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

Vol. VIII, No. 3...... E Newsletter ............Editor: Sibyl Creasey

March 2015

March Program

Wilhelm Waerenskjold, an early pioneer of Van Zandt County, will be the subject of the program during the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society meeting scheduled for Saturday, March 28, 2 p.m. at the main county library's Buchannan Room.
The guest speaker will be Charles H. Russell who will share some details about the life of Wilhelm Waerenskjold, the illegitimate son of a Norwegian military officer. As a young man Wilhelm fell into a life of crime, and Elise, his future wife, found him in the workhouse penitentiary in Oslo and brought him with her to Texas. They settled in Four Mile Priarie in the 1840's where they ran a successful livestock ranch together.
Charles Russell was born in Paris, France, and educated through high school in Europe as well as America.. He is a combat veteran of World War II, having flown thirty-three heavy bomber missions over Germany.
A resident of the northeast until he came to Texas in 1992, Russell earned his BA at Dartmouth College and MA and PhD degrees at Columbia University in New York City. He taught at Boston University and Columbia University, served as Dean of Mattaluck Community College in Connecticut, and taught in Houston colleges and universities.
"Russell published four books during his academic career, and three in recent years. In 2005 his "Undaunted: A Norwegian Woman in Frontier Texas," the first full biography of Elise Waerenskjold during her Texas years, was published. "Light on the Prairie," a collection of Elise Waerenskjold's unpublished writings, was published in 2010. His current book, "Wilhelm," has just been released.
The genealogical society meets the fourth Saturday of every month except December at the main county library. Visitors are warmly welcomed.
For further information on society membership or activities, contact the Library of Genealogy and Local History at (903) 567-5012, or visit the library located in the courthouse annex in Canton.
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.

February Program

Unfortunately the program scheduled for the society's February meeting was cancelled due to the extreme weather conditions that day. Quite a few attended the meeting, however, and made do with Martha Heard's talk and others who had interesting things to share. Randolph W. Farmer's "The Knights of the Golden Circle in Texas: A Secret Secessionist Society" has been rescheduled for later in the year.

Annual Genealogical Research Workshop

The annual Genealogy Research Workshop held on Saturday, March 14, hosted by the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society, was a grand success, thanks to member Beth Gordon and her workshop committee and speakers. About 30 researchers attended and left happy at the end of the day. Member Laurie McDonald did a wonderful job of catering the luncheon. She always does a great job and her husband, Carson, helps and deserves some thanks, too.
Mr. Mike Bogges, a researcher who attended the workshop, wrote a letter to the editor of the local newspaper, stating how much he appreciated the workshop and how much he had gained from it. Beth Gordon, who coordinated the event, deserves the praise. She worked hard on the project and put her all into it. It is not an easy job!

Judges Photos Needed!

The Van Zandt County Historical Commission is requesting assistance in locating photos of past Van Zandt County Judges. One of the current commission projects is to obtain photos of all the county judges and to convert them into oil paintings to be framed and hung in the courthouse to honor their years of service to the county.
At present locking hangers are being installed on those portraits already hung and silhouettes are being made for those judges whose photos have not been located.
Past county judges whose photos are needed include: R.H. Allen, J.M. Burns, John Pate Carter, W.B. Ector, W.L. Haynes, Mastin Henderson, Frank M. Hobbs, Andrew J. Hunter, W.L. Steed. S. Love West, Clayton W. Williams and Gilbert Yarborough.
If anyone has a photo of one of these judges, please contact the Historical Commission through Linda Mays at 903-963-7256, or Chairman Elvis Allen at 903-962-7103. Or Email the VZC Genealogical Society at:

Remember, Dues Are Due in January!!

Annual membership dues for the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society remain at $10 for an individual and $12 for a family. With prices of everything going up and up, this is still a bargain.
Remember, if you wait until after March 15 to pay your dues, we ask that you add an additional $5 because of mailing quarterlies individually. The extra $5 does not apply if you are able to pick up issues at the Library of Genealogy and Local History, located in the courthouse annex in Canton.

"Our Heritage"

Quarterly editor Laurie McDonald will soon begin working on the May issue of "Our Heritage." If you have anything to submit for coming issues, please email her at:
Since we have gone back to a 40-page publication, we have need for family stories, genealogical resource material and photos.
Also, see article below for the writing competition.
Laurie is doing a super job with the quarterly and we are all so proud of her.

