Van Zandt County Genealogical Society Events: May 28, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. in the main Van Zandt County Library, 317 First Monday Lane, Canton, TX: Regular meeting of the Society. The speaker (via live webinar) will be Sarah Cochran, professional genealogist. also known as "The Skeleton Whisperer." (Website: theskeletonwhisperer.com.) Ms. Cochran will give the presentation "DNA brought you to the forest; where are the trees?" regarding DNA genealogy research. All are welcome to this free meeting. Snacks and drinks will be served. June 25, 2022, at 2:00 p.m. in the main Van Zandt County Library, 317 First Monday Lane, Canton, TX: Regular meeting of the Society. Speaker will be Larry Youngblood, computer genealogy researcher specializing in YDNA research. Mr. Youngblood will discuss the Youngblood YDNA project, the product of 40+ years of research by himself and his father, which shows how YDNA can help trace "lost" family lines going back hundreds of years. All are welcome to this free meeting. Snacks and drinks will be served.
Become a Member of the VZ Genealogical Society: Support local county/Texas history, make friends, achieve your family research goals even faster! Dues are $15 per year for an individual membership and $18 per year for a family membership. Members receive our award-winning quarterly publication Our Heritage. Call us during business hours (M-F 10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m., Sat. 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m.) at 903-567-5012, or email us at email@example.com
The Genealogy Library, located at 250 E. Grove St., Canton, Texas, is here to assist anyone wishing to do genealogy/family research or historical research. Our Library has computer terminals with access to services such as Ancestry, and the public is welcome. (You don't have to be a member of the Genealogical Society.) Our hours are: M-F: 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Sat: 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. We also take calls and emails for short research requests, at 903-567-5012, during business hours. Links to our email address and Facebook page, as well as other useful links, can be found at the bottom of this page. For a 5-minute virtual tour of the library by our Genealogical Society President, Carrie Woolverton, click on the video below:
Want to find those DNA cousins? Find out how! May 28 Meeting on DNA research.
On Saturday, May 28, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m., the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society will have its monthly free public meeting, at the main county library in Canton (317 First Monday Lane). The speaker (via live webinar) will be Sarah Cochran, a professional genealogist based in southern California, also known as "The Skeleton Whisperer." (See photo at left.) Ms. Cochran will give the presentation "DNA brought you to the forest; where are the trees?" regarding DNA genealogy research. Worldwide, genealogical DNA tests have become extremely popular, available for a fee from several companies. Millions of people have gotten their DNA results, which show their ethnic ancestry. The DNA results, specific to each person tested, also give links to potential family members if those family members have also gotten a DNA test. This technology is bringing thousands of genealogy-interested cousins to each others' attention. The systems in place for such cousins to communicate take some getting used to, however. Ms. Cochran's speech will show family researchers how to navigate the system and share genealogy information. She will focus on Ancestry.com DNA results system, one of the most popular genealogy DNA companies. Ms. Cochran provides genealogy research and training services all over the country. (Website: theskeletonwhisperer.com.) A member of the National Genealogical Society and the Association of Professional Genealogists, she studied at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy and the Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research at the Georgia Genealogical Society. Come and learn how to find cousins you never knew about! Light refreshments will be served. The meeting is free, and you don't have to be a member of the Society to attend.
