Word of the Day: Silvicide

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(n.); a special pesticide intended for killing unwanted trees and other brush

It was the kind of horrific end no one could have imagined for the demure Harkey matriarch … her death represented the final, sordid unraveling of one of the oldest lineages in Central Texas—the story of a family tree rotted through by the destructive forces of obsession, greed, and hate.

—Sonia Smith, “A Tree Is Known By Its Fruit”

Far removed from monarchical days when lineage determined one’s social standing and privileges more than anything else, the weight of a family name is sometimes forgotten as easily as the names of all those who came before. But this piece for the January 2015 issue of Texas Monthly recovers some of the power of a family tree through the grim account of its demise. Though the story is true, Smith’s retelling is full of drama and intrigue reminiscent of Capote’s In Cold Blood … with a cameo appearance from Tommy Lee Jones?!


Sara Menuck is currently pursuing BA in English & Professional Writing at York University, Toronto, without being very professional at all. Having interned with a variety of small press publications, she currently works as a prose reader for The Winter Tangerine Review, a department editorial assistant, and, in her free time, a teacher of music to very small, adorable children. More from this author →