Van Alstyne Public Library
Orr family figures prominently in history
by Teri Bishop, Managing Editor
The Orr family figured prominently in Van Alstyne's history, even
though the life of one of its patriarchs was cut short by a fatal auto
crash in 1966.
Garland and Samantha Orr were cotton and corn farmers in the Van
Alstyne area, contributing much to the economy and the way of life here.
Garland Orr was born on May 19, 1903, to Mancel and Samantha Orr.
He married Samantha Haynes on Nov. 17, 1931, in Durant. Okla.
They were Methodists, and he gave community service through the
Knights of Pythias.
His wife also was born in Texas, to Mr. and Mrs. Doug Boyd.
She served the community as a member of the Heroines of Jericho Lodge.
A grisly auto accident took Garand Orr's life on the evening of
March 28, 1966. He and his brother, Hugh, were driving on a twisted
blacktop road four miles east of the city between Van Alstyne and the Cannon
Community when they had a head-on collision with an automobile driven by
Mrs. Anna Belle Neill, 42.
Garland Orr and Mrs. Neill lost their lives instantly when their
two vehicles collided. Hugh Orr and Mrs. Neill's children - Larry,
15, and Lind, 10 - were taken to the hospital in serious condition.
Many area residents, black and white alike, attended Garland Orr's
funeral on Saturday, April 3, 1966, at Morning Chapel CME Church.
He is buried in Van Alstyne Cemetery.
His obituary, which was printed in a Sherman newspaper, identified
him as a "Negro".
Orr died many years later, at the age of 84. She was a well-respected
community worker. She also is buried in Van Alstyne Cemetery.
Their nephew, Lt. Col. Clyde Orr, not only served his community but also
In March 1970, he and his family moved to Ethiopia, Africa, where
he was assigned to advise the Ethiopian army about infantry tactics and
Before that, he was the commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion,
3rd Basic Combat Training Brigade at Fort Ord in California.
His father, Hugh, survived the terrible crash of 1966 to see his
son accomplish great things in the military.
Many Orr Family members still live in Van Alstyne, including Robinson
Orr Sr., Robinson Orr Jr., and his wife, Patricia, Walter Nelson Orr and