Van Zandt County Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 1388, Canton, TX 75103

Vol. VII, No. 5...... E Newsletter ............Editor: Sibyl Creasey

June 2014

June Program

"The Mercer Colony of Northeast Texas" will be the program topic for the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society's meeting on Saturday, June 28 at 2 p.m. at the main county library in Canton.
The featured speaker for the program will be Carol Taylor of Hunt County. She will give a brief history of this important colony but will focus primarily on the problems with land titles, the causes, the lack of leadership in Austin, and the delay until 1936 on some of the title claims. Part of the dispute went all the way to the US Supreme Court and was resolved in 1883.
Carol Taylor is the former director of the Northeast Texas Genealogy Center located in Greenville, Texas. She is chairman of the Hunt County Historical Commission and has researched and written numerous historical markers for Hunt County.
She holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Midwestern State University. She received a Masters Degree in History from Texas A&M University Commerce in 2008. Her Masters thesis reviewed the Mercer Colony of North East Texas from 1844-1850. She combines a love for history and genealogy into her specialty, "Merging Family History with Local History."
Carol Taylor began her family history at age twelve by interviewing relatives, some born in the 1890s. For more than thirty years genealogy has been an enduring interest. She has spoken to genealogy societies throughout North Texas and at the Angelina College Genealogy Conference in Lufkin.
She writes a weekly column "Tree Climbing," combining both local history and genealogy for the Greenville Herald Banner. Carol is co-author of The Devil's Triangle: Ben Bickerstaff, Northeast Texas, and the War of Reconstruction. Mrs. Taylor is a member of APG, Lone Star Chapter of APG, National Genealogical Society, Dallas Genealogical Society, and Hopkins County Genealogical Society.
The genealogical society meets the fourth Saturday in every month except December in the Buchanan Room of the main county library. Visitors are always warmly welcomed.
For further information on society membership or activities, contact the Library of Genealogy and Local History. Library hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, with extended hours on Thursday until 6 p.m., and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

May Speaker

One of our favorite speakers is Marynell Bryant from Hopkins County. We have enjoyed several of her programs and hope to have her back again. In May, she gave a talk on the War of 1812 which was very informative and enjoyable, according to those who were lucky enough to attend.
A longtime resident of Sulphur Springs, Hopkins County, Bryant is a well-known professional genealogist and speaker throughout the state.
Thanks, Marynell!

Sacred Harp Book Published!

"Sacred Harp: Minutes of the Central Texas Musical Conventions" has been completed and published. This volume includes names of singers from all parts of Texas. The conventions took place in Van Zandt and Henderson counties. The years covered by these minutes were from 1892-1930 but also includes two modern years of 1981-82.
Many obituaries, some never before published, news articles and additional information about singers are also included in this book which is available for purchase by sending a check or money order for $25 plus $4 for shipping and handling to the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 1388, Canton, TX 75103. It can also be purchased by visiting the Library of Genealogy and Local History. If purchased at the library the cost of mailing does not apply.
The value of this book can't be underestimated. It puts "flesh on the bones" of our ancestors. It gives a picture of how they spent their spare time and who their associates, friends and relatives were. Families and neighbors took part in monthly "singings" as well as in the annual singing conventions. Singers married singers and their children became singers.
Society member Benja Pittman Mize did a wonderful job of transcribing and typing these old faded and worn minutes. Some of the pages were literally falling apart. Many of her ancestors are included in the book. In fact, they were prominent leaders. And she keeps up the tradition of Sacred Harp by attending the annual conventions of today. Benja's skill as a typist is only surpassed by her skill as a singer!


Historical Marker Workshop

The Van Zandt County Historical Commission will conduct a workshop on Tuesday, July 15 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the fundamentals of how to write a historical marker application. It will be held in the Buchanan Room at the main Van Zandt County Library located on State Highway 859 (First Monday Blvd) in Canton, Texas. This session is free of charge.
The workshop will provide basic information for writing a historical marker application and is geared to helping those who have never written one before. However, anyone who is interested in writing markers is invited to attend.
For reservations, call Linda Mays at 903-963-7256 or Elvis Allen at 903-962-7103. Or email Elvis.

Life Member Passed

We regret to hear of the passing of a life member of the society and an old friend. Clinton Baskin, age 89, of McKinney passed away on May 26, 2014. He was born in Abilene on July 1, 1924 to Carrel Alsen and Sarah Jane Beggs Baskin. On June 15, 1946, he married Jane Page Osborn in Austin.
Clinton proudly served his country in the United States Army Air Cops. A member of the United Methodist Church of McKinney, he was also a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and the McKinney Lion's Club.
Mr. Baskin is survived by his daughter, Carol Baskin Tatum and her husband Webb of McKinney; several grandchildren and great grandchildren. Carol is also a life member of the society and an avid researcher. A graveside service was held on May 29 at Ridgeview Memorial Park in Allen.
Years ago Mr. Baskin spent many hours researching at our Library of Genealogy and Local History. He was always very kind and appreciative of our assistance.
Mr. Baskin's family has our sincere condolences.

"Our Heritage"

Quarterly Editor Laurie McDonald will begin working on the August issue of "Our Heritage" soon. Submissions of family stories are really needed since the board voted to return to a 40-page quarterly. And we are now able to include family photos and/or county photos. So, if your would like to submit material, please email to Laurie at:

Remember, Dues Were Due in January!!


Also, don't forget the quarterly still runs queries. If you have one you would like to post, please email to:
Submit as many as you want, no limit to members and non-members alike. Include dates and names, and don't forget your own mailing address. A connection to this county is preferred but not mandatory.
When submitting queries, please remember to include names, places, dates and some known information about the family.


You can still join the society if you are not already a member. Only $10 per year for an individual or $12 for a family. Please add $5 for joining now because of the cost of mailing back quarterlies.

Grand Saline
High School Year Books

The Library of Genealogy and Local History has recently acquired some Grand Saline High School yearbooks to add to the library's growing collection of county high school annuals. These yearbooks are a valuable source of modern information. The newest books include the years 1989, 1991, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2010, and were obtained through a school yearbook liquidation sale.
Society member Elvis Allen donated funds to purchase the 1989 yearbook and the rest were purchased by the genealogy society.
Society president Shirley Fuller read about the liquidation sale in a recent issue of the Grand Saline Sun and implemented the purchase.
If anyone would like to donate a Van Zandt County high school yearbook, please contact the society at: or visit the library located in the courthouse annex in Canton.

Holly Springs Cemetery Restoration Project

Society member Rhonda Daniel McClune is on the board of the Holly Springs Cemetery Association. She has announced that the board has launched a restoration campaign specifically targeted for the repair of old and broken tombstones. This cemetery is an historic one located in the Martin's Mill area of the county.
The board is seeking donations to fund part of the restoration effort. For further information and directions for donations, contact Rhonda.

Attention Researchers!

We are repeating the "Do's and Don'ts" for researchers requesting information. We are still having a problem with researchers sending multiple emails to multiple people in Van Zandt County. This is a no-no, unless all the recipients are notified that the researcher is requesting information from several people.
DO: Be very brief and specific with what you need or what you are looking for. But give as much information as you know and tell us what you don't know. It is also a waste of our time to look for information that you already have!
DON'T send the same request for assistance to more than one person! This is a major waste of time.
DON'T send a request from one email address and expect a reply to another address. This is too cumbersome and the material becomes scattered.
DO send a mailing address with your request. We may decide that what you need is too general and a query in the quarterly might be more beneficial. On the other hand, we might find great information in abundance and it wastes time asking for your mailing address.
DON'T send a request from an email address that blocks replies! That is not very productive.
THANK YOU for your cooperation! We are always very happy to help with your research!

We really do enjoy helping researchers so if you need any assistance whatsoever, please contact us.

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