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Kentucky Coffee Tree's Origin Comes To Light

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Found: A man who knows the origin of the Kentucky tree on the Courthouse lawn.
He's A. J. (Buck)Sawyer, veteran Ann Arbor attorney. Unlike others who have guessed at solutions, he offers specific details as to names and dates.
Three weeks ago The News published a story reporting the presence of a fine Kentucky coffee tree specimen on the northwest corner of the Courthouse grounds and speculating as to its origin. Not Native Here
The tree is not native to these parts, botanists said, so a tentative conclusion was reached that someone at sometime had brought it here from the species' southern habitat.
Sawyer reports the "someone" was John J. Robison, a Sharon township resident elected Washtenaw county clerk in 1870. The "sometime" was either later in the year 1870 or early in 1871.
It seems, Sawyer relates, that Robison took a trip to Kentucky shortly after the elections of 1870, possibly to recuperate from the rigors of campaigning.
He brought back a Kentucky coffee tree seedling, about three feet high, and planted it in its present place on the Couhthouse lawn. Hence, the tree is either 77 or 78 years old, since the exact planting date is not known. "Coffee' Result Explained
Another letter-writer, B. B. Montgomery of 809 E. Kingsley St., offered a suggestion that may explain why efforts to brew "coffee" from the tree's seed podswhich no less an authority than the Encyclopedia Britanica says is possible-produced stomach - turning! results.
Montgomery said he didn't know about the coffee possibilities but recalls from his Kentucky boyhood experience that the juice of the leaves, mixed with molasses, made a poison preparation deadly to flies and other insects.