Majestically standing on a small downtown lot on Baylor Street, sandwiched between Fifth and Sixth Street, is a Southern live oak tree known as Treaty Oak. The tree is the only surviving member of the original 14 Council Oak trees that bore witness to meetings between Tonkawa and Comanche tribe members and the father of Texas, Stephen F. Austin. The City of Austin purchased the tree for $1,000 in 1927. The tree is accessible to the public and there is a plaque summarizing the history of Treaty Oak.
In 1989 it was revealed the tree had been intentionally poisoned with the herbicide Velpar. Austinites rallied in outrage. Ultimately the vandal was identified. Local and statewide news teams followed the story on a daily basis, vigils were held, yellow ribbons were placed around the tree, and children wrote get-well letters for the tree.
A Treaty Oak Task Force made up of local and national arbor professionals was formed to identify strategies to save the beloved piece of Austin history. Most consulting arbor experts had predicted the Treaty Oaks would not survive, and defying all odds, Treaty Oak did survive.
Just like the once majestic oak that stood as a testament to history and survivorship, TPEA stands strong today since its founding in 1946 by state employees like yourself. TPEA will continue to promote and help preserve the compensation and quality benefits that have been earned by all state employees.