Annual Free Genealogy Workshop April 9: Fun for all
Jim Thornhill, professional genealogist, gave a fun-filled and informative presentation at the annual Spring Genealogy Workshop of the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society on Saturday, April 9, at the main county library in Canton. (Pictured above: Mr. Thornhill teaching the workshop.) The Spring Workshop always focuses on getting beginning genealogists started, and Mr. Thornhill showed attendees how to hit the ground running. Research on the computer was the focus of his speech, and everyone learned about the many family research sources available online. Mr. Thornhill began by encouraging beginners to pause before starting on their family research quest, and to consider their goals and how they want to organize what they find. He told the class to focus on relationships of the people being researched. Knowing the members of an ancestor's family, and not just narrowly looking for one name, can yield details that might otherwise be missed. Mr. Thornhill said that, while keeping all one's genealogy findings on a computer program has great advantages, it is not for everyone. Some people do better with paper records. Still, he noted that so much information is accessible online now, knowledge of computer research makes genealogy much faster and easier. Most attendees at the workshop were aware of online services such as Ancestry and Family Search, but Mr. Thornhill showed many extra features those services provide. Electronic devices can also make genealogy fun: Mr. Thornhill had the class use their smartphones to electronically find all the relatives each person had in the classroom Saturday--and many of them found they were cousins to several people there. For many, it was a complete surprise. Accuracy and good record-keeping are essential in family research, Mr. Thornhill said. Using only information that has a dependable source, along with clearly documenting that source, will save time and improve the quality of research. Mr. Thornhill also praised the usefulness of getting one's DNA test done. He urged attendees to incorporate the information they get from DNA results into their family history. The class lingered for over an hour after the workshop ended, with Mr. Thornhill addressing individuals' questions or computer research problems. Mr. Thornhill is Lead Genealogist for Heroes of the Past, a professional genealogy organization based in Dallas providing help to family researchers, with special expertise in Texas research and migration through the antebellum South. (Website: HeroesofthePast.com)
Women of the Oregon Trail: Elizabeth Covington Speaks at March Meeting About Pioneer Amelia Knight
The Van Zandt County Genealogical Society met for their regular monthly meeting on Saturday, March 26, 2022, at the main Van Zandt County Library. Members were enthralled by the speaker, Elizabeth Covington (pictured at the end of this article), award-winning genealogist and reenactor. Ms. Covington, who appeared in 19th century pioneer costume, told the story of Amelia Stewart Knight (photo at left), who in the mid-1800s traveled the Oregon Trail with her husband and 7 children, giving birth to her eighth child along the way. Ms. Covington told Amelia Knight's story based on Amelia's own words from a diary she kept of her harrowing trip. Amelia and her husband Joel (a doctor) set out from Iowa in early April 1853, with three ox-drawn wagons loaded with food and supplies, numerous cattle and their 7 children, determined to make a better life in the Oregon Territory. They had to follow the Oregon Trail, a 2400-mile-long wagon path that crossed countless rivers, endless dry prairies and plains, and the Rocky Mountains. The Knights' youngest child was barely a toddler, the oldest child was 17. Along the route, the family was beset with challenges. Two children got mumps shortly after the journey began. Torrential rains slowed them down several weeks into the trip; later, dry conditions and dust storms plagued them. They lost numerous cattle and oxen when water and food supplies ran low. Luckily, they received food and assistance from members of native tribes. Amelia was at least three months pregnant when she left Iowa, and developed migraine headaches in the heat and dust. In the final leg of the trail, with provisions running out and everyone at their weakest, they had to cross the mountains. The final delay came when Amelia went into labor. Her eighth child was born by the side of the trail, towards the end of the trip. At last, after more than five months, the Knight family reached their destination. They crossed the Columbia River (which, with their wagons and cattle, took several days). They settled in a 2-room log cabin on a farm in what is now southeastern Washington State. The family grew crops and Joel served as a doctor for their community. Their children all survived. Amelia's husband died about 14 years later, in 1867; Amelia died in 1896, at 79 years old. Ms. Covington stressed that Amelia Knight's experience is just one of many stories of pioneer women, who endured countless hardships with no complaint. Ms. Covington, among her other activities (genealogy, public speaking) works at the Historic Nash Farm in Grapevine, Texas, as a reenactor and instructor. The Nash Farm is a preserved 19th century farm that welcomes visitors and offers tours and demonstrations of life in frontier days. Ms. Covington encouraged the meeting's attendees to look for the numerous books available about pioneer women in North America. One such book, Heart of the Trail: Stories of Covered Wagon Women, by Mary B. O'Brien, tells the story of Amelia Knight.
