Belding, Michigan: Shoe Tree - Cursed!

We are assured by a local that this is a new tree, and the tale of its curse is pure bunk. But oh, to be a Depression-era boy too poor to own shoes, dying from frostbite and cursing the Land for not growing shoes on trees!
Zahm Rd., Belding, MI
South of town at Zahm Rd and Krupp Rd.
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Belding Shoe Tree

I have known this tree to have shoes hanging from it for at least 25 years -- since just before my dad moved to that neighborhood. And I'll bet they were in it before then, too. Sometimes there are hundreds of pairs of shoes, and other times there are only a few pairs, so it is likely that the farmer or teenagers are clearing them off the tree from time to time. If someone wasn't clearing them out of the tree, there would be ancient-looking shoes hanging from the tree, but they change as styles change.

[Becky Fike, 11/22/2015]
Belding Shoe Tree

My grandpa died in 1981 and there were shoes hanging there then. I'm not sure why. I often wondered if it was a death memorial, like maybe some child passed away at that location walking or riding a bike wearing tennis shoes.

[Denise, 11/22/2015]

Why do people throw shoes into trees? Your theory is grim, but it's as plausible as any other.

Shoe Tree in Rural Belding

I have lived 3 miles away from this tree since I moved here in 1988, and that tree has always had shoes on it. The only reason I know is because that is the way my current husband first gave me directions on how to get to his house: "Turn left at the shoe tree." Every week or so I notice more and more shoes. Maybe the curse isn't true, or is it?

[Dorothy, 06/10/2012]

Or perhaps, whenever a new pair is added, a new Shoe Tree Romance blossoms?

Shoe tree.

Shoe Tree

At the edge of a farmer's field just south of Belding, hundreds of pairs of shoes hang like fruit from the tree.

Legend has it that a young boy who worked the field during the Depression went without shoes for several winters and lost his feet to frostbite. Infection set in, killing him while he was still in his teens. Before he died, he cursed the fact that such a basic necessity didn't grow on trees. On the first anniversary of his death, a pair appeared on one of the low hanging branches.

Since then, every year, more and more shoes have appeared on the tree. It's said that his ghost can be seen each night as the sun sets, watching over his crop of shoes.

[Pete Meade, 01/07/2012]

March 21, 2012 - Cyndi Fitzsimmons admonishes: "This one is so bogus - that tree has contained shoes for 'maybe' 5 to 6 years and for you to claim an urban/rural legend about it is ridiculous and an outright lie. I lived in the area most of my life, driving by that tree (which was quite small as I grew up) every single Saturday and quite a few times during the week, and the only thing that hung from it was leaves."

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