Van Zandt County Historical Commission
Discover Our History
The Van Zandt County Historical Commission is a group of volunteers, appointed by the county Commissioners Court, to promote the history of the county and to help preserve historical sites.
Read and discover the history of our county and help us celebrate the past. Click on the toolbar at the top of the page to find featured preservation projects around the county, the histories of our towns and their historical/community preservation contacts, interesting old stories about Van Zandt County characters, and more.
For useful links to other websites, check out the Our Towns page.
Coming Soon: 2023 Historical Commission Calendar
The 2023 Van Zandt County Historical Commission Calendar will be available soon from the printer. The theme this year is Our Fascinating Past. The calendar features each month a different story of an interesting person, place, or thing in the county's history. As usual, the price will be a $5 donation to the Commission, which helps fund our work on county historical projects.
Historical Commission Back from Summer Break
The Van Zandt County Historical Commission met on September 20, 2022, after the summer break. (See photo above.) The Commission had a long agenda, featuring items such as several historical publications being compiled by members, designation of historic cemeteries, and organizing donated photos and memorabilia of historic interest. Of particular interest was the 2023 Historical Commission Calendar, arriving soon.
Benja Mize introduced special guest Jordan Stilling, Van Zandt County main library employee. She described Ms. Stilling's tremendous assistance on a Historical Commission project that Ms. Mize and fellow Commission member Lawrence Greer worked on recently. Commission members thanked Ms. Stilling for her work. (Above, L-R: Jordan Stilling, Benja Mize.) Van Zandt County is fortunate to have an excellent general library, and it also has a top notch genealogy/local history library at a separate location.
Celebrating A Soldier, Farmer, Family Man
The Van Zandt County Historical Commission joined with many history organizations, local and statewide, to host a celebration of the life of a former War of 1812 soldier, Texas Revolution participant and Texas Ranger, on Jan. 29, 2022. The Van Zandt County Genealogical Society, the Former Texas Rangers Association, Daughters of 1812, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and other organizations put on the event, which drew a large crowd to Asbury Cemetery, outside Edom. (The unseasonably warm weather helped!)
Adrian Anglin was born in 1796 in Virginia, and fought in the War of 1812. Having survived the war, he tempted fate by moving west for land. He lost his first wife and, while living in Illinois, he married Phebe Parker. He moved to the Republic of Texas in the early 1830s with a large wagon train that included many members of the Parker family, settling in Limestone County and helping to build Fort Parker. He became one of the first Texas Rangers in 1835.
In 1836, Fort Parker was attacked by a band of tribes, including Comanches, and numerous settlers were killed. Anglin's sister-in-law, Cynthia Ann Parker, was captured in the raid and spent most of the rest of her life with the Comanches.
Anglin participated in the Texas Revolutionary War, providing food and supplies, and as a result he received a headright of land in Henderson County, part of which later became Van Zandt County. He settled in the Edom area as a farmer, in addition to his Ranger duties. He died in 1865, about 70 years old, and is buried at Asbury Cemetery alongside his second wife, Phebe.
The Texas Rangers placed their own special marker--the Ranger Cross--at Mr. Anglin's grave, and special medallions were affixed to his gravestone by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the U.S. Daughters of 1812 to mark his service in the War of 1812 and the Texas Revolution. The January 29 event was the unveiling of these markers and a chance for the community to remember Mr. Anglin, who was a link to the early history of Texas and Van Zandt County.
For more information (and photos!), visit the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society website at vzcgs.org
Former Texas Ranger reenactors fire a salute in honor of Mr. Anglin. Color guard of the Children of the Republic of Texas, local chapter (C. Moser and H. Roberts) at right.
Elvis Allen, Chairman of the Van Zandt County Historical Commission, with Karen Wilson, Van Zandt County District Clerk.
Descendants of Mr. Anglin, by grave, with new medallions and Ranger Cross..
Overflow crowd at the Asbury Cemetery pavilion for the Anglin ceremony.
Carrie Woolverton, President of the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society and of the local chapters of the Daughters of 1812 and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, officiates at the event.
Reenactors representing the Former Texas Rangers Association, Van Zandt County Genealogical Society and Historical Commission, and several lineage societies. Ladies in front are, L-R: Carrie Woolverton, Paige Sanders, Cathy Calfy, Benja Mize, Suzie Bass.
Lt. Kenny Ray, Texas Ranger ret., speaks on behalf of the Former Texas Rangers Association.
Refreshments afterward: Cake with image of early Texas Ranger.
Refurbishing Anglin Historical Marker
Volunteers restoring the Anglin historical marker: L to R: Lawrence Greer, Elvis Allen, Cathy Calfy, Ronnie Jones, Sandra Jones, Becky Rosson, Sherrie Archer, Carrie Woolverton.
Anglin historical marker before refurbishing.
Anglin historical marker after refurbishing.
Adrian Anglin gravestone., with War of 1812 and Texas Revolution medallions added. Ranger Cross is to the left.
Elvis Allen repaints the historical marker.
L to R: Lawrence Greer and Elvis Allen sand the historical marker to a shine.
Adrian Anglin, pioneer, early Texas Ranger, and Van Zandt County resident, was honored on January 29, 2022, at 2 p.m., when the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society partnered the local chapters of the U.S. Daughters of 1812, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the Former Texas Rangers Association, and many other lineage societies, to place new insignia on his grave at Asbury Cemetery, close to Edom. (See article, above.)