Elizabeth Covington, genealogist, speaks on March 26 about Amelia Stewart Knight, pioneer, who traveled on the Oregon Trail in 1853.
Attention all who have old Van Zandt County roots: Are you eligible for a 100 Year or First Families Certificate? See below.
Bernard Meisner Talks About 1950 Census Data at February Meeting
The 1950 Census data is coming, on April 1, 2022! For family researchers, this is exciting news. Bernard Meisner (pictured at left), genealogy lecturer and retired meteorologist, gave a fact-packed and very useful tutorial on how to get at the 1950 Census data when he spoke to the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society at their regular monthly meeting on Saturday, February 26, 2022, at the Van Zandt County Library. Mr. Meisner began with a quick history of the Census, which is required by the U.S. Constitution and is a massive undertaking by the federal government, every 10 years. To ensure the data is useful to the public, the government releases census data 72 years after a census is taken, so the 1950 Census will be released this year. Mr. Meisner noted that each census has the same purpose--to count all persons in the country--but that each census varies with regard to the specific information requested besides names in each household. He revisited the tragedy of the 1890 Census, which was almost completely lost due to a fire in the government building in which all the Census sheets were stored. Concern that census records and other government information needed a secure home led to the creation of the National Archives, which is the federal agency that now keeps all census records once the Census Bureau has completed its 10-year count. It is the Archives, therefore, that will be releasing the 1950 data to the public on April 1, 2022. The 1950 Census, like other U.S. censuses before it, counts people in family households, and also those persons at universities, hotels, military bases, prisons and more. The count was not limited to those in states: Territories such as Alaska and Hawaii (which were not U.S. states at the time), Puerto Rico, the Panama Canal Zone, and others, were included. The 1950 count included extensive questions regarding areas like agriculture. It should be a valuable source of information for genealogists and history buffs. Mr. Meisner explained that it will take a bit of time for companies like Ancestry.com and Family Search to process all the 1950 data and make it available to subscribers, but that the National Archives has a website (https://www.archives.gov/research/census/1950) that will allow the public to start looking through the data immediately on April 1. The search process is not entirely simple, and Mr. Meisner walked the class through it. He suggested a privately-created website (https://stevemorse.org/census/1950census.htm) that helps researchers get through the search process more quickly. His talk was enlivened by examples from his research on his own family, complete with pictures of old childhood neighborhoods. He also gave examples of how to get Van Zandt County 1950 Census data. He spoke to a full house and also to remote attendees via Zoom. It was a fun program and left everyone looking forward to April 1.
Bernard Meisner, genealogist and retired meteorologist, speaks to the VZ Genealogical Society about the 1950 Census.
Honoring a Former Texas Ranger of Van Zandt County
Van Zandt County history buffs, along with the Former Texas Rangers Association, gathered at Asbury Cemetery, outside Edom, on Saturday, January 29, 2022, to celebrate the life of a former War of 1812 soldier and Texas Ranger who was also a Van Zandt County pioneer. Adrian Anglin led a life of adventure, crossing half a continent, living in multiple states, participating in two wars, and marrying three times. He was born in 1796 in Virginia, and married young, to Marguerite Kent. He fought in the War of 1812, then moved west for land and opportunity. 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. Fighting was a necessary part of Anglin's life, as with most settlers in those days. 