Amelia Island Historic District
The tree that currently stands in the middle of Ash St. near 8th St. remains because of the diligent and determined efforts of Katherine MacDonell Bailey. Kate lived in the historic Bailey House on the corner of Ash and 7th with her husband Effingham Wagner Bailey, a prominent local businessman who was responsible for the construction of the Fernandina Electric Trolley, Steamship Agency, and the historic Keystone Hotel (destroyed decades ago before the Fernandina Historical Society was founded). Kate herself was known as a musician and composer who wrote the Fernandina High Alma Mater.
Near the end of the 19th century, Ash St. was being cut through to 8th St. and the big oak that currently stands in the middle of Ash was to be removed. Though Kate objected to its removal, the city was intent on removing it, explaining that the fire trucks from the local fire station at the end of Ash St. did not have enough room to go around this tree. However, Kate was determined that the tree was to remain and began a vigil of sitting on her porch with shotgun in hand, threatening anyone who would attempt to remove the tree.
Because of her persistence, other solutions were found rather than cutting this tree down. Therefore, the tree still remains there today as a proud monument to Fernandina’s rich history. The photo of this tree is listed in the Florida Archives as “Kate’s Tree.”