Old Family Tales

Van Zandt County Genealogical Society


Old family stories are not only fun, they enrich us and tell us about our ancestors and their lives back in the old days. If you have an old family story or biography that you would like to share (almost everyone has a either a character or a very interesting individual in their family tree!), please write it in your own words and email it to Sibyl and it will be placed on this page.


C.J. Hubbard Tells of Pioneer Days in Van Zandt County

Printed in the Canton Herald, July 3, 1931


Mr. Editor: Allow me a little space in your paper to say a few words in regard to pioneer days in the "Free State." Perhaps it would not be out of place to tell why it came to be called the "Free State," as it will be news to the younger generation, so here goes:

Before the Civil War between the States, when the Southern States were seceding from the Union, Texas was the last state to secede. Van Zandt had a majority that was in favor of remaining in the Union, hence the name, "Free State."

In the summer of 1856 we left Fayette county, Illinois, bound for Texas, and landed in the town of Canton (not a city) the 18th day of November that year. I was a little over 12 years of age when we landed there, so you can now guess at my present age. I saw lots of hardships and lots of pleasure until that civil and cruel war between the states, then things were not so pleasant.

As I was in the conscript age by different methods I managed to keep out of it. One was a board of physicians at Dallas who pronounced me to have T.B. and gave me a discharge that lasted through the war. So, just before the war ended a lot of our citizens were detailed to haul government cotton to Brownsville, a distance of 600 miles, with ox teams, and eight bales to the wagon. The company was composed of H.E. Ford (Bob Ford's father), J.W. Wallace, my father, V.I. Stirman, Mr. Womack and a Mr. King.

After they started on their long journey we got news of General Lee's surrender and we knew that was the ending of the war, so I straddled my pony and struck out to overtake them, coming upon them in the Trinity river bottom at Porter's Bluff. I broke the glad news to them and at once they turned the teams back for home, and when they got there another problem confronted them. The women of the surrounding neighborhood demanded a bale of cotton from each wagon for making clothes for their families, their men having been called off to war and nobody to provide for them. The men yielded, the women getting their wish. They carried the rest of the cotton to Marshall and turned it over to a man who sold it for 5 cents a pound and stuck the money down in his jeans.

The war being ended, I began to look around for a life partner and the young men being scarce on account of the war I had pick and choice of quite a lot of girls, so I found one of the prettiest girls I ever saw living in the Martin's Mill community south of Canton who decided to take me for better or worse. We were married the 5th day of September, 1865, and lived together 64 years, but alas, she has crossed over the river to meet in the beyond.

Well, I must tell about a battle I saw fought in Canton in front of the now Palace drug store. Ill feeling between Union men by the name of Moore and parties living at Grand Saline by the name of Bottom concerning the war led to the trouble I heard them talking pretty loud and one slapped another's jaws and the shooting began. I saw one fall and when the smoke cleared away there was one dead and two mortally wounded.

Since my home was broken up by losing the best friend on earth, I am never satisfied. I have been spending the winters in the Rio Grande Valley and the summers in the "Free State" where I have lived the most of my life among my old friends. For fear I take up too much space I better close with best wishes to all I am respectfully yours, C.J. Hubbard


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