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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.

Richard Castleberry's Personal Story
As told to the Wills Point Chronicle, August 18, 1904

The Chronicle presents to its readers herewith the picture of Rev. Richard Castleberry of Martin's Mill, who is president of the Old Settlers' Association of Van Zandt County and perhaps the oldest Texan in the state. Mr. Castleberry will be 77 years of age in December and while his physical condition for several years has been rather feeble he is still vigorous and enjoys telling of the early days of Van Zandt County. He has written a brief statement and we give it in his own words:

"In compliance with a promise to soliciting friends, I give a brief sketch of my (to me) eventful life. It must necessarily be brief, reaching back, as it does, through the past three fourths of a century, a century crowned and jeweled with the grandest achievements of any age, of the world's history.

"I was born in Sinclair county, Alabama, December 6, 1827. Can recollect many scenes of my childhood there. At the age of seven, started to the land flowing with milk and honey, Texas, then a province of Mexico. Traveled by ox team one hundred miles to Montgomery and there took a steamboat across Lake Ponchartrain for the city of New Orleans. Found a wonder on the way in the shape of a six mile railroad, leading across a marsh from the lake to the city. Thence by boat up the Mississippi and Red rivers by Alexandria and to the old town of Nachitoches , called then Nackitush. Thence by wagon to Texas. Crossed the Sabine into Texas about 10 o'clock on the morning of May 5, 1835. Several families and quite a number of immigrants landed in Texas that day. Stopped about two miles west of the town of San Augustine. Moved from there the following winter into Tenaha district, now Shelby county. Father died about February 7, 1837. Mother was left in the rough days of Texas with nine children, four older and four younger than myself.

"At the age of 19 was mustered into the Untied States service for three years or during the war with Mexico about April 3, 1847. Served a fraction of fourteen months, left camp June 10, 1848. I returned to my mother, brothers and sister. Was married July 24, 1851 to Miss Mary L.D. Kirkpatrick, who was also born in Alabama January 27, 1836. Moved to Van Zandt the latter part of December 1851. Never held any lucrative office but think I have seen many faded and smoldering wrecks tossed high and dry upon ambition's crumbling, trembling highway. Am proud of any influence I may have exercised in developing a high standard of morals, happiness and betterment of the conditions of the people with whom I am mixing and associating. The wise man said: 'A multitude of words darken counsel,' so I will quit, wishing the Chronicle all the prosperity and good it deserves, and that is enough."

Note: Richard Castleberry died 24 Nov 1909. His wife died 12 Jan 1901. They were both buried at Holly Springs Cemetery.

Submitted by Shirley Ann Fuller

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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