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La Feria’s “Crying Tree”

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The city of La Feria is celebrating its 100th year anniversary and to commemorate the occasion we are digging deep into our archives each week to bring you images and stories from La Feria’s colorful past.

A 30-foot acacia (huisache) tree became quite the conversation piece for the town of La Feria back in the late 60’s. At one time, the leaves of the tree were shedding up to 18 gallons of liquid a day! The spectacle earned the tree the moniker “crying tree” and earned its owner 50 cents a visitor! The tree gained so much notoriety the story even ran in regional, state and finally nationally when the story was run in the pages of Time Magazine! Below is reporter Jack Keever’s account that ran in several Texas papers…

People Flock to Backyard in Texas to Look at Crying Tree

by Jack Keever

The tree gained so much notoriety, the story broke in several regional, state and national outlets, including the front page of the August 23, 1966 edition of The Abilene Reporter-News.

The tree gained so much notoriety, the story broke in several regional, state and national outlets, including the front page of the August 23, 1966 edition of The Abilene Reporter-News.

LA FERIA, Tex. (AP) – It isn’t much of a tree to look at. Its branches don’t give much shade and its leaves are crowded by telephone wires.

But it does leak water and hundreds of people crowd into Sam Morse’s backyard at 50 cents apiece because they think the drippage is a sign of magical healing.

Dozens of long distance calls and letters have asked for samples of the liquid.

“I hope it cures them all, but I don’t think it will,” said Morse who, at 65, suddenly finds his quiet life interrupted with a yard full of people wanting water from a 13-year-old acacia tree he once almost cut down.

“I havn’t drunk any of that filthy water and don’t intend to,” he said. And he’ll tell you frankly that the tree stands on a water formation six feet below the surface.

His doubts, however, haven’t stopped the crowds or letters.

Like a gold rush, dozens, then hundreds, mostly Mexican-Americans, poured into his yard after the word got out about a month ago that water was flowing from the 30 foot tree.

Clutching paper cups and glass jars, they pushed and shoved to get to the tree, a common variety here in the lower Rio Grande Valley.

Some knelt to mix the water with dirt and rub it on their bodies.

Most dubbed it the “Crying Tree” but some called it “God’s Tree” and Morse’s yard “the Holy Land.”

One excited man cried, “It belongs to God, me and God.”

After a week of feet scuffing his grass and trampling bushes, and noise that kept him awake all night, Morse decided, “I don’t want anybody to get hurt. I want some order.”

He tried a five-foot high extension on a four foot fence around his lot. But that didn’t stop the night visitors, so he ringed the tree with an eight-foot high fence topped with barbed wire.

After much free water at the rate of 14 to 18 gallons a day had flowed from the tree, Morse built a gate in the fence and began charging 50 cents admission. The daily take runs as much as $200.

“We don’t limit how long they stay in there,” Morse said.

“You have to understand these people when they’re ready to come out they will, and we’ll let some more in.

“I could’ve charged a dollar each, but I don’t want to profiteer.

“Why, if I wanted to, I could sell seeds that fall off this tree for 25 cents each.

“I know most of the people. They’ve either lost hope in doctors or they’re too poor to pay.”

Dr. Gary Miller, a Harlingen, Tex., psychologist, asked for his interpretation of the interest in the tree, called it an example of people’s ability to “think magically.”

“You never know when the tree will run dry. I may come out one morning and the water will be gone,” said Morse.

“But people will still want to see it, sort of like a shrine.”


Do YOU have any photos, books, or stories that might help us piece together La Feria’s storied history? If so please email us or call our office at 956-797-9920 and let us know!

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