On December 3, 2021, in preparation for the ceremony on January 29, the Van Zandt County Historical Commission led the members of the Van Zandt Genealogy Society and the local chapters of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas the Daughters of 1812 and the United Daughters of the Confederacy in cleaning the Adrian Anglin historical marker that has stood in front of Asbury Cemetery for decades. Historical markers eventually need refurbishing and cleaning, after years of being exposed to the weather, and the Van Zandt County Historical Commission often takes on this responsibility.
Van Zandt County Historical Commission Chairman Elvis Allen and member Lawrence Greer demonstrated to the assembled volunteers how to refurbish the metal marker. The process involves cleaning the metal plate, coating the plate with special black paint, and (after a long wait for the paint to dry) sanding the paint off the raised lettering on the plate, so that it shows clearly above the black background. A varnish is added on top of this.
The process took several hours, with a lunch break in the middle to allow for paint-drying. The process was shown to the public via a live video feed on the Van Zandt County Genealogy Library Facebook page. The video is still available on the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VanZandtCountyGenealogy. Volunteers had plenty of opportunity to learn the process of historical marker maintenance, and to talk about the subject of all the effort--early Van Zandt County settler Adrian Anglin.
Volunteers take a break from refurbishing historical marker to eat lunch at Moore's Store in Ben Wheeler.
Commissioners Court Session Welcomes Rebuilt 1850 Courthouse and 1890s Poor Farm Calaboose (Jail)
Restored Poor Farm calaboose (jail) of Van Zandt County. The building had one door and one window (shown above), with an iron grate covering it.
The Van Zandt County Commissioners Court, in session in the 1850 Courthouse, presents a proclamation dedicating the historic buildings. L to R: Commissioner Chad LaPrade (Precinct 1), Commissioner Virgil Melton (Precinct 2), County Judge Don Kirkpatrick, Commissioner Keith Pearson (Precinct 3), and Commissioner Tim West (Precinct 4).
Event organizer Stephen Goode and his wife, Marianne Goode, both members of the Edgewood Historical Society, in front of the 1850 Courthouse.
Van Zandt County Commissioners Court members arrive by mule wagon. (Video: click on triangle in center.)
The past came to life on November 6 at the Heritage Park in Edgewood, Texas, as the Van Zandt County Commissioners Court held a special session to issue a proclamation dedicating two restored historic buildings.
County Judge Don Kirkpatrick and Commissioners Chad LaPrade, Virgil Melton, Keith Pearson and Tim West arrived at the event via mule-drawn wagon and proceeded to convene the session at the reconstructed 1850 Van Zandt County Courthouse--an 18 ft. square log cabin built to the specifications of the original building, which in 1850 was located in Canton. The court and many attendees wore 19th century attire, and enjoyed an old-fashioned stew lunch afterward, cooked over an open fire outside.
The event was kicked off by organizer Stephen Goode, of the Edgewood Historical Society. Van Zandt County Historical Commission Chairman Elvis Allen then gave the history of the two buildings. He explained that the 1850 Courthouse was built immediately after the county seat of Van Zandt County was changed from Jordan's Saline to Canton. The structure eventually was replaced by a newer courthouse, then many others, with the current courthouse in Canton being the county's seventh. The Commissioners Court records of the county from 1850 gave the exact specifications for how the courthouse was to be built, which made the reconstruction of the old courthouse possible.
Mr. Allen also explained that the Poor Farm of Van Zandt County, which was created to provide a place for indigent persons to live, was where the Calaboose was located. ("Calaboose" is derived from the Spanish word calabozo, meaning "jail.") The Poor Farm Calaboose, built in the 1890s, was the one-room jail where persons convicted of minor crimes, who were working off their fines, would live until they had completed their obligation to the county. The Van Zandt County Poor Farm was closed in the 1920s and the Poor Farm land was sold to the Van Zandt County Sheriff, Ira Burnett. The Calaboose was abandoned, but remained standing. In 2018, the structure was donated to the county by Ira's daughter, Ira Nell Burnett Skillman, and family, who still owned the land where the Calaboose was located. Descendants of the Burnett family who attended the dedication Nov. 6 are sisters Jane Hunter (member of the Van Zandt County Historical Commission) and Sylvia Barbee (member of the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society).
The Edgewood Heritage Festival was held on November 13, 2021. Among other activities, visitors will be able to see the new buildings, along with all the other expertly preserved historical structures at the Heritage Park, during the festival. This year's Festival was dedicated to the memory of Pattizo Humphries (who passed away in 2020), a member of the Van Zandt County Historical Commission and the Edgewood Historical Society. Ms. Humphries was a dedicated worker and promoter for the Heritage Park for many decades.
Van Zandt County Reconstructed 1850 Courthouse with Historical Commission members (L to R) Sherrie Archer, Cindy Cooper, Elvis Allen (Commission Chairman) Suzie Bass, and Van Zandt Genealogical Society President Carrie Woolverton.
Who We Are
Our mission at Van Zandt County Historical Commission is to collect historical information, formulate programs to mark historic sites, landmarks, buildings and Civil War graves and to preserve records of historic significance. We promote public awareness of local history.
Do You Have Old Photos?
Grand Saline, Texas, firemen. 1930s?
Get in Touch
Van Zandt County Historical Commission
P.O. Box 251
Canton, Texas 75103
The Van Zandt County Historical Commission has a large collection of historical photos and drawings of County people and places. If you have old photos or artwork of historic Van Zandt County (or Texas) that need a home, please contact us! We are happy to accept copies that we can preserve; no need to give us originals unless you wish to.