A great white oak tree has stood on Chesterfield’s courthouse lawn for over 200 years. Every 10 years, what has been come to known as the Nunnally white oak tree is measured in a formal ceremony and entered into county records. In 2011 the girth was measured at 17 feet, 7 inches.
An article pasted into a Woman’s Club of Chester Nomination for the National Register of Historic Trees, a Richmond Times-Dispatch article published on May 13, 1940 reported that the great oak had grown 2 feet 1 ½ inches in girth in the last 10 years.The article further indicated that on May 11, 1916, and on this day “the said oak tree measured at a distance of 5 feet from the ground, measure 11 feet and 11 feet in circumference.”
According to a pamphlet published by the Chesterfield Historical Society, the white oak tree was planted as a sapling in 1814 during the War of 1812 by Deputy County Clerk Lawson Nunnally.
The Woman’s Club nomination says the oak is an old Courthouse lawn landmark. “There is nothing here that was here when it was planted. Through the years the Nunnally Oak witnessed the War Between the States burning of the courthouse, many historic court cases, county board meetings, county fairs and patriotic celebrations to be made that would significantly affect their lives.”
The Woman’s Club of Chester prepared the nomination due to their concerns of continued development of the area and the removal of a substantial number of trees in the process.