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. His wife Phebe died; his third wife, Isabella, would outlive him. Anglin also saw many other members of his family die prematurely, including his daughter's husband. He helped raised his daughter's children, in addition to raising other young relatives who had lost their parents. The Anglin house was undoubtedly full for many years. He died in 1865, about 70 years old, and is buried at Asbury Cemetery alongside his second wife, Phebe. On Saturday, January 29, many descendants of Mr. Anglin assembled at Asbury Cemetery, along with a large crowd, to remember him. Local chapters of the Daughters of 1812, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT), and other organizations teamed up with the Former Texas Rangers Association to honor this soldier, farmer, and family man. Carrie Woolverton, President of the local chapters of the Daughters of 1812 and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and of the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society, officiated at the event. Lieutenant Kenny Ray, Texas Ranger Ret., spoke eloquently of Mr. Anglin on behalf of the Former Texas Rangers Association. Ella Guaqueta, Texas State Society President of the Daughters of 1812, spoke about Mr. Anglin's war service. Carolyn Raney, Past President General of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, brought greetings from that organization. Susan Reno spoke on behalf of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Cash Moser, President of the local chapter of the Children of the Republic of Texas, staffed the Color Guard, along with Hayden Roberts, CRT pending member. Scott McDonald, an 1812 reenactor, demonstrated the firing of a War of 1812-era musket. Pat Thibodeau, the Texas Ambassador of the National Society Descendants of American Farmers, spoke of Mr. Anglin's service, like many men of his day, as a farmer. An impressive contingent of Texas Ranger reenactors also participated in the event, firing a salute with rifles. The DRT and 1812 Daughters added medallions to Anglin's gravestone to mark his war service, and the Ranger association placed a special Ranger Cross marker next to the grave. The event was both solemn and celebratory. This event was sponsored by a large group of historical/genealogical organizations: Captain James Burleson Chapter, TSS, US Daughters of 1812; Former Texas Rangers Association; James Pinckney Henderson Chapter, Daughters of the Republic of Texas; Van Zandt County Genealogical Society; Jesse Miller Foster Chapter TX, United Daughters of the Confederacy; Texas Historical Foundation; Van Zandt County Historical Commission; Neches River Chapter, Texas, Daughters of the American Revolution; and the James Pinckney Henderson Chapter, Children of the Republic of Texas.
Dedication of Two Historic Buildings at Heritage Park in Edgewood: Fun and History
Two beautifully-restored Van Zandt County buildings were dedicated on November 6, 2021, at the Heritage Park of East Texas, at their permanent location in Edgewood. The 1850 Courthouse, the first courthouse that stood in the county seat of Canton, had been demolished years ago and was rebuilt by the Heritage Park. The 1890s Poor Farm Calaboose (jail), was saved from destruction and was restored to its original state. Both buildings were showcased at a ceremony that featured a special session of the Van Zandt County Commissioners Court. The Commissioners arrived by mule wagon and read a Proclamation dedicating the new buildings. The ceremony was followed by a lunch of old-fashioned stew, cooked over an open fire on the grounds of the park. Many attendees--including the County Judge and Commissioners--wore historic attire. The park, which features many beautifully-restored buildings, was open for all attendees to tour. It was a fun and educational event.
Above: Van Zandt County Genealogical Society Members attending the dedication stand on the steps of the 1850 Courthouse: L to R: Sherrie Archer, Cindy Cooper, Elvis Allen, Suzie Bass, Carrie Woolverton. Below, left: The Poor Farm Calaboose jail of the 1890s, showing the iron grate window. Below, middle:The Van Zandt County Commissioners Court meets inside the 1850 Courthouse. Below, right: The Commissioners and County Judge arrive by mule wagon.
Library of Genealogy and Local History
County Courthouse Annex, Suite 104 (East End of Building) P O Box 1388 Canton, Texas 75103 Our Phone Number, Email link and Facebook link are below, along with other useful links.
Library Hours Monday through Friday: 10 AM to 3 PM Closed Sunday and Holidays Saturday: 10 AM to12:30 PM
Please call before making a long trip as there are some unforeseen circumstances that call for us being closed from time to time.
Van Zandt County Courthouse Annex
We are inside the second door on the left side of the building, up the steps .
The Library offers four computers with internet access, Ancestry.com (Ancestry Library), History Geo, newspapers online, microfilm of local county newspapers, marriages licenses, various other county records, and microfilm Census records (if you like researching the old-fashioned way). We offer quite a few books relating to Van Zandt County specifically, and books of other Texas counties as well as other states. We are a great little library for genealogy research.