Hunt County is dotted with several small communities that many persons outside their limits have never heard of, but which are important and nostalgic to the people who live there, especially the old timers who know the history and early struggles of the founders.

Such a community is VanSickle, over a century-old cluster of homes about eight miles southwest of Greenville.  The first postmaster, and the man for whom the community was named, was Captain Benjamin Anderson VanSickle, whose remains still lay marked in the VanSickle Cemetery, a quiet spot southeast of Interstate 30 and west of State Highway 34, where millions of travelers go by without being aware of the community’s existence.

            The residents of the area were joined in 1862 by Captain VanSickle and his family when they moved from Sulphur Springs, where he had studied and practiced law.

            Mr. VanSickle was born in Arkansas Territory about 1819.  In his earlier years, he was a surveyor.  January 30, 1838, he married Orlena Earp in Nacogdoches County, Texas.  Orlena Earp, daughter of James Earp and Mary Sanders was born June 17, 1819, in Lawrence County, Alabama.  To this union were born eleven children. One of their daughters, Martha VanSickle, born in 1848, moved to VanSickle with her parents.  Martha first married a Mr. Steward and had three children:  Lula Buie; Mollie Stapleton; and Pearl Willis.  They all married and lived in the VanSickle Community.  Mr. Steward died and Martha married William Green Durham, a brick maker and farmer.  They had five children who were reared in the VanSickle Community:  Willis Wall; Zula Durham; Thomas James Durham; Ben Durham and Perry Durham.  William G. Durham passed away in 1905 and his wife Martha passed away in 1936.  She was survived at the time by Mrs. G. L. Buie, Quinlan; T. J. Lawson, Caddo Mills; Mrs. Pearl Willis, Hamlin; Mrs. Willie Wall, Lone Oak; Ben Durham, Denison; and Rev. Thomas Durham, El Reno, Oklahoma.

            Orlena Earp, who married Ben VanSickle, came from a pioneer family too.  Her father, James Earp, founded Earpville, which later became the City of Longview, Texas.

            Benjamin VanSickle was a Captain in Costley’s Company of Texas Rangers in 1836, and he was a member of the first Grand Jury in Nacogdoches County in 1837. He was initiated into the Milam Lodge #2 on February 11, 1839 in Nacogdoches.

            VanSickle commanded a company of volunteers in a fight with the Cherokee in which Chief Bowles was killed. He was listed in the Land Commissioners Minutes in 1838, and was on the 1839 tax list of Nacogdoches County.  He received Bounty Warrant 1193 from the Secretary of War, Republic of Texas, for his service in the Texas Army.  From Nacogdoches County, the family moved to Sulphur Springs and in 1862, to VanSickle southwest of Greenville.

            Captain VanSickle published one of the first papers in south Texas, bringing a printing press from New York to Vera Cruz; from there it was hauled to Texas.  He helped to organize one of the oldest formal organizations in Upshur County – the Bethesda Lodge A. F. & A. M. No. 142, established October 8, 1853.

<            The VanSickle Community was unnamed until after the post office opened in the home of Ben VanSickle on February 7, 1877.  It was one of only two post offices between Greenville and Terrell at the time.

<            Benjamin passed away at his home in VanSickle, November 8, 1904.  Among his children who survived him were: Mrs. W. B. Horton, Greenville; Mrs. W. G. Durham, VanSickle; Mrs. W. B. Sampson, VanSickle; Mrs. Clay Oldham, Merkel; Mrs. Hendrix, California; and one son, Tom VanSickle.  His wife also survived him, and reached the age of 90 years. 

<            Some descendants of this pioneer family still living are: Marvin Ray Wall, son of Willie Durham Wall; Irene Gorham, daughter of Ben Durham; and Floyd Durham, son of Thomas Durham.  There are probably descendants of Perry Durham around Dallas, and of Martin Stapleton around Pampa, Texas.

            Listed below are relatives and descendants of Benjamin A. VanSickle buried in the VanSickle Cemetery.

            Stapleton, Perry C.              Nov. 1, 1857 – Nov. 13, 1927

            Stapleton, Mollie                  Apr  20, 1873 – Oct 2, 1939

            Stapleton, Stella E.              Jun 8, 1939 – Oct 31, 1941                       

            Stapleton, Stella  Josie       Sep 24, 1896 – Sep 29, 1918

            Durham, Martha A.              Dec 1, 1849 – Jan 9, 1939

            Durham,  William G.            Jul 13, 1835 – Sep 10, 1905

            Wall, Fay                               Jun 25, 1917 – Apr 2, 1924

            Cathey, Buna Vista             Nov 5, 1879 – Sep 11, 1971

            Cathey, Wm. Clifford           Feb 15, 1879 – Oct 14, 1961

            Willis, Dolty                           Oct 27, 1877 – Feb 27, 1948

            Willis, Pearl G.                      Jul 8, 1878 – May 7, 1944

            VanSickle, T. J.                    Jul 27, 1844 – Nov 1, 1906

            VanSickle, B. A.                   Apr 6, 1818 – Nov 8, 1904

            VanSickle, Orlena               1819 – Apr 6, 1908

            VanSickle, Ada                    Apr 2, 1865 – Feb 28, 1911

            Sampson, W. M.                  1847 -  1940

Thanks to Floyd Durham, 2500 S. Reno, El Reno, Oklahoma, who has written this article with the assistance of Marvin R. Wall, Gilmer, Texas.  Mr. Durham would appreciate being contacted by anyone having information on this family.(Edited by Larry Wilson 3-30-2013)

Van Sickle Cemetery

Schrum General Store - Van Sickle 1913

Van Sickle School 1920 - 30

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