Writing Competition
by Laurie McDonald

The Van Zandt County Genealogical Society has announced its 2nd annual Family History Writing Competition and is now accepting entries. The 2014 winners will be announced in February 2015. In addition to receiving a cash prize, the winners will be presented with the 2014 Quana Barber Family History Writing Award.
The competition is open to both members and non-members of the VZCGS as well as amateurs and professionals. Winners will receive $100.00 for 1st place, $50.00 for 2nd place, and $25.00 for 3rd place. Authors may submit up to two entries. Only original material not previously published elsewhere in any format is eligible. Entries will be accepted January 1 through December 31, 2015.
While VZCGS has a goal of preserving Van Zandt County history, subject matter for the competition may include the surrounding counties. The author should engage the reader in the subject's "who, what, when, how, and where" aspect of an article.
Some suggested article types might include: family histories and genealogies of those who settled in Van Zandt or one of the surrounding counties; transcriptions, abstracts or indexes of record groups which have not yet been published or digitized in any format; historical journals, sets of letters or hand-written histories, transcribed with added material on the author of these item types; and military history of Texas soldiers and units.
Some other suggested types might include: "Brick Wall" stories which would demonstrate to the reader the research and source documentation that transpired during the problem-solving phase of breaking through that "brick wall" or "community stories" which would tell about a specific structure, house, or a specific area such as a community, farm, cemetery, road, or church.
Winning articles are eligible to be published in the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society's quarterly publication, "Our Heritage."
Questions and a request for the 2015 Family History Writing Competition Rules and Guidelines may be emailed to Laurie McDonald, quarterly editor, at or by calling the Van Zandt County Library of Genealogy and Local History at 903-567-5012.


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 or the individual being researched.

Showcase of Local Authors

During Library Week (April 12-17), Friends of the Van Zandt County Library will host an "Authors Showcase." This will include local authors who will have their books for sale. The Van Zandt County Genealogical Society will be represented by Linda Mays who compiled "Reconstruction in Van Zandt County," Benja Mize with her "Sacred Harp: Minutes of the Central Texas Musical Conventions," and Sibyl Creasey with several society publications.
Please join us if you are in the area on Thursday, April 16, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the main county library located on First Monday Lane in Canton.

New Books in the Works

We are currently working on several books to be published in the future. One is "Early Wills of Van Zandt County" and the other one is "Woodmen of the World in Van Zandt County." A good beginning has been made on both books. Member Sandra Jones transcribed and typed many wills from the old "Will Book," found on microfilm in the Library of Genealogy and Local History." Member Benja Mize went through all the cemetery books and and typed up all those who had a Woodmen of the World grave marker.
We hope that both books will be finished and published in the next few months. It takes time to compile genealogical resource books. We are dedicated volunteers and we are dedicated to providing material for researchers.


Please check out our websites when you have the time. There is an amazing amount of information on these sites. And we are still taking submissions of photos and family stories. The following sites are:

Good Luck, Researchers!

One of our greatest joys here in Van Zandt is helping researchers find that missing information or clue that leads them to finding more about their families.
If you need anything, just let us know and we will do our best to help you find it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE! Please do not send multiple email requests for research assistance to multiple society volunteers! Or call the Library of Genealogy and Local History and speak with different Librarians without informing each that you have spoken to another and another is assisting you with your research. This practice causes a duplication of time and effort. It is a waste of everyone's time if several are working to help a researcher without being informed that others have been contacted for the same assistance.

We Are the Chosen

In each family, there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve. doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts, but instead, breathing life into all who gone before. We are the storytellers of the tribe.

Ministers of Van Zandt County

Jan Crow is still working hard on her book about the Ministers in Van Zandt County, those who served as a pastors and also those who came in to hold revival meetings and perform marriages, etc. She would like help from anyone who can give her information about their preacher ancestors.
Also she could use information provided by churches, i.e., a list of pastors and the dates they served as well as any history they have on these pastors (birth date, death date, where the family was from, obituaries, etc.).
If you have something to submit for the book, please send it to her at the Van Zandt Genealogy Library, P O Box 1388, Canton, Texas 75103, or email it to her at (be sure to indicate in the subject line "Ministers Project for Jan").
Don't delay if you have material. There is nothing worse than publishing a book and afterwards having previously unknown information flowing in!

Genealogy Poems

We hear that Martha Heard is working on another book of "Genealogy Gems." This is good news for fans of our Martha's poetry! We do our best to inspire her and encourage her (nag, nag, nag!) because she truly is an amazing lady with so much talent!
The society still has copies of her first book of poetry, "Genealogy Gems," so if you do not have a copy, your can obtain one by sending a check or money order for $5 (covering printing and postage) to the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society, P.O. Box 1388, Canton, TX 74103

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