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Civil War cannonball discovered lodged in cut-down Independence tree

The owner of a local tree cutting service discovered a hidden gem inside a tree he cut down on a historic property in Independence. The cannonball he found dates back to the Civil War.

At first glance, it looks like just an average tree stump that’s left behind. However, when you do a little bit more digging on it, you realize that it’s actually tied to a piece of history. People quickly learned that once the tree was cut down.

What started out as a safety project, quickly turned historic when the owner of Jeff’s Tree Service brought the tree back to the shop,

“About a week ago I was splitting wood . . . and a cannonball fell out of it,” Jeff Eastham said.

“This is just one of the limbs that was in the tree and you can see the chains are growing into it,” he explained.

“I don’t know anything about the history of it other than I’ve never seen a tree like that that had chains and cannonballs in it, so it’s pretty cool.”

There are two people who have some answers: the owner of a house also known as the Overfelt Johnston House and Independence tour guide Ralph Goldsmith.

“I heard they found a cannonball in a tree here,” Goldsmith said. “That’s quite interesting because I tell the tourists every day about the two Civil War battles that were fought here in Independence.”

The first Battle of Independence took place right across the street from the home.

“This was known as Cannon Hill,” Goldsmith said.

That isn’t very shocking, since homeowner Randall Pratt said this is the second one found. The first was spotted in 1980, when the home was restored.

“There was a first one that was shot by the Union army defending itself that was lodged in the brick just to the left of the window,” Pratt said.

That Cannonball is now in the Jackson County Historical Museum.

When it comes to the latest find, though, Pratt has other plans.

“It was a part of the tree for at least 157 years and it will stay with the house as a reminder of its history and a reminder of its place in that history,” he said.

Pratt is in the process of restoring the house again.

As for the tree, most of it has been bought by Larry Smith of L&K Hardwoods.

“We can build a lot of stuff out of this one tree,” he said. “This is one out of nine slabs that we cut out of that main log.”

However, Smith said he plans to give back by using some of the wood in the home restoration and possibly for a mantle.