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

Vol. VII, No. 10...... E Newsletter ............Editor: Sibyl Creasey

October 2014

October Program

"Indian Records" and "How to do Indian Research Within the National Archives" will be the topics of special speaker Aaron Holt of Fort Worth at the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society meeting on Saturday, October 25, 2 p.m. at the main county library's Buchanan Room.
He will focus specifically on the Five Civilized Tribes: the Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole and Cherokee. A Native Texan, Holt was born in Ft. Worth and reared in a small town outside Ft. Worth. He has lived in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area almost his entire life, working for the National Archives for over 20 years, of which over 15 have been in the Archives section.
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 at (903) 567-5012. 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.

Remember, Dues Will be Due in January!!

Open House!!

The Van Zandt County Genealogical Society will host an open house at the Library of Genealogy and Local History on Friday, October 24 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the library which is located in the courthouse annex in Canton. The public is invited to attend. Refreshments will be served.
Society member Beth Gordon of Canton is coordinating the open house, assisted by members of the society's executive board.
An off site department of the main county library, the genealogy library was established in the summer of 1989 when an unused storage room in the annex was acquired. After several months of readying the unfinished room, the library became operational during the middle of September and had its official opening on October 21, 1989 with an open house that was attended by 88 people.
Prior to the establishment of the genealogy library, a small room had been designated in the old county library building for a genealogical collection. When it became evident that the collection was growing too large for the space, society president Mable Cook of Van and member Ruth Abbott of Canton contacted county officials who gave the society permission to use the storage room in the annex for a genealogy library.
Society volunteers then painted walls, built a storage closet, laid carpet and built bookshelves. All the labor and materials were donated without cost to the county. Desks, tables, chairs and other supplies were also donated or purchased with contributions.
The collection from the old county library was moved to the new facility along with two file cabinets, one bookcase, an old microfilm reader/printer and a few supplies. Society member Lana Kirby of Grand Saline, a former professional librarian, was recruited to organize the collection. Her method of regional organization and color coding is still being followed today.
Pancake breakfasts were held at first by society members to raise funds for a copying machine and other necessities, then permission was given to park cars on Saturdays of First Monday Trade Days. This is still done currently by society volunteers. All monies derived from fundraisers, parking cars, publishing genealogical resource books for sale, and donations go directly to the library. On hand to greet visitors during the first open house in 1989 were library director Rea Miller and county commissioners Ebb Andrews. Junior Warren and Charles Holland. Society members who coordinated the event were Mable Cook, president, Jim and Pat Barnhart, Quana Barber, Mary Caldwell, Sibyl Creasey, Fontilla Holman, Laverne Conner, Ann Stegall, Alf Foster, Mollie Flowers, Bobbie Payne and Gene Walters.

One visitor on that day was Virginia G. Jones, of Longview. She just "stopped by" unaware that an open house was being held. She joined the society and immediately volunteered to be a librarian on Saturday mornings. At first she drove from Longview for her shift but eventually she and her husband, Harold Jones, relocated to Canton. She became a dedicated member of the society and board member. She also served two years as president.
The Library of Genealogy and Local History has grown enormously since its beginning. Some consider it to be the finest small library of its kind in the state of Texas. It has over 80,000 pieces of research material. More is being added each month. This collection includes books, periodicals, quarterlies, microfilm, microfiche, CDs and taped Oral Histories. There are also two microfilm reader/printers and computers with Internet connection as well as Vertical Family Files containing contacts and family research material gathered for the past 25 years.

This library is manned, managed and totally supported by the Van Zandt Genealogical Society through the efforts of its dedicated members, receiving no funds from the county. All genealogical materials and equipment that is placed in the Library of Genealogy and Local History becomes county property.
Located near the intersection of Hwy 19 and Hwy 64, library hours of operation are regular and consistent, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, with extended hours from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursdays. Volunteer librarians who are members of the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society are always on duty to help researchers.
For further information on the library's open house, society activities or membership, call the library at (903) 567-5012.

"Our Heritage"

Quarterly editor Laurie McDonald will be compiling the November issue of "Our Heritage" very soon. If you have anything to submit, please email her at:
She is doing a super job of the quarterly and we are all so proud of her.


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.

Annual Seminar

We really must thank John Sellers of Hopkins County for his excellent seminar in September. His topics were very informative and he is such a great speaker. The event was an unqualified success this year. His topics,
"Researching Your Ancestor's Plot of Dirt, the Adventures of Courthouse Land Research,""With or Without a Will, There is a way!" "Researching Newspapers in Cyberspace and Beyond!" and "Learning Where Your Ancestors Played, Prayed, Lived and Died.,"also inspired our resident poet to write a poem in honor of John. Martha Heard read the following just before the seminar began:

Say What?

Topic 1
I looked and looked to find that spot:
It had to be close by;
Where was that fence, that rock, that pine,
To prove that land was mine?

Topic 2
Now listen, I have searched and searched,
I've gone from door to door.
I have put myself through the mill
Looking for my grandpa's will.

Topic 3
And also, I was told to seek
In places high and low: so
Can you believe there is a place
Where newspapers are in space?

Topic 4
I can't believe that I might learn
What I have tried to find:
That maybe right in front of me is where
They played, they prayed, they died....

......…Martha Heard, For John Sellers September 27, 2014


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 provides 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!

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