When you hear about the Tree That Owns Itself, you think, Hey, that's sounds kind of neat. That sounds like an interesting Athenian story. I wonder how that happened.
Well, it's a nice little Athenian story all right, but it's just a big letdown. It didn't happen at all! It's just a wacky little story, OK? Just let it go. If you can understand why people like the story and why the great white oak tree became a landmark, then you can understand Athens. If MIT students were responsible, it would be called a hack or something. The fraudulent stone marker in front of the tree says:
For and in consideration of the great love I bear this tree and the great desire I have for its protection for all time I convey entire possession of itself and all land within eight feet of the tree on all sides. --William H. Jackson.
William H. Jackson was deceased when this marker was put up, and he never owned the land to allow him give it away in the first place! The current Tree was derived from an acorn off the original and planted in the same spot. If you want to see the Tree and you want to take the easy way there from West Broad Street, you'll have to drive up some damned bumpy cobblestones that are seriously due for a repaving.
If you want all the dates, go get a history book like I did. (I read A Postcard History of Athens, Georgia by Gary L. Doster.)