tourism through literature: by engaging readers with a powerful tale and leading them down a road that is not just imaginary but real. Below is a short poem from Boyington himself about his fate, but Palmer’s book offers up much more of his beautiful literature, along with introducing readers to his story and world.  Palmer does not idealize Boyington but instead offers a compelling case where the truth is as mysterious as the ghost story itself would later become. No one knows for sure who murdered Boyington’s friend in the same cemetery that Boyington was later buried in, but readers can gauge the evidence themselves through Palmer’s book. Readers can order a copy by clicking here.

For My Tomb

Though cold be the earth and stone

Placed over of me what remains;

But there is but one true thought

The earth and stone here has no stains.

The sleep here may be long

Though cold be the earth and stone

And only peace to while the hours;

My life was as a song,

I am not here but among the flowers.

December 31, 2019

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