It seems this Athenian guy, Colonel William Jackson, deeded the white oak tree to itself in 1832 when he sold off the rest of the property.
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.Don't you wonder what happened here that the Colonel loved the tree this much, maybe something romantic, or was he just peculiar?
The original tree was already at least a century old when it was deeded, growing before any of these houses were built, and in 1942 the tree died from old age, maybe helped along by a storm. The town planted an offspring grown from one of its acorns, cares and advocates for it, and doesn't collect any property taxes. The big guy is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has his own Facebook page, YouTube video, and book by the same title.
We like quirky towns.