Old Pioneers of Van Zandt County

Van Zandt County Genealogical Society


This page will be devoted to the Old Pioneers of Van Zandt County. These stories have come from a variety of sources, some from old newspapers, some from descendants and some have been previously published in the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society's quarterly publication, "Our Heritage." Our thanks to Sue Wilkinson, quarterly editor, for permission to reprint these stories. All biographies are welcomed and if you have one that you would like to submit, just write it in your own words and send it to Sibyl and we will be very happy to post it on this website.



John George Washington Bivins

John G.W. Bivins was born about 1800-1804 in North Carolina. By 1830, he was living in Wayne Co., TN and was married with three children. Living close was an Abel Bivins who was the correct age to be John's father. Also, several other Bivins, who were probably brothers, were near on the census. However, this has not been documented.

John's wife was Naomi (Betsy) Hill, daughter of John Hill and Obedience Cullum. John Hill was one of the founders of Wayne Co., TN. He was living there in 1821 and commissioned to establish a county seat. It has not been established when John Bivins moved to Wayne County nor when he married Naomi.

In Book C, pg 1, Mortgage Deeds for Wayne County, John Bivins sells (conveys) to Obedience Hill "one cow and two yerlings, one calf, three bedsteads and furniture, one sow and three choats, one folding lid table, one pot and two kettles, one pair irons, one looking glass, and one skillet for $63.90, dated January 29, 1833." This could have been the time that John moved to Fayette Co., TN. He was listed on the Fayette census for 1840 and 1850.

The lure of cheap land enticed John and his extended families to come to Texas. John and several of his sons and his sister-in-law, Cynthia Hill Norman arrived in Canton in the early 1850's. Cynthia and her husband, A. Norman, were buried at the Cana Cemetery. Cynthia died in 1870 and A. Norman in 1887.

John was a pioneer in the settlement of Canton and operated a hotel. Land records show him selling several lots in "downtown Canton." In an article in the Wills Point Chronicle on July 28, 1904, pg. 7, Solomon Carter spoke before the Old Settlers Reunion. In his speech, he told "Canton, our county seat, had been located before my arrival in Van Zandt County. At that time about one-half dozen families had located at Canton, most county officials, with Uncle Johnnie, as he was familiarly called, and his better half, Aunt Betsy Bivins as hotel keeper. And, I shall never forget the old-time dinners of which I have partaken and enjoyed at Aunt Betsey's table, prepared and served by her own hands."

For some unknown reason, possibly the ravages of the Civil War, John and some of his sons moved from Van Zandt to Lampasas and were there for the 1870 census. He was buried in Lampasas beside one of his sons.

One of his sons, James, stayed in this area and had land on the Van Zandt and Kaufman County line. James married into the pioneer Buie family of Kaufman. Many descendants of John G.W. Bivins still live in Van Zandt County.

Submitted by Lois Melton Thompson


Previously published in the Van Zandt County Genealogical Society's Our Heritage


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This page last updated 3 June 